This week we have been staying on the Southern shores of the beautiful Berzdorfer See (Lake). Located just south go the town of Görlitz and within easy reach of the Czech and Polish borders it wasn’t always a beautiful place to visit. From 1835 to 1997 this was a huge mining operation. Initially as an underground mining operation, it switched to open cast mining in 1919. After a brief hiatus from the end of the 1920s to 1946 it reopened. This time they brought in the big guns, in the form of gigantic bucket wheel excavators which scraped coal from an open pit 80m deep and over an area of 24 square kilometres. These excavators operated round the clock and pulled coal from the ground at a rate of 7 million tonnes per year to feed what would eventually be 3 coal burning power stations that were opened nearby. In 1997 when the operation became no longer financially viable the mine closed.
In 2002 the mining company began the process of transforming the area into a lake and recreational area. They began flooding the mining pit with water from two local rivers. By 2010 the lake was half full but as a result of a sudden nearby dam burst in heavy rain, the lake filled completely. They turned their attention to making this an amenity that could be utilised by locals and visitors alike. A biking and walking path was installed around its 18km circumference, there are a number of beach areas and since 2022 most of the lake has been deemed navigable and there is a harbour and sailing areas. The planting of trees and vegetation and a return of animal and birdlife continues. There is also a hotel, restaurants, cafes, a ropes course, mini golf and other fun activities to be enjoyed. You can even arrange a visit to some of the now disused and rusted mining equipment, which serves as a stark reminder of the area’s industrial past.
We have loved getting out early in the morning, when the sun is just up and there is a mist on the lake, the birds are in full song and a few early birds are out walking, jogging, biking or skating on the lakeside path. It is a wonderful amenity, that is garnering more and more attention and will only improve with time as the trees and vegetation fill in and wildlife continues to return to the area