We are building a new park in Groningen. Small and nice, with comfortable and luxurious tent lodges. We love the area. Because Groningen tells its own story for those who listen and embrace the peace. In Groningen you will find beautiful untouched nature, a Unesco World Heritage Site. What does this landscape tell us about history and the relation with nature that the people from Groningen have had for centuries?
Join us on a journey through this stunning area. It is peaceful, without mass tourism and with endless space and views. It's the background to exciting stories for long summer evenings around the campfire. Folk tales about ghosts, heroes and villains. Is there anything that beats Groningen?
The landscape we see in Groningen today was not always there. In the 6th century BC, the Wadden Sea began to impose itself here. Due to the tides, the water always left a little bit of silt behind, creating salt marsh walls.
It was good fishing from the salt marshes and that's why the place became attractive. Due to the saltiness, the soil was very fertile and this turned out to be a good place to settle permanently. To protect houses and animals, people started to create reinforced dikes and elevations. We call those characteristic hills 'wierden'. If you look at Groningen from the Wadden Sea, you can clearly see the elevated houses in the villages of the first inhabitants. Still an impressive interplay between man and nature.
You can walk on the bottom of the Wadden Sea in Groningen. The tides of the mudflats provide a dynamic landscape. A large part of the Wadden Sea dries up twice a day. It is the habitat of the seal that waits patiently for the rising water to bring new food at high tide. The shallow water of the Wadden Sea is also warmer than, for example, the North Sea. That creates a unique biodiversity.
The huge colonies of migratory birds that make a stopover for breeding on the mudflats provide impressive scenes. It is not without reason that the Wadden Sea has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009 and the people of Groningen are proud of that.
As is often the case in the history of our water-rich country, action was taken here at the end of the sixties. After the fatal flood of 1953 in Zeeland, it was decided to close off the Lauwerszee with an inlet for fear of flooding. That's when the Lauwerszee became a lake.
Because fresh and salt water now mixed, a new landscape unexpectedly arose on the former seabed. The Lauwers lake is surrounded by the Groningen landscape of reed and grasslands. Scottish Highlanders and Konik horses eagerly graze here. Most nature lovers mainly visit to spot birds up close from one of the many lookout huts.
Protecting nature is paramount and that is why Lauwersmeer was declared a national park.
In the national park, far away from civilisation, you will find out how much light pollution there actually is in other parts of the Netherlands. That's why the Lauwersmeer appears to be an excellent place for an expedition by night.
Since October 2016, the area has been awarded the “Dark Sky Park” designation. You will not find any light source here and that is why it remains really dark here at night. The influence of light and dark on our nature cannot be underestimated. To experience real darkness, you can marvel at the spectacular starry sky here at night. In fact, it's so dark that you can occasionally spot the Northern Lights from the sky platforms. A rare and natural light show. Nothing beats Groningen!