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History of the Spreewald

Fließ mit blühendem Baum

Ice Age processes formed the natural landscape of the Spreewald which is unique in Europe. At the beginning of the 1990s, a 475 km² area was declared a UNESCO Spreewald Biosphere Reserve.

"And so as the network of Spree canals lacks nothing of the flair of Venice, the Spreewald gondolier ploughs his furrow through the endlessly tangled web of streams in his boat!" - Theodor Fontane

Ice Age creation of the Spreewald

The Spreewald owes its creation to the last Ice Age. When the glaciers began to melt, the delicate network of streams was formed between which small islands of sand were raised through deposits. The first scattered settlements grew up in the 17th century on these sandy elevations known as Kaupen. Burg-Kauper is today one of the best-known scattered settlements in the Spreewald.

Over the course of time, further deposition processes formed flat marshlands with thick forestation from pines, birch, willow, oak, lime and alder. The first settlers found a lush woodland countryside inhabited by moose, bears and wolves.

The time of settlements in the Spreewald

Germanic tribes settled in the Spreewald from the 2nd to the 5th century but they left the area again. The first Slavic settlers (Sorbs) arrived here in the course of the great migration in the 6th century. Under them, the natural landscape in the Spreewald developed into a cultivated landscape. A large part of the woods made way for agricultural land and a mosaic of fields, meadows, pastures and farms made their mark on the landscape from now onwards.

The lifeline of water in the Spreewald

Fließ im Spreewald

Then as now, water determines the rhythm of life among the people living in the Spreewald. Every farmstead has its own small port and a boat with which in earlier times the harvest was fetched from the fields and the children brought to school. Even today, the waterways still serve to transport food and post.

Due to the untamed nature of the water, the first dams were built at the beginning of the 20th century which were intended to regulate the water level and prevent failed harvests. To this day, they allow largely unhindered boat trips in the Spreewald.

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