The Schwarzatal approx. 12.1 km (max. 28 min. by car) from Rudolstadt
In the middle of Thuringia, on the northern edge of the Thuringian Slate Mountains, is the Schwarzatal, a good 50 km long valley. As one of the oldest nature reserves in the whole of Thuringia, the valley stands for wildly romantic, unspoilt nature and invites you to relax as well as to various sporting activities such as extended hikes.
The Schwarzatal is a so-called Kerbtal, which has dug deep into the surrounding mountains of the Thuringian slate mountains. The valley is now part of a project unique in Germany – the newly created nature park called “Thüringer Wald”.
Flora and fauna in the Schwarzatal
The wildly romantic and original Black Valley is traditionally home to many animal and plant species that are rare today. For example, the nature reserve offers optimal conditions for the settlement of butterflies. No wonder that one of the richest populations of butterflies in Europe can be found here. But that’s not all: numerous other animals, which have become extremely rare in Germany, also found a home in the Black Valley. Among them for example the kingfisher or the brook lamprey.
The variety of different plant species in the Black Valley is also impressive. Numerous orchid species, which can hardly be found elsewhere in Germany, grow here wild and thrive splendidly.
The infrastructure in the Schwarzatal
During the last century much has been done to preserve the Black Valley in its original beauty and as home for countless animal and plant species, but also to make this wonderful part of the world as accessible as possible for visitors. Today the Schwarzatal is criss-crossed by lovingly laid out and very well signposted hiking trails. Almost the entire valley can be walked through on different routes and at different levels of difficulty, there are routes available for physically less fit people and beginners as well as routes that are quite demanding. All routes are laid out in such a way that they always lead past places to rest and places to go on excursions, etc. In this way, the hiker can get some strength in between and rest from the exertions.
The hiking trails are installed in such a way that they follow the varied terrain profile in the best possible way, giving hikers the opportunity to enjoy breathtaking views of the entire surrounding low mountain range again and again and to enjoy perfect photo motifs. By the way, the hiking trails can also be mastered by bike, but even here a good condition should be present, because the ascents are not to be despised partly!
Special attractions in the Schwarzatal
To make your excursion to the Black Valley even more tasty, we have compiled a number of attractions that are particularly worth seeing:
Nature Trail Heinrich Cotta
Heinrich Cotta was a forester who lived in Thuringia in the 18th and 19th centuries and opened a forestry college in Tharandt in 1811. From this educational institution finally emerged the well-known Forestry Academy. In honour of the founder, students began to set up a nature trail at the end of the 1960s, to which they gave his name. This Lahrpfad has been extended over the years, today it leads from Schwarzburg via Sitzendorf, Cordobang, Böhlscheiben, Griesbachfelsen to Bad Blankenburg and back to Schwarzburg. Along the path there are numerous signposts to various topics around nature. Thus, visitors can not only enjoy nature, but also learn important background information.
Olitäten hiking trail
The Olitätenwanderweg is the name of a former trade and postal route, on which herbalists, among others, used it to make their olities. These are valuable aromatic oils that have been used for medical purposes, among other things. Today there are various oil trails in Thuringia, including in the Black Valley. The way is signposted, special signs offer a lot of interesting information about the plants and herbs.
Picturesquely situated on an elevation in the Black Valley, Schwarzburg Castle is a combination of castle ruins and a newly built, impressive Baroque castle. Here a visit is worthwhile in any case!
Mountain railway Oberweißbach
Real railway fans will get their heart racing when they take the Oberweißbach mountain railway. This is a funicular railway that is considered the steepest in the world with a gradient of around 25%. The ascent to the top station takes about 18 minutes, after which you have the opportunity to drive another 2.5 kilometres through the mountain panorama to Cursdorf in a historic railcar.
Another worthwhile destination in the Black Valley is Greifenstein Castle. It is one of the largest feudal castles in Germany and is located on the local mountain of Bad Blankenburg, in the nature reserve above the entrance to the Black Valley. Especially in the 13th and 14th century this impressive castle experienced its heyday. The well-to-do Blankenburg counts ruled. It was not until the construction of Heidecksburg Castle in Rudolstadt in the 16th century that Greifenstein Castle lost its status as a residence and was gradually abandoned. It then slowly disintegrated. In the 19th and 20th centuries the castle was rebuilt in many small sections. Today it is a very popular destination for visitors from near and far.
We hope that our small collection of sights in the Black Valley will make you want to visit this wonderful part of the world.