Jena – Bad Dürrenberg
This tour begins in the vibrant city of Jena at the “Gries-Bridge” and goes in the direction of Porstendorf. It’s well worth your time to discover Jena’s lovely City Centre, Botanical Gardens, Paradies-Park, and more before you start your trip.
Throughout the tour you will experience 7 – 9 “Pass-around Points” for which you will have to exit the river with your canoe, and re-enter a short distance down stream.
As you make your way down the Saale River and surrounding forests, you may catch a glimpse of several native animals; the turquoise river kingfisher, various types of heron, cormorants and/or nutrias all in their natural habitat. If you are lucky, you may even see turtles and European Otters!
Before you reach Porstendorf the river splits into two branches. You can choose between the shorter, more vigorous branch, and a longer, more scenic way. The short tour passes a camping site and beer garden at Porstendorf, and the longer tour goes along the old river branch of the Saale making its way passed the Rabeninsel or “Raven’s Island”.
Nearing Dornburg you can see to your left the Dornburger Palaces: the Renaissance Castle, the Rococo Castle and the Old Castle, where Johann Wolfgang Goethe vacationed.
Throughout the tour you will paddle by small islands, and experience small rapids, which keep the tour adventurous. From Dornburg to Camburg the Saale continues to wind through the Saale River Valley along impressive cliffs and teaming forests.
In Kaatschen you will begin to notice several vineyards, as you are entering Germany’s Northern-most wine growing region.
At this part of the trip you will pass some small islands in the river. You will also pass two ruins, which are located high above the river on your right side– the Medieval Rudelsburg and Saaleck Forts. It was during his stay at the Rudelsburg in 1826, that poet and historian, Franz Kugler, was inspired to write the song “An der Saale Hellem Strande”.
If you like, you can take a small rest in the quaint therapeutic city of Bad Kösen. Here you can breathe the rejuvenating salty sea air produced from the “Gradierwerk” twig towers, or literally translated, “Graduation Towers”. The steam from the towers passes through the twigs, and it is said that the salty air helps to improve the health and wellbeing of its visitors.
Continuing down the Saale you will pass picturesque vineyards of Bad Kösen and Kloster Pforta Monastery. The views here are breath taking, as towering cliffs seem to appear directly out of the water.
Shortly before arriving in Naumburg the river quickens, creating a rapid. At this point in the tour you will experience a “pass-around point”. Here you must exit the river with your canoe, and re-enter a short walk down stream. As you continue on your way down the Saale you will be able to experience the joining of the Unstrut River and the Saale.
It is important to note that in the last stretch of the river, motorboats are permitted and could cross your path.
The city of Naumburg will appear on the right side of the river, with its famous Cathedral and Wenzel-Church, designed in the late gothic style. Here the Saale spreads into a wide riverbed as it continues its journey through the Saale River Valley.
From Naumburg to Weißenfels the Saale runs by the Schönburg Fort, which is located 40m above the river on a sandstone rock. Approximately 5 kilometres down stream from the Schönburg Fort, the Castle Goseck is strategically situated on the left riverbank. The Castle functions today as a restaurant as well as a music and cultural centre.
The next noteworthy city the Saale brings you to is the city of Weißenfels. Weißenfels is known, among other things, for housing one of the largest Early-Baroque palace grounds in Central Germany, Schloss (Castle) Neu-Augustusburg.
After passing Schloss Neu-Augustusburg the tour continues to Bad Dürrenberg. Here, at “Wasserwanderplatz” picnic and rest area, the tour ends. However, be sure to check out Bad Dürrenberg as it boasts one of the largest “Gradierwerk” (twig tower) in Europe. The Gradierwerk Tower of Bad Dürrenberg stretches 636 meters long and 12 meters high. The steam from the towers passes through the twigs, and it is said that the salty air helps to improve the health and wellbeing of the visitors in the nearby health resort of Kurort.