A past division is uniting Europe, one bicycle at a time. The infamous “Iron Curtain”, an aggressive boundary once separating Western and Eastern Europe, is now officially home to a uniquely historical bicycle path. The post-WWII border has been transformed into a symbol of shared ideologies and cooperation known as the Iron Curtain Trail, and is a remarkable example of sustainable tourism and nature conservation.
According to Ironcurtaintrail.eu, the project, supported by the European Union, was founded in 2005 by German politician and Parliament Member Michael Cramer. The 6,800 km path follows the former European border from the Barents Sea to the Black Sea, and is a journey through European history, crossing 20 countries along a gorgeous ecological space.
Included in the trail is the zone formerly known as the “Death Strip” of the Berlin Wall, which is now ironically an impressive habitat of thriving flora and fauna. Due to being uninhabited and untouched for many years, the area experienced a rebirth of nature. Coined the “Green Belt”, it encompasses the Schaalsee, Elbaue, and Rhön biosphere reserves, 150 national parks, and numerous forests and bodies of fresh water.
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The Iron Curtain Trail is also hiker-friendly, and one can enjoy breathtaking landscapes while visiting its many monuments and museums dedicated to recounting its story and importance in history.
Visitors can experience firsthand a beautiful message of change and growth, and how the continent was able to overcome division and hostility to become clean green and peaceful.
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