By Jana Ulbrich
Work has been underway for a year and a half on a major master plan for the Zittau Mountains: Where should tourism actually go? How can the region make a name for itself that will be on everyone's lips throughout Germany and Europe in the future? What is needed and what could be created? There are some initial answers to these questions. The master plan proposes six major projects that are now to be implemented in concrete terms. The SZ tells you what they are.
Idea 1: A multi-trail center in the border triangle
Following the example of the well-known mountain bike park in Nove Mesto pod Smrkem (Neustadt an der Tafelfichte) in the Czech Republic, a multi-trail center for hikers and cyclists is to be created in the Zittau Mountains. Zittau's mayor Thomas Zenker (Zkm), who is in charge of the project, envisions a contact point with a campsite and overnight accommodation, a café or restaurant, bike rental and workshop.
From this starting point, cycle routes of various lengths and levels of difficulty could lead through the mountains, to the other side of the border and in the surrounding area. "The Zittau Mountains offer so many attractive conditions for mountain bikers, but until now they have only been known to real experts," says the mayor. This could quickly change with such a center.
Idea 2: A German-Czech climbing mecca
Although climbing has a long tradition in the Zittau Mountains, the region is still far too little known beyond the region as an attractive climbing area. The mountains should therefore be developed as a climbing region and made more visible - also internationally: "We have great and very special rock formations here," says Thomas Zenker.
The aim must now be to create opportunities and offers - from climbing courses for beginners to the highest levels of difficulty for professionals. "Anyone who climbs must have been to the Zittau Mountains at least once in their life. That's what we want to achieve."
Idea 3: The ice rink as a showcase for Outdoorland
The future of the ice rink in Jonsdorf is part of the concept. It is to be developed into an attractive adventure arena that can be used all year round and is much more than just a bad weather facility. The project developers envisage the arena becoming a focal point and showcase for the outdoor and cultural region.
Initial proposals for the future orientation as a "year-round adventure space" have already been made in a project work by students of the Zittau/Görlitz University of Applied Sciences. Among other things, they are proposing an indoor pump track and an outdoor discovery trail. These proposals are now to be built upon.
Idea 4: A half-timbered house lodge for vacation guests
The idea put forward by Zittau civil engineer Michael Risch is also to be taken up: a half-timbered house vacation park. Risch had suggested saving dilapidated Umgebinde houses that no longer have a use at their location from decay by rebuilding them elsewhere - for example as vacation homes.
Many guests want to spend the night in the typical architecture of their vacation region - so why not stay in a lodge made from revived historic Umgebinde architecture, similar to a hut village, says Zittau's mayor. Possible locations include, for example, the Lake Olbersdorf or the multi-trail center.
Idea 5: Sun trails and other experiences for explorers
Why not market the stones and rocks even better for tourism? Why not tell stories about the "Stone zoo" and turn them into children's books? And in addition to the sandstone formations shaped by water and wind, such as the brooding hen, the rhinoceros or the elephant stones, there are also the prehistoric witnesses of archaeo-astronomy.
The Sun Paths and Sun Shrines project is to be developed together with the Upper Lusatian Mountain Region Tourist Association, where it will be implemented in Sohland an der Spree there are already very active amateur archaeo-astronomers. Upper Lusatia as a small Stonehenge? Why not?
Idea 6: Exclusive "living room" concerts
Last but not least, cultural tourists are also being considered. There are plans for a permanent, exclusive "living room" concert series with high-profile artists in special places of architectural history that are otherwise inaccessible or barely accessible, such as the Schminke House or the monastery ruins on the Oybin.
"Our idea is to film the concerts in high quality and publish them online as part of the Free State's international tourism marketing," explains the mayor. The performances are to be scheduled around the dates of major music festivals in other locations. In this way, the Zittau Mountains hope to gain a reputation as a progressive cultural location. The master plan calculates that this could welcome 5,000 to 20,000 wealthy guests from a completely new target group every year.
And this is how it gets concrete now
On November 17 and 18, the Seifhennersdorfer Querxenland six two-day workshops will be held on the six projects. Various experts and stakeholders with experience and a connection to the respective subject areas have been invited. "During these two days, we want to work on the projects in a very structured way and clarify how and where they can be implemented and what is needed for this," says the mayor.
Financing will also play a role. In order to obtain funding, for example from the recently launched Leader and Interreg-In order to be able to acquire funding for the new programs, it should be possible to submit concrete project applications as early as spring.
Anyone who would like to contribute their knowledge and ideas on one of these topics can still apply to take part in one of the six workshops. Applications are submitted via the Internet with a short CV and a few sentences on motivation.