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February 2007 - Nr. 2


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German Wheat Field is New Center of European Union

   TWIG - Germany is filled with more than a few towns and cities that are well worth a visit for their architecture, history, regional food and flavor.

Now Gelnhausen, a prosperous commuter town north of financial metropolis Frankfurt in Germany’s central Hesse state, hopes to be included at the top of many tourists "must see" list for more than its historic half-timber houses. According to calculations by French experts, geographically speaking the European Union’s center has shifted — with Romania and Bulgaria joining the bloc on January 1 — to a wintry wheat field outside of this picturesque hamlet.

As reported by National Public Radio and other media, it has moved some 110 miles to the east — the previous center was Kleinmaischeid, also in Germany. The French National Geographic Institute crowned Kleinmaischeid as the EU’s new center just before it was enlarged by 10 new mostly eastern European countries in May 2004. Now that Romania and Bulgaria have joined the club, a field in the village of Meerholz, which is part of Gelnhausen, can claim the title.

City officials happily erected three white flagpoles to mark the new center, locating them about 30 yards away from the exact spot so as not to trample on crops. And Gelnhausen immediatly added the good news to its homepage.

The wealthy city of 22,000, nicknamed "Barbarossastadt" after Emperor Frederick Barbarossa who founded it in 1170, already attracts more than 100,000 tourists a year to its mediaeval city center, cathedral and castle.

Yet its new claim to fame as the EU’s geographic center still does not lay to rest the age-old debate over where the actual geographical center of Europe lies, given that this depends on how Europe’s largely land-locked eastern and southeastern boundaries are actually defined. (TWIG, Reuters, Associated Press)
Republished with permission from "The Week in Germany"


National Public Radio (NPR) audio story

City of Gelnhausen

City of Kleinmaischeid

German National Tourist Office


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