Hanover: Wonderful Wendland
Dannenberg, Gorleben, Göhrde – these place names will be familiar to many Germans from the news, but few have heard of all the other charming villages in the region known as “Hanoverian Wendland,” to which they belong. And that’s a great shame! Located right at the heart of the Germany, this region appears to promise a better life in the countryside. Instead of moving to the city, folks here lovingly restore old farmhouses. Dropouts, organic farmers and artists have come to live in the region’s characteristic round villages, and they are surrounded by some wonderful countryside that simply cries out to be rediscovered as each new season comes around.
Several farms and other houses built in a circle, in fact, arranged rather like a barricade of wagons. This type of Slavic round village was quite common in the Middle Ages. Later they often lost their original shape as they grew and changed. Only in the remote Wendland region does time seem to have stood still right up to the present day. Nowhere else have the round villages survived so well, with as many as some 100 settlements of this style, from Bausen to Zeetze, still to be found. The imposing farmhouses with their typical half-timbering mostly date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. In Lübeln, one of the prettiest villages, an open-air museum offers visitors a close-up experience of life in a round Wendland village.
Rundlingsmuseum Wendlandhof Lübeln: Lübeln 2, Küsten, Tel.: +49-(0)5841/96 29-0. Open: Apr-Oct, daily 10am-6pm. Nov-Mar depending on the weather (closed in ice, snow and severe frost). Admission: €3.50 (reduced €1.50-2). www.rundlingsmuseum.de
Over the centuries, the Elbe River has carved itself a broad valley through the Wendland region – creating unique habitats for beavers, storks, sea eagles, wild geese and many species of fish in the process. But the Elbe floodplains not only provide a sanctuary for rare creatures, they also offer humans a wonderful place to get away from it all on foot, by bicycle or on horseback. The Biosphaerium Elbtalaue museum at Bleckede Castle offers insights into life in and beside the river with aquariums that afford a glimpse below the surface of the most species-diverse river in Europe. Beavers can even be observed in their natural habitat here.
Biosphaerium Elbtalaue: Schlossstraße 10, Bleckede, Tel.: +49-(0)5852/95 14 14. Open: Apr-Oct Tue-Sun 10am-6pm, Nov-Mar Wed-Sun 10am-5pm. Admission: €7 (reduced €3.50-5). www.biosphaerium.de
Göhrde State Forest in Wendland is one of the largest areas of mixed woodland in North Germany. Due to its complete lack of rivers and streams, the area was never settled although many princes claimed it as their hunting ground. Even the German Emperor hunted here. Today, the 75-square-kilometer area is home to fallow and red deer as well as mouflons. Must-sees here are the equally ancient and giant trees, especially the oaks, which are now officially protected as acknowledged natural monuments. Visitors can discover some of the forest’s secrets at the Naturum Göhrde museum, which occupies a stable at the old hunting lodge.
Naturum Göhrde: König-Georg-Allee 5, Tel.: +49-(0)5855/675. Open: Apr-Oct Wed-Fri 2-6pm, Sat+Sun 10am-6pm. Admission: €3.50 (reduced €2). www.naturum-goehrde.de
Photos: Arlt/Westrich/laif (2), Johaentges/LOOK-foto, mauritius images