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Wasserwandern auf der Saale, Jena

JenaKultur, F: A. Hub

Waterways – active with blue

Water is a wonderful element! You can actively enjoy life on, in and by water. Let's toss intellectual pomposity overboard and look forward to new things! What do you think about cycling along the Gera, Ilm and Saale rivers? Tune up the bike and pack in your swimwear. It's time to get out and get started!

Erfurt – the mark of the wheel

If your municipality has a wheel in its coat of arms, you have the perfect starting point for our trip. Thirsting for action, we immerse ourselves in the state capital. It may be 1,275 years old, but it is still young at heart. The medieval centre of the city, one of the largest heritage areas in Germany, has the Gera river flowing right through it as a waterway and lifeline. The river was formerly called 'Erfes' – dark water – and probably gave its name to the city. The 120-metre Merchants’ bridge (Krämerbrücke), with its lovingly restored half-timbered houses, is well-known. And right behind it you can see into the Mikvah. The Jewish ritual bath from the 12th century was a sensational discovery ten years ago and is, in addition to the Erfurt Treasure and the Old Synagogue (Alte Synagoge), evidence of the rich Jewish heritage. Northeast of the District of Andreas is 'Little Venice'. The park and residential area are crossed by various waterways with romantic banks, islands, islets and bridges that gave the place its name. There used to be many watermills contributing to its title as the 'City of Mills'. Up to 50 commercial mills were powered by the waters of the Gera river at one time. The 'New Mill' (Neue Mühle) is a living testimony to this past. It could grind up to six tons of grain a day and was operated until 1982. You can get very close to the water part on the Gera bike path today, and even closer on the city canoeing tours, dragon boat rides or in the sports competition: the Canolympics. At Erfurt's Nordstrand (north beach), athletes with water skis and wakeboards or jet skis can test themselves on Schwerborn lake. Tips for gourmets: The cress from fresh spring water made Erfurt famous afar. At one time, it was delivered express to Paris. You can learn more in Cress park. But no stopping here! The next refresher is already awaiting mermen and mermaids to the southeast of the city.

Hohenfelden – a refreshing getaway

Unpack the bathing suit, because now you're headed out – into the middle of the Ilm valley – to Hohenfelden reservoir. This 40-acre recreational and vacation paradise, with a bathing beach, boat rental and Avenida spa, lets you discover water in all kinds of forms. The wood-fired oven and herbal sauna as well as the Majorcan village and sauna world will make visitors really sweat. Mind and body will come alive in the refreshing plunge pool. And try out the surprising discovery showers. In the snow cave, you can feel minus 15 degrees on your skin; and in the wellness oasis, with massages, feel-good bathes and a cocktail, you can reflect on the day. Reinvigorated as if we've had a short vacation, we can now continue on the 123-kilometer Ilm valley bike path. For bikers, the discoveries in nature and culture are strung together like pearls and include the two castle town of Kranichfeld, for example. Push hard on the pedal once again, take another sip from the bottle, and we’ve reached our next destination.

Bad Berka – healthy all-round

You can recharge your battery in many ways here. Firstly, we have to fill our water bottles at the historic Goethe fountain – calcium sulphate spring and mineral water from 38 metres below ground – in order to switch from pushing the pedals to pushing through water in the Kneipp pool. If you like, you can pick up the 9 km long loop path to follow in the footsteps of Priest Kneipp and his teachings on health. In the magnificent Dammbach area, you will pass by bubbling forest springs, God's fountain and numerous natural Kneipp pools. Bad Berka, derived from 'Birch in the water', is also called the 'Goethe bath in the green' and was personally praised by him: 'How good that the healing waters of Berka [...] are near a well situated town!' The Museum in the historical 'Badegesellschaftshaus' tells 200 years of bathing history. Jump on, there's more to come!

Weimar – if all the fountains flow ...

A Goethe quote is naturally perfect for the classical city: 'Everything sprang out of the water! Everything is preserved by water!' A Berka sandstone Neptune, God of the Sea, will welcome us very personally at the market fountain. As the conqueror of the winds and waves, his inscription warns: 'Quos ego!' – 'I will become you'. Many historical fountains have been preserved as a testimony of the past in order to supply the critical resource of water and as a place of communication. Some are fed by cool running springs and offer a refreshing oasis in the middle of the city during summer and sometimes create bizarre ice forms in winter. A Weimar pharmacist and animal lover in the 19th century even let some of the municipal fountains be equipped with separate dog bowls. Besides Neptune, you will also encounter other water creatures: the dolphin fountain, frog fountain or shell fountain. And if you want to take a discovery tour on your own, there is a special fold-up map at the Tourist Information office by Market square. With our spirit refreshed, we can quench our thirst with Ehringsdorf beer, the traditional brand. Looking back on a varied 175 year history, it is now a part of all city festivals again. You can also enjoy the liquid gold on tours, at seminars and in the brewery museum. An Ehringsdorf Radler (beer with fruit soda), light and refreshing, arouses the tired spirits, as it says: 'Full beer speed ahead!' It is worth discovering the Feining bike path. As you trace the steps of the American painter Lyonel Feininger, who discovered his favourite motives with watercolours, ink and pencil in Thuringian villages, you will quickly find your own ones. Only, today we are faster (photo) artists. The Ilm valley bike path continues past Tierfurt castle and park, leaves the Wieland estate in Oßmannstedt behind and entices us in 2017 to visit the Thuringian State Horticultural Show in Apolda. Next stop: Goethe's Garden House II.

Bad Sulza – liquid sound worlds

Of course, it is 'only' the original Weimar copy that has found its exclusive place here since the turn of the millennium. We can't miss the water landscapes of the Tuscany spa right next door. Here, your ears will discover new worlds of sound on and under water at the Liquid Sound. Your soul will seem to float and your thoughts will drift away. You must have tried the salty water or at least have inhaled it as you walked in the graduation house. The next day, we'll continue to the last stage with a stopover in Sonnendorf (Sun village). The name says it all: Sun in the heart and wine in the glass. For over 1,000 years, the heat-drenched slopes have furnished tasty grapes. Correct, Thuringia is also wine country! Finally, we turn into Kaatschen-Weichau on the Saale bike path.

Jena – paradise on the Saale river

Wild and dreamy is the family-friendly stretch ahead of us. 'Proudly and boldly', numerous fortresses look down from above and welcome us 'on the bright beach of the Saale river'. No sooner have we marvelled at the magnificent Dornburg castles and then the ruins of Kunitz fortress (Kunitzburg), than we are already being welcomed by the lively university city of Jena. But here the locals do not just work and study, they also live and fight off the one or other thirst. The proof is in the pudding! The hubbub in the quaint Wagnergasse, a popular pub mile, is multilingual. For over 450 years, the town has drawn students from many countries to the traditional Salana. The boys sang mischievously about their spiritual home in the 19th century: 'My Jena, you should live, should give us the rich stuff, you are a beer channel', — speaking of which, the traditional beers 'Burschenpils' and 'Schellenbier' are again very popular. Discovery tours in and around the Saale river offer something for everyone: On the one hand, the City of Light is a paradise for hiking enthusiasts, and not only along the SaaleHorizontale. On the other, locals and guests on the idyllic banks of the river celebrate their colourful festivals and can discover new perspectives from boats on the water. KulturArena is a hallmark of the summer event calendar in the city. Performers from every continent find an enthusiastic, multi-generational audience of music lovers. The restored Volksbad – not far from the Saale river – will refresh you year-round with its repurposed bath hall and event space at the heart. GalaxSea, the modern leisure pool, will ensure bathing fun. And in season, the outdoor pools and natural pools, such as Schleicher lake with its beach bar and beach volleyball area, are popular places for people who love being outdoors or in water. Finally, let us take a rest on the waterfront near Camsdorf bridge, enjoy the nice impressions from the trip and relish some good Thuringian cuisine. In the empty water bottle, you can save warm greetings for an unknown recipient and send them by 'water post'. Where will it end up? And when? The record is currently 108 years!

Radfahrer vor der Krämerbrücke in Erfurt

Erfurt Tourismus und Marketing GmbH, F: Reinhard Lemitz

Kneippbecken Bad Berka

Christian Hill, F: Christian Hill

Ilmtal-Radweg, Sternbrücke Weimar

weimar GmbH, F: Ralph Kallenbach

Toskana Therme Bad Sulza

Ollertz&Ollertz, F: Wolfgang Fallier

Mitten in Jena liegt das „Paradies“ mit seinem „Strand“

JenaKultur, F: J. Hohmuth|

Erlkönig, Jena

JenaKultur, F: J. Hohmuth|

Knowledge to go

Moated castle

In the middle of Weimarer Land is the moated castle Kapellendorf, a museum exclave of the city of Erfurt. The rationale? Very simple: In the 14th century, a castle count was so short of funds that he simply sold the place to the rich Erfurters.

Beach weather

Jena was on the edge of an ocean 250 to 200 million years ago. Today's rock strata from limestone and sandstone were created by the deposits of sand and shell banks in a lagoon.


The 'Thuringian flood' in May 1613 was written into the chronicles of many places. 177 houses were destroyed in Erfurt, Weimar and Apolda alone.


Today, the Erfurt-Krämerbrücke (Merchants’bridge) is the only bridge in Europewith completely occupied buildings on both sides.


The Camsdorf bridge arches over the Saale river at an historic site. In the Middle Ages, a stone cross in the middle marked the eastern boundary of the Jena court district and at the same time the dividing line between the Landgrave of Thuringia's land and the Markgrave of Meißen's.

Blue bonus tips

Weimarer Land

Stay overnight on the water in the Eberstedt floating hut village


More information about the city canoeing tours available at


'The Strand22' is located in the middle of Jena Paradise (Jenaer Paradies)


The ox eye in the park on the Ilm river

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