I know I’m gung-ho over Germany’s grand culture; its literature and history; castles and medieval towns (can’t you tell by this website). But, within the Lower Lusatia region in Brandenburg (which stretches into northern Saxony and Poland, too) there’s also another proud culture.
No, I’m not talking about the Prussians to which Brandenburg once belonged.
The Lower Lusatia region is home to Sorbs/Wends, a minority Slavic group that’s been here for generations. In fact, they too have a name for Lower Lusatia (which in German is Niederlausitz); they call it Dolna Lužyca in Lower Sorbian (which is not to be confused with Upper Sorbian in Upper Lusatia; and a whole other webpage).
Not everyone in the Niederlausitz speaks Lower Sorbian, of course. German is still the main local language, but within this region some 14,000 people do speak it. It’s even being taught in select local schools within Lower Lusatia.
Tourism is one of the biggest attractors to the area. With the Spree Forest, who could think otherwise, right?
The Spreewald (known as Blota in Lower Sorbian) is located just about a hundred kilometers from the city of Berlin; and couldn’t be more than million miles in difference. The area is part of a UNESCO Biosphere, where 50,000 people live.
Pretty interesting, right? Tens of thousands of people living within a whole area created by the Ice Age is pretty awesome.
Within this 187 square mile area, you’ll find hundreds of small channel waterways where you can take leisurely boat rides. They’re a less strenuous way of showing yourself the forest and they’ll pass many rolling meadows.
If you choose to walk the countless hiking trails or bicycle around on the bike paths, keep a look out for almost 20,000 different species of animals and plants; as well as many historical farmhouses.
Hey, it doesn’t rain too much here — so you pretty much got a guarantee that the weather will cooperate. ;-)
Lower Lusatia is popularly known for its glass, textiles, wood and mining industries. What it’s not known for is its agriculture, although corn and the “king’s vegetable” asparagus is widely grown. So, while you’re out sightseeing you can eat pretty gosh-darn good.
You could always choose to explore around the Nature Reserve Niederlausitz Heath. That’s another place in Lower Lusatia that’s got its own fair share of hiking and biking trails.
Of course, sightseeing around the heavily forested region of Niederlausitz isn’t all there is to do. There are plenty of German towns that’ll give you everything you could possibly want, right down to castles, history, and culture.
The center of it all is the city of Cottbus, where you’ll even find street signs in both German and Lower Sorbian.
About 20km from Cottbus is Spremberg, complete with a castle (sorry, it’s actually a chateau). It was also the very center of the German Empire. No, I don’t mean as in its capital. I’m talking it was geographically dead center (there’s a plaque to prove it, too).
A bit further from Cottbus, but still close is Finsterwalde, a medieval town that dates back to the late 13th century. Yes, there’s a castle (not a chateau) here, as well as 16th century Gothic Church; and once bustling with mills and factories.
These are but a couple of the many towns just like them scattered throughout the Lower Lusatia (Lübben, Luckau, Lübbenau are a few more) that’ll just delight you as you learn to speak Lower Sorbian, or even German for that matter.