This range of folded mountains being a singular geologically example, is presumed to be one of the most beautiful Central European swaged terminal moraines. An aerial photo might have shown a large horseshoe that’s stretching from Brandenburg via Saxony, and extends finally into Poland. During the Elster (Brandenburg) ice age of about 320,000 years ago, an enormous layer of inland ice had pushed forward in the direction of south a small glacier tongue of ice with the thickness of about 500 metres. Due to the glacier’s dead weight and thrust, the subsoil got to be deformed going 300 metres deep. The stratification being composed of sands, coarse gravels, clays and lignite was deformed by upsetting, while unconsolidated materiel was forming a terminal moraine of about 150 metres above the surface of land in front of it. Multiple crossing by the inland ice of the younger ice age has flattened the bank down to the present level. However, conspicuous rises can be found, thus for example the Marienberg near Gross Kölzig (159 metres), the Hoher Berg near Döbern (183 metres), the Reuthener Brandberg (176 metres) within the part of the State of Brandenburg, and other hills within respectively the Polish and the Saxon parts.

In spite of its unspoilt age, Muskau coal crescent is still in the process of constant change. One characteristic of the coal crescent are the geologically younger formations, the so-called “gieser”. These are extended, deep through-cut rift valleys without any water duct, that have been originated at the sites where lignite layers were cropping out. The organic materiel oxidizes with atmospheric oxygen and therefore subsides. Little by little the valley floor got cutting deeper into the landscape.

Nevertheless Muskau coal crescent doesn’t impress only with its landscape elements. Since starting materiel has been found directly under earth’s surface because of the geological deformation, the industrialization began early in this part of Lusatia. Great works applied a disintegration method by melting open vitreous sands and processing the latter into high-grade commodity goods. At the beginning of the 20th century the works supplied the whole world with their products. The region around the “glass maker towns” of Döbern and Weisswasser was epoch-making as the centre of the worldwide glass industry. Clays served as raw material in the roof tile and brick production, but also in the manufacture of pottery belonging to the chemical industry and in the earthenware as everyday necessities. Bog iron ore got smelted on a large scale for the foundry practice. Aluminous earths and alumn argil covered the needs of the chemical industry. The lignite exploitation by open cast and drift mining was behind these energy-intensive industries. As of 1843 at times more than 90 coal pits were simultaneously in operation. The Muskau coal crescent has only lost its significance as a raw-material supplier when the exploitation of lignite became higher technological efficiency by undisturbed series of strata upon an extensive Lusatian regional area. Meanwhile relics bear constant witness everywhere to this glorious past. Especially the abandoned open pits (lakes) impress like the unspoiled “gieser” before, stretching out and close together, beyond hundreds of metres and with a relatively small width, but waters that are gleaming in any shade of colour. That’s a refugium where nature has gradually reconquered, and now it can be advantageous due to its virginity and unicity. Today the Muskau coal crescent is an ancient mining landscape full of varied stretches of water and a densely wooded area of unspoiled nature with an important ecological diversity.

In 2006 the Muskau coal crescent became awarded “Nationaler Geopark” (national geopark), and since 2011 being allowed to wear the UNESCO title. The States of Brandenburg, Saxony and Poland endeavour together to promote its development, and thanks to the subsidies of INTERREG-IVa it was possible for the first time to establish an office of the “Geopark” at Döbern in 2012.

What are you getting out of that? Well, you can pick up the trail of the industry and mining history on the “Altbergbautour” (22km) and on the “Glas-Tour” (33km), or learn about natural force and the scenic beauty on the “Geologie-Tour” (23 km) or on the “Jerischker Endmoräne-Neißetal-Tour” (24 km). Over and above you’ll also enjoy a splendid view over the wide area of the Muskau coal crescent from the 36 metres look-out on the water’s edge of the Felixsee. Unless you prefer going relaxed for a walk along the relic lakes that are gleaming with so many colours, or hiking to discover the Reuthener Moor.

If you’re looking for a fling, well trained “Geopark” guides would be at your disposal for the more exhausting tours. These would be pleased to accompany you while hiking through the centuries-old cultural landscape. Detailed information with respect to the Muskau coal crescent and its peculiarities is available all year round at the office of the “Geopark” at Döbern.

More information available from:
Geopark Muskauer Faltenbogen

Muskauer Straße 14
03159 Döbern
Tel.: 0049 35600 3687-12 (-13) (-14)