Jump to content

The geopark – a very special interactive museum in the fresh air

Ausschnitt eines Schneckenfossils (Copyright: GEOPARK / Karl-Friedrich Weber)

The Braunschweig Land region of the UNESCO Global Geopark Harz extends between Braunschweig and Helmstedt and from Wolfsburg to the Harz. The Geopark information centre in Königslutter is the gateway to this geologically exciting area peppered with sights around the Elm range.

Nestled in the picturesque historic centre of Königslutter, the FEMO association runs its Geopark Info Centre in a renovated Baroque half-timbered building. An exciting journey through time awaits you here, spread across four floors and covering the geological history of the Earth and the history of the region’s landscape. Here you will find knowledgeable contacts and attractive brochures, which offer tips and information on all of the Georoutes through Braunschweig Land. The exhibition, which is spread over all four floors and captivates children and adults alike, is also worth checking out.

Real Stone Age dinosaurs and life-size models

The very rare skeleton of a five-metre-long eurhinosaurus, which gives an idea of the shape and size of the long-extinct ‘fish dinosaur’, is among the amazing exhibits. The life-size Stone Age man model offers a moving impression of how our forefathers looked and is also worth seeing. On a journey back in time through 290 million years of the Earth’s history, living animals and plants can be seen alongside fossilised animals, plants and giant ammonites – covering everything from prehistoric times to the present day.

On a journey back in time through 290 million years of the Earth’s history, living animals and plants can be seen alongside fossilised animals, plants and giant ammonites (Photo: GEOPARK / Karl-Friedrich Weber)

The exhibition also makes it clear that the region’s geological development is incredibly diverse. According to Karl-Friedrich Weber, the first chair of FEMO e.V., the special geological significance of Braunschweig Land lies in the fact that almost the entire geological Mesozoic, the Tertiary and the Quaternary can be seen in a relatively limited space.

The bedrock of the Harz represents important parts of the Palaeozoic,’ says Weber. ‘This isn’t something you’ll find anywhere else in the world.’ FEMO e.V. and its 130 members aim to convey the geological, human and cultural history of Braunschweig Land.

‘First and foremost, we want to retain natural and cultural treasures and bring about economic effects in the region,’ adds Weber. ‘We want to do this in a way that is comprehensible for young and old alike.’ In a dedicated ‘activity area’, registered school classes and other groups can take a look at geological questions from a fun and experimental perspective.

Delicate yet tough: fossilised sea lilies

The Geopark Info Centre has exhibited important parts of a very special collection in two rooms since 30th April 2013. Businessman Otto Klages (1903–1982) devoted a great deal of enthusiam to collecting fossils in his free time, which he subjected to scientific scrutiny. The region around Königslutter offered him ample material for this: the Elm’s limestone is known for its high density of prehistoric relics of flora and fauna. The Königslutter-based businessman’s collection comprises 20,000 objects, including the wonderful fossilised sea lilies, which are typical of the region. When Klages donated his collection to the town, he laid the foundation stone for the exhibition at the Geopark information centre.

Georoutes and Geopoints

Anyone who wants to learn about the sights the surrounding area offers will find the perfect starting point at the Geopark information centre. You can learn plenty of background information here, which makes the individual sights even more interesting. What’s more, you can stock up on addresses, maps, tips, brochures and flyers before you set off on your explorations.

What is a Butterberg made from?

Young and old alike can gain a vivid insight into history and botany, archaeology and geology while taking a walk: Groß Steinum is one example, where six stations illustrate how a megalithic tomb was built thousands of years ago. The interactive stone quarry in Hainholz demonstrates the theory and practice of how stones used to be mined and worked.

The Findlingsgarten (boulder garden) to the north of Königslutter, the Naturerlebnisgarten (nature experience garden) in Velpke, the Sand- und Kiesgrube Uhry (sand and gravel pit) and the captivating Königspfalz Werla (a royal palace) are also worth a visit. Do you love a bit of mysticism and fantasy? Then you’ll be in your element on the Elfenpfad (elf path). The Butterberg has a more mundane name, although it has nothing to do with animal fat. The name rather relates to the Lower Saxon word ‘buten’, meaning ‘outside’. A Butterberg is thus an elevation located on the edge of certain places.

Work remains exciting for FEMO e.V. – in part because 4,000 visitors from all over the country are attracted to the information centre in Königslutter each year. And also because, as the chair of the association says, ‘Future geological and archaeological finds of special significance are also to be expected in our region.’

Previous article
Overcoming borders – Helmstedt University Days
Next article
Historic Helmstedt: 10 sites that bring history to life