No…I am not talking about the cake….
I am talking about the Black Forest which is a large forested mountain range in south western Germany , bounded by the Rhine valley and close to the French and Swiss borders. It covers an area of over 6000 sq kms and is roughly oblong in shape with a length of around 160 km .
Originally the area was a mixed forest of deciduous trees and firs. Due to intensive logging, almost the entire area was deforested but was subsequently replanted mainly with spruce. Spruce grows dense and fast and has a dark green hue. The Romans gave the mountain range the name “Black Forest” because the densely packed trees found here had a very dark green tone. If one looks at the forest from far, it looks very dark.
The Danube and Neckar are the main rivers here.
Historically, the area was known for forestry and mining but now tourism is the main industry. The lushness , lakes, rivers, valleys and wildlife with some great hiking trails make it a great tourist destination.
The Black Forest is mainly rural with scattered villages and few small towns and is known for its typical farmhouses with sweeping roofs, the cuckoo clocks and black forest gateaus.
Wood carving was a traditional cottage industry in this region and cuckoo clocks are an example of such wooden art.
A cuckoo clock is typically a pendulum clock that strikes hourly like the sound of a cuckoo’s call and has an automated cuckoo bird that moves with each note. Some move their wings and open and close their beaks while others lean forward. The mechanism has been in use since the 1700s . It is unknown who invented the cuckoo clock but much of its evolution took place in the Black Forest region of Germany. Today it is a popular souvenir among visitors to this region. The cuckoo clock is today iconic of Germany.
The dark coloured trees of Black forest
The densely packed pine trees
The traditional looking building which is now a cuckoo clock factory
Outside the cuckoo clock factory
Cuckoo clocks in various designs
A large cuckoo clock
The Black forest gateau:
The Black Forest cake as we know it today ; also claims its ancestry to this area. It is essentially a chocolate sponge cake with rich cherry filling. Several layers of soft chocolate sponge cake sandwiched with whipped cream , cherries and chocolate shavings. Traditionally a clear spirit made from sour cherries…….a speciality liquor distilled from tart cherries…. was added to the cake. To be noted is that the Black forest region has lot of cherry trees too!
We tasted the authentic German Black forest cake at the cafe here.
Relishing the authentic Black forest cake
From Black forest, our next destination was Zurich in Switzerland. Enroute, we visited the Rhine falls at Schaffhausen.
Beautiful Swiss countryside scenes welcomed us as we crossed over to Switzerland from Germany.
Beautiful Swiss countryside
The featured image in this blog is of the Rhine Falls
Rhine falls is located on the river Rhine at the border between Schaffhausen and Zurich. It is Europe’s most powerful waterfall. At 23 mts height and 150 mts width, it cannot compete with many other waterfalls that I have visited, but the beauty of the surrounding region makes it a magnificent spectacle.
Tectonic shifts caused the River Rhine to shift to a new river bed around 15000 years ago. The place where the hard chalk was converted to soft gravel became the site of the Rhine Falls. In the middle of the falls is a large rock that can be reached by boats ; providing a close up view of the falls. Two castles, Worth and Laufen can also be seen from here.
Viewing platforms are available on either sides of the Rhine to view the falls.
The magnificent Rhine Falls
The beautiful boats that take you close to the falls
Typical swiss building….near the falls
At the falls
After the visit to the beautiful falls, we proceeded to Zurich. See you next week with more views from beautiful Switzerland.
Till then, do give me your feedback and comments below: