The Black Forest – authentic clocks and more...
Due to its diverse uniqueness and features, the Black Forest is one of the most well-known and popular vacation regions in Germany. The impressive topography of this low mountain range, located in the tri-border region of Switzerland – France – Germany, was decisively shaped by the last ice age.
A bit of history
The Romans already built a road through the Black Forest, which was in part also the frontier of the Roman Empire. Sections of this antique road are open for tourists nowadays under the name "The Neckar-Alb Roman Road". The Romans also gave the inaccessible and densely wooded region its richly imaged name “Silva nigra”, black forest. But settlement by the Romans only took place in the borderlands. Between the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, the Alemanni advanced into Black Forest and permanently settled there in the following centuries. To this day, both the local dialect and the customs have an unmistakable Alemannic influence.
That the Black Forest – parts of which were almost completely deforested after major over-exploitation in the Middle Ages – is once again the largest continuous forest region in Germany today is thanks to the major reforestation movements in the 19th century. Since then, instead of the original deciduous forests, mainly spruce characterizes the look of the highest of Germany’s low mountain ranges, which stretches along the upper Rhine for approx. 160 km with a maximum breadth of 60 km, whereby the southern part of the Black Forest is topographically rougher and craggier. Here the mountains are higher, and the valleys are deeper. And here you still find numerous upland moors and spectacular gorges like the Wutach Gorge. Many of the names from the southern Black Forest are known far beyond the German borders, such as Kaiserstuhl, Lörrach, Lake Titisee or Freiburg. The highest elevation is the Feldberg, which can be proud of its height of 1493 meters above sea level. Fascinating and partially almost untouched nature here offers countless possibilities to those who seek relaxation.
In the winter, tourists can get in shape on cross-country ski runs and downhill slopes, in the summer you are offered the chance to explore the countless hiking trails and paths, in part overwhelming with their scenery, and whose impressively dense network extends a good 20,000 km in total. Riding bicycles, especially mountain biking, and water sports and swimming in the one of the famous lakes (second to one, of course, is Lake Titisee, the region’s largest natural lake, or Lake Schluchsee and Lake Feldsee) also provide entertainment. The southern Black Forest, often called the Hochschwarzwald (High Black Forest), is also the warmest region in Germany. The region around Kaiserstuhl produces outstanding wines, and the palate also does not have to go without special treatment in this nature-oriented region, which consistently provides many fresh ingredients. Black Forest cuisine is hearty and flavorful, and, with several specialties such as the famous Black Forest ham or Black Forest cherry cake, has also given distinction to the name Black Forest and made it internationally well-known.
Black Forest cuckoo clocks as a symbol of Germany
The same applies to the regional handicrafts. Tradition and customs play an even more significant role in the Black Forest than in other areas of Germany. The Black Forest inhabitants are proud of the special features of their region and know how to make their regional products known around the world, with skill and quality consciousness. In addition to the above-mentioned culinary delicacies, particularly the Black Forest clocks have obtained international renown. The most well-known representative of the art of Black Forest clock-making, the cuckoo clock, is not only a kind of symbol of the Black Forest, in the meantime it is also viewed by countries nearby and far away as THE German product par excellence. The clock industry with its world-famous cuckoo clocks remains an important branch of industry of the Black Forest. In this time of globalization, it has been able to successfully hold its ground and clearly distinguish itself from cheap Asian imports.
Places of interest related to cuckoo clocks
One interesting tourist feature related to this subject is the German Clock Route, which ambles through the Black Forest, along the centers of Black Forest clock production. Its path is lined with numerous museums, clock-making workshops and clock factories. The German Clock Museum in Furtwangen also offers a lot of information and insight for those who are interested. In addition to a multitude of historical and other Black Forest clocks, it provides demonstrative glimpses into the history and traditions of the handicraft of clock-making. Overall, more than 8,000 exhibits are there to be enjoyed. It is the most extensive museum of its kind.
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