Unique: Lüneburg Heath Nature Park, founded 1921
The largest remaining heathland in Northern Germany
Around the 169-meter high Wilseder mountain is the largest heath in Western Europe. The "Lüneburg Heath Nature Park" is about 230 square kilometers large and was established in 1921. The preservation of this cultural landscape was the work of Pastor Wilhelm Bode (1860-1927) from Egestorf: In 1906 Wilhelm Bode acquired the "Totengrund" and in 1910 established the Lüneburg Heath Conservation Society.
Reducing the size of the heath lead to a friendlier landscape. Painters and writers arrived on the scene and tourists and visitors from the cities followed making their summer holidays here.
New settlements emerged on the outskirts of the heath and B&Bs and holiday apartments in the small heath villages opened. At the turn of the 20th century, there were originally plans to open Wilsede for housing construction and a hotel was planned for Wilseder Mountain.
Pastor Bode campaigned energetically for the preservation of his homeland
Some 6000 gold marks from Professor Thomsen of Münster helped Bode in acquiring the "Totengrund" in an effort to ward off urban sprawl. The "heath pastor" subsequently founded the Lüneburg Heath Nature Park Society which in 1910 bought farm land at Wilseder mountain for 100,000 gold marks. That became the basis for Germany's first national park.
The current size of the national park is the result of the personal commitment of Alfred C. Toepfer, a Hamburg businessman, who set up a foundation that aided an ongoing expansion of the nature park.
Wilseder mountain is the highest peak in the North German plain and a popular destination for carriage rides, hikers and cyclists. The protected area is free of cars and only about 60 people live in the small village of Wilsede. Nevertheless, each year hundreds of thousands of visitors are attracted by the flowering heather, especially in August and September, to Wilsede Mountain and the adjacent "Totengrund" with its romantic heath atmosphere. Established in 1907, the Wilsede Heimatmuseum "Dat ole Huus" shows the authentic furnishings of an old heath farmhouse.
Starting points for hikes and rides, and also accessible by car, are Undeloh, Döhle, Niederhaverbeck and Overhaverbeck.