Tracking doesn’t need magnifying glasses here: even though they’re up to 300 million years old, the relics of the past in the nature park Terravita are impressive and really hard to miss. Dinosaur and cephalopod fossils, as well as cultural history finds from a legendary battle can be discovered here in the border region between North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony. The density of tracks found here also has led to a special accolade, as the extremely unusual and diverse geological heritage combined with a cultivated landscape characterised by mankind has given the nature park the title of “UNESCO Global Geopark”. There’s plenty to discover here. Let’s go explore!
Climbing the sandstone cliffs
No matter if you’re out for adventure or prefer things calm and cosy: Explore the protected area bordering the nature park Dümmer to the North and the nature park Teutoburger Wald/Eggegebirge to the South-East just as you like it and at your own speed – on a hike, a climbing tour, while geocaching, or in a guided experience tour. The Dörenther Klippen, towering up to 40 metres high at Ibbenbüren, are a popular climbing destination, for example. The sandstone rocks, including some with names such as “Hockende Frau” and ”Dreikaiserstuhl”, afford some beautiful views of the moor and heath landscapes of the North German lowlands, the Münsterland, and the Teutoburg forest to hikers and climbers. The gate to Westphalia, the Porta Westfalica Weser passage with the Kaiser-Wilhelm monument erected in the time of the German Empire, offers some further amazing vistas. The visitors’ centre with a ring terrace from which the gaze can sweep far across the Wiehengebirge will teach you about the enormous monument’s history and offer some details on cultural and natural events in the region. Moving farther towards the Wiehengebirge, you will also find some traces of a world-famous conflict between the Romans and the Germans: The Kalkriese site has an exhibition sharing the current state of knowledge on the Varus Battle.
Dinosaur tracks and giant ammonites
A leisurely walk will take you to another highlight of the nature park in Bad Essen-Barkhausen, with a steep rock wall that holds tracks of at least eleven different dinosaurs. Impressive petrified witnesses can be found in the ErdZeitCenter in Borgholzhausen near Bielefeld as well, where the exhibition in the Heimathaus and the adjacent GeoGarten, open to the public at all times, are known for hosting the world’s largest collection of giant ammonite fossils, i.e., petrified cephalopods, and 240-million-year-old dinosaur tracks.
A surprise in the quarry
Quarries offer some surprising impressions and views elsewhere: for example, a guided tour through the mines of the Silbersee quarry is offering some unusual perspectives by presenting subterranean traces of crabs, lugworms, and footprints of the dinosaurs’ predecessors. How is that even possible? This area used to be covered in mudflats, with traces remaining deep in the ridge created by the rising mountains. The lake of the quarry near Tecklenburg serves as an above-ground eye-catcher with its water shimmering teal in the right kind of sunlight. The Teutoschleife Canyon Blick hiking path will lead you right there.