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Black Forest

Black Forest
A map of Germany, showing the outlines of the Black Forest in green.
Length 150 km (93 mi)
Country Germany
State/Province Baden-Württemberg
Range coordinates
Parent range Southwest German Uplands/Scarplands
Orogeny Central Uplands
Type of rock Gneiss, Bunter sandstone

The Black Forest (German: Schwarzwald, pronounced ) is a wooded mountain range in Baden-Württemberg, southwestern Germany. It is bordered by the Rhine valley to the west and south. The highest peak is the Feldberg with an elevation of 1,493 metres (4,898 ft). The region is almost rectangular with a length of 160 km (99 mi) and breadth of up to 60 km (37 mi).


  • Geology 1
  • Rivers 2
  • Mountains 3
  • Political jurisdiction 4
  • Ecology and economy 5
  • Points of interest 6
  • Fauna 7
  • Tourism and transport 8
    • Sights and attractions 8.1
  • Culture 9
    • Crafts 9.1
    • Culinary 9.2
    • Fasnet 9.3
  • Gallery 10
  • See also 11
  • Notes 12
  • References 13
  • Further reading 14
  • External links 15


Topography of the Black Forest

The Black Forest consists of a cover of sandstone on top of a core of gneiss and granites. Formerly it shared tectonic evolution with the nearby Vosges Mountains. Later during the Middle Eocene a rifting period affected the area and caused formation of the Rhine graben. During the last glacial period of the Würm glaciation, the Black Forest was covered by glaciers; several tarns (or lakes) such as the Mummelsee are remains of this period.


Rivers in the Black Forest include the Danube (which originates in the Black Forest as the confluence of the Brigach and Breg rivers), the Enz, the Kinzig, the Murg, the Nagold, the Neckar, the Rench, and the Wiese. The Black Forest occupies part of the continental divide between the Atlantic Ocean drainage basin (drained by the Rhine) and the Black Sea drainage basin (drained by the Danube).


Some of the highest mountains in the Black Forest are:

Political jurisdiction

An unmarried Girl of the Black Forest wearing a red Bollenhut (1900)

Administratively, the Black Forest belongs completely to the state of Baden-Württemberg and comprises the cities of Pforzheim, Baden-Baden and Freiburg as well as the following districts (Kreise). In the north: Enz, Rastatt and Calw; in the middle: Freudenstadt, Ortenaukreis and Rottweil; in the south: Emmendingen, Schwarzwald-Baar, Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald, Lörrach and Waldshut.

Ecology and economy

The forest mostly consists of pines and firs, chiefly a mixture of the European native Norway Spruce and American imported Douglas Fir and White Pine. Some of them are grown in commercial monoculture. Similar to other forested regions, the Black Forest has had areas that were annihilated by mass logging. Due to logging and changes in land use, the forest proper is only a fraction of its original size and the original hardwood trees were replaced by fast-growing conifers. The cyclone Lothar downed trees on hundreds of acres of mountaintops in 1999. This left some of the high peaks and scenic hills bare, with only primary growth shrubs and young fir trees.

The main industry is tourism. In addition to the towns and monuments noted below, the Black Forest is crossed by numerous long distance footpaths, including some of the first to be established. The European long-distance path E1 crosses the Black Forest following the routes of some of the local long-distance paths. There are numerous shorter paths suitable for day walks, as well as mountain biking and cross-country skiing trails. The total network of tracks amounts to around 23,000 kilometres (14,000 mi), and is maintained and overseen by a voluntary body, the Schwarzwaldverein (Black Forest Society), which has around 90,000 members (figures from Bremke, 1999, p. 9).

Black Forest clockmakers are renowned for their precision clocks. Most of the mechanical clocks are now sold as antiquities as many factories were shut down after the First World War and the Second World War. A few factories survived the structural change.

Points of interest

Winter on Schauinsland: famous "Windbuchen" Beeches bent by the wind

There are many historic towns in the Black Forest. Popular tourist destinations include Wutach.

The Black Forest Open Air Museum is an open-air museum that shows the life of 16th or 17th century farmers in the region, featuring a number of reconstructed Black Forest farms. The German Clock Museum in Furtwangen portrays the history of the clock industry and of watchmakers.

For drivers, the main route through the region is the fast A 5 (E35) motorway, but a variety of signposted scenic routes such as the Schwarzwaldhochstraße (60 km (37 mi), Baden-Baden to Freudenstadt), Schwarzwald Tälerstraße (100 km (62 mi), the Murg and Kinzig valleys) or Badische Weinstraße (Baden Wine Street, 160 km (99 mi), a wine route from Baden-Baden to Weil am Rhein) offers calmer driving along high roads.[1] The last is a picturesque trip starting in the south of the Black Forest going north and includes numerous old wineries and tiny villages. Another, more specialized route is the German Clock Route (Deutsche Uhrenstraße),[2] a circular route which traces the horological history of the region.

Black Forest track

Due to the rich mining history dating from medieval times (the Black Forest was one of the most important mining regions of Europe circa 1100) there are many mines re-opened to the public. Such mines may be visited in the Kinzig valley, the Suggental, the Muenster valley, and around Todtmoos.

The Black Forest was visited on several occasions by Count Otto von Bismarck during his years as Prussian and later German chancellor (1862–1890). Allegedly, he especially was interested in the Triberg Waterfalls.[3] There is now a monument in Triberg dedicated to Bismarck, who apparently enjoyed the tranquility of the region as an escape from his day-to-day political duties in Berlin.


In addition to the expected kinds of wildlife to be found in a European forest area, the following types of animals may be observed in the Black Forest.[4]

Tourism and transport

Large parts of the Black Forest today depend mainly on tourism. The organisastion, Black Forest Tourism (Schwarzwald Tourismus), assesses around 140,000 people work full time in the tourism sector and that tourists spent around 34.8 million overnight stays in 2009.[6]

In spring, summer and autumn an extensive network of hiking trails and mountain bike routes enable different groups of people to use the natural region. In winter, of course, it is the various types of winter sport that come to the fore. There are facilities for both downhill and Nordic skiing in many places.

Sights and attractions

Hinterzarten in the southern Black Forest: church and Adler ski jump
The old town of Altensteig in the northern Black Forest

The most popular tourist destinations and resorts in the Black Forest are the lakes of Titisee and Schluchsee. Both lakes offer water sports facilities such as diving and wind surfing. These lakes may be reached from Freiburg on the B 31 through the Höllental, past the Hirschsprung monument at its narrowest point, and by the Oswald Chapel below the Ravenna Gorge.

One very popular urban destination is Baden-Baden with its thermal baths, casino and festivals. Other thermal baths include those at Badenweiler, Bad Herrenalb, Bad Wildbad, Bad Krozingen, Bad Liebenzell or Bad Bellingen.


A cuckoo clock, symbol of the Black Forest and Germany.

Dialects spoken in the Black Forest area are Alemannic and Swabian.


Wood-carving is a traditional cottage industry in the region and carved ornaments now are produced in substantial numbers as souvenirs for tourists. Cuckoo clocks are a popular example; they have been made in the region since the early 18th century and much of their development occurred there.

In the past singing bird boxes were produced as well. It is believed in the late Middle Ages, mechanical rosters were first created in some clocks to crow the hours. [7] These clocks may have preceded the Cuckoo Clock. Interestingly, new scientific evidence suggests a mechanized planetarium, created by Archimedes in Syracuse before the birth of Christ, may have sparked production of mechanical clocks in Europe. It is believed the ancient Greek knowledge of gearing came into Europe in the 13th century. [8] [9]


Black Forest ham originated from this region, and so, by name and reputation at least, did the Black Forest Cake. It also is known as the "Black Forest Cherry Cake" or "Black Forest Gateau" and is made with chocolate cake, cream, sour cherries and Kirsch.[10] The Black Forest variety of Flammkuchen is a Badisch specialty made with ham, cheese and cream. Pfannkuchen, a crêpe or crêpe-like (Eierkuchen or Palatschinken) pastry, is also common. The Black Forest is also known for its long tradition in gourmet cuisine. No fewer than 17 Michelin starred restaurants are located in the region, among them two restaurants with 3 stars (Restaurants Bareiss and Schwarzwaldstube in Baiersbronn)[11] as well as the only restaurant in Germany that has been awarded a Michelin star every year since 1966. At Schwarzwald Hotel Adler in Häusern, three generations of chefs from the same family have defended the award from the first year the Michelin Guide selected restaurants in Germany until today.[12]


The German holiday of Fastnacht, or Fasnet, as it is known in the Black Forest region, occurs in the time leading up to Lent. On Fasnetmendig, or the Monday before Ash Wednesday, crowds of people line the streets, wearing wooden, mostly hand-carved masks. One prominent style of mask is called the Black Forest Style, originating from the Black Forest Region.


See also


  1. ^ "The complete guide to The Black Forest". The Independent. 2014-03-19. Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  2. ^ Apropos Werbung, Telefon 07721-98770. "German Clock Route Location". Deutsche Uhrenstrasse. Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  3. ^ Ken Barnes (2007). A Rough Passage, Volume II: Memories of Empire. The Radcliffe Press. Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  4. ^ Enjoy nature with all the senses / Nature / Home / Inhalte – Schwarzwald Tourismus GmbH
  5. ^ Lamparski, 1985
  6. ^ Including private accommodation and visitors by relatives and friends. Tourismusentwicklung im Schwarzwald 2009Schwarzwald Tourismus GmbH: , retrieved 12 October 2011.
  7. ^  
  8. ^ "In the Forest". 
  9. ^ "Ancient Computer". 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Michelin Restaurants. Via Michelin. Retrieved 18 June 2011
  12. ^ "The Michelin Guide and the Zumkeller Chefs". Schwarzwald Hotel Adler. Retrieved 18 June 2011


  • Bremke, N. (1999). Schwarzwald quer. Karlsruhe: Braun. ISBN 3-7650-8228-7
  • Lamparski, F. (1985). Der Einfluß der Regenwurmart Lumbricus badensis auf Waldböden im Südschwarzwald. Schriftenreihe des Institut für Bodenkunde und Waldernährungslehre der Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg i. Br., 15. ISSN 0344-2691. English summary
  • German WorldHeritage "Pfannkuchen" disambiguation
  • Barnes, K. J. (2007). A Rough Passage: Memories of an Empire

Further reading

  • Käflein, Achim (photographs); Huber, Alexander (German text); Freund, BethAnne (English translation) (2012), Schwarzwald: Natur und Landschaft,, p. 228,  }

External links

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