Black Forest (Schwarzwald), Germany – Here there be witches

The Black Forest (Schwarzwald) is a major feature of the state of Baden-Württemberg. It runs from flatter areas in the north to mountains separating Switzerland and Germany in the south. The Schwarzwald contains a cornucopia of geography, geology and topography. These include mountains, valleys, large lakes and even the largest waterfall (in Triberg) in Germany. No matter what kind of in-land nature you prefer seeing, you can find what you are looking for.

Historical influences

This forest has been important throughout history. The Celts named the forest after one of their deities. The Romans knew it as the Border Forest. The Germanic tribes who colonised it called it home. The Schwarzwald has also been the site for organising many German peasant revolts and hosts a series of military fortifications.

The Schwarzwald has also heavily influenced local cultures (the Trachten is the dress of choice [not the dirndl], Fastnacht [with witches!] instead of Karnival, fairy tales, etc.). Historically, local industries include logging and mining as well as wood carving and hunting. The cuisine of the Black Forest includes the famous Black Forest gâteau (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte) and the equally famous Black Forest Ham. Another popular item is Kirschwasser, or cherry liquor, which is also used when making Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte.

What can I do there?

Today, the Schwarzwald plays host to eco-tourism as well as those looking to hike, climb or get away from the summer heat (since the forest stays relatively cool during the summer in comparison with the valley regions). In Freiburg especially, which is known as the Gateway to the Black Forest, the hill next to the city centre is already the start of the Schwarzwald. Many villages in the forest are simply in the valleys or glades that break up the continuity of the forest and so the Black Forest is a daily fact of life.

If you are in the area, do not hesitate to visit the forest. Especially in the summer, where temperatures easily reach 30°C (86°F) or higher (usually higher) with added humidity near 100% in places with little or no air conditioning, the Black Forest acts as the perfect get-away to return to the range of 24°C (75°C) with a lot less humidity.

Here are some more photos from the Black Forest area:

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