Today’s cultural landscape has been shaped by human and natural forces. It has been constantly changing since humans have been present and active here.
Cultural landscape bears testament to continuous change.
It is like a melting pot of the social, economic and technological circumstances of times gone by – it reflects both the past and the present.
Cultural landscape is not the natural state or the final condition of the countryside. Instead, it is always a snapshot forming part of the story of land use, which goes back hundreds of years.
This cultural landscape provides the basis for life and determines the potential of a settlement. It is an extremely valuable common resource that supports ecological, economic, social and cultural functions.
Developing the cultural landscape requires the involvement of citizens, land users and many other rural stakeholders.
Together with Saxony’s network of associations for landscape conservation, our members and our partners, we are successfully promoting the environmentally sustainable development of our landscapes. We offer information, advice, referral and practical support.
“The broad slopes of the valley of the Pöhlbach, with its vast numbers of green, yellow and brown fields arranged in a chess board pattern, bear witness to the tradition of smallholding farming in the upper Ore Mountains, which is the highest cultural zone in Saxony.”
The main identifiable features of the historical landscape provide some idea of how it used to look.
In 2000, the same area of land looks very different. After the Second World War, agricultural cooperatives were formed. This resulted in larger plots, which were farmed using modern technology and more effective cultivation methods. This approach accounted for what was required at the time and ensured that the population could be fed. Nowadays, agriculture is having to cope with the competition from the globalised market. For farms in a mountainous upland region, this is not easy.
Comparatively speaking, the landscape of the Ore Mountains still has a wealth of structure and variety. Nevertheless, it cannot be taken for granted that the region will develop in an environmentally sustainable way in the future, or that its biodiversity will be preserved. For this reason, collaborative efforts will always be required from every generation.
When investigating the history of our landscape, we soon come across previous generations who have shaped our current surroundings. We ask ourselves: What was it really like back then? Were they the good old days? Or was it a hard slog? Or a bit of both? These historical photographs provide us with some idea about our roots – the lives of our forebears.
A farmer and his wife during the daily poultry feed at their small farm. The half-timbered house has been lovingly restored and is now home to a young family.
A special grain scythe is used to cut the grain, which is then bound into stooks. Although the individual grain fields were not very large, the harvest required very heavy manual labour.
The whole family was needed in the field for the process of binding the grain into stooks. Small children were simply placed in the hand cart and they watched the work from there.
Bringing in the hay harvest with a team of oxen.
The mowing machine, which was pulled by a team of horses, gradually took over from manual reaping.
A horse-drawn hay rake replaced the hard manual task of turning over the hay.
The first ‘Beerfietz’ – slice of bread with blueberry jam – of the year was always a very special culinary delight.
Children had to help with farming and gathering berries from an early age. In the summer, they had to go blueberry picking in the woods every day. Blueberries were one of the few types of fruit available in some areas.
The view from Hermannshöhe in Mildenau towards the Pöhlberg Mountain and Geyersdorf shows that the hedgerows were predominantly made up of smaller shrubs. These hedgerows were a source of food for many animal species. They also provided the animals with a safe space for breeding and for shelter.
A forester having his lunch break.
For many centuries, gleaning firewood was a task performed by the women. Fuel was scarce, so all the twigs and branches that could be found in the woods were gathered. The women used their baskets to carry the heavy loads on their backs and the journey home was often many kilometres long.
A group of women harvesting potatoes.
Until the mid-19th century, charcoal was manufactured by hand. One pile required around 25 to 30 cubic metres of wood and only 25 per cent of each pile would become usable charcoal.
The charcoal burners often lived in very humble dwellings.
This old postcard shows that, despite all the adverse circumstances and difficult living conditions, the locals had good relationships with their neighbours.
Farmers bringing in the straw.
Every moment of rest from the strenuous labour was used to sit together with family and neighbours, perhaps to play music together or take it in turn to tell stories.
During the summer months, mowing with a hand scythe was part of a farmer’s daily work. The blade of the scythe was sharpened at regular intervals.
The women carried gleaned firewood right into their old age. Anyone found taking a branch that was too thick, however, was risking severe punishment.