Situation and characteristicsThe Fichtelgebirge range of hills, mostly covered with fir forests, lies in the northeastern corner of Bavaria, forming a link between the Erzgebirge and the Franconian Forest and between the Upper Palatinate Forest and Bohemian Forest.
The main elements in the economy of the area are agriculture, woodworking, textiles and ceramics; there is a considerable porcelain industry in and around Selb.LandscapeIn this upland region of granites and slates are the sources of the Main, the Saale, the Eger and the Naab, whose courses take them to all points of the compass. It consists of three ranges of hills surrounding the Wunsiedel basin in horseshoe formation: the Waldsteingebirge (878 m/2,881ft) to the northwest, the highest peaks (Ochsenkopf, 1,024 m/3,360ft; Schneeberg, 1,053 m/3,455ft) to the southwest and the ridge formed by Kösseine (940 m/3,084ft) and the Steinwald (966 m/3,169ft) to the southeast.The charm of the Fichtelgebirge lies in the magnificent expanses of forest and the extraordinary rock formations and tumbles of rock produced by weathering, the most striking of which is the Luisenburg. Then there are the deeply indented valleys, particularly those of the Weisser Main, the älschnitz, the Steinach and the Eger.
The best known and most attractive route through the Fichtelgebirge from west to east is the Fichtelgebirgsstrasse from Bad Berneck to Marktredwitz (40km/25mi).
Bad Berneck, Germany
The pleasant little town of Bad Berneck (Kneipp cure), part of the Fichtelgebirge, lies in the narrow valley of the Ölschnitz at its junction with the Weisser Main. Above the pretty Marktplatz is the Colonnade, from which there is a path up to Burg Wallenrode (fine views) and the ruined Hohenberneck (14th century).
Bischofsgrün, in the center of the Fichtelgebirge, is a good base from which to explore the surrounding country, and is also a winter sports center. In the 15th-18th centuries it was famed for the production of stained glass.
Above Bishofsgrün in the Fichtelgebirge, to the south, rises the Ochsenkopf (1,024 m/3,360ft; radio transmitter; panoramic views). A cableway goes up to the summit. A scenic road runs round the west and south sides of the hill to join the Glasstrasse, coming from Bayreuth.
To the west of the junction with the Glasstrasse in the Fichtelgebirge is the altitude and winter sports resort of Warmensteinach, with a parish church of 1705.
Fichtelberg in the Fichtelgebirge owes its origin to the mining of micaceous iron ore (until 1862). To the northeast lies the beautiful forest-ringed Fichtelsee. 3km/2mi east of the town the Glasstrasse joins the Fichtelgebirgsstrasse, which continues east.
Wunsiedel, the chief place in the Fichtelgebirge, was the birthplace of the novelist Jean Paul (Richter; 1763-1825). There is an old silver-mine.
3km/2mi south of Wunsiedel is the Luisenburg, a magnificent rock labyrinth named after Queen Luise of Prussia, with an open-air theater in which the Luisenburg Festival is held annually in summer.
Bad Alexandersbad (mineral springs, mud baths) is prettily situated on the eastern slopes of the Luisenburg in the Fichtelgebirge. The Schloss was built in 1783 as a spa establishment. Queen Luise of Prussia took the cure here in 1805.
The Fichtelgebirgsstrasse ends in Marktredwitz, an old-world little town with the tower of a 14th century castle. In the Town Hall is a Goethe Room. The Theresienkirche was founded by the Empress Maria Theresa in 1774 for troops from the Egerland.
The industrial town of Selb, on the northern fringes of the Fichtelgebirge, is famed for its porcelain and ceramic manufactories (Hutschenreuther, Rosenthal, etc.; technical college).
The return from Selb to Bad Berneck can be by way of Marktleuthen and Weissenstadt, in the Waldsteingebirge. From the Grosser Waldstein (880 m/2,887ft) there are fine panoramic views.
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