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View over the Hainich from the treetop path

View over the Hainich from the treetop path

Highest peak Alter Berg ( 493.9  m above sea  level )
location Northwest thuringia ( Germany )
Part of the main unit Ringgau – Hainich – Obereichsfeld – Dün – Hainleite , Thuringian Basin (with edge plates)
Classification according to Handbook of the natural spatial structure of Germany
Hainich (Thuringia)
Coordinates 51 ° 6 '  N , 10 ° 23'  E Coordinates: 51 ° 6 '  N , 10 ° 23'  E
Type Layered mountain range
rock Shell limestone ( red sandstone )
The begging oak on the Ihlefeld: the symbol of the Hainich
Hainich National Park: primeval beech forests in Weberstedter Holz, World Natural Heritage since 2011
Since December 31, 1997, the southern part of the Hainich is a national park

The Hainich is an extensive, wooded ridge in the north-west of Thuringia . It occupies a large part of the north-west Thuringian shell limestone edge plates, a section of the framing of the Thuringian Keuperbeckens and Ackerhügelland. In the east, the Hainich stands out from the intensively agriculturally used Mühlhausen Basin, a sub-area of ​​the Thuringian Basin, due to its almost complete forest . The prefix Hain - is derived from the Middle High German hagen for "cherished forest". The term was used to denote sacred forests, enclosed by a hornbeam hedge . The Hainich National Park in the south of the ridge is not only the only national park in Thuringia to date, but also the largest unused forest area in Germany. Central areas of the Hainich National Park were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2011 .

location and size

The Hainich from the southeast: a surging sea of ​​tree tops
The southwest edge of the Hainich as seen from the riding mountain.
The old mountain, an inconspicuous wooded knoll, but the highest point of the Hainich

With a total area of ​​around 16,000 hectares, the Hainich is the largest contiguous deciduous forest area in Germany. Located in the triangle of the Thuringian cities of Eisenach , Mühlhausen and Bad Langensalza , the Hainich is roughly in the middle of Germany. The Hainich lies in the area of ​​the two Thuringian districts Wartburgkreis and Unstrut-Hainich-Kreis . It extends from the federal highway 249 in the north to the basin landscape of the West Thuringian mountain and hill country near Oesterbehringen in the southeast in an arc of about 24 km in length. The highest elevations are the Old Mountain at 493.9 m above sea level. NN in the south and the Hohes Rode (493.0 m) in the north of the Hainich.

Natural structure

The Hainich in the narrower sense represents a homogeneous natural spatial unit, which merges without a relief border to the north into the only sporadically forested Upper Eichsfeld and finally the dune (and its southern slope). Regardless of this, the handbook of the natural spatial structure of Germany (or its follow-up publication in the Kassel sheet 1: 200,000) has a sub-unit called Hainich in the main unit Ringgau – Hainich – Obereichsfeld – Dün – Hainleite , which goes well beyond the common Hainich to the west:

The Hohe Hainich is synonymous with the landscape commonly understood as Hainich , while the Falkener Platte , which extends west to the Werra at ( Treffurt ) Falken , represents an independent range of hills, which runs through the Grundbach valley of the Lempertsbach = Grundbach an der Eichenberg-Gotha –Saalfelder fault zone is separated from the core ridge.

Not orographically separated from the Hainich are in the Upper Eichsfeld, which adjoins to the northwest to the north :

  • (to 483.2 western upper area)
    • 483.21 Upper Friedatal area in the area of ​​the fault zone
    • 483.20 Kalteneberer step edge area
      • Rode (498 m) and the following south-west slopes to Frieda
  • (to 483.3 Eastern Upper Area)

Structure according to TLUG

In the purely inner- Thuringian structure The Natural Spaces of Thuringia of the Thuringian State Institute for Environment and Geology (TLUG), Hainich is assigned to the Hainich – Dün – Hainleite unit and is therefore separate from Falkener Platte and Grundbachtal (which belong to the Werrabergland – Hörselberge unit ).


While the Hainich on the edge of the Thuringian Basin rises only gently from east to west, it forms in the southwest z. T. a striking layer level . This is related to the bulge of the ridge in the west and the Eichenberg – Gotha – Saalfeld fault zone that borders it . Due to the alternation of differently resistant rocks within the Hainich at the border between the Middle and Upper Muschelkalk there is also a slight terrain step. An example of this can be found south of the Hohen Rode in the Mühlhausen city forest.

The highest heights of the Hainich are from north to south are:

  • Hohes Rode (493.0 m above sea level)
  • Winterstein (467.6 m above sea level)
  • Haardt (451.3 m above sea level)
  • Steiger (448.9 m above sea level)
  • Otterbühl (465.6 m above sea level)
  • Craulaer Kreuz (483.2 m above sea level)
  • Alter Berg (493.9 m above sea level)
  • Renn (473.2 m above sea level)
  • Rittergasserberg (440.3 m above sea level)

They mark the Hainich ridge in the west. The south-west slope is formed by the following knolls and outlying mountains (from north-west to south-east):

  • Sommerstein (461.8 m above sea level)
  • Sengelsberg (433.8 m above sea level)
  • Elsberg (360.5 m above sea level)
  • Schlossberg (377.0 m above sea level)
  • Pfarrkopf (399.4 m above sea level)
  • Harsberg (409.7 m above sea level)
  • Mittelberg (413.3 m above sea level)
  • Eichenberg (421.5 m above sea level)
  • Burg-Berg (398.0 m above sea level)
  • Löhberg (468.2 m above sea level)
  • Alter Busch (454.7 m above sea level)
  • Wartenberg (429.9 m above sea level)

The Hainich is a karst area due to the geological subsurface . The most common karst formation are sinkholes . They arise from the underground leaching of gypsum and anhydrite from the Middle Muschelkalk and the collapse of the rocks on it. A recent sinkhole event in 1967/68 in Hainich near Reichenbach created a collapse funnel that was 48 m deep within a field. At the Hainichrand there are in the transition area to Keuper z. Sometimes heavily pouring karst springs . The Hainich is heavily divided along the steeper southwest slope. In the area of ​​the valleys there are numerous steep slope areas as well as outlying mountains and riedel. Significant valleys are the Schliemengrund near Nazza, the Kalkgrund near Lauterbach, the Lange Tal near Berka in front of the Hainich. In the north, the relief energy and the associated destruction are lower. Notable valleys there are the Spittelgrund near Mühlhausen, the Seebachgrund near Oberdorla and the Langulaer Tal. Rocks and broken rocks are rare in Hainich and only known from the southern slope of the Sommerstein and the northwest slope of the Winterstein. Otherwise, the steep slopes of the southwestern roof of the Hainich are only penetrated by narrow ledges in places.


Shell limestone outcrop in the Long Valley, southern Hainich
Fog rises from the Seebachgrund near Oberdorla

The near-surface geological subsurface is characterized by the limestone and marls of the Lower, Middle and Upper Muschelkalk . In the east, the shell limestone is covered by loess deposits , some of which are considerable , and shell limestone rubble. The lower slope areas in the southwest of Hainich are formed by red clay and plaster, the uppermost formation of the red sandstone . In the area of ​​the Saalfeld-Gotha-Eichenberg fault zone , which crosses the Hainich in the south-west or causes its steeper western roof, rocks from the Keuper and Zechstein also come to the surface in places . The Craulaer Lehde also runs along a fault line in this fault zone. The fault is exposed with a profile at the former quarry on Rabenhög. The outcrop is considered to be a standard profile of the foam limestone zone of the Lower Muschelkalk and was first described in 1907 by the geologist Ernst Neumann. A special feature in the northern part of the outcrop is the transition from the Upper Buntsandstein to the Lower Muschelkalk, which is clearly visible through the so-called border yellow limestone under the compact limestone package of the foamy limestone. It is excursion point 18 of the geological route in the Eichsfeld-Hainich-Werratal nature park. Almost the entire sequence of rocks in the shell limestone is cut by the notch in the former railway line between Heyerode and Diedorf. This outcrop is accessible as excursion point 6 of the geological route mentioned above.


Are climate formative approach from the west flowing Atlantic trough of low . They bring increased rainfall to the ridges. The eastern locations are in the rain shadow of the ridge. This results in a climate gradient from west to east. While the ridge layers still receive average annual precipitation of around 800 mm, it is only 600 mm in the lower eastern peripheral areas. The annual mean temperature drops as it approaches the Hainichkamm from 8 ° C on the eastern edge to 6.5 ° C. During the cold season of the year, the precipitation in the high areas of the Hainich falls increasingly as snow . Winter high pressure areas often generate fog , which is often deposited as hoarfrost on the treetops . The main wind direction is west, during winter high pressure situations icy east winds can prevail. Approaching low pressure areas can also generate a clear lee wave on the Hainich and the associated blow-off effects on the east side. A weather station is located west of Weberstedt on the edge of the Hainich National Park. It also provides data for the daily weather forecast .


Erdfallweiher in Schönstedter Holz
The Melchiorbrunnen near Oberdorla and other karst springs are fed by water from the Hainich.

Most of the runoff in the Hainich is underground. The streams are therefore shaped like stone ditches and their valleys are dry valleys . An impressive example is the large stone ditch in the Mühlhausen city forest. The stone ditches only carry water after prolonged periods of rain, mostly after prolonged frost and when the snow has melted, when the rock fissures are sealed by ice, but also after heavy rain events in summer. Natural still waters are also the exception and only occur as sinkhole ponds in sinkholes. There are also a few ponds in the Hainich as artificial bodies of water, e.g. B. the Hünenteich southeast of Kammerforst. As a further karst phenomenon, pot-shaped and heavily pouring karst springs appear on the eastern edge of the Hainich. They are often caused by sinkholes in the transition area between Muschelkalk and Lower Keuper and lead the karst water that seeped into the Hainich to the surface. Due to the pressure of the overlying Keup layers, they are artesian sources . Due to their great importance for the water supply of the Hainich border communities, they have their own names. The most important source pots are (from north to south):

On the Hainichkamm, the watershed runs between the Werra and its tributaries (e.g. Lempertsbach and Lauter ) in the west, which drains into the North Sea via the Weser , and the Unstrut , which also flows to the North Sea via the Saale and Elbe .

Flora and vegetation

The wild garlic forms large carpets of flowers in Hainich in May
Structurally rich beech forest in the Mühlhausen city forest (Northern Hainich)
There are extensive forest succession areas in southern Hainich

The Hainich has a wide variety of beech forest communities mostly eutrophic, medium fresher and base-rich locations on where next to the beech and other typical Central European species of deciduous trees such as ash , maple , linden and the rare wild service occur. The European beech reaches its climatic optimum in the ridges of the Hainich. Woodruff beech forests and wood barley beech forests are widespread. Beech forests with acidic soil (Hainsimsen-Buchenwald) are the exception in Hainich. In the herb layer there are large areas of early blooming aspects. Common species are wood anemones ( Anemone nemorosa ), wild garlic ( Allium ursinum ) and perennial ringlet ( Mercurialis perennis ). The Märzenbecher ( Leucojum vernum ) is also widespread. Pedunculate and sessile oak occur mainly in the lower areas on the eastern edge of the Hainich, z. T. due to historical uses as a middle forest , z. But partly also because of the lower annual rainfall, which favor the oaks. In places in the former, traditional medium-sized forests, there are linden trees, but also hornbeams , where the oaks were removed and the undergrowth was not used for a long time. Ash-maple forests occur in the fresh valleys of the stone ditches and in gorges, for example in the Brunstal southwest of Mülverstedt and in the large stone ditch in the Mühlhausen city forest. Dry beech forests can be found in small areas on steep slopes in western Hainich. They also contain the only naturally occurring conifer species in Hainich, the yew tree ( Taxus baccata ). The open locations are predominantly occupied by limestone grasslands and their succession stages , i.e. various grass fallow stages , bush communities and pre-forests. Juniper ( Juniperus communis ) also occurs in places in the limestone grasslands . Juniper heaths , which also emerged from sheep grazing, can be found on the edge of the Hainich near Oberdorla and Craula, on the Zimmerner Steinberg and in several places on the Kindel. Large-scale succession areas have been developed on the former shooting ranges and maneuvering areas that were kept open by sheep grazing at the time of the military training areas. Common species are hawthorn ( Crataegus spec.), Wild roses (Rosa spec.) And sloe ( Prunus spinosa ). T. have formed thorn bushes over a large area. Particularly noteworthy is the creeping rose ( Rosa arvensis ), which was considered lost for a long time in Thuringia and has been found again in numerous places as a result of botanical investigations in the Hainich National Park and now also outside of it. The Atlantic species reaches the edge of its range in the west of Thuringia. With over 1650 species, mushrooms play a dominant role in the Hainich National Park alone . Most of them are deadwood decomposers. In 1999, Mycoacia nothofagi was found, a rare indicator of near-natural forests. After the persistent drought in 2018 and 2019 as well as late frosts while the leaves were sprouting, the new forest decline is also noticeable in Hainich. Initially, entire stands of spruce died, and in 2019 countless, old beeches too. Large areas of dead spruce were felled in the north and in the middle of Hainich, also to prevent the spread of bark beetles.

Striking trees

Hohes Rode with Luther oak and telecommunications tower
The old oak at Thiemsburg, trunk detail

Many old trees in the Hainich occupy an excellent position among natural structures due to their special growth and the stories that surround them. Therefore they often have proper names. In the Hainich the following remarkable tree individuals can be mentioned (from north to south):

  • An old silver fir on the Torfgrubenweg in the Mühlhausen city forest
  • The 3 sequoias in the Mühlhausen city forest with heights of up to 34 m and a trunk circumference of 3.8 m
  • The corpus beech , an approximately 400 year old hornbeam in the Mühlhausen city forest with a trunk circumference of 3.8 m
  • The Luther oak, an old pedunculate oak on the Hohen Rode
  • The deer beech on the Großer Steingraben in the Mühlhausen city forest
  • The Lehdebornlinde on the edge of the Hainich near Langula with a trunk circumference of 4.95 m
  • The sand oak on the road between Nazza and Langula
  • The twin beech on Rennstieg near Nazza
  • An old summer linden tree on the Reckenbühl with a trunk circumference of 5.2 m
  • Thick oak at the gate to Hainich near Weberstedt
  • The Betteleiche am Ihlefeld, an approximately 600-800 year old pedunculate oak with a trunk circumference of 5.6 m
  • Bride and groom , two old oaks standing next to each other west of the Thiemsburg with trunk lengths of 2.8 and 2.3 m (also called Adam and Eva )
  • The old beech on the high street northeast of the Harsberg
  • The Mallinde above Berka in front of the Hainich
  • The old oak on the Thiemsburg, with a trunk circumference of 5.45 m, one of the mightiest oaks in Hainich
  • An old Norway maple south of the Hainich House
  • An old field maple at the former forester's house in Schönstedt
  • A stately summer linden tree on the Försterstein in the Long Valley
  • The little tännchen in the long valley. The old spruce was the tallest conifer in the Hainich National Park. Her dead torso is still standing (2011).
  • The Silberbornlinde northeast of Berka in front of the Hainich
  • The old oak at the fork in the road on the Kindel
  • The colorful linden tree in Österbehringer Holz


Character type of the Hainich: The wild cat.
Cranes migrate across the Hainich National Park

The Hainich is the habitat of numerous animal species. Investigations of the various animal species groups made it possible to quantify the diversity of species. In the Hainich National Park alone, around 8,600 animal species have now been recorded, around 90% of which are insects, especially beetles and two-winged animals . Currently, 2144 beetle species are known in the Hainich National Park alone (as of December 31, 2010), of which just under a quarter of 521 species are wood-dwelling species. These include bark beetles, real wood beetles, wood mushroom beetles and rag beetles. This result reflects the importance of the dead wood , which is strongly represented in the Hainich National Park in places , an indication of primeval forests, which in contrast, managed near-natural forests show only to a limited extent. The characteristic species of the old beech forests in Hainich is the head horn shredder , a species belonging to the stag beetle. With around 800 or 1300 species, the butterflies and the two-winged species are among the most diverse groups of animal species in the Hainich National Park.

In addition to the hidden and therefore rarely observed wild cats, there are 48 mammal species, including 15 bat species so far. Characteristic of the Hainich is the Bechstein bat , which inhabits the ridge all year round and is mainly found in old beech forests. The endangered species was found in large numbers in the Hainich National Park. Many species of birds are native here, such as 7 species of woodpecker , tree falcons and gray shrike . With an estimated 60 to 70 breeding pairs, the Hainich National Park is the largest contiguous breeding area of ​​the middle woodpecker in Thuringia. The black stork was also a breeding bird in the Hainich until 1998 . Most common, however, are the forest-dwelling songbird species, great tit , chiffchaff and blackcap . The Hainich is also in the flight path of the European gray crane , which flies over the wooded heights by the thousands each autumn on its migration to the southwest European wintering areas. The return flight to the breeding areas also takes place via the Hainich. On March 10, 2013, numerous cranes even lost their orientation in thick fog and had to land in and around Heyerode. In the process, some were killed who flew into house walls or were hit by cars on the country road between Hallungen and Heyerode. It can also be assumed that they lacked the necessary lift to overcome the Hainich. Injured cranes were rescued by the Mühlhausen animal rescue service and given emergency care in the Mühlhausen animal clinic.

Common reptile species are the forest lizard and the slow worm . The Hainich is of particular importance for the occurrence of the yellow-bellied toad, which is endangered nationwide . Two populations rich in individuals are located in the area of ​​former military training areas in the south and in the north of the ridge. The stocks are declining after they are no longer used for military purposes.

Several insect species could be described anew in the national park. Numerous rare or extinct species were new or found there, for example Reitter's stalk sap beetle , which was considered to be extinct. For the population of wildcats are scientific papers. Regular observations in northern Hainich confirm that the wildcat is native to the entire forest area. The Hainich is the starting point for the so-called wildcat rescue network , which has been linked since 2005 by green bridges and broad hedge stretches between the low mountain ranges and hilly countries of the Thuringian Forest, Rhön and Kellerwald in order to counteract the islanding and genetic impoverishment of the remaining wildcat populations. An important research facility for entomologist is the Baumkronenpfad at the Thiemsburg. So far, it is the only permanent platform in Europe for long-term research into the insect fauna of the canopy of near-natural forests. The most common large mammals include wild boar , roe deer and the fallow deer introduced in Hainich . Red deer are rare, but occur regularly in several places during the rutting season. Common predators are badgers , red foxes and stone marten . The raccoon has also found its way into Hainich. In 2015 the lynx was detected again in the Hainich National Park by a photo trap .


Territorial history

Dreiherrenstein on the Dachsberg in the Hainich National Park

Until the beginning of the 6th century, Hainich was part of the Kingdom of Thuringia. After it was conquered by the Franks, it was incorporated into the Franconian Empire. Territorial borders did not consolidate until the 14th century. The north of the Hainich was affiliated to the Free Imperial City of Mühlhausen as well as the Vogtei Dorla , an area without state sovereignty and with its own rights. The communities of the Vogtei, for example, still have extensive forests in Hainich. The Catholic Eichsfeld, which belongs to the Electorate of Mainz , reached up to the Hainich near Heyerode in the northwest. The southern part belonged to the Thuringian landgraves. It was divided up after the Ludowinger dynasty died out. Central areas of the Hainich came to the Albertine Duchy of Saxony-Weißenfels ( Amt Langensalza ), later to the Electorate of Saxony . Nazza with the Haineck castle ruins and three other places in the west as well as Craula and Behringen in the southeast belonged to the Duchy of Saxe-Gotha (-Altenburg), as did the exclave of Neukirchen with Lauterbach, which protruded into the Hainich. Berka in front of the Hainich and Bischofroda were with their district in the Duchy of Saxony-Weimar-Eisenach ( Creuzburg office ). The borders were marked with stones. Information about the course of the historical borders is provided by the old boundary stones, mostly made of shell limestone, the newer ones also made of granite in places. Engraved abbreviations and coats of arms give references to the earlier domains. Many of these old boundary stones are still reminiscent of the former territories of the small states to which the Hainich was divided, including several so-called three-man stones, as boundary stones, where three territories bordered each other. In 1802 Mühlhausen, Eichsfeld and Vogtei came to the Kingdom of Prussia , in 1815 the Thuringian parts of the Electorate and Kingdom of Saxony.

After the conquest by the Americans at the end of the Second World War and the contractual appropriation by the Soviet Union, the Hainich belonged to the state of Thuringia and from 1952 to the Erfurt district of the German Democratic Republic. After the reunification, the Free State of Thuringia was formed. Since then, the Wartburg district in the south and the districts of Langensalza and Mühlhausen, which were merged to form the Unstrut-Hainich district in 1994 , have had a share in Hainich.

History of the settlement of the Hainichwald

The border house near Heyerode: Another symbol of Hainich
The Mühlhäuser Landgraben near Eigenrieden
Remnants of the fuse factory "Gerätebau GmbH" in the Mühlhausen city forest

At least the high and ridge slopes of the Hainich are seen as old forest areas, which with great probability have always been forest since the forest development began in the post-ice age. The inaccessibility of the forest was used to build refuges, into which the rural population of the surrounding villages could relocate and seek protection during the war. Examples are the ramparts on the Sommerstein near Heyerode, the Thiemsburg and the Hünenburg near Flarchheim. Old place-name endings in -a in the areas bordering in the southwest and east indicate old settlement areas that were already settled in the Neolithic. Numerous dated archaeological findings support this view. The old Hainichrand communities are to be counted (from north to south clockwise): Oberdorla , Langula , Craula , Berka vor dem Hainich , Mihla and Nazza .

The ending -rode indicates later foundations during the high medieval clearing period when population growth led to the settlement of previously unfavorable forest areas. These local foundations include places such as Heyerode , Eigenrieden and Pfafferode in northern Hainich and Bischofroda and Hütscheroda in southern Hainich. During this time, settlement areas known as local devastation , such as B. Tieferode and Hungerode in today's Mühlhäuser Stadtwald, Gräverode near Kammerforst or Sulzrieden near Berka. But also Phulrode, Weitersrode, Germerode and Harterode on the northeastern edge near Oberdorla and Langula. These places were created as hamlets or individual farms and later abandoned. The reasons are considered to be the scarcity of water in the Hainich karst area and the insecurity of the village places, which are far away from cities or larger villages, from robbers and foreign armies. Other Hainichorte are Kammerforst , Flarchheim , Mülverstedt , Weberstedt , Alterstedt , Zimmer , Reichenbach , Behringen , Lauterbach , Hallungen and Diedorf .

In the High Middle Ages, namely at the end of the 14th century, the Haineck Castle was built above Nazza. It was the residence of the Lords of Wangenheim and the Lords of Hopffgarten. In 1452 it was inhabited by the robber baron Apel Vitzthum. At the beginning of the 16th century it was abandoned by its masters and fell into disrepair. The castle ruins were secured and restored in 1997. In the 14th century, the construction of the Mühlhausen Landgraben on the northern edge of the Hainich near Eigenrieden began. The moat wall system was created to protect the area of ​​the Free Imperial City of Mühlhausen. With the start of organized forestry in the 17th century, various forest houses were built on the edge of the Hainich and in the interior of the forest, all of them as half-timbered buildings: the forest house on Reckenbühl, the Schönstedter forest house on Gänsekropf near Weberstedt, the forest house Seebach, the forest house on the Thiemsburg and the border house Heyerode as Forest houses. The latter is the only original to have been preserved, was completely renovated in 2005 and is another symbol of Hainich. The forester's house on the Thiemsburg, a half-timbered building with a half-hipped roof and oak-paneled hunting room, was demolished at the beginning of January 2006 after about 10 years of vacancy in favor of a restaurant to serve national park guests with an excavator. The forester's house on the Reckenbühl near Kammerforst had fallen to the ground. A restaurant and accommodation facility was also established there in 2007. The Forsthaus Seebach or Hainichhaus was also converted into a restaurant in 2006. Only remnants of the Schönstedt forester's house have survived. "Peterhof" was also built as a forester's house on the northern edge of the Hainich in the 19th century. Since the Mühlhausen city forest was already a popular local recreation destination at the end of the 19th century, the excursion restaurants "Waldfrieden", "Prinzenhaus", "Weißes Haus" and "Waldschlößchen" were built there on the edge of the forest. The already existing rest area for carters on Hohen Strasse at Ihlefeld and the Mülverstedter forester's lodge, which was later set up there, were built into an estate in the middle of the forest under Max von Hopffgarten . This also included the Vorwerk "Litzbeer", a farm within the forest with associated agricultural land cleared in the forest, which is now known as Picht's Wiese. A special feature of the settlement of the Hainich is the establishment of the production facilities of the Gerätebau GmbH , a subsidiary of a watch and armaments manufacturer in Ruhla . They were built as a rest home well camouflaged in the forest interior of the northern Hainich. Also in the 1930s, a farm on the Hainich-Ostrand near Mülverstedt, which had existed since 1914, was turned into a fox farm. It was operated until 1945 and demolished after it was acquired by the National People's Army. On the Harsberg, on the southwest side of the Hainich, a gliding center with an attached flying school was built on a favorable slope with updrafts in the early 1930s . The buildings were converted into a youth hostel and information center in 2006 . After the Second World War, there was hardly any settlement construction in Hainich due to its proximity to the zone and later border of the GDR, but more and more demolition took place. The armaments factory in the Mühlhausen city forest was blown up by the Red Army in 1947, the goods on the Ihlefeld and Litzbeerfeld were demolished, the forest houses on the Gänsekropf and the Reckenbühl fell into disrepair. At most, on the Hohen Rode near Eigenrieden, a radar station for the Soviet troops was built on a 65 m high tower in 1980, along with ancillary buildings for the men and officers. The tower was dismantled in 1995 and replaced by a telecommunications tower. A forestry depot with residential buildings for forest workers was built on the Thiemsburg site. Significant new building measures started after 1997 when the National Park Act came into force. At Kammerforst, an environmental education station was created by converting vehicle halls. The treetop path was built at the Thiemsburg and a large car park was created. The trail was opened to the public on August 26, 2005. At the Thiemsburg site, the National Park House was opened to the public at the end of 2008 . The extension of the treetop path to the north was completed in spring 2009. After the old forester's house on the Thiemsburg was demolished, a new restaurant was built in the same place. An outbuilding was renovated and has since served as accommodation for national park visitors. Overall, the "Thiemsburg" location has been the focus of visitors to the Hainich National Park since it was founded. Another focus is being established at Hütscheroda. The first construction phase of the Wildcat Village was opened on June 17, 2011 at the so-called Generalsblick auf dem Kindel with the " Hainich-Blick " observation tower , a 20.3 m high wooden structure . With the "root cave" officially handed over on May 11, 2016, the treetop path at Thiemsburg was expanded underground.

History of forest use

For many years, the Hainich Forest was used unregulated and without taking into account the sustainability principle . So-called wood regulations soon established rules for forest management in Hainich. The first timber regulation for the villages of the Bailiwick (Langula, Nieder- and Oberdorla), for example, dates from 1569 and divides the forest into 18 fields, which are used in an annual cycle. So-called Laßholz or Hegereiser are left standing. The second timber regulation of 1786 already determines the exact number of Hegereis per Hauung at 150. It also regulates the secondary uses of the forest: the forest pasture , the leaf rake and the picking of wood by "the poor". With the 3rd Timber Regulations between 1859 and 1878, the forest in the Vogteier forest was converted into a plenter-like management, which was carried out according to a precise economic plan and was only carried out by trained foresters and forest workers. Since then, secondary uses have been prohibited. The forestry use and management of the Hainich Forest is in many ways linked to forestry dynasties . First of all, father and son Gottfried and Carl Baehr, who were forest rangers in Hainich in the 19th century, should be mentioned. Their graves and those of their wives have been preserved near the Heyeröder border house to this day. Grandson Paul and his sons later also worked as a forester. Wilhelm Biehl, in turn, established the forestry tradition in his family as the district forester of Langula. Son Georg carried on his father's professional legacy in Langula. His son Rüdiger, also as a forester, holds the position of deputy head of the Hainich National Park. Wilhelm Biehl's younger son, Hubertus, continued to take care of the forest management in Hainich, as did his son Andreas, who is currently the district forester in Langula and thus continues the forestry tradition of the Biehl family. Wilhelm Biehl died in the forest. At the place of death west of Langula a stone was later placed in memory.

Development of the traffic routes

Old train station in Heyerode im Hainich

The Hainich was an obstacle for long-distance trade routes in the west-east direction, especially because of its steep south-west drop. The construction of pass roads was only possible where valleys cut far into the ridge of the ridge and provided for flatter slopes or inclines. This is how the so-called Hessenweg was created on the northern edge , which was expanded into a Chaussée at the beginning of the 19th century and later to Reichstrasse or Bundesstrasse 249. Mühlhausen's long-distance trade was handled via the Hessenweg. The freight was reloaded onto ships for onward transport in Wanfried . Another Hainich crossing ran between Langula and Nazza. The old route now roughly follows the road to Eisenach. The Hohe Straße in the southern part of Hainich was the long-distance trade route starting from Bad Langensalza to the west with an extension at the Ihlefeld. The destination was Mihla, where goods from Bad Langensalza were reloaded onto river ships until the 17th century. The construction of the railway took place late with the alignment of the 31.79 km long Bimmel Vogteier through the Langula valley to Heyerode and from there to Treffurt. The railway was inaugurated on July 1, 1911. Railway operation continued until 1969. Wood was also transported away via the Bimmel Vogteier . The transhipment point was the Heyeröder station, which was built at the highest point in the middle of the route. Parts of the embankment, notches, bridges, viaducts and station buildings have remained from the old route to this day. Including the old train station in Heyerode , which was restored in 1998 . Today the Unstrut-Werra cycle path runs along the old railway line.

More Hainich history dates

  • January 27, 1080: Battle on the eastern edge of Hainich near Flarchheim between the armies of the German king Heinrich IV and the opposing king Rudolf of Swabia . The battle is decided in favor of Rudolf of Swabia.
  • 1639: Looting and pillage of the Hainichort Craula during the Thirty Years War by marauding Swedish troops.
  • July 1, 1911: Opening of the Mühlhausen – Treffurt railway , the so-called Vogteier Bimmel . The line crosses the Hainich in the Langula Valley and was operated until 1968.
  • Winter 1929: Adam , one of the strongest beeches , is felled on Lauterbach's part in the swan forestry department . The trunk diameter at chest height was about 160 cm.
  • 30./31. March 1944: A Lancaster bomber of the Royal Air Force is shot at Hainich edge and crashes in Kalkgrund in Mihla. The 8 inmates, Canadian and Australian soldiers of the 101st Squadron, 1st Group under Officer DJ Irving are killed. The remains of the machine were only dug up and secured in 2007. A memorial plaque marks the crash site.
Magdkreuz near Kammerforst, an atonement cross in Hainich

More history witnesses

The numerous stone crosses, such as B. the Baumeisterkreuz im Behringer Holz, the Craulaer Kreuz near Craula, the Ihlefelder Kreuz, the Magdkreuz west of Kammerforst, the Mülverstedter Kreuz, the Schüzekreuz at Reckenbühl, the Taternkreuz near Langula. There are many stories and legends about these crosses. Mostly they were set up where people perished on non-consecrated ground. Often these are atonement crosses . The stone tables in places of lower jurisdiction and the memorial stones are also historical witnesses.

See also



The beech plenter forests of the Hainich, here the Oberdorlaer Holz, are unique in Central Europe
Hainich hunting traditions are also cultivated in the Hainich hunt.

In northern and central Hainich, forestry dominates , which is directed by the Hainich-Werratal Forestry Office based in Creuzburg. The private forest predominates in the special form of the cooperative forest in central Hainich. Fret cooperatives have traditionally been the beech selection forest prescribed management objectives. The north of the Hainich is part of the largest communal forest in Thuringia, the Mühlhausen city forest . With the protection as a natural forest reserve , a decision was made there for a plenter forest-like management. To promote the marketing rotkernigen beech wood, which is generated by the selection forest, which was Buchzentrum based in Creuzburg founded. The recreational forest is particularly important in the forests near the city .


The Hainich is divided into numerous hunting grounds of around 150 hectares each, most of which are leased by the forest owners. According to the specifications of the shooting plan, single hunts are hunted from hides. In November, around Hubertus Day , the name day of Saint Hubertus , the Hainich hunt takes place, one of the largest community hunts in Germany. In agreement with the hunting tenants, almost the entire forest area of ​​the Hainich is hunted in one morning in the form of a driven hunt and in around 50 hiring groups. For wild game in the Hainich are especially deer - and wild boar , as well as fallow deer and red deer , and the predators red fox and badger . Hunting mainly serves to protect the natural regeneration of the forest from being bitten by game and thus forest objectives. Are shot almost exclusively freshmen and defectors in the pigs, fawns and Schmalrehe the deer and weak animals in all wild species. In the case of roe deer, the shooting rate is usually just below the population density, which in Hainich is estimated at 8 to 10 animals per 100 hectares. In the Hainich National Park, hunting takes place within the framework of ecological wildlife management, as well as the fight against animal diseases and spread over the cold season in several grazing areas. The total reserves, especially the world heritage area in the center of the protected area, are excluded from hunting in the national park. The outskirts of the national park are also leased or hunted by the city of Bad Langensalza and Thamsbrück. In the national park, wild boar, fallow deer and, if they have been browsing the neighboring forests, also red deer and raccoons. The closed seasons are broader there, however, and hunting in protection zone II is limited to a few dates in autumn. Hainich hunting in particular also applies to the maintenance of hunting customs and the exchange of experiences among hunters. It has been carried out annually since 1992 and arose from the social hunt in Hainich, which was common in the GDR from the 1970s.


The treetop path on the Thiemsburg in the Hainich National Park, environmental education facility and research platform in equal measure
The Rennstieg at Eigenrieden and its marking
Muschelkalk quarry in Senkig in northern Hainich

The Hainich is well equipped with hiking trails and is connected to the long-distance hiking network. The traditional Rennstieg hiking trail leads along the ridges . In the east, the Waagebalkenweg between Mühlhausen and the Harthhaus above Bad Langensalza can be hiked throughout. The Fahner Höhe-Hainich hiking trail also begins in Mühlhausen, but continues over the Fahner Höhen to the Thuringian capital of Erfurt . In the Hainich National Park, in line with its motto "Let nature be nature", over 90% of the area is no longer used by people. This is where the largest unused deciduous forest area in Germany is located. From an economic point of view, the focus is on developing nature-friendly tourism . The area around Thiemsburg has emerged as a tourist focus. This is where the Hainich treetop path, unique in the world, was created as the largest and most visited environmental education facility in the Free State of Thuringia. The National Park House was also built in 2008 at the Thiemsburg, a former forester's house and forest depot . In the Hainich National Park there is a concept for hiking, cycling and horse-drawn carriage. The 11 hiking parking spaces are now starting points for the 15 themed hiking trails that have been newly created since the National Park was founded. Including a barrier-free hiking trail in Brunstal as well as an adventure hiking trail at Berka in front of the Hainich and a fairy tale trail, the so-called Feenstieg, at Weberstedt. The establishment of the Hainich National Park has led to the development of tourism in the Hainich region since its establishment. Since 2005, 300,000 people have been visiting the national park alone, 1.2 million visitors were counted on the treetop path by the end of 2010. In cooperation with the partners of the national park, new conservation and management operations were created in the national park communities and their surroundings, including a youth hostel with a jungle life camp for young people on the Harsberg near Lauterbach. The development of the Hainich region was further driven by the creation of the Hainichland host quality seal . This includes service providers in tourism in the region who have decided to maintain certain quality standards, such as uniform local dishes on the menus of the partner companies and competent information on the Eichsfeld-Hainich-Werratal Nature Park and the Hainich National Park embedded in it. The tourism association has launched another project together with handicraft businesses: The Hainichland adventure worlds allow visitors to the region to experience the old handicraft traditions in the Hainich region up close through activities such as show forging and baking in an old village bakery. The former Heyerode train station has developed into another tourist attraction in Hainich. Excursion restaurants, holiday homes, children's playground, petting zoo and various festivals have contributed to this. It is also the venue for the annual Heyeröder farmers' market and the starting point for hikes and walks in the adjacent natural forests.

Hainichlandweg : In 2012, the Hainichlandweg, a hiking trail, was completed, which is intended to make the natural and cultural landscape of the Hainich-Werra region tangible over a length of 130 km. The official approval by the head of the Thuringian State Chancellery Marion Walsmann took place on July 13, 2012. The route leads in seven stages from Weberstedt via Kammerforst, Struth, Heyerode, Probstei Zella, Mihla, Hütscheroda and back to Weberstedt around the Hainich. It is marked with a red dot on a white background and the hallmark of the Hainichland, the multi-colored beech leaf. Information boards along the way give insights into scenic features.


In Senkig, a part of the Oberdorla forest, the limestone of the Upper Muschelkalks is quarried . They are used as ballast material and building blocks. The shell limestone pavement of the Mühlhausen Steinweg, that is the main shopping street in the Mühlhausen city center, as well as the upper market, are paved with shell limestone from Senkig. Abandoned, i.e. no longer operated, smaller quarries can be found in several places in Hainich. They were mostly set up for the extraction of limestone gravel materials for forest road construction.


Agriculture plays a subordinate role in Hainich. Only the corridor of the high altitude community Craula is still used for agriculture. Grassland dominates there . The arable land and shafts of rooms and chamber forest were incorporated into the Weberstedt military training area in the early 1960s. Keeping the shooting lanes open was ensured by grazing with sheep . Grazing has been reduced to a minimum since the National Park Act came into force. Further grassland and fields are still in the south-western outskirts of the Hainich, especially in the district of the Mihla administrative community. On the northern edge, it is the Catalaunian fields located on Eigenrieder in the area of ​​an old forest clearing that are used intensively for arable farming. The intensively arable and large-scale agricultural landscape often borders directly on the edges of the closed, semi-natural deciduous mixed forests of the Hainich, especially on the eastern edge.

Military use

A total of four military training areas were set up in southern Hainich and on the northern edge of Hainich. The military use began in 1935 with the construction of the military training area on the Kindel by the Wehrmacht . After the Second World War, the training area was transferred to the Soviet Army , expanded to 2,700 hectares and used for tank exercises until 1991, most recently by the Western Group of the Russian Armed Forces. The use of the Kindel by the Soviet Army also involved the clearing of around 600 hectares of forest. After the troops had withdrawn, the entire training area was contaminated with remains of ammunition and duds. In some areas, this also applies to the Weberstedt military training area of the National People's Army of the GDR, which was set up from 1964/65 in the northeastern connection to the Kindel military training area. It served until 1993 (most recently for the German Armed Forces) as a training area and for testing various weapon systems. It included a total of six different-sized shooting ranges, as well as extensive safety areas in the forests of the Hainich. The lack of forest use over decades finally led to the development of today's primeval mixed beech forests. Further military training areas were at Dörnaer Platz near Dörna on the northern edge of Hainich, and Senkelstedt near Alterstedt . In 1973 a shooting range for the People's Police was set up in the area of ​​the Vorwerk Oppershausen and was used until 1992.


Climate storm of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

The geologist Johann Georg Bornemann researched the stratigraphy of shell limestone in Hainich . In 1886 he incorporated his findings into the yearbook of the Prussian State Geological Institute. The Bad Langensalza pedagogue Hermann Gutbier (1842–1936) conducted extensive regional historical studies, including in Hainich. Between 1945 and 1989, the Hainich was largely inaccessible to researchers.

Between 1990 and 2000, the extensive floristic species registration in Hainich was carried out by various workers . Species were recorded as part of the survey of fern and vascular plants in Thuringia carried out by the Thuringian Botanical Society in cooperation with the Thuringian State Institute for Environment and Geology .

Between 1997 and 1999, the forest biotope mapping and thus the ecological inventory of the Hainich took place under the leadership of the Thuringian State Institutes for Environment and Geology or Forest, Hunting and Fishing .

The establishment of the Hainich National Park at the end of 1997 made extensive research possible. Since then, an intensive recording of the plant and animal species has been carried out in the national park area, but also ecosystem research has been carried out. The Hainich is equipped with a climate measuring station from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, which is connected to the global network of stations for researching the carbon balance. In addition, there is a main measuring station of the State Institute for Forests, Hunting and Fishing in southern Hainich, which measures the influence of air pollutants on the forest. A network of control key points enables long-term investigations such as shifts in the spectrum of plant species, but also long-term animal-ecological studies. Wildlife studies are available for wild cats , for example . The National Park Administration installed game cameras to detect large wild animals , which are regularly evaluated. Bird monitoring has been carried out in the Hainich National Park since 2002 . For this purpose, birds are also caught and ringed by ornithologists using set nets. Furthermore, the University of Freiburg carries out studies on forest dynamics in the Hainich National Park and the University of Göttingen on the ecology of mixed forests.

The Hainich-Dün biodiversity exploratory has been under construction since 2007 and will provide ecological data for the whole of Hainich.

Another important research facility is the treetop adventure trail on the Thiemsburg. It enabled a group of entomologists in particular to study the treetop area more closely. It is the only permanent research platform for examinations of the tree canopy in near-natural forests in Central Europe. Since 2016, a research project by the Hainich National Park has been providing new information on wild boar. For this purpose, a system of game cameras was set up in the Hainich National Park. Wild boars were also captured alive for this purpose and provided with transmitters.

natural reserve

Area natural monument
Wacholdertrift near Oberdorla, a grazed juniper heather

The entire area of ​​the Hainich belongs to the Eichsfeld-Hainich-Werratal Nature Park, which is guaranteed in the Unification Treaty . Almost the entire Hainich is protected as EC bird sanctuary no. 14 (list of the EC bird sanctuary of the Free State of Thuringia registered in February 2007 ). The south of the Hainich has been protected as a national park since December 31, 1997 . Process protection has priority there. Therefore, with around 5500 hectares, the largest free forest area in Germany is located there. The northern part has also been a natural forest reserve since the end of 1997 . Particularly natural beech forests in the National Park Hainich were ha on an area of 1570 with natural beech forests in four other German national parks in February 2007 for inclusion in the list of World Heritage of UNESCO proposed. After its recognition by the World Heritage Committee on June 25, 2011, this area is one of the 36 World Heritage Sites in Germany. Its universal value consists primarily in its exemplary quality for natural processes. The beech forests on limestone have been recognized as unique in the world by the World Conservation Organization IUCN . Since then, Germany has had a special responsibility to protect them. The area corresponds to 20% of the Hainich National Park and about 10% of the Hainich itself. A juniper heather west of Oberdorla is protected as a natural monument . She will continue to be grazed with sheep to maintain it.

The Hainich as a brand

The term Hainich is not protected, but is already widely used as a trademark. It is named for:

  • a specialist hospital for neurology and psychiatry in Mühlhausen-Pfafferode ( Ecumenical Hainich Clinic ),
  • a municipality in the Wartburg district ( Hörselberg-Hainich )
  • a district in Thuringia ( Unstrut-Hainich district ),
  • the 13th national park in Germany ( Hainich National Park ),
  • a nature park in Germany ( Eichsfeld-Hainich-Werratal Nature Park ),
  • the Hubertus hunt in the Hainich ( Hainichjagd ), it is one of the largest community hunts in Germany;
  • the operator of the wildcat enclosure in Hütscheroda ( Wildtierland Hainich gGmbH)
  • a former beer brand from Großengottern ( Hainich Export ),
  • two sports clubs ( SV Hainich Heyerode 1924 e.V. and SV Hainich Berka VDH),
  • a magazine from the Thuringian national park region ( Hainich newspaper ),
  • a chain thriller published in August 2011 ( Tod im Hainich by Katrin Ulbrich, Uwe Schimunek and Michael Fiegle),
  • an educational climbing path near Kammerforst ( Hainich climbing forest )
  • There are Hainich streets in the Hainich villages of Flarchheim, Kammerforst, Langula and Weberstedt
  • the parking lots Hainich-Nord and Hainich-Süd on the federal highway 4 near Wenigenlupnitz. These parking spaces also provide information about the Hainich National Park.
  • Hainichhöfe , a holiday home area on the edge of Hainich near Mülverstedt

Individual evidence

  1. Hans-Jürgen Klink: Geographical land survey: The natural space units on sheet 112 Kassel - Federal Institute for Regional Studies, Bad Godesberg 1969 → online map
  2. ^ Walter Hiekel, Frank Fritzlar, Andreas Nöllert and Werner Westhus: The natural spaces of Thuringia . Ed .: Thuringian State Institute for Environment and Geology (TLUG), Thuringian Ministry for Agriculture, Nature Conservation and Environment . 2004, ISSN  0863-2448 . → Natural area map of Thuringia (TLUG) - PDF; 260 kB → Maps by district (TLUG)

  3. Roland Geyer et al .: Experience Geology, p. 21.
  4. Claudia Bachmann: This is how the forest on the Hegeberg near Kammerforst suffers , Mühlhäuser Allgemeine from July 5, 2019.
  5. Stadtverwaltung Mühlhausen (Ed. 1994): Interesting trees in Mühlhausen and the surrounding area, p. 38
  6. Reiner Schmalzl: The return flight ended fatally: Many cranes died on the Hainich . In: Mühlhäuser Allgemeine of March 11, 2013, p. 1.
  7. Reiner Schmalzl: Cranes recover in the Seebach bird sanctuary . In: Mühlhäuser Allgemeine of March 14, 2013, p. 1.
  8. Ralf Weise, Eberhard Lehnert u. a .: Amphibians and reptiles of the Unstrut-Hainich district . Mulhouse, 1997.
  9. Bienert, T. (2000): Medieval castles in Thuringia, p. 331
  10. Hainichland Magazin, 21st edition, summer 2011, p. 5
  11. Rockstuhl / Störzner (1999): Hainich-Geschichtsbuch, p. 29.
  12. ^ Rockstuhl / Störzner (1999): Hainich history book. P. 44.
  13. ^ Rockstuhl / Störzner (1999): Hainich history book. P. 29 ff.
  14. Report on SPIEGEL online


in order of appearance

  • Siegfried Klaus, Thomas Stephan: Hainich National Park. Deciduous forest in the heart of Germany . Rhino, Arnstadt and Weimar 1998, ISBN 3-932081-05-6 .
  • Wolfgang Mönninghoff: Hainich National Park (= German National Parks, Vol. 9). VEBU-Verlag, Berlin 1998.
  • Gerald Patzelt : The Hainich . Cordier-Verlag, Heiligenstadt 1998, ISBN 3-929413-40-X .
  • Roland Geyer, Gerald Patzelt, Daniela Schäfer: Experience geology - Geological route through the Eichsfeld-Hainich-Werratal nature park . Cordier-Verlag, Heiligenstadt 2000, ISBN 3-929413-63-9 .
  • Harald Rockstuhl , Frank Störzner : Hainich history book - hike through the history of a natural heritage . Verlag Rockstuhl, Bad Langensalza, 3rd revised edition 2003, ISBN 3-932554-15-9 .
  • Hainich species book - animals, plants and fungi in the Hainich National Park . Rockstuhl Verlag, Bad Langensalza, 2005, ISBN 3-937135-37-5 .
  • Project Group World Natural Heritage Beech Forests (Ed.): Beech Forests in Germany. Nomination for UNESCO World Natural Heritage . Weimar 2008.
  • Jana Wäldchen, Ernst Detlef Schulze, Martina Mund, Bernd Winkler: The influence of political, legal and economic framework conditions of the 19th century on the management of the forests in the Hainich-Dün area (Northern Thuringia) . In: Forstarchiv , Vol. 82 (2011), Issue 2, pp. 35–47.
  • Manfred Großmann, Uwe John, Haik Thomas Porada (eds.): The Hainich. A geographical inventory in the area of ​​Mühlhausen, Bad Langensalza, Schlotheim, Großengottern, Mihla and Behringen (= landscapes in Germany - values ​​of the German homeland, vol. 77). Published on behalf of the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography and the Saxon Academy of Sciences in Leipzig. Böhlau Verlag, Cologne and Weimar 2018, ISBN 978-3-412-22300-7 .

Web links

Commons : Hainich  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Hainich National Park  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Hainich  - travel guide