In Europe/ Outdoors

Buckow and the Märkische Schweiz

Disclosure: I traveled in part as a guest of Reiseland Brandenburg. As always, all opinions are my own.

What’s in your backyard?

A silver lining in this pandemic has been the opportunity to explore my new backyard around Berlin. Just east of Berlin sits the town of Buckow surrounded by Nature Park Märkische Schweiz.

It’s a region full of lakes, rivers, moors, valleys, and streams leftover from the ice age. And because it’s Germany, trails are all over the place like cat paintings at your eccentric aunt’s place.

From around the Schermützelsee to the wooden bridges and leafy paths of the forest, I ran around this protected slice of nature––embracing the crisp fall air filling my lungs.

As it turns out, that’s what people have been coming to Buckow to do for over a century––to feel healthier.

Buckow is a hotspot––sorry, poor choice of words––a stomping ground for all things Sebastian Kneipp. Wait a second, you don’t know who Sebastian Kneipp is? The 19th-century priest turned “Wasserdoktor”? Well, lucky for you I Googled some things about an hour ago.

Silky Smooth Lungs

Sebastian Kneipp suffered from tuberculose. By chance, he read a book at Munich University about the healing power of water. In the middle of the winter, he went into the Donau River. He ran home, slept it off, and was healthy once again. From there, he developed his own form of holistic water therapy that’s practiced around the country in recognized towns like Buckow.

But whether you’re into Kneipp-Kultur or not, people have long been singing the praises of the healing power of Buckow.

In the middle of the 19th century, the personal physician of Friedrich Wilhelm IV raved to the Prussian royal about Buckow, saying, “Majestät, in Buckow geht die Lunge auf Samt!” Basically, he told Wilhelm that Buckow makes your lungs silky smooth.

This is a good thing.

Healthy lungs seem like an especially good idea these days. I don’t know if my lungs are velvet, but I do know that I’m better for running around the Märksiche Schweiz, truly one of the most surprising, beautiful regions of Germany I’ve seen in my four years.

Looking for more Germany? Check out the Germany off the beaten path travel guide, my top things to do in Germany, the most important German travel phrases, and how to ride the German train system. Want something more literary? Read chapters from my upcoming memoir on moving to and living in Germany — There Must Be Order.

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