Altes Land

Altes Land


The region – the biggest contiguous fruit orchard in Central Europe – extends over convert|143|km²|0|abbr=on. 76.8% of the trees are apples, 12.7% are cherries. [cite web |url= |title=Altländer ABC |accessdate=2008-10-01 | de icon] The areas closest to the Elbe are those with the highest population. They include the most fertile marshlands; towards Geest the area connects to fens.

The fertile land led to the development of a culture dominated by farming. The villages are known as "Marschhufendörfer", a special kind of village where the farmyards are set along a street with the land directly behind them. A characteristic feature is the richly-decorated half-timbered farmhouses with their elaborate gateways.


The region's official standard German name is "Altes Land", which means "old country". However, "Altes Land" is a mistranslation of the original Low Saxon "Olland", which originally had nothing to do with "old": It stems from "Holland". This is a reference to the area's original reclamation and colonisation by Dutch settlers. The first colonisation agreement goes back to 1113 and was drawn up during the time of Archbishop Friedrich I of Bremen. One of the municipalities of the "Altes Land" is Hollern, a name which comes from "Holländer" (German for the Dutch). However, the mistranslation of "Olland" as "Altes Land" has now come full circle, since most Low Saxon speakers today refer to the region as "dat Ole Land" (literally "the old land"). There also is an eponymous periodical.

Geography and history

The "Altes Land" is divided into three "miles" (German "Meilen"); the first, second and third miles. These miles are zones along the banks of the Elbe river. The first mile, between the rivers Schwinge and Lühe, was first dyked and then settled in around 1140. The second mile is the area east of the first between the Lühe and the Este, an area which was dyked at the end of the 12th century. The third mile, between the Este and the Elbe, was only dyked at the end of the 15th century when the area was especially hard-hit by storm tides.

As of 2008 tourism plays a major role in the local economy, particularly during the cherry blossom and apple blossom. However, parts of the orchard plantations are slowly being displaced by residential developments. Many of these new homes are then sold or rented to commuters who work in nearby Hamburg.


External links

* [ 3 Meilen vor Hamburg] - official web site of the Altes Land tourism association

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