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Simonswald

“The hidden beauty on this planet”

Welcome to Simon's Valley

Simonswald

Simonswald

River Gutach

     Simon's Valley, Simonswald, is one of the hidden beauties on this planet. An area accounting for just over 7,400 ha (1 ha: 10,000 square meters) with 6,100 ha being forest, is habitat for a variety of wildlife and plants. Per capita, Simonswald has 2 ha of forest, one of the highest levels in Europe. 80% of trees stand on steep mountain slopes, a further 10% on extreme locations such as rocks. The lowest point is 314 meters above sea-level, the highest 1230 meters (Kandel) resulting in a difference of altitude of 910 meters (3000 feet). The valley is located north of Freiburg, the capital of Black Forest, in Germany. Archaeological artefacts show that Simonswald was home to farmers as early as 6000 to 3000 BC. Roman settlements date back to 5th century AC, near St. Peter's Barn (Petersh?fe). Establishing settlements in Simonswald has been happening twice, firstly in the New Stone Age, then been left deserted for 3 thousand years (some suggest cold climate as reason) and re-discovered in the 11th century; officially recorded first mention dates back to 5. August 1178 when Pope Alexander III confirmed "Sigmanswald" as property of Monestry St Margarethen, Waldkirch; until the 16th century Simonswald was called Sigmanswald.

     Today, in Simonswald, one can still admire the impact Ice-Age left in forms of moraines e.g., near Fahrenhof in Upper-Simonswald, called Dümple-Kar. Glaciers are no longer visible; unfortunately, 12000 years ago it has just becoming too hot for them. This was the time when the Ice-Age ended. As glaciers were retrieving, they made room for Flora, such as Birch, Pine, Hazelnut, Oak, Elm, Ash, Basswood, Maple, later Beech, and more recently, for the Black-Forest typical, Fir-Trees. Simonswald is part of the continental divide between the Atlantic Ocean watershed (drained by Rhine) and the Black Sea watershed (drained by Danube) and has lots of wetland including 33 bogs (moor) e.g., the famous Häuslematt. Simonswald features three major nature reserves, namely, Zweribach, Kostgefäll, and Bärmoos, in form of untouched so-called "avalanche forests" (Bannwald). Even before mankind intervened, the geological surroundings made it difficult for one type of tree to dominate Simonswald. Some parts were just too cold, too steep, or too dry for certain tree species; this and deforestation by mankind left enough space for meadows with cuckooflower (ladysmock), dandelion, crowfoot (kingcup), cow parsley, catch weed, bluebell, harebell, marsh marigold, bulrush, teasel, genista, such to name of few. As wildlife, one will find raccoons, pine martens, beech martens, chamoises, mountain cock, and the golden eagle. Besides above mentioned endangered species, many others have their habitat in Simonswald such as buzzards, falcons, crows, ravens, deer, and over 400 species of butterflies.

     Places to visit include numerous historic farms with their distinguished roof form, the old oil mill, and many restaurants dating back to the 15th or 16th century. The real beauty of Simonswald is however its breathtaking landscape, an ideal place for cycling, mountaineering and other outdoor activities.

 
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