Hidden Places #2 - A timewalk beetween the Carboniferus and the future

written on 27/08/2020
by Friedhelm Schulz

Of course Germany is rich in interesting places, historical sites and overcrowded tourist attractions. Under this heading we want to present the hidden gems, untouched by mass tourism, but worth a visit.

This time: A Labyrinth, Mad Max and “The Bow”

What? Stepping back 300 million years or going “where no man has gone before”?

For those confused by that challenge, the author recommends you start the timewalk in the largest Baroque Labyrinth in Germany. Only 50x50 m, but if you go wrong, you could walk up to 2.5 km. Experts will find their way to the central platform within a few minutes.

This place is very hidden in a region where nobody would expect a garden like this. The village of Altjeßnitz is surrounded by industry of every kind and in every condition.

To find the place: M8VC+4P Altjeßnitz, Deutschland

To get information: https://irrgarten-altjessnitz.com/

But don´t worry about straying – at the end of the day, a guide will round up all who have got lost....

Those who finally find their way through, may simply cross the street in front to the nature hotel on the opposite side “Träumen zwischen Bäumen” (dreaming amongst trees). Reservation is strongly recommended!


Let’s go back to “industry of every kind and in every condition”, but forward in time. The next known city is Bitterfeld, a distinctive corner of the former “Middle German Chemical Triangle”.

18 thousand workers kept a chemical production plant running here till 1990. It was a period when people said that a butterfly could not fly past the river due to the presence of toxic vapors. When 12 thousand people lost their jobs, the region plunged into social crisis but nature recovered better than expected.

The reason for the chemical industry in the region was to find brown coal at a depth of approx. 60 m. And, a mostly unknown fact is that, the surface mining for coal brought up to 50 tons of amber per year – it is the second largest natural amber deposit in the world.

That´s why the lake that covers the renaturalised open pits  is sometimes called “amber lake”, but the residents prefer “Goitzsche” afterthe village that is no longer there. Today this place is a future-oriented areal, with all kinds of waterfront recreation and yachting.

Once you arrive in Bitterfeld, the most visible attraction is the “Bow”, the new artificial landmark – granting a panoramic view over the new post-industrial zone.

But in the direct vicinity of amber lake (Goitzsche) the travelling “bookworms” amongst you may visit the first German “village of books” Mühlbeck-Friedersdorf. More than 200,000 books are waiting for you!

On the way to the next place of interest, the author recommends a short stop  at the village of Schlaitz. It is a little bit out of your way, but the centre is studded with wooden sculptures, worth of a visit.

A similar place can even be found not far away in Tornau, where there is a large camp of wooden art – created by artists of the annual festival “art with motorsaws” (sorry, this festival has no website).

Those who want to explore further, may discover other attractions a few minute’s drive away. Going east, near Gräfenhainichen, is the entrance to Ferropolis, the “city of iron”.

If there isn´t currently one of the numerous festivals like “Splash” or “Melt” or another Open-Air concert going on, some visitors will get to meet “Mad Max”, climb “Gemini”, pass the biggest “Mosquito” ever seen and others, can take a look at a 120,000-year old Forest-Elefant; and anyone who wants to get married in a very technical setting can do this in the original control centre of the former surface mining company.

Not far from Ferropolis, visitors may got to the “Gartenreich”, a unique cultural landscape, but this is World Heritage and another chapter....


The author begs your pardon that not all websites and links are available in English. If somebody is interested and needs assistance, don't hesitate to contact the German Semester!

Thank you for your attention!

Photos 1, 6 and 7: ©Friedhelm Schulz