The Black Forest National Park in Germany, in detail

A trip through Germany’s Black Forest, a natural masterpiece


Dear readers, in this issue we open the series of articles about national parks in Germany. Everyone knows that Germans are reverent about nature and cherish it. It is in Germany that you can often see falcons and hawks fluttering over the highway, pheasants and storks walking along country roads, even in the parks of megalopolises you can often see hares and foxes. National parks are an essential part of the German way of life and German recreation.

A symbol of national pride

First of all, let’s define what a “national park” is. According to the German-language Wikipedia, a national park is defined as “an extensive protected area that is subject only to natural development and is protected from unwanted human impact and pollution. As a rule, these areas have special ecological value, outstanding landscape attraction, and are managed by the state.”

Germany also has “nature parks” (Naturpark). In contrast to national parks – these are “protected natural areas created with the participation, use and economic activities of man,” and there are 102 of them in the country, national parks are more unique – there are only 16 of them in Germany.

The idea of creating a national park first originated in 1810 with the English poet William Wordsworth. It was supported and developed by poets, artists and scientists in other countries. The first national park in the United States, Yellowstone National Park, started in 1872. Since then, national parks have appeared in many countries around the world; each one is original and interesting in its own way. But all of them share a common idea: to preserve nature for future generations. And everywhere they are a symbol of national pride. Often they are used for tourism (I would translate the German term “Sanfter Tourismus” as “gentle tourism”) and recreation.

Germany’s first national park, the Bavarian Forest (Nationalpark Bayerischer Wald), was founded in 1970, while the youngest, Nationalpark Schwarzwald and Nationalpark Hunsrück-Hochwald, were founded in 2014 and 2015, respectively.


“German Tuscany.”

This time I will talk about Germany’s youngest national park, the Black Forest National Park . In it you will find a lot to see in any season. The Black Forest Park was founded in 2014 in Baden-Württemberg. These picturesque places are called “German Tuscany” and not without reason. The nature here is almost untouched and unique in its beauty.

The name Schwarzwald (Schwarzwald – black forest) was derived from the dark color of the bark of the trees. The trees here grow close to each other, and little light enters the forest. However, despite the name, in reality, the forest is neither black nor gloomy. The scenery here is truly dreamlike. Walking through these forests, one is reminded of the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales. Remember, the action often takes place in the forest.

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The Black Forest National Park is located primarily between the Schwarzwaldhochstraße mountain road and the Murg river valley. The park consists of two parts, separated from each other by 3.5 kilometers: Ruhestein (7.615 ha) and Hoher Ochsenkopf / Plättig (2,447 ha). Thus, the total area of this national park is 10,062 hectares.

The mountains of the park reach a height of more than 1000 m above sea level. When you come to Schwarzwald you have the unique opportunity to walk through coniferous and mixed high-altitude forests, upland plains, protected forests, swamps and kar (bowl-shaped depressions formed during the glacial period).

It should be noted that when talking about the Black Forest, it is not difficult for the uninitiated to get confused. The fact is that the name “Black Forest” is not only the national park itself, but the entire region and the mountain range.


Kings and emperors, aristocrats and political figures came here to improve their health.

A bit of history: two thousand years ago the Roman legionaries got here. Having found thermal springs in a beautiful forest, they created thermae for hygiene and therapy. Thus the Black Forest became a favourite resort of the Roman nobility. Over time the spa grew, kings and emperors, writers and artists, aristocrats and politicians came here for their health. Even today, there are thermal baths in 13 towns in the Black Forest. You can find information about them at:


Tours and excursions

Today, visitors to the park are offered a varied program of tours, excursions and information events all year round. Especially many tours are offered for families with children. For example, on the trail “Wild animals are just around the corner” (Wildnis hautnah), you can see with your own eyes how a bear, a fox, a deer or even a lynx wanders through the trees. On the tour “For mushrooms” (Pilzführung) children will be taught to distinguish edible from inedible mushrooms, they will be told where mushrooms “hide” and how to find them. Other tours and excursions teach children how to build bird feeders and distinguish their voices, discover different kinds of insects and observe their life.

There are also many interesting programs for adults. For example, in the course of survival in the woods “Cooking and sleeping in the woods” (Kochen und Übernachten in der Wildnis) you will learn different recipes of cooking on an open fire and safety techniques for sleeping in the woods in the vicinity of predators. Photo enthusiasts will be interested in the course “Nationalpark Schwarzwald – ein fotografischer Streifzug”. And if you are lucky, you will take unique shots of wild animals from the forest. For art lovers there is a program “Balladen und Musik” (Ballads and Music). In the forest clearing, to the singing of the birds, the audience is invited to listen to music and ancient ballads about trials and love, human destinies and, of course, nature.

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For program information and schedules, visit the national park’s website at or call:

07223/ 95 77 15 0. The address of the park administration is Hauptstraße 94, 77830 Bühlertal.


The Pearl of the Black Forest and its symbol

If you find yourself in the Black Forest, be sure to visit its pearl, the clear-blue mountain lake Titisee. This is one of the most ecologically friendly lakes in Germany. The water in the lake is so pure that you can drink it without fear. Interestingly enough, there is a cute legend associated with the lake. It is said that its name Titisee owes to the Roman general Titus. In the first century A.D. he and his legions passed through the Black Forest. He was so fascinated by the beauty of the lake that he immediately gave it his name.

Worthy of special attention is a small but very cozy little town of Triberg (Triberg im Schwarzwald) with gingerbread houses. It is known for the highest seven-cascade waterfall in Germany, the height of which is 163 meters. Powerful cascades of water fall from the cliff with a noise. This is an unforgettable experience! Address: Hauptstrasse 85, 78098 Trieberg im Schwarzwald.

Trieberg is also famous for the invention of the cuckoo clock – the symbol of the Black Forest. The village of Schönach im Schwarzwald (address: Untertalstrasse 28, 78136 Schonach) has the biggest cuckoo clock in the world, listed in the Guinness Book of Records. Made of linden wood, it measures 4.50 meters by 4.50 meters. The pendulum alone weighs a hefty 100 kilograms. The clock itself weighs 6 tons! It is 60 times bigger than an ordinary cuckoo clock. Visitors can go inside the clock and see how it works. In addition to Triberg and Schönwald, there are several such “cuckoo’s nests” that form a popular tourist route called the “German Clock Road” . It begins in the Middle Black Forest, runs through the southern Black Forest and ends in the Bar region. By the way, a cuckoo clock is a great gift from Germany.

The website of the world’s largest cuckoo clock:

Nearby, in the town of Gutach, is the unusual open-air museum Schwarzwälder Freilichtmuseum “Vogtsbauernhof”. The museum is a reconstruction of a sixteenth- and nineteenth-century farmhouse. The unusual buildings with thatched roofs, typical only for the Black Forest, form an entire village here. You can immerse yourself in the life of the old village, look inside the village houses and even learn how to milk a cow. However, you won’t be allowed to see a real cow right away; first you’ll be offered a chance to practice on a simulator. In local stores at the exit of the village you can buy fresh and, of course, natural products of local farmers. Address: Vogtsbauernhof, 77793 Gutach-Schwarzwaldbahn.

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In the amusement park

If you’re traveling with children to these fabulous places, you’ll probably be interested in Europa-Park in the town of Rust. This is the second most visited amusement park in Europe after Disneyland Paris. Here you can find yourself in several countries of Europe – England, Italy, Spain, Russia, Scandinavia (a total of 15 European countries have been recreated), and see the various costume shows.

When you get tired of traveling and stop in a local restaurant for lunch, don’t forget to order the famous cherry cake for dessert. It’s the calling card of the Black Forest, and the Germans themselves call it “the red, black and white queen.”

The Black Forest is beloved by both Germans and tourists from other countries. Our compatriot poet Marina Tsvetaeva also admired these fabulous places. This is how she described these places:

Those who see torment in every moment, Come here, weary brother! All that you dreamed will come true as in a book, Dark Black Forest is rich in tales!

Black Forest

The Black Forest is a mountain range in southwest Germany. It is densely overgrown with coniferous forests, so it appears dark. Hence the name, which in Russian translates as “black forest. The legendary spa town of Baden-Baden is precisely in these picturesque surroundings, and that’s saying a lot!

Where is it

The Black Forest is located in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. The mountain range stretches from north to south along the Rhine valley. Because the mountains are overgrown with beech, pine, and spruce, they do not appear to be high and are often seen as hills. Outwardly, the area looks like a chaotic alternation of domed and flat mountains that are separated by valleys. The highest point is considered to be Mount Feldberg with a height of 1,493 m. In Germany, with the exception of the Alps, there are no higher mountains. Forests cover about 65% of the area.

The length of the mountain range is 158 km. The greatest width it has in the south is about 60 km. The narrowest part is in the north – 30 km. As a rule, the western slopes towards the Rhine are quite high and steep. In some places they form picturesque steep terraces. In contrast, the eastern slopes rise gently from the Swabian Plateau. Sometimes it’s hard to even realize that you’re already in the mountains.

Typical mountain town

A typical mountain town

Baden-Württemberg has fertile soil and a very mild climate, so these places are equally good for agriculture and tourism. There are many vineyards, and the mineral water and spas are known throughout the world. The land is densely populated – about 13% of the population of Germany live here.

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Mountainous area

It is hard to believe, but it is in the Black Forest where the Danube, the second largest river in Europe, rises. Its sources are near the town of Donaueschingen. Here, at an altitude of 678 m above sea level, the mountain streams Breg and Brigach merge. The town even has a monument dedicated to this extraordinary object. It is located near the walls of the castle palace and is designed in the form of an active source. Often tour guides pass it off as the real source of the Danube.

Baden-Württemberg is famous for its vineyards

The land of Baden-Württemberg is famous for its vineyards

One of the most beautiful waterfalls on the river Gutach is the Tryberg, falling from a height of 163 m. The falls have a luxurious stone “bath” for bathing. It is one of the highest waterfalls in Germany. In the south of the Black Forest is very beautiful lake Titise. Its mirror is framed by the mountains, and on the shore is the town of Titisee-Neustadt. Like Schluchse, the largest lake in the region, Titisee is of glacial origin.

Another treasure of the Black Forest is the numerous mountain and mineral springs. As far back as the early first millennium the Romans were curing with water from springs that gushed out of the ground in the valley of the river Oos. The water of the thermal springs contained biologically active substances that facilitated the assimilation of microelements and vitamins by the body. It stimulated the blood supply to muscles and joints.

A stone “bath” for bathing was formed in the place where the water fell

The climate in this area is very mild, which was also a favorable condition for the emergence of popular resorts. There is no stifling heat in summer and no cold in winter. There are no strong winds in the Black Forest. The rain falls in moderation, and there is never a surplus of snow. A curative effect has the air itself, which is saturated with negatively charged ions. It is complemented by phytoncides, which kill pathogenic bacteria. They are supplied in abundance by coniferous trees.

The treasures of the black forest

Not always these beautiful places were called the Black Forest. In ancient times they were called the Abnob Mountains. Later they changed two more names – the Marzee Forest and the Raurik Mountains. Until the fourth century AD, these lands belonged to the Romans. To them it was Marciana Silva. The name had nothing to do with the Red Planet, as it was translated as “frontier forest”. The mountain range served as a natural border with the Germanic tribe of Marcomanni. The exact date when the array received its present name, history has not preserved.

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Residential buildings match the terrain to a tee

The dwellings are fully consistent with the terrain

During the Middle Ages, these lands were valuable not because of their beautiful scenery, but because of the deposits of lead and silver. The precious metals were mined for several centuries. Alas, the densely populated region was deserted at the beginning of the 16th century. In 1516, a plague broke out, and ten years later there was a major peasant uprising. The trades were restored only a hundred years later, and people began returning to these blessed places.

In places, the forest looks like a taiga

In some places, the forest resembles a taiga.

This area has managed to preserve its identity to this day. Customs, things and dishes found nowhere else in Germany are to be found here. The locals wear special national clothes. Here the houses are built differently. The visiting card of the region is the Black Forest cherry cake. This delicious dessert is made from chocolate sponge cake soaked in Kirschwasser (a strong drink based on cherries), cherries and whipped cream. The cake has been world famous since the 1930s. No less popular is the Black Forest smoked ham.

The stuff of the capital

The towns and cities in the Black Forest have a variety of sights of all kinds. Among the towns the most famous is the legendary spa town of Baden-Baden, which is known as the summer capital of Europe. Located between the Black Forest and the Rhine valley it is famous for its healing mineral waters and its special mild, almost Mediterranean, climate.

The Caracalla in Baden-Baden

The Caracalla in Baden-Baden

The main attraction of the resort and the goal of vacationers is the Caracalla – the thermal baths. Thirty-three springs of natural hot water with a temperature of 60 degrees were discovered by the Romans in the vicinity of the Florentine mountain. Nearby is the Friedrichsbad, the Roman-Irish baths, which offer a combination of steam baths, baths and massages. Underneath the building are the ruins of Roman thermae, which are up to 2,000 years old.

Central Baden-Baden pump room

Central Baths of Baden-Baden

Of course, we should also mention Stuttgart, the capital of Baden-Württemberg. The city has many churches, palaces and parks. The old palace was built in the 13th century as a castle surrounded by a moat. The palace houses the Museum of Württemberg. To the north of the center of the old town is the New Palace, built in the early 19th century. It adjoins the Upper Palace Park. Interesting are the wine museum and the car museums Porsche and Mercedes-Benz.

How to get there

There are direct flights from Moscow to Stuttgart, as well as flights from Moscow and St. Petersburg with a connection in Frankfurt am Main.

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