Königsstuhl National Park Centre

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Königsstuhl National Park Centre
(Nationalpark-Zentrum Königsstuhl)
Nationalpark-Zentrum Koenigsstuhl.jpg
Königsstuhl National Park Centre
Established 2004
Location Sassnitz
Coordinates 54°33′36″N 13°39′14″E / 54.56000°N 13.65389°E / 54.56000; 13.65389
Type national park centre
Visitors 313,000
Website www.koenigsstuhl.de

The Königsstuhl National Park Centre (German: Nationalpark-Zentrum Königsstuhl) is the visitor centre for the Jasmund National Park on the German Baltic Sea island of Rügen. It was opened in 2004 and, with around 300,000 visitors per year (as at 2008), is one of the most popular national park centres in Germany.
Its aim is to provide information on the national park and to bring alive the uniqueness and beauty of nature for its visitors, without significantly damaging the ecology of the park. The centre offers an interactive exhibition, a multi-vision theatre and other events and activities in the outdoor area. It is named after the nearby chalk cliffs of Königsstuhl.
The operator of the centre is the Nationalpark-Zentrum Königsstuhl Sassnitz gGmbH, whose members are the environmental foundation, WWF Germany, and the town of Sassnitz.

History and creation of the centre[edit]

Because of the fascination of the imposing chalk rocks a demand emerged in the 19th century for some facilities in this prominent location. In 1835 an inn was built in a wooden Swiss style under the direction of Karl Friedrich Schinkel. After this building had burned down and been rebuilt several times, it was decided in 1893 to build a stone hotel. This building still exists today and has been converted to display the exhibitions of the National Park Centre. Around 1900, it served as an inn and a post office.
During the Second World War, around 1943, it acted as a hospital. Later, it was occupied by the Red Army. Even the East German navy (Coastal Border Brigade) used this building subsequently as a barracks. Other bunkers and a guard tower were erected on the site.
In 1990, the GDR's Council of Ministers, declared the area as a national park. Until 1999 the area lay fallow and the buildings fell into ruins.
In 2000, the guard tower and barracks (except one) were demolished. Because it was decided not to build another inn for tourists, the World Wildlife Fund of Germany, the state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania and the town of Sassnitz founded a company, the Stubnitzhaus Sassnitz GmbH which launched a project to establish a nature information centre.
In March 2004, the Königsstuhl National Park Centre was opened.

Objective[edit]

The West Pomerania National Park Authority is responsible for the Jasmund National Park. The staff of the National Park Authority work to protect the natural region. They look after its visitor facilities (paths, steps, etc.) and their safety, as well as environmental education projects.

The Königsstuhl National Park Centre is in contrast to make the character and beauty of nature into an engaging experience for visitors and provide facts about the national park.

The national park concept is a compromise, however. In order to enable nature to be able to evolve according to its own natural laws without human interference, human encroachment and influence should be minimized. With the help of the National Park Centre, visitors are given the opportunity to experience nature and to enjoy peaceful recreation, without nature suffering as a result.

The Centre pursues a unified approach to environmental protection. Environmental protection is not only a factor in the recruitment of all staff, but covers all aspects of the Center, such as its construction materials, the operation of the restaurant and paper used for print media in the office.

Visitor services[edit]

Königsstuhl observation platform[edit]

The viewing platform on the Königsstuhl

Within the grounds of the National Park Centre is the Königsstuhl, one of the most impressive cliffs on Rügen's chalk coastline. On the top of the cliff is a viewing platform, accessible via a few steps. Below this platform is a protected passage grave.

Interactive exhibition[edit]

The 2,000-square-metre exhibition - with its theme of a "journey through time" - starts in prehistoric times and has displays such as aquariums and an exhibit of an iceberg glacier. The exhibition can be enjoyed with the aid of interactive headphones.

Multivision cinema[edit]

A 180° film, projected onto four screens, provides of a sense of the beauty of the Jasmund National Park. Large format photographs alternate with moving images, accompanied by atmospheric music. The actors - children from the island of Rügen - take the visitor by the hand and lead you through this magical world. The "flight" over the Jasmund National Park in the multivision cinema lasts 15 minutes. The snail-shaped auditorium seats about 70 spectators. The central idea of this film is to inspire the visitor on an emotional level through the beauty of Jasmund and to raise awareness of the details of the national park concept.

Outdoor area[edit]

On an outdoor area of 28,000 square metres there are other attractions for children and adults, such as a climbing forest, a ground-nesting bird's nest with giant eggs and an exhibition about the painting Chalk Cliffs on Rügen (Kreidefelsen auf Rügen) by the artist Caspar David Friedrich..

Walks[edit]

Hiking trails and cycle paths enable the park to be explored under one's own steam. The National Park Centre also offers free, guided walks. In addition to the normal walks, there are themed walks, which are based on the seasons.

Special features[edit]

Disabled-friendly[edit]

The National Park Centre is wheelchair-accessible. Lifts allow disabled and wheelchair access to all rooms of the exhibition. Non-slip flooring guarantees stability. All attractions in the outdoor area are wheelchair-accessible with the exception of the Königsstuhl. Immediately below the steps leading to the viewing platform is a passage grave dating to the Bronze Age. Unfortunately this prevents any structural work being undertaken which would jeopardise the historic preservation of the site.

The shuttle bus from the parking lot is a low-platform bus which is suitable for wheelchair users. For blind users, there is a folder "Jasmund, Chalk Cliffs by the Sea" (Nationalpark Jasmund, Kreidefelsen am Meer) in Braille.

Dogs[edit]

Dogs are allowed in the park and on the grounds of the Centre if they are kept on a lead. The Centre building may also be accessed with dogs, but the interactive exhibition and multi-vision cinema are out of bounds to dogs, as these rooms have been decorated in a near-natural way. Guide dogs are exempt from this regulation.

Zero emission concept[edit]

The National Park Centre Königstuhl was designed as a zero-emission building.

The power supply of the house is via a photovoltaic system. Since the Centre is one of the sunniest places in Germany, the plant can produce up to 18 KW. To use the earth's warmth to extract energy for heating, air conditioning and hot water, a geothermal system was installed in the outside area of the National Park Centre. New technologies have been utilised to promote the sustainable management of drinking water. The drainage concept is governed by a strict separation of waste water by its degree of pollution. Wastewater is discharged by gravity to a fat separator and then sent for pre-treatment at a sewage treatment plant. The cleaned water meets the standards of the EU Bathing Water Directive. The purified water is only employed for secondary uses such as flushing toilets.

Getting there / National park trails[edit]

Cars may drive as far as the large car park at Hagen which is about 3 miles from the Königsstuhl. From there visitors may continue their journey by bus. Alternatively, they can reach the Königsstuhl on foot in about 45 minutes on a well-maintained hiking trail. To reduce the volume of traffic in the park, visitors are encourage to transfer to buses outside the boundaries of national park.

The most important public road in the national park runs from Sassnitz via Hagen and Nipmerow to Lohme, and cuts through the park in a north-south direction. This road has a branch near the Hagen Tree House to Stubbenkammer and thus to the National Park Centre. This side road is closed between 9.30 am and 6 pm to general vehicular traffic. It is only open at those times to cyclists, coaches, buses, disabled vehicles, delivery and refuse vehicles and vehicles of the National Park Service.

Within the National Park there no parking or stopping is allowed outside of designated areas. More car parks are located in Sassnitz am Wedding and at the entrance to National Park next to Stubbenkammerstraße.

The national park has a network of paths. Visitors go hiking especially in the Stubbenkammer, the Forest Hall (Waldhalle) and on the cliff tops. There are well-marked trails with a total length of 43 kilometres. In exploring nature on foot, the main aim of the national park is kept in mind. That means that quiet zones are established and maintained that are as large and contiguous as possible.

To get to the beach, there are 4 descents from the clifftop path. The wooden steps are located on the shore of the Hanke between Lohme and the Königsstuhl, by the Königsstuhl going towards the Victoria viewpoint, on the Kieler Ufer and at the Hengst. Two other descents outside the national parks are located on the National Park boundary, one at Sassnitz am Wedding and another in Lohme. Only these descents may be used.

Literature[edit]

  • Carsten Hertwig, Ralf Röchert (2004), "Zum Geburtstag am 18. März 2004: Das Nationalpark-Zentrum Königsstuhl auf Rügen öffnet seine Pforten" (in German), Nationalpark (123): pp. 42-44

External links[edit]