From Burg Eisenhardt
For centuries before the coming of the Flemish, these hills formed the border between the Slavs and the Germans, and then between Saxony and Brandenburg. In 1815 it was incorporated into Prussia after the defeat of the French and their Saxon ally armies. Whatever its turbulent and conflicted past, the area is a gorgeous place to visit on a Spring day, and provides a welcome bit of height in the otherwise fairly flat landscape. We used the town of Bad Belzig (which, as its name suggests, is a popular place to take 'die Kur' in its thermal baths) as a starting point for a Kunstwanderweg (art trail) to Wiesenburg to the West.
At the cross-roads in the centre of the village, there is an interesting Postmeilensäule, or milestone/column.
|Kursachsiche Postmeilensäule of 1725|
|View down the street to the Postmeilensäule.|
In order to establish distances, the State had to create a standard measurement of length because local usage varied so much; a foot (or Fuß) in Dresden was 260mm in modern money, whilst in nearby Leipzig it was 282mm. So, on 17 March 1722 the Saxon Postal Mile was introduced, whereby 1 mile = 2 leagues = 2,000 Dresden rods = 9.062 kilometres.
As an aside, this explains why in Wandlitzsee there is an old milestone saying it is IV miles to Berlin; no way! Berlin is much further away than that, given that nowadays 1mile is about 1.6km. But these are Prussian miles, which just to confuse matters are 7.532km, so 30km would be about right (especially as point-zero for measuring the distance to Berlin was to the Milestone standing what was then just outside the City Walls in Spittalmarkt). By the way, if we got to Bad Belzig on a Brandenburg train ticket, how come it has a Saxony milestone in it? Look back up near the top, where I said that Bad Belzig was ceded to Prussia as part of the province of Brandenburg in 1815. That was at the Congress of Vienna which tidied up Europe after the defeat of Napoleon, who ironically had introduced the metric system across Germany in order that they didn't need all these Dresden Rods and Prussian miles any more.
So, if you look closely at the Bad Belzig Postmeilensäule it will show the distance to other town in the new Saxony Postal miles? No! It shows it in St. - Stunden - or hours.
|Distance measurements on the Bad Belzig Postmeilensäule.|
But we didn't just spend our time in Bad Belzig staring at the Postmeilensäule - there is also a large and interesting Schloß at the top of the village - Burg Eisenhardt.
|Entrance to Burg Eisenhardt|
|Tower at Burg Eisenhardt|
But, the village is pretty enough now, and was awarded the official title of a health resort (Kurort) in 1995 leading the name change from plain Belzig to Bad Belzig in 2010.
I said that Bad Belzig was the starting point for our walk along the Kunstwanderweg. And so it was, but as I got diverted into waffling on about Postmeilensäulen I shall leave that for another Fläming blog post!
Those are impressive fortifications for a hotel!