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Wind and waves shape the Fischland-Darß-Zingst peninsula, and nature is far from finished with its work. A typical animal of the region is the crane; a migratory bird that makes a stopover here in tens of thousands - on the Bodden coast, which is typical for the region and over whose characteristically shallow waters traditional sailors sometimes still roar.

Reading sample from Dumont Bildatlas: Germany - Holidays by the Sea

This article is from the book Germany - vacation by the sea from DuMont Reiseverlag. There, on 204 pages, you will find numerous active tips and recommendations tested by the authors for every taste: a night hike to the mainland, a trial course in beach sailing, a ride through the Wadden Sea, island hopping, switching off and recharging in wellness temples on the Baltic Sea, Nordic walking in Holstein Switzerland or hiking on a section of the E9 hiking trail.

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An incredible number: 1711 kilometers measures the coast of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern - which is approximately the distance of Rostock to Rome. The Bodden coast alone accounts for 1357 kilometers - a shallow, irregularly shaped scenery originally created by the intrusion of the sea into the young ground moraine landscape, which winds its way in countless meanders behind the outer coast. Today the Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft is under protection - it begins on the peninsula Fischland-Darß-Zingst. It is actually three islets, Fischland, Darß and Zingst, created with the withdrawal of the last post-glacial glaciers. Mother Nature made sure that gradually all connections to the open sea silted up, the storm tide of 1872 set the final point. The worst local flood in living memory threw three and a half meter high wave crests against the coast and filled up the Prerow Stream, which separated Darß from Zingst. From then on, the islands were stuck together.

Darss Peninsula: Landscape on Darss West Beach © picture alliance / DUMONT Bildarchiv | Olaf Meinhardt

Idyll at the end of the world

"Fischerkaten am Saaler Bodden", "Rural farmstead with cornfield" is what the Oldenburg painter Paul Müller-Kaempff called his works, underscoring what artists were looking for and found in Ahrenshoop in the late 1880s. In 1909, art also got a permanent home here when Paul Müller-Kaempff and Theobald Schorn built the "Kunstkaten". The combination of an inspiring idyll far from modern life with cheap board and lodging soon attracted other artists.

Ahrenshoop, the "Worpswede of the Baltic Sea". Nowhere else is the density of galleries, measured against the number of inhabitants, higher than here © picture alliance / DUMONT Bildarchiv | Olaf Meinhardt

Land comes into being, land passes away

A main attraction on the Darss is the walk to the lighthouse "Darßer Ort". On beautiful summer days, whole crowds of people wander here. You can not blame them, because here offers a coastal panorama that is unparalleled. At Darßer Ort, you can experience the creative power of the sea: to the south, the water permanently wears away the coast, churns up the beach, carries away tons of sand, undermines the roots of the bent coastal pines and brings them down. Northeast of Darßer Ort, the sea returns its prey, washing up sand in long delicate plumes and heaping it into flat banks. The wind shapes them into dunes, on which first dwarf shrub heaths and then, long years later, pines, oaks and beeches flourish - the land grows, the circle closes. The 5,000-hectare Darßwald forest was also created in this way. Excursions regularly lead into the dim light under the pines and beeches. It still bears the stamp of human use. Old working roads give it a chessboard-like pattern, and earlier reforestations still have the character of monocultures. One day, however, this forest will once again be a primeval forest.

Darss Peninsula: Nature trail at Darsser Ort © picture alliance / DUMONT Bildarchiv | Olaf Meinhardt

In crane country

Year after year attracts the migration of the cranes thousands to the Baltic Sea coast: In March and October the unimaginable number of over 70,000 birds roost on the Bodden between Zingst and Rügen, especially at Pramort on Ostzingst. Equipped with binoculars and cameras, birdwatchers and nature lovers wait warmly wrapped up for dusk. Then thousands of cranes move in long chains across the sky, accompanied by their trumpet calls. It gets under your skin. In autumn, the birds gorge themselves on the Bodden meadows; reserves for their flight south. In spring, the cranes gather here for their courtship dances. They act like maniacs, get into a frenzy of curtsying, jumping and flapping their wings, throwing their heads far back and trumpeting at the top of their lungs. It takes time for a pair's dance to transition into harmony, and for the two to move like mirror images. And although crane couples stay together for life, they woo each other devotedly every spring.

Peninsula Zingst: Crane observation point in front of the island Kirr © picture alliance / DUMONT Bildarchiv | Olaf Meinhardt

Amber and Vineta

The peninsula chain from Fischland, Darß and Zingst today seal off the towns of Ribnitz- Damgarten and Barth from the open sea. Ribnitz-Damgarten's "vein of gold" nevertheless has close ties to the sea: amber is the magic word that magically attracts guests. In the former Clarissan monastery of Ribnitz, the German Amber Museum spreads out its honey-colored treasures. Amber galleries and the large foam factory are also located in the old town. Barth, too, seeks and finds its tourist salvation in connection with the water: hypotheses that Vineta, the legendary harbor city, was found in the Barther Bodden and not near Zinnowitz on Usedom gave plenty of fuel to the hype about the "Atlantis of the Baltic Sea" on site. Consequently, Barth calls itself "Vineta Town" and also maintains a small Vineta Museum.

Ribnitz-Damgarten: Amber with inclusions in the German Amber Museum © picture alliance / DUMONT Bildarchiv | Johann Scheibner

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Darß was once the most important place for finding Baltic amber. Both the gemstone and the sailing shipyards made the town (pop. 15,000) at the mouth of the Recknitz well known. In 1950, Ribnitz in Mecklenburg and Damgarten in Western Pomerania merged. Especially worthwhile:
A visit to the convent of the Poor Clares (orig. 14th c.) is worth visiting because of the valuable furnishings of the monastery church. Here you can also find the impressive German Amber Museum (www.deutschesbernsteinmuseum.de). A glass production with amber sale offers the foam manufactory Ostsee-Schmuck (www.ostseeschmuck.de)
The Open Air Museum Klockenhagen conveys a picture of life on the Baltic coast over the past 300 years. The museum makers attach great importance to an attractive program for families (hands-on activities and demonstrations of old crafts), www.freilichtmuseum-klockenhagen.de).

The imposing Marienkirche with its massive west tower dominates the townscape in Ribnitz-Damgarten © bluecrayola/Shutterstock


From 1880 Wustrow (pop. 1200) changed from a fishing village to a seaside resort. Seamen attended the Grand Ducal Mecklenburg Navigation School, founded in 1846, which was an engineering college for seafaring from 1969 to 1992. Worth seeing:
In 1993 Wustrow got its pier. In Barnstorf, four picturesque medieval pipe-roofed farmhouses still stand on a spit of land; one was converted into the Art Barnto give changing exhibitions a special setting (www.kunstscheune-barnstorf.de).
Highlight in the Wustrow festival calendar is the Zeesenboat regatta the first of July Sat.

Wustrow - the former fishing village has developed into a pretty seaside resort © Olaf Unger/Shutterstock.com


Around 1900, Ahrenshoop (pop. 640) became known as an artists' colony. Since then, everything to do with art has been highly popular here. The highlights:
Picturesque shows the townscape with thatched houses, flowery gardens, small alleys. The main road runs through the middle of the town, with narrow streets branching off on both sides, inviting you to explore. During the high season, the crowds are quite large. Expensive boutiques and even more expensive hotels and restaurants leave no doubt: money is no object.
The art museum shows works of the founding generation of the artists' colony as well as top-class temporary exhibitions. Architecturally, the exhibition buildings are based on the fishermen's cottages of the surrounding area (www.kunstmuseum-ahrenshoop.de). The Kunstkaten, painted cobalt blue, goes back to the founder of the artists' colony, Paul Müller-Kaempf, who established a meeting place here in 1909 where artists and buyers could meet informally (www.kunstkaten.de). Temporary exhibitions are organized by the gallery in the Thorn House (www.dornenhaus.de). If you want to meet artists today, it's best to go to the open house at Haus Lukas. There the scholarship holders show their works, organize readings, exhibitions and performances and chat with guests. The house awards scholarships every two years (www.kuenstlerhaus-lukas.de).
Souvenirs, stationery, Books, jewelry, beautiful postcards you can get hold of in the Colorful room (www.bunte-stube.de).
From Ahrenshoop leads a hiking trailg along the cliff edge over the Bakelberg (17.9 m) to Wustrow (5 km). Erosion is clearly gnawing away at the high bank.

Ahrenshoop - Baltic Sea idyll with great artist tradition © Sina Ettmer Photography/Shutterstock.com


Old captain's houses, an outstanding sandy beach and the proximity to the Darß forest distinguish Prerow (1500 inhabitants). Nowhere else can the emergence of the landscape be observed better than on the Darß. Especially worth seeing:
The beach about 80 m wide and the one built in 1993 Pier adorn the old fishing village. In 1728 the Seamen's Church erected, where votive ships remind of the old trade. About botany, geology and ornithology informs the Darß Museum, which also shows an interesting collection of front doors.
The Darss virgin forest is best explored by bike. Bike rentals in Prerow and Zingst (www.fischland-darss-zingst.de).

Natural idyll - the beach of Prerow in the sunset © Marcus_Hofmann/Shutterstock.com


From 1881 the fishing village changed into a Baltic seaside resort. Today Zingst (3000 inhabitants) is the tourist center of the area. The sea and the Bodden come quite close here. Especially worthwhile:
The Museum Zingst informs about the local history, exhibits the works of local artists and shows eleven impressive ship models. Don't miss: the action days (www.museum-zingst.de). In the Experimentarium children learn interactively all kinds of things about science and technology (www.experimentarium-zingst.de).
The islands of Werder and Bock are located east of Zingst, Großer Kirr and Barther Oie south. Because migratory birds rest here, especially the cranes in the area of Zingst/Bock, the islands are bird sanctuaries of European importance. Across the Sundische Wiesen you reach the crane observation station Pramort (today part of the National Park Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft). South of the Bodden lies the small town of Barth (pop. 8600). Like Zinnowitz, it claims to be the true Vineta town. In the old town hall the Vineta Museum its seat; it informs among other things about the myth Vineta (www.vineta-museum.de). Jewel of the Low German Bible Center St. Jürgen is a very valuable edition of the Barth Bible (www.bibelzentrum-barth.de).

Diving gondola Zingst
Zingst: In the diving gondola you can get to know the flora and fauna of the Baltic Sea © Adobestock/modernmovie

Reading sample from the DuMont illustrated atlas "Germany - Holidays by the Sea

Cover photo: The west beach vividly shows how the sea bites mighty chunks out of the Darss dune greenery in rough weather © picture alliance / DUMONT Bildarchiv | Olaf Meinhardt

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