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Saarland is located in the western part of Germany and is one of its 16 federal states. Within the country, Saarland borders the state of Rhineland-Palatinate to the north and east. It also neighbors France to the south and southwest and Luxembourg to the northwest, serving as Germany's state boundaries. On the borders with France resides Saarland's capital city, Saarbrücken, which is also the largest city in the region. Saarbrücken may be translated as the "bridge above the river Saar." One such bridge from the 16th century can be found in the city, which is one of several historical landmarks scattered across the Saarland's capital. Geographically, Saarland represents Germany's most forested region. Protected areas, such as the Hunsrück-Hochwald National park or the Bliesgau UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, are the home of several endangered species. The river Saar crosses Saarland, creating a relatively long river valley under which coal deposits have been discovered. However, iron is reportedly the most significant mineral mined in Saarland, accounting for the largest part of Saalrand's export and income. The Völklingen Ironworks, a UNESCO-protected site, is said to embody Saarland's history of iron mining and steel production. Additionally, Völklingen Ironworks is allegedly one of the best preserved technological monuments of its kind in the western world.
Known for its abundance of forests and nature, over one-third of Saarland's total area is covered by woods. Additionally, the state is one of the sunniest in Germany, which is the reason for its popularity primarily among tourists seeking outdoor recreation. For those enjoying hiking and walking, the Saar-Hunsrück Climb trail might be of interest. Reportedly, the trial was voted Germany's most beautiful long-distance hiking trail in 2017. Another point of interest allegedly is the Bliesgau UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, which can be found in the southeastern part of Saarland. The reserve is nicknamed the "Tuscany of the Saarland," presumably for its landscape, composed mainly of orchid meadows, beech forests, and riverside habitats inhabited by endangered wildlife. The river Saar flowing through the territory forms a liver loop called Saarschleife, which is also one of the state's renowned touristic destinations.
A reconstructed Roman Villa Borg Archaeological Park is located near the Luxembourg borders. Apart from serving as an open-air archeological museum, the Roman Villa can accommodate tourists and works as an antique bath, allowing visitors to experience the lifestyle of privileged Romans who inhabited the territory 2,000 years ago. A Roman-styled garden and an original Roman tavern can also be found in the villa. Some artifacts exposed as part of the archeological park are the bell beaker from the Copper Age, a rider's plaque, and gold jewelry from the Roman era.
Historically, Saarland territory is connected to mining and iron. During the 19th century, the region was industrialized, and a population increase occurred as the iron-producing industry attracted new inhabitants to Saarland. Mining and iron production is the region's most significant contribution to its gross domestic product. Several ironworks were established within the state's borders. The best known among them is the Völklingen Ironworks, which is a technological monument protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. UNESCO protects Völklingen Ironworks as it is the only preserved example of an integrated ironworks in western Europe and North America. Reportedly, there is no other surviving complex that can demonstrate the entire process of pig-iron production worldwide.
Saarland is located in the easternmost part of Germany, serving as a state border with France. The central part of Saarland is represented by forested hills crossed by a valley, in which the river Saar flows through the territory from southeast to northwest. Under the Saar River Valley are hidden coal deposits, stretching through a distance of approximately 32 km. Due to this, Saarland's predominant industry is mining. Among the mountainous parts of Saarland belongs the Weiskircher Heights, which is also the highest point in the state, at an altitude of 695 m above sea level. The lowland area of the Saar River Valley is framed by the Hunsrück Highland to the north and by the French region of Lorraine to the south.
Saarland is one of Germany's most forested regions, as the deciduous forests cover over one-third of its area. The woods and forests within the state's boundaries are protected by law, as they are composed of the relatively rare primeval forest of oaks, beeches, and other deciduous species. Stretching across the borders from the Rhineland-Palatinate is the Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park, conserving the biological diversity of Saarland. Some of the valuable habitats found in the national park act as a living space for several protected species, such as beech woods and ravine and bog woodlands. Hunsrück-Hochwald is home to a considerable variety of bird species, such as honey buzzards, grey and black woodpeckers, and the Tengmalm's owl, to name a few. Besides being a refuge for animals, the national park is also one of Saarland's popular touristic destinations due to its wide range of outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and walking.
Considering Saarland's weather conditions, the region is located in a continental climate area. However, the maritime influence is reportedly also evident in the state. The warmest month in the Saarland's capital, Saarbrücken, is July, which has an average daily temperature of 24°C, while January is the coldest month, as temperatures tend to drop to around 4°C. April tends to be the driest month in Saarbrücken, receiving an average of 52 mm of rainfall. The most precipitation occurs during November, as the month receives about 77 mm on average.
The first known inhabitants of the Saarland were the Celts and Germanic Franks, who later became part of the eastern Frankish empire. During the middle ages, the Saarland territory consisted of several independent lands, with the largest among them surrounding the city of Saarbrücken. The counts of Nassau-Saarbrücken ruled the town and the surrounding area until the end of the 18th century. During that time, Saarland territory was inhabited by German-speaking people. However, the territory and its population were under considerable French influence, as Saar was part of one of the French provinces from 1684 until 1697. Later, France occupied Saarland territory again between 1792 and 1815. After Napoleon's final defeat, France was forced to grant Saar to Prussia.
Subsequently, the Saar region became part of the German Empire, which was formed in 1871. After the First World War, the area of Saarland became under British and French occupation. In the meantime, national administration, later evolving to Nazism, spread through Germany. During that time, Saarland was, from the beginning, one of the least affected by the relatively extreme tendencies of Germany's states. Thus, in 1933, Saarland became a place of residence for many communists and other political opponents of national socialism. The anti-Nazi groups fleeing to Saarland appealed for Saarland to become part of France. However, with the majority of inhabitants being German, Saarland remained part of Germany. Reportedly, during the Second World War, Saarland sparsely opposed the French army, as most of its population was against Nazism.
After the end of the Second World War, Saarland became part of the French occupation zone. Nowadays, some of the largest agglomerations within the region can be found along the Dillingen-Saarbrücken-Neunkirchen railway line, which developed during the 19th century's industrialization. Coal mining and steel production belong among the notable industries in Saarland.
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