The main reason why we picked Lüneburg and it’s surroundings for our trip is because there are a lot of childhood memories connected with this place for Michael. As a child he was often there on holiday with his family and knows the area quite well.
Another reason why I wanted to go was because this part of Germany is well-known and well-visited for a very special man-made landscape that they have created over time. This is know as the Lüneburger Heide. There are many areas that make up this landscape and it can be found in the surrounding towns of Lüneburg in northern Germany.
Heide (heather or, heath) is, of course, not specific to Germany however this particular type is quite special to the area. Here, the plants bloom purple in the right season (about mid-August). Heidekraut is this type of plant that thrives in warm, dry places where there was once forest. Usually the forest was removed by people and then instead of allowing it to regenerate and turn back into woodland, they would pull out new plants, burn the landscape and/or allow sheep to graze and thereby remove any fertile plants or roots. Over time, this has created a beautiful new landscape.
Around the world, heaths have different appearances and colours, but the ones we visited in Lüneburg are uniquely purple and green. They also have their own special type of sheep called Heidschnucke that grazes different parts of Lüneburger Heide to maintain it the way it is. It is a historical cultural landscape and very important to the region, also because of all the tourism that it brings.
We were unfortunately about 1.5 weeks too early to see the Heide in full bloom but we did spot bits of Heidekraut that was already displaying it’s beautiful colour.
This area is heavily visited during mid-August so if you are planning to visit, do make sure that you plan way in advance. There is also a festival around this time every year where a ‘Heide Königin’ (Heide Queen) is selected.