Chalk Cliffs on Rugen: A Painter’s Dream Destination

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Updated on: 8 July, 2021

A trip in August to the Baltic Sea to the chalk cliffs of Rugen. What sounds like from the holiday advertising brochure is one of the reasons for me why I like the idea of ​​a river cruise from Stralsund to Berlin / Potsdam so quickly, because this also includes the possibility of a trip to the chalk cliffs of Rugen. A travel dream comes true for me on this trip: finally seeing the famous chalk coast on the island of Rugen with my own eyes.

I am fascinated by how ephemeral our nature is. You too? Did you know that the chalk cliffs are a special symbol for this constant change? And because I am so fascinated by this famous section of the coast of Rügen, a travelogue including information for vacationers who want to plan their visit – individually or in a group – follows.

On the way with a bus excursion to the chalk cliffs

When we cross the Rugen Bridge in the bus from Stralsund, I am full of anticipation. After all, I am walking in the footsteps of the painter Caspar David Friedrich with this excursion, which is described in the excursion program of my “Nicko Cruises” river cruise as “Rugen’s north with chalk cliffs”. Today I will see these rocks with my own eyes. Unexpectedly, the beech forests of Rugen are also the focus of this excursion, but more on that later.

The history of the chalk cliffs of Rugen

The chalk that visitors see is said to be almost 70 million years old. The chalk formations are said to have arisen after the last ice age around 12,000 years ago. The rock formations have since been exposed to erosion. So the sight of them changes constantly.

Out and about at the Königsstuhl National Park Center

When we arrive at the Königsstuhl bus parking lot shortly after ten o’clock, it is unexpectedly empty for an August Sunday. We have a little more than an hour’s stay. During this time we will visit the Königsstuhl National Park Center, which was opened in 2004. If you want to explore Rugen’s chalk coast, this is the place for you.

Jasmund: Germany’s smallest national park

We are in the area of ​​the so-called stump chamber. This is the term used for the immediate vicinity of the most famous chalk cliffs, the Königsstuhl and the Victoria view, in the Jasmund National Park on Rügen. The national park has existed since 1990, it is 3,003 hectares in size and is Germany’s smallest national park.

But how did it come about that the chalk coast received this special protection? To do this, we have to jump back a few decades: In the 19th century it was common to mine the chalk deposits in chalk quarries on the Jasmund peninsula. In 1926 a chalk quarry that had already been closed was supposed to reopen. As a result, the coast north of Sassnitz was declared a nature reserve. However, the chalk cliffs on the island of Rugen cannot be protected from nature. Storms repeatedly burden the beautiful coast: Then trees, bushes or pieces of rock fall into the sea and change the landscape again. Like the demolition of the “Wissower Klinken” or the loss of the stairs to the beach near the Victoria viewpoint in 2016.

Discover the stump chamber

There is a small and a large stump chamber in the Jasmund National Park. The most famous chalk cliff, the Königsstuhl, is known as the large stump chamber. The small stump chamber is the also well-known chalk cliff Victoria view. In order to visit the large stump chamber, the Königsstuhl, an admission ticket must be purchased, as this area is located within the Koenigsstuhl National Park Center, which is subject to a fee. Otherwise, visiting the national park is free of charge.

In the footsteps of the painter Caspar David Friedrich

The painter Caspar David Friedrich is one of the best-known representatives of German Romanticism and his picture, the “Chalk Cliffs on Rügen”, created shortly after his wedding in 1818, is one of his most famous works. It is said to have originated in the vicinity of the national park.

Since the “from behind” picture boom on Instagram , Caspar David Friedrich has become an indispensable painter celebrity for me. The painter wanted to draw the viewer into the picture with the way he designed the picture. A tactic that is used millions of times a day for photos on Instagram all over the world, and it honestly works, at least for me and especially for Friedrich’s famous picture from Rügen.

Important tip: I dealt extensively with the “from behind” topic a few years ago on this blog. If you are interested, you will find what you are looking forin my article “ How it competes with the selfie from behind ”.

Anyone looking for the motif that the painter Caspar David Friedrich shows in his picture is lost as a visitor. So don’t be disappointed if you can’t find the place of origin. The constant change of the coastline means that you will not see the painted part of the picture in real life. In addition, there are various assumptions about the genesis of the picture. This is what Caspar David Friedrich experts say about his motive:

I often read, for example, that the rock formation of the “Wissower Klinken”, which had a crenellated appearance, inspired the painter Caspar David Friedrich to create his painting “Chalk Cliffs on Rügen”. Other experts, on the other hand, suspect that in 1818 bushes still covered the formation of the “Wissower Klinken” and that he used various impressions from his sketchbook for the final composition. But no matter which expert variant you follow, history shows how much this rock formation changes over time. Today the famous pinnacle look of the “Wissower Klinken” rock formation is long gone. The rocks that made up the battlements slipped in 2005. Since then, the famous sight has been lost forever.

Incidentally, the original of the “Chalk Cliffs on Rügen” by Caspar David Friedrich is now hanging in an art collection in the “ Kunst Museum Winterthur | Reinhart am Stadtgarten “.

Visit to the Jasmund National Park

The romance of Caspar David Friedrich, however, may not set in with me. A national park is not so suitable for this. The routes are clearly specified and those who come by bus are often on the move with a short time frame. Then there are the other tourists. A satisfied, if less romantic, grin still spreads across my face when I see the chalk cliffs from the two viewpoints we visit.

The lookout point and chalk cliff Königsstuhl

First we go to the king’s chair. It is considered the most famous chalk cliff and is 118 meters above sea level. A visitor platform is attached to it. If you want to enter the Königsstuhl, you need an entrance ticket for the Königsstuhl National Park Center. The viewing platform is located in the chargeable area of ​​the visitor center. Individual visitors pay 9.50 euros. Admission is included in our excursion.

Where did the king’s chair get its name from? Allegedly, King Karl XII is said to have asked for a chair in this place during a battle in 1715 because he was tired from the fight. It is unclear whether this is true. Because there is probably a mention in the 16th century that already suggests the name.

Anyone standing on the visitor platform not only has a great view of the chalk cliffs Victoria view or the fire rain cliffs, but also sees the chalk cliff coast framed by the bright blue expanse of the Baltic Sea. The sea, the green surroundings and the white of the rocks go into an indescribably beautiful harmony.

Königsstuhl vision for the future: the royal road

To get to the Königsstuhl, you have to cross a higher rock. Stairs lead over this so-called royal tomb. This area is considered to be particularly sensitive because its subsoil consists of marl and chalk and is susceptible to weathering . That is why a new visitor platform is being considered at the Königsstuhl. The first tests of a possible bridge construction are already underway. A 1: 1 model of the “Königsweg”, as the visitor bridge is to be called, has already been tested in a wind tunnel of an engineering office in Birkenfeld im Enzkreis and approved for construction (I mention this in such detail because it is my home region). The construction tender should follow next.

If the million dollar project is implemented, the viewing platform of the Königsstuhl could be closed as early as 2020 . So if you want to stand on the most famous chalk cliff with your own two feet in your life, you have to hurry. The new bridge should allow equal views and even new perspectives, but then you walk on a bridge and no longer on Rügen’s most famous rocks.

In addition, today’s visitor area probably leads further towards the sea. Above all, the bridge should not protrude so much that visitors who want to experience the chalk cliffs on a boat trip are not visually disturbed. The view from the sea should be preserved as boaters already experience it from the sea today.

Those who, on the other hand, are dependent on accessibility should postpone their visit until the new suspension bridge Königsweg opens, because this should be barrier-free.

The fiery rain rock breathtaking view

From the Königsstuhl we also have a view of the fire rain rock formation. This got its name in the 19th century. For the entertainment of guests, burning sticks were thrown down from this rock after dark, to entertain holiday guests on the beach or on ships with an “imposing rain of fire”.

The lookout point and chalk cliff Victoria viewpoint

We can also see the Victoria view from the Königsstuhl. The sight of them is said to have inspired Caspar David Friedrich, among other things, for his painting. After visiting the Königsstuhl, we walk around 400 meters to the Victoria view, which can be visited free of charge.

On the chalk cliff Victoria-Sicht, it is much more crowded and the good vantage points are quite narrow and only allow a few people a good view of the Königsstuhl plateau at the same time. Groups of visitors who save the entrance fee for the Königsstuhl National Park Center come to the Victoria viewpoint. Some of my photos are accompanied by typical German complaints like “How long does she need it?” Or “Now she’s also making a video”. Somehow that diminishes my enthusiasm, so I would like to encourage you to visit the Victoria view as early as possible.

Although free of charge, the Victoria view is often considered the best view for the chalk cliffs in Rügen, as you can see the famous Königsstuhl from this rock.

There is also a story about the name of the Victoria view, which is even written on a stone near the view: The then King of Prussia Wilhelm I is said to have visited the chalk wall with his daughter-in-law, Crown Princess Victoria, and the lookout point on June 10, 1865 have named her.

History of the naming of the Victoria view engraved on a rock.

Out and about in the beech forest in the Jasmund National Park

The romance of Caspar David Friedrich is surprisingly revealed to me, especially when walking from the visitor center to the Victoria view. We walk a short stage through the beautiful beech forest. The tree landscape of the national park has been part of the UNESCO World Natural Heritage “Old Beech Forests of Germany” since 2011 and I like it very much, too. The trees in the national park are around 700 years old, and the painter Friedrich walked between them.

We can well understand those hikers who chose the 12.6 kilometer long hiking trail, the so-called Hochuferweg – of which we can only see a small section – as a top hiking trail. The high bank path extends between the port town of Sassnitz and the former fishing village of Lohme, it also leads through the Jasmund National Park directly along the famous Rügen chalk coast.

The Königsstuhl National Park Center

By the way, visitors can find out more about the trees and their significance in a film about the beech forests that is shown in the multi-vision cinema in the Königsstuhl National Park Center. It takes around 20 minutes and is very entertaining. We also look at it, while unfortunately there is no time for the other rooms of the exhibition center, which covers 2,000 square meters and is supposed to be very interactive, an artificial sunset takes place about every five minutes.

Chalk cliffs on Rugen beach path and stairs

If you want to take a walk along the beach path along the chalk cliffs of Rügen, you should know that this is only possible safely when the sea is calm, as the beach along the chalk coast is only a few meters wide. On choppy days at sea, the waves sometimes hit the rocks, the path is then impassable. The coast is also dangerous in strong winds, the former descent, the stairs to the beach path, which was located near the Victoria viewpoint, were destroyed when a 120-year-old beech tree fell on it in a landslide in 2016 . Since then, the stairs that lead down to the sea have ended five meters above the sea. If the stairs were repaired in previous years, they have been closed since the 2016 crash.

But if you want to walk along the chalk cliffs on the beach, you can still do so. The following three options are available:

  • At the beginning of the national park
  • Near the pirate canyon
  • In the middle of the national park on the Kieler Bach

Hikers are especially recommended to use the ladder on the Kieler Bach. There is also a waterfall there and the way there leads three kilometres over the already mentioned popular high riverside path.

Capturing the chalk cliffs of Rugen: Useful tips for the photographers

Those who like to take pictures should plan in the morning for a visit to the chalk cliffs. When we are there around 11 a.m., the sun is actually too strong. The mobile phone pictures in particular have become suboptimal for me, as the snow-white walls of the chalk cliffs glow so strongly that the rocks quickly overexpose and then no structure can be recognized. Therefore, camera and mobile phone settings (exposure time, aperture) should be selected so that the structures of the rocks are visible.

In the afternoon the rocks are in the shade, which is why the visit is then rather unfavorable, as the rocks then look rather gray. But in the photo you want to show how white the chalk cliffs shine. Exactly this impression is lost in the afternoon, which is why the backdrop is no longer as impressive as it was in the morning.

In the mornings there are also various boat trips along Rügen’s chalk cliff coast . If I should ever come to Rügen for a longer period, then I would like to go on a tour like this. The perspectives from the water should be very nice and I like boat trips anyway, otherwise I would not have made this visit as part of a river cruise.

Reading tip: In Travelisto’s family travel blog you can see a few pictures of the boat trip from Binz to the chalk cliffs of Rügen. You will also get tips for Rügen in winter with the family .

A few more practical tips

The chalk cliffs of Rügen are not directly accessible for private cars, so here are a few tips on how to get there, admission and opening times so that your vacation on the island is as well planned and stress-free as possible:

Arrival by car to Rugen’s chalk cliffs

There is a large car park in Lohme. The public shuttle bus leaves there and commutes between the Königsstuhl and the parking lot. If you want, you can enter the parking lot “Großparkplatz Hagen, 18551 Lohme” or the address of the national park and then follow the signs: “Stubbenkammer 2 in 18546 Sassnitz”. The public shuttle bus of line 23 starts in Sassnitz.

National Park Center Koenigsstuhl

Are you planning to visit the Königsstuhl? Then you have to stop by during the opening hours of the Königsstuhl National Park Center and pay admission:

Opening times:

Easter to October 31: 9 am to 7 pm;
1.11. until Easter: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Entrance fees (for 2021)

Children 6-14 years: €4.50;
Adults: €9.50;
Families 2 adults + children: €20.00

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