Brussels/Letschin – The cultural landscape of Oderbruch now officially bears the European Heritage Seal. The associated project “The Oderbruch – people make landscape” should be presented with the EU seal at a ceremony in Brussels on Monday evening, as announced by the actors and the Brandenburg Ministry of Culture.

The award was given to Europe’s largest populated polder landscape because, according to the EU Commission, the ideals and history of the European Union are symbolized here in a special way. This is the first time in the history of the seal that an entire landscape has received this recognition.

Local actors had been trying to do this for a long time. Around 36 Oderbruch locations had joined the project, which was prepared over two years. With the award, the Oderbruch should gain public and political attention.

For Culture Minister Manja Schüle (SPD), the Oderbruch is an impressive example of successful integration. “People from all over Europe have made it arable, designed and enriched it over the past centuries with their knowledge and commitment,” she explained. The eventful development of the region reflects “impressively European cultural, intellectual and economic history”.

The region arose after the drainage almost 270 years ago, was settled by Prussian King Frederick II with colonists and is maintained as a habitat by a sophisticated water system. The approximately 60 km long and up to 20 km wide cultivated landscape stretches from Hohensaaten in the north to Frankfurt an der Oder in the south.

According to the Ministry of Culture, the region is a striking example of human shaping of landscapes in European history. As a clearly definable and, at almost 1000 square kilometers, the largest inhabited river polder in Europe, the Oderbruch has a water system that spans all areas and integrates technical elements from more than 250 years.

Only two projects – in addition to the Oderbruch, the Fulda monastery and Petersberg in Hesse – had the German Conference of Ministers of Education forwarded 2020 to the EU Commission for application. The pandemic had made the further procedure more difficult.