It may not look like it but this is a volcanic field. This is Vogelsberg, located in the German state of Hesse, an upland region formed by volcanic eruptions which took place around twenty million years ago over a period of roughly 12 million years with pauses – some of which were more than one million years. This has resulted in Vogelsberg being one of the largest basalt formations in Europe, the volcanic region is roughly 2,500 square kilometres. The eruptions are not due to just one peak but many resulting in a many layered landscape with overlapping basalt terraces.
When travelling in the region, one does not get the impression of going uphill because the inclines are so gentle – unless of course it is by bicycle. The highest peaks are the Taufstein, 773.0 metres and Hoherodskopf, 763 metres, both of which are within the High Vogelsberg Nature Park.
The volcanic activity has effected the human history of the landscape due to the presence of bauxite, iron ore and basalt all of which continue to be mined in enormous quarries. Another way the volcanic activity effected the landscape is because basalt loam soil is not very porous and much of the area is thus swampy. In places abandoned open cast mines have turned into lakes.
Groundwater and spring water from the Vogelsberg provides drinking water for the Rhine-Main region, two thirds of which goes to Frankfurt. The first pipelines connecting the regions were built in 1876.
Visitors will find all sorts of attractions for those interested in the outdoors. Winter sports are an attraction with facilities from the highest points. Buses to the region have facilities to carry bicycles but as already mentioned, the routes are much tougher than may appear from travelling by vehicle! There are many premium walking trails, one can get more information from the Nature Conservation Information Centre on the Hoherodskopf for the High Vogelsberg Nature Park or the tourist information centre in Schotten. The latter has also a Vulkanium, an bilingual exhibition showing how volcanoes have created the landscape which we see today.