The Urwald Sababurg in the Rheinhardswald Forest near Sababurg in the North Hessen district of Kassel has been left to nature for 100 years, making it one of the most sustainable forests in Germany. The combination of old pedunculate oak trees with a wild forest of beech, hornbeam, birch, bracken and other indigenous plants makes the oldest nature reserve in Hessen truly special. It attracts numerous walkers and people looking for a place to relax and unwind. Fallen trees and dead wood provide shelter for the many native animals, fungi and plants, such as the rare polypody fern and wild apple trees. 500-year-old pedunculate oak trees and forest pastures impress visitors and constitute the majority of the forest. Many artists like Theodor Rocholl have sought inspiration from the forest. That’s why the Urwald Sababurg is also called the “Painters’ Reserve”. The Urwald can be visited free of charge all-year-round.
Four of Germany’s 25 bat species are threatened with extinction. The Bat Tower was built in the spring of 2017 in the Rohrwiese ecological educational park in Bad Soden am Taunus. It was created by the local German Society for Nature Conservation (NABU) with support from regional joineries and farms to provide the endangered species with a new home. Four displays can be found at the foot of the tower. They provide a portrait of the bat and present information about the old waterworks as wintering grounds, as well as about the animals’ diet and hunting. NABU Bad Soden offers bat observation sessions in the listed Neuenhain waterworks several times a year. The mammals often come to visit. A bat meadow with night-blooming plants has also been created by a local nursery to provide the bats with a protected habitat. Visitors can observe the animals here in their natural habitat, especially at dusk.
A visit to the Kranichstein bioversum in Darmstadt in South Hessen gives nature lovers a chance to look through a huge glass display to see a true-to-life world of diversity created on a small scale. From beech forests at the turn of the season to natural streams, fish ponds and fields to the historical Schlosspark – both adults and children can embark on a natural journey of discovery in the bioversum. A total of 17 themed areas provide information about the various animals, plants and fungi and offer insights into the topics of biodiversity, genetics and habitats. Young visitors will love the quizzes and dramatised readings that provide information about the biology of the beech forest and complement the written information. The bioversum is open from October 2017 to March 2018, from Tuesdays to Fridays from 11am to 5pm. It is open from 10am to 5pm on weekends and public holidays. It costs 5 EUR for adults and 3 EUR for children between the ages of 4 and 16.
Morass can be found maturing in a total of eleven moor pits in the Gerstruth Valley in the Taunus. Morass is one of the most sustainable natural remedies in Hessen. After being stored for ten years in numerous ponds so it has chance to regenerate, the morass is returned to the mud bath house for use: Visitors can enjoy a soothing treatment with the natural remedy and pamper themselves. A trip on the “Bad Schwalbach Kurbahn” train is an interesting way to travel through the natural marshland. The train has been running on selected Sundays and public holidays for over 16 years now. The new carriages have been designed specifically for transporting passengers. The train departs from the former mud bath house from 10:30am onwards. The last departure is at 5:30pm. A return trip costs 4 EUR for adults and 2 EUR for children. Children under four years travel free of charge.
Situated in a densely forested valley in the heart of the Rhine-Taunus nature reserve, the small spa town of Schlangenbad awaits with its largely unspoilt forests and special natural monuments like the “wild man”. The 1,700-hectare FSC-certified community forest is home to an exceptional level of biodiversity and offers a good habitat for native flora and fauna thanks to its ecological niches. Over 2,000 designated habitat trees provide valuable habitats for indigenous animals with their caves and eyries. Nature lovers can look forward to seeing a range of animals during a visit to the Schlangenbad Forest, including some endangered species like the Aesculapian snake, the Bechstein’s bat, wild cats, black storks and the European lynx. You can observe the animals from near and far. The Schlangenbad Forest is free to visit all-year-round.
Giant ancient trees, mighty oaks, beeches, spruce and pine combine to form the largest contiguous area of mixed forest in Germany – the Spessart. You can observe rare animals like beavers, otters and wild cats, and you can discover interesting plant species like the checkered lily and various herbs and fungi. Visitors to the “Wurzeltrapp Wilderness School” in Jossgrund in the Spessart can learn how to lead a sustainable life in and around nature. Axel Trapp is an expert with plenty of interesting facts to share. He teaches survival skills like animal tracking to help you survive in the wild. The Wilderness School holds a range of events and courses on the environment, sustainability and surviving in the wild throughout the year. Prices available on request.
Wildflower meadows are amongst the most species-rich habitats for plants and animals in Europe. One example is the Reifenberg meadows in Schmitten-Oberreifenberg on the northern slope of the Großer Feldberg. The nature reserve has been acknowledged by the UN Decade Project for its excellent contribution to the conservation of biological diversity. The extremely nutrient-rich soil is home to numerous wild flowers, which in turn provide a paradise for around 36 different species of butterflies, wild bees and birds. The wildflower meadows span an area of 5.5 hectares and provide a habitat for the critically endangered and protected medicinal plant, arnica. Families interested in leading an eco-friendly life will love spending a short holiday in the Upper Taunus region. You can spend the night in a sustainable hotel: The 100th certified green hotel “Naturpark Hotel Weilquelle im Taunus” is located right by the Reifenberg meadows. The hotel attaches a lot of important to sustainable and ecological diversity, and prices start at 79 EUR per night.
Eight years ago, four young men travelled through the Odenwald mountains in South Hessen. They were on a mission to preserve the landscape with its colourful orchards and reawaken an awareness of the local fruits. They worked together with numerous helpers to set up the “scattered orchard saviours” and set about removing the bushes and overgrown areas of the orchards to create new fields of fruit. Flocks of sheep also play their part by grazing in the meadows. Nature lovers can also help by sponsoring a tree. They can plant a fruit tree in one of the newly created orchards, and the fruit will be harvested each autumn. From apples to pears, cherries, plums, yellow plums, apricots and walnuts, as well as rare and wild fruit – the fresh harvest invites you to take part in the sustainable processing of the juices to create cider, jam, jelly and more. It costs 75 EUR to plant your own fruit tree.
Situated in the centre of Germany, Hessen’s regions and cities offer attractive holiday destinations and leisure activities for walkers, cyclists, culture vultures, nature lovers, families and those looking to relax and unwind. Idyllic timber-framed towns and big city flair, over 3,300 kilometres of long-distance cycle routes, numerous cultural events, 31 spas and health resorts, over 3,000 kilometres of certified hiking trails, a large selection of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and an abundance of castles, palaces and museums − Hessen is a land full of contrasts.
For more information, please visit: www.hessen-tourismus.de
HA Hessen Agentur GmbH is responsible for marketing tourism and conventions on behalf of the Hessen State Government.