East Germany’s old-time mines be converted into new reservoir region

Despite a 2.2 bn regeneration curriculum, the Lusatian Lake District project, on land once resided by the GDRs industrial stronghold, remains relatively unknown to non-east Germans. So we took a tour

This was once one of the dirtiest areas in East Germany, enunciates Sren, my tour guide from IBA Tours, as our bikes swoosh through the Lusatian Lake District. When I was growing up here, before the Wall descended, we never hung our laundry outside, and we never wore white-hot socks, because we knew they wouldnt be white after a few minutes. The coal dust was everywhere, all the time.

Its difficult to connect this information with the pristine landscape around us, all surging pine forests, glistening ponds and immaculate asphalt cycles/second routes. The only other large mansions of life have been a smattering of fellow cyclists and a sedge of cranes in a field. We havent see, let alone examined, a motorised vehicle and theres surely no coal dust in the air now.

Aerial scene of the Lusatian Lakeland. Image: Alamy

The development of this region is one of the former GDRs biggest success storeys, altering what was once one of its primary lignite-producing areas into the largest artificial lakeland in Europe, straining 50 miles across the states of Saxony and Brandenburg. The popular Spreewald area is just to the north, the Polish and Czech borderlines are around 55 miles away as is the handsome municipality of Dresden and Berlin can be reached by train in an hour and a half. Its plotting to think that each of the 26 ponds that make up this region was once an opencast excavation. The mining resumed throughout the 20 th century, reaching peak product under the GDR regime, which was highly dependant on lignite as a natural force asset, especially in accordance with the 1970 s oil crisis.

The idea of making excavations into recreational lagoons actually began in the GDR, when one of the mines near Senftenberg was spate in 1973, on the recommendation of landscape planner Otto Rindt. Lake Senftenberg nicknamed Dresdens Bathtub subsequently became the blueprint for the current growing. Following reunification, the remaining excavations were either taken over and cleaned up by Swedish corporation Vattenfall, or handed over to the federally owned LMBV( founded in 1994) for metamorphosi into recreational areas.

Upper Lusatian heath and pond area in Saxony. Picture: Alamy

Around 13 reservoirs are already accessible, with the rest a year or two away from ending, at a total cost so far of around 2.2 bn. There are cycling courses girdling each lagoon, many of which criss-cross to create a 300 -mile network. The center radical either have been, or soon will be, connected by waterways, and associated infrastructures are being individually developed in an attempt to create a variety of experiences.

Some reservoirs have been left relatively undeveloped, while others, like the more eastern Spreetaler See, has been earmarked for unruly watersports. The most developed ponds Senftenberger and Geierswalder, connected by a 50 m canal are mostly geared toward houses. Here you can find beaches, cafes and restaurants, and activities straddling from angling and mare riding to quad-biking and diving. Accommodation strays from campsites to floating rental apartments and the four-star Seeschlsschen Ayurveda Spa& Hotel.

Volleyball on Senftenberger lake beach. Picture: Alamy

According to Kathrin Winkler, director of Lusatian Lakeland Tourism, visits to the place have been increasing 10% yearly. In 2015, there were around 300,000 overnight stay on Lake Senftenberg alone, with another 200,000 spread around the rest of the lakes. Most of the sightseers hail from Saxony, Brandenburg and the Czech Republic, exemplifying how countries of the region has managed to remain something of a neighbourhood secret.

The lakeland also carries massive symbolic value in terms of the countrys Energiewende , part of Angela Merkels renewable energy act, under which all nuclear power stations are to be closed by 2022 in an ambitious push towards clean energy. However, with lignite( together with stone coal) still affording 41.9% of national strength, various quarries are still in operation around the country, including 3 in the Lake District.

Cyclists at Grorschener lake.

After ending our 11 -mile ride around Geierswalder lake, Sren produces me to a not-quite-finished one at Grossrchener, where his offices dominate the former buildings of the IB-ASee a federal and EU-funded project that, between 2000 and 2010, contributed a huge lift to the arena with around 30 inventive programmes. Some, like a floating detection centre, are still awaiting finish, but finished areas such as the visitor cores in former mines and power station, a water athletics centre in Sedlitzand the Rusty Nail a rust-coloured architectural tower with stellar thoughts over the domain are now connected via the Lusatian Route of Industrial Heritage.

The former IBA agencies , now known as the IB-ATerrassen, include a reasonably slick cafe-restaurant thats fronted by an attractive vineyard sloping down towards the pond. The contiguous marina is still in progress but the neighboring Seehotel Grorschen is already up and running. Initially built in the 1920 s for Polish excavation works, its now a whoosh four-star with an intriguing museum of forge artwork made by the Russian Posin brothers.

As we extend replication of decorates, including a Mona Lisa, Sren observes: They are perfect for the field, arent they? I look at him , nonplussed. Theyre artificial, more, he smiles.

The trip was provided by Brandenburg Tourism and Germany Travel . Accommodation was provided by Seehotel Grorschen ( seehotel-grossraeschen.de ), redoubles from 109 B& B. For further information on the expanse, trip lausitzerseenland.de

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