Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Iron Curtain Trail

Today was a typical cold wet November day, so I spent some time dreaming and researching potential cycling holidays for next year.  One cycle route in particular caught my eye:  The Iron Curtain Trail - approximately 10,000km route from the Barents Sea to the Black Sea tracing the route of the fortified border between Western Europe and former communist states in Eastern Europe.

I'm only planning to attempt a very small chunk - probably in Germany and/or the Czech Republic where the trail follows old military roads that were built all along the border.  Apparently there are preserved concrete bunkers and watch towers, as well as museums and information about the escapes over the border.

There is a wide green corridor along the border route corresponding to the Forbidden Zone, an area which was formerly off limits to civilians who could enter the zone with a special pass.  During the communist era, high barbed wire fences ran along the border and the area was cleared area of trees and bushes, creating a scar across the landscape which is still visible today in forested areas.  I saw a bit of it last year in the Harz Mountains.  In the 1950s high voltage fences were added and parts of the border were mined.

I've ordered the guide books from Amazon and will do more planning when they finally arrive.

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