About 100 km south-east of Berlin in the State of Brandenburg, lies the beautiful Spreewald Biosphere Reserve. This low-lying area in which the river Spree meanders in hundreds of small waterways through meadows and unspoiled forests is one of Germany’s most beautiful and greenest holiday destinations.
Like most of Brandenburg, this region was sculpted during the last Ice Age by the retreating glaciers. As the glaciers began to melt and disappear, it left behind a delicate network of streams interspersed by small heaps of sand islands raised through deposits. Over the course of time, further deposition formed flat marshlands with thick forests of pines, birch, willow, oak, lime and alder.
The Spreewald has been settled since thousands of years. Between the 2nd and the 5th century, Germanic tribes lived here. In the 6th century, during the course of the great migration, the first Slavic settlers arrived here. 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.
Today, the small sandy islands that developed by silt deposition is home to farmlands and residential houses. Every house and every farmstead has its own small port and a boat by which the harvest is fetched from the fields and the children go to school.
Spreewald is well worth a great day trip from Berlin. Visitors come to this UNESCO biosphere reserve to hike, fish and punt, canoe or kayak on its extensive network of waterways called “Fließe”. Boating and paddling are some of the most popular activities in Spreewald, but there are also other sights to see such as churches, castles and museums.