The University of Iowa

A German holiday on top a mountain, tag der Deutschen Einheit

November 1st, 2019


Germany is celebrating the 30-year anniversary of the Berlin Wall falling this year. Earlier in October, I was given a chance to celebrate a German holiday related to this tremendous event, October 3rd Tag der Deutschen Einheit, or in English, German Unity Day. In a partnership with the Academic Year in Freiburg program (AYF) and the Madison-Freiburg Gesellschaft (a sister city program between Freiburg and Madison, Wisconsin), I had the chance to go on a wonderful hike on a mountain south of Freiburg.

The view from Schönberg overlooking a grape vineyard with mountains in the distance. The ones very far away are in France!

Schönberg is within walking distance from the dorm that I live in, located near the south end of the city of Freiburg. The walk was beautiful. On either side of the various roads and trails, there were vineyards growing grapes to be sold in the local farmers market as well as to be turned into wine by Freiburg’s wine companies. The weather was beautiful, as you can see; crisp air accompanied by a blanket of sunshine makes hiking very enjoyable. I should also add that Freiburg is one of the sunniest cities in Germany!

Eventually, we reached a section of the mountain covered in trees and small cabins laid throughout this mostly pine forest. Monuments and signs throughout the forest detailed various historical events that occurred on or near Schönberg. An important battle between the French and Bavarians was fought on the mountain nearly 500 years ago during the Thirty Years' War! Several parts of the forest were also part of protected nature zones, akin to national landmarks in the United States. Parts of the protected forest were uncut or "untampered" forest, making them amazing to see.

A section of untampered forest on Schönberg

The hike up the mountain was marked by friendly conversation as well. Several members of the Madison-Freiburg Gesellschaft had visited the United States or were even Americans themselves! People were all over the trail, having picnics and strolling around. Near the top of the mountain, we could see the ruins of an abandoned castle built hundreds of years ago! Schneeburg, loosely translating to Snow Fortress, lies in ruins but makes a wonderful sight at the top of the mountain.


Hiking around Schönberg was a wonderful way to experience Tag der Deutschen Einheit, especially being able to enjoy it with the generous people that help organize and make my study abroad program possible. Through AYF I was able to meet all these wonderful people from various other Midwestern universities and able to experience a German holiday the German way -- by hiking up a mountain.

AYF students from various universities and the members of the Madison-Freiburg Gesellschaft



Roman Ebert, a third-year German and history major from River Forest, Illinois, is studying in Germany on the Academic Year in Freiburg program.