Explorations on the tracks of Theodor Fontane
Sometimes good things do come so close. This thought often goes through my mind when I am travelling in the Stechlin – Ruppin country north from Berlin. Because with large areas of continuous forest, small rivers and clear lakes, the landscape is attractive and varied. The towns of Neuruppin and Rheinsberg as well as many small villages, some of which have a very original character, give charming testimony to the attachment of people to this landscape. It is not surprising that this region has also found its way into literature – the author Theodor Fontane comes from Neuruppin and has paid literary tribute to his homeland with a volume in his „Wanderungen durch die Mark Brandenburg“ and a large number of other works.
Stechlin – Ruppiner Land Nature Park
It is only logical that in such an enchanting landscape, people are striving to protect the extraordinary nature. A nature park „Stechlin – Ruppiner Land“ was established to carefully develop the region. This is the forest and lakes – richest nature park in Brandenburg. Within the large protected area there are another 8 nature reserves, two bird protection zones and 25 smaller FFH areas (Flora-Fauna-Habitat), in which priority has been given to the preservation of these unique natural landscapes.
The advantages for recreation and relaxation in this environment have been discovered long ago, and so the places are also geared to travellers. However, tourism is still part of a diverse local economy and not a mass tourism monoculture. In addition to modern accommodation in various price categories, investments have been made in recent decades, especially in small-scale offers that provide gentle access to the natural resources of the region – cycle paths, boat rentals, waterways – infrastructure, running tracks, hiking trail networks. And of course the historic town centres, churches, castles and parks have been renovated and maintained – to the benefit of locals and guests alike.
Neuruppin: Drawing board – City by the lake
Let’s start with Neuruppin. This town is a good starting point for exploring the region. But it offers so many attractions that a visit is worth at least a weekend. Neuruppin has a long history from the first mention in 1238 until today. It is the district town of the Ostprignitz-Ruppin district.
Although completely in the lowlands, it nestles up against woodlands and the Ruppiner See, which adds to its charm. The Ruppiner See is a 14 km long channel lake, which is crossed by the little river Rhin. This then flows further south through the Rhinluch and into the Havel. Neuruppin is characterised by the almost semi-oval old town with its striking monastery church on the lake promenade. The streets in the centre are a bit Prussian – right-angled. Reconstruction after a town fire in 1787 was carried out very according to plan by the town planning director Brasch. Nevertheless, the small mostly two-storey houses make the view very pleasant. Quiet, narrow residential streets with the low, handsome houses have a somewhat dreamy, past tense aura and thus shape the character of large parts of the old town.
Crown Prince Friedrich, Karl Friedrich, Georg Wenzeslaus und Theodor
Neuruppin was particularly influenced by the stay of Crown Prince Friedrich from 1732 to 1740 as regimental commander – the later Prussian King Friedrich II the Great. During this time he had the temple garden laid out, which was later maintained, extended and supplemented by a Neuruppin merchant family, the Gentz family. The Temple of Apollo, built in 1735 by the hitherto little known painter Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, is striking. The gatehouse and gate of the garden are in oriental style, while the sandstone sculptures were acquired from Dresden workshops. Today, in addition to the City of Neuruppin as the owner, a Tempelgarten e.V. association looks after the care and maintenance of the grounds.
The most important Prussian master builder, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, was born in Neuruppin in 1781.
And, already mentioned, Theodor Fontane is probably the most important son of the town. He was born on 30 December 1819 as the son of a pharmacist. His birthplace still stands in the town centre and houses the Löwenapotheke pharmacy.
Even though Fontane left his native town for Swinemünde with his family at the age of 7, he was always there – among other things to attend grammar school in 1832-33. Around 1860 he began writing travel literature. This resulted in a booklet about the County of Ruppin, which soon afterwards became part of the five-volume „Wanderungen durch die Mark Brandenburg“ (Hikes through the Mark Brandenburg). His last work was the novel „Der Stechlin“.
In, on and around the water…
Today Neuruppin offers a lot of variety for visitors. You can go on the lake with the White Fleet or rent a boat. Motorised rafts in Huckleberry Finn style are also available for hire, i.e. „floating gazebos“. With these you can go up and down the Rhin as far as allowed and if you have enough time you can even continue a bit in the Havel. Because these rafts are free of driving licence on the Brandenburg routes. Canoe rental is possible at the same place.
Bathing and relaxing in the sauna landscape is possible all year round in the Fontane Spa directly on the lakeside. For cultural events, the „Culture – Church“ in the city centre or the Cultural centre Stadtgarten offer suitable locations. Further smaller facilities up to the Irish Pub complete the cultural offer. There is also a town museum.
Dishes with taste in Neuruppin
From a culinary point of view, some choices are possible. You can experience a special historical ambience in the uphus, which is probably the oldest still preserved building in the city. It was built as a residential building on the edge of a hospital. Until the 80s it was also used as a residential house, but then it fell into disrepair until a new owner took care of the restoration. Now it belongs to the complex of the Siechen- chapel, Hospital (today hotel) and the courtyard with the uphus.
The restaurant in the temple garden described above is also historical. An extension allows larger celebrations there, so that birthdays, anniversaries, company parties etc. can be celebrated in dignified surroundings.
Vegetarian – vegan dining pleasure is allowed in the Cafe Wildwuchs opposite the Stadtmuseum with delicious creations from regional vegetables.
Dining with a view of the lake is possible in the Old Casino, the hotel by the lake.
North to the Ruppin Provinces
You can continue your journey by different ways, e.g. by bicycle in direction Rheinsberg. You will always pass through dense forests and lonely lakes, which often invite you to cool off quickly at simple bathing spots. Small sunny clearings and meadows invite you to stay. The region is mostly flat, so that cycling is no big effort. Only sandy forest paths or sometimes old cobblestones – roads make the ride a little more difficult in some sections. So the recommendation is – wide tyres on the bike. Otherwise cycling is the most pleasant way to discover this landscape. In Binenwalde at Kalk – lake the crown prince is said to have had an affair with the Sabinchen (hence the name Binenwalde).
Rheinsberg – castle with park and town
Rheinsberg is mainly characterized by the chateau and the extensive parks. This town has also received its literary monument – „Rheinsberg“ by Kurt Tucholsky. The parks are a practical example of the transition from late-baroque gardens to a structured landscape garden. Palace and park was originally the residence of Crown Prince Friedrich and was first created in 1734 – 1744 with the long main avenue. After the donation to his brother Heinrich, he provided for extensive extensions and a restructuring into a pleasure garden. The Boberow Forest on the opposite shore of the lake was also included, where the obelisk is a central element and an aisle system was used to create an extension to the park.
Next to the castle, a music academy and the castle theatre provide entertainment. White fleet ships also sail across the lakes in Rheinsberg.
Culinary delights can be found in the city in various restaurants. Vegetarians will enjoy Grünzeug’s (Vegetables), the Veggi Bar of Rheinsberg. From the Seitan Wrap to the Go-To-Hell Burger you will be happy without meat.
From Rheinsberg to the Stechlin lake
From Rheinsberg, a cycle path leads along the road via Menz to Neuglobsow. Other routes are not so direct, but possible. In Menz there is a nature park house to the nature park Stechlin – Ruppin country.
The „Great Stechlin“ is the largest clear water lake in Northern Germany with visibility depths of up to 10m. The maximum depth is almost 70m. Together with other lakes and moorland areas, it has been part of the Stechlin nature reserve since 1938. Strict rules of conduct ensure that the natural condition of the lake remains more or less constant. Nevertheless, there are several bathing places, boat rentals, a fishery with fish sales and gastronomy and even a fixed diving spot.
Diving for nature conservation
The regional association of the NABU Nature Conservation Union and the regional diving sport association have founded a partnership at Stechlin, which is now setting a precedent. Divers learn about underwater botany and extensive knowledge of mapping methods and, equipped with this knowledge, are allowed to go on excursion dives in the otherwise protected waters. In doing so, they record the aquatic plant populations at different water depths and other parameters. Through regular repetitions, the naturalists can describe the changes very precisely and document the change in the condition of the lake.
In his book „Die Grafschaft Ruppin“ (the County Ruppin) Fontane tells about the Menzer Forst and the Stechlin Lake. With the novel „Der Stechlin“, the last work of Theodor Fontane, the lake finally gained world fame. In the family history he picks up on the local legend of the red rooster, which rises from the lake and makes it bubble when a fisherman fishes in the wrong place. Many of the local places are described in detail in the novel.
The GDR operated an experimental nuclear power station in Menz. For this purpose, cooling water was taken from the Nehmitz Lake and discharged into the Stechlin, which caused considerable damage to the lakes. In particular, the water level sank. This is now balanced. The NPP is to be dismantled practically „down to the greenfield site“. However, problems are caused by the reactor hall, which is heavily irradiated and which was ordered to have a decay period of 50 years in 2019.
Summer resort at Stechlin lake – Neuglobsow
Historically, Neuglobsow was the foundation of a glass – manufacturer. Johanna Pirl built a glassworks in 1779, which produced utility glass until 1882. You can find information about it as well as some glass souvenirs in the over 230 years old glassmaker – house in the Stechlinsee- street.
Neuglobsow has long been a „summer resort“ for stressful city dwellers. The empty glassmaker houses became the first holiday accommodation after the closure of the glassworks. From 1900 the construction of summer houses for this clientele began. From 1930 to 1945, this development was spurred on by the Gransee local railway, which ran during this period.
„… once we went to Neuglobsow, which at that time had not yet been discovered by the Berliners, but was a village lost in forests and abandoned by its former inhabitants, glass workers. It was a little off the Stechlin, narrow, almost overgrown forest paths led to it. It was the most forsaken, lonely, beautiful thing you could ever imagine.“ The writer Hans Fallada in his memoirs „Back in our home„
Sculptures, tracks, running…
Touristically created and developed, Neuglobsow is still today the recreation area at the Great Stechlin Lake. A sculpture trail leads around the smaller Dagow Lake, on which international artists have dedicated themselves to the theme „Between water and land“. Start of the trail is at the Stechlinsee-Center, the route is about 4,5km long. The sculptures were created at several international art symposia, which are held by the Stechlin-Ruppiner Land Nature Park and the Zehdenick Art Association.
Through the small villages Neuglobsow and Dagow a track-seeker – path winds its way. It connects historical sites from the local chronicle. The places are marked with a footprint, which on closer inspection turns out to be a „red cock“. One of these places is at the „Villa Bernadotte“, where Fontane – experts suspect the „Stechlin Castle“ from his Stechlin novel. Whether the assumption is correct, everyone can find out for himself 😉
The region of the nature park is also a „running park„! More fond of running further distances, can let off steam on a variety of circuits. At www.laufpark-stechlin.de, running enthusiasts will find what they are looking for. The large outer circuit has a total length of 140 km.
Tips for the travel region Stechlin – Ruppin Country
Arrival by train or car
The journey can be easily made by train*. Neuruppin can be reached by regional train. It is best to get off at Rheinsberger Tor station, this stop is located directly in the city centre. The former main railway station is called Neuruppin West now and is just outside. Rheinsberg can be reached by bus from Neuruppin Rheinsberger Tor.
If you only want to go to Neuglobsow and to the Stechlin – Lake, or if you want to start or end your tour there, then the station Fürstenberg /Havel with the RE5 – Train-Line is a good starting or ending point. From Fürstenberg to Neuglobsow it is 10 km.
The whole area is part of the Brandenburg-Berlin Transport Association (VBB). If you have a network pass for the whole association, you can also reach the towns in this region. If you have a BahnCard, then this is the reason for buying a reduced VBB ticket (in supraregional traffic). Travel information under vbb.de
If you would like to arrive by car, a rental car* or camper van*, you can take the Berliner Ring motorway or, coming from the north, the Wittstock junction via the A24 motorway to the Neuruppin Süd or Neuruppin exit.
Electricity filling stations for electric cars can be found mainly in Neuruppin – e.g. at the Fontane – Therme or at Brasch- Platz.
Mobile on the road with a houseboat on Brandenburg waters
You don’t like a fixed accommodation? Then you can of course also be on the waterways of Brandenburg and the Mecklenburg lakes with the river boat on the road. The company Boat renting Nicols* offers you at the charter base Fürstenberg (Havel river) canal boats in different sizes, which can be steered over the rivers and lakes without a license (except in Berlin). Among the boating – tour recommendations is also the route to Rheinsberg for a canalboat – week.
This is definitely available in Neuruppin at the train stations (also e-bikes), in Rheinsberg in Schloßstraße and in Neuglobsow in Hanns – Krause – Weg 12 Pension Stechlinsee public bicycle rental*.
Bed and breakfast is available at B&B Fiddler’s Inn* in Neuruppin. All rooms are double rooms. The Fontane-Therme and the lake promenade are also not far away and the town centre begins directly behind the house.
The same provider also offers guest apartments in the adjacent building* of the Fiddler’s Inn.
Another B&B,the Wagner* offers accommodation in two double rooms and a maisonette. The house is a former parsonage from the 18th century directly next to the Kulturkirche. Very good breakfast is of course included. A room in the middle of the centre – a city stroll of short distances.
Two apartments for 2-4 persons are available in the Travel Art Boarding House*. Bedroom with double bed, living room with sofa bed. Well-equipped kitchens are available. The monastery church is just around the corner, the lake shore with the promenade can be seen from the front door and the Fontane – Therme is just 5 minutes walk away.
In the surroundings of Neuruppin
About 6km from the city centre of Neuruppin in Buskow, the holiday apartment Kulturfreizeiten* is located on a large four-sided farm. There is room for 6 persons in three bedrooms with double beds and 2 persons on the sofa bed in the living area. The Ruppiner See is within 1km walking distance. From time to time cultural events take place directly on the farm.
Waldwichtel am Wald und See* (Wood Imp at wood and lake) is a wooden house near Wuthenow for up to 4 persons. The centre of Neuruppin is about 2.5 km away. The lake is only 50m away, where you can swim. A rowing boat is available to guests free of charge.
And another bungalow idyll by the lake* – ideal for 2 people! Self-catering is easily possible in the kitchen. A garden with terrace surrounds the house. The city centre of Neuruppin is about 7km away.
For those who prefer a little more wellness with sauna and pool, the Hotel Boltenmühle* is the perfect place to stay. The centre of Neuruppin is about 16 km away. Bicycles, kayaks and canoes can be hired from the hotel. An indoor brine pool, steam bath and Finnish sauna are the special wellness offers of the hotel.
Accomodation in Rheinsberg
In the holiday home Kronprinz Friedrich in Rheinsberg* there is room for up to 4 people in two bedrooms. A kitchen with dishwasher, washing machine and two bathrooms complete the equipment. A barbecue can be enjoyed in the garden. The holiday home is only about 10 minutes‘ walk from the castle.
The Rheinsberg holiday apartment* offers accommodation in two apartments. These apartment with lake view has three bedrooms with double beds. An other apartment has one bedroom with a double bed. This is located on the upper floor and can only be reached via stairs. In both apartments there is room for two more guests on the sofa bed in the living room. The accommodations are equipped with kitchens including oven and shower bath. The access is altogether not barrier-free. Garden furniture is available in the garden. Pets are allowed.
From the Loggia House at the Palace* you can reach everything worth seeing in Rheinsberg on foot. A bungalow for up to 4 persons and three apartments for 2-4 persons are available. The access is barrier-free. The apartments are equipped with kitchen and dining area, refrigerator and oven. In the garden it is possible to barbecue.
The apartments Anno-Nostalgia* are located about 300m from the lake and about 10min walk from the castle and the city centre of Rheinsberg. Three apartments for 2-4 persons are available. In the historical inner courtyard you can have a barbecue. Rental bikes are available. A round trip on the lake (ride along) is possible with the house own motor boat.
The holiday home Schoen in Rheinsberg* with lake view offers room for 4 persons in two air-conditioned bedrooms. Pets are allowed. A garden belongs to the house, where you can also have a barbecue.
Accommodation in the surroundings of Rheinsberg
The „Sommerhäuschen“ summer cottage* about 1.5 km from the castle Rheinsberg is situated very quietly and offers accommodation for 2 persons with kitchen and bathroom as well as a garden with barbecue.
About 7km outside of Rheinsberg, but only 300m from the little river Rhin, you will find in Zechlinerhütte the Wald & Wiesengeflüster* (Wood and Meadows Whisper). Besides a bungalow for 2 persons, the accommodation offers two apartments for 2-6 persons. The guests can use a well-equipped kitchen with oven. Barbecue is possible in the garden. A bathing area with a large sunbathing lawn is available for all guests, as well as table tennis and billiards. Bicycles can be rented. Pets are allowed in this accommodation.
Accommodation in Neuglobsow and surroundings
The Villa am Stechlin* has suites for 2 guests each, whereby up to 2 additional visitors may find room on sofa beds. The luxurious furnishings in a historical style with comfortable baths, free-standing bathtubs and lively interior design never fail to impress guests. Tea and coffee can be prepared at any time. A lounge with open fireplace, Morris room with open beamed ceilings and the summer loggia provide plenty of space for meeting and relaxation. The rich and good breakfast is praised. Pets are allowed. The distance to the Dagowsee is only 100m, to the Großer Stechlin 200m.
The Luisenhof in Neuglobsow* offers accommodation in several apartments. A breakfast buffet is available in the morning. As this is a restaurant, other daily meals can also be enjoyed a la carte in the house. A large garden allows for relaxing hours outside. It is also not far to the Stechlin – Lake. Pets are allowed in the Luisenhof.
From Neuglobsow it is not far to Fürstenberg an der Havel. And there the Pension Villa Ingeborg* with rooms for 2-4 persons awaits you. Good breakfast is included. In the house there is a sauna, a fitness room and at the house there is a terrace and an own landing stage for boats. You can barbecue in the garden. There are swimming possibilities at several lakes nearby.
As always, I am happy if you have found the right tips on this page. Just write in the comments how your trip was and about your experiences! It would also be nice if you share the link to this page on your social – media – channels with others. Thanks!
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