Black Forest

Location

During the time of the Romans they found the region that would become known as the Black Forest as “harsh and rather impenetrable and the region took centuries to populate and even then was considered an oddly backward part of Germany” (Rough Guide). The Black Forest, also called Schwarzwald, is located in Baden-Württemberg in the southwestern area of Germany. The area backs up against both France and Switzerland. The Black Forest, as the name suggests consists of many wooded areas, which also have numerous mountains and a series of rivers run through it. The Danube River is one of the rivers in the Black Forest and it originates here. The area originally consisted of Beech trees, but now a majority of the trees in the forest are pines and firs.

Timber

The Black Forest was first known for its commercial timber and thusly part of this area was affected by logging and so as time has gone on the forest has become smaller and the hardy trees that once were here have been replaced by fast growing trees. Woodworking, which included clocks and musical instruments, developed as a means for supporting farmers in the off season.

Woodworking

One of the Black Forest industries is clock making. Clock making traces its roots in the 17th century and include many types of clocks. Clock makers would make grandfather, figurine, music, and cuckoo clocks. The origins of cuckoo clocks are uncertain and the first known descriptions come from Saxony during the 6th century in Bohemia. It was during the late 1700s that the clocks began to be made in the Black Forest.

Unfortunately, the industry has changed and many companies closed after World War I and World War II. After this time several companies survived, but many did not. This resulted from changes in technology and massed produced clocks. “The traditional cuckoo clock is made with brown stained wood with a gabled roof and some sort of woodland motif carved into it, such as a deer's head or a cluster of leaves. The works are usually activated by cast-iron weights, in the form of pinecones, on chains” (Fodors Travel).

Cuisine

Both Black Forest ham and the Black Forest cake come from this region.

Black Forest ham, also called Schwarzwälder Schinken in German, is a type of dry-cured smoked ham. The process to make this ham can take up to three months because it cures in spices for up to a month and then is cold-smoked using fir tree and sawdust for several weeks and then dried. The smoking gives it its distinct color. When sold within the EU, a ham with this designation has to be made in this region.

Black Forest cake, also called Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte in German, gets its name from the cherry infused liquor, Kirschwasser, made in the region. This cake must also be made with this liquor in order to be called Black Forest cake.

Culture

The economy of this region used to be based on timber and woodworking and although it still exists, it does not hold the same importance. The area is what it is because of tourism. In addition to the natural amenities there are also numerous spas and hotels located here that thrive because of the natural resources. The area is also known for its cuisine and many come here to experience that. The Black Forest is an important part of German culture because it fosters a different landscape than other parts of Germany and is known because of its history and some of the products they currently produce. This is a popular place to come on holiday and a great place to experience the German countryside. In addition to this, many associate the Black Forest as the setting for many of the tales by the Brothers Grimm. The forest in Hansel and Gretel is the Black Forest. Because of the Black Forest’s mountains and expansive land, it is a great place to come and experience nature.

Sources

ger/102/2014/winter/black_forest.txt · Last modified: 2014/02/04 16:37 by bjfailing
 
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