Mount Brocken in the Harz chain is not extremely high with its 1,141 meter summit. Yet Northern Germany’s tallest mountain, on the watershed of the Elbe and Weser rivers, always was a prominent landscape marker. Forests and bogs long made it inaccessible to human settlement. Tellingly, the mountain was a pagan refuge from Charlemagne’s eighth-century Christianization campaigns to the late sixteenth century witch hunts. Contemporary myths identified Mount Brocken as the German center for the annual witch sabbath Walpurgis Night (Walpurgisnacht) and held that the mountain’s inaccessibility necessitated that witches fly in on brooms. Equally telling, seventeenth-century botanists and physicians were among the first to climb to the summit on written record, to study the subalpine vegetation. Mount Brocken was a site of nature and social seclusion, but this was about to change.1
KeywordsGlobal Position System Global Navigation Satellite System Nature Reserve Green Infrastructure European Environment Agency
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