Travel tips for the lecture-free period (2) - The "Wasserkuppe“

25/08/2022

The Wasserkuppe is the highest mountain in Hesse. Only 20 kilometres to the southeast of Fulda, students can get there using the means of public transportation covered by the semester ticket.

The city of Fulda is surrounded by three lower mountain ranges. In the west lies the “Vogelsberg”, in the south the “Spessart” and in the east you can find the “Rhön” mountains, the so called “land of open distances”. Located only 20 kilometres to the southeast of Fulda, the Rhön´s highest summit is the “Wasserkuppe”. With its 950 metres it is also the highest mountain in the entire state of Hesse. The volcanic origin of this peak becomes not only visible around the spring of the Fulda river. Volcanic rock, mostly basalt, can be found scattered all over the area.

One basalt chimney, a trace of last eruptions, is most obviously used as the foundation of the “Fliegerdenkmal”. This monument was erected in 1923 to commemorate the fallen pilots of World War I. Around the same time, the Wasserkuppe advanced to the birthplace of gliding flight in Germany. Due to post-war military restrictions regarding motorized aircrafts as well as the favourable geographical and thermal conditions, gliding flight became very popular very quickly.  

Until today, visitors can see the sail planes/gliders as well as model planes and paragliders soaring through the air. If daring, they can even learn to fly themselves in one of the flight schools.

The Fliegerdenkmal however, is not the only trace of Wasserkuppe´s aviation past. The “Radom”, a radar dome is a spherical antenna and landmark of the peak. Dating back to the Cold War it had been used by the US-forces for air surveillance, including the nearby German Democratic Republic. Today, the Radom is combination of museum, observation deck, event venue and wedding location.

That´s not all Wasserkuppe has to offer. The numerous visitors usually come to enjoy a variety of shops, restaurants and the museum of gliding flight and model planes. At night there are astronomical tours to observe and learn about stars, constellations and planets in one of the darkest skies in Germany. In summer the list of possible activities ranges from hiking, birding, tobogganing, and a high-ropes parcours to downhill mountain biking and paragliding. In winter most tourists come to ski, snowboard, snow kite and for the many different routes of cross country skiing.

Without a car, you can reach Wasserkuppe directly by taking bus number 35 from Fulda ZOB towards “Gersfeld (Rhön)-Obernhausen Wasserkuppe”. From Fulda it takes one hour until the stop “Wasserkuppe”. Alternatively, there´s a train (RB 52) going from Fulda to “Gersfeld(Rhön)”. After the 40-minute train ride to Gersfeld it´s still a 6-kilometre hike up to the Wasserkuppe´s summit. Both connections are included in the students´ semester ticket.