SWABIAN ALBS GEOPARK (Germany)
The chain of the Jurassic highlands stretches through a big part of Central Europe from France and Switzerland to Germany. The Swabian Jura - also called Swabian Alb - is the central part of this chain between the Swiss and the Franconian Jura. The Swabian Alb extends across southwest Germany over a length of approximately 220 km and a width of up to 80 km. Jurassic rocks dominate the area, but older and younger periods are also represented. Altogether they provide an outstanding variety of geological, paleontological and ecological features.
Conservation, Education & Tourism
The Swabian Alb offers not only globally significant geological and paleontological features like fossil sites, two meteorite craters and the "Swabian volcano" with more than 350 chimneys, but also archaeological elements like the oldest art sculptures and one of the oldest music instruments. The karst landscape has many interesting geosites including dolines, fossil reefs, springs and the highest density of caves in Germany. Of particular interest is the Böttinger Marble, a special limestone with many plant and animal fossils.
People of the Stone Age came here to search for flint stones and to use the caves as shelters. Rich iron deposits have been built up during the time of the Swabian Jurassic ocean and are present today. Celtic people used the smelted iron brass of the oldest smelting places known in Europe. The various bizarre cliffs of the Swabian Alb have their origin in the sponge and coral reefs of the Jurrasic Sea. They are situated at the rims of the valleys as steep outstanding groups of cliffs. Noblemen of the middle age used the fossil reef rocks for building their castles on top of them. The areas of the rims of these "Schwammstotzen" are highly fossiliferous. Still today the pattern of human settlements in an area ill supplied by water shows the characteristics of the petrography as some rocks like the basaltic fillings of the volcanic chimneys retain water. Villages emerged around so called "Hühlen" were rainwater accumulated on top of these chimneys.Geotourism is supported by museums, information centres and other comparable institutions. Guided tours, interpretative trails and exhibitions are part of the geo-educational concept. They address not only the general public, but also especially schools. In order to guarantee a high standard the guides and the personal of the information centres are trained in special courses. Publications like a geotouristic map of the Swabian Alb, flyers, leaflets and books dealing with single localities like Nusplingen and Steinheim or with geology and paleontology of the whole area contribute to the educational process. A focus is put on residents of the Alb. The establishment of a consciousness of the geological past of their home area is an important aim of the Geopark.
The Global Geoparks Network is supported by UNESCO at the request of Member States