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Eifel - Deutsche Mittelgebirge, Serie A-de.png
Map of the Eifel
Highest point
Peak Hohe Acht
Elevation 747 m above NN
Length 100 km (62 mi)
Area 5,300 km2 (2,000 sq mi)
Countries Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg
States Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia
Range coordinates 50°23′N 6°52′E / 50.39°N 6.87°E / 50.39; 6.87Coordinates: 50°23′N 6°52′E / 50.39°N 6.87°E / 50.39; 6.87
Parent range Rhenish Slate Mountains
Orogeny low mountains
Type of rock slate, limestone, quartzite, sandstone, basalt
Eifel scenery
View of the Laacher See, one of the lakes in the Volcanic Eifel

The Eifel (German: [ˈʔaɪfl̩]; Luxembourgish: Äifel) is a low mountain range in western Germany and eastern Belgium. It occupies parts of southwestern North Rhine-Westphalia, northwestern Rhineland-Palatinate and the south of the German-speaking Community of Belgium.

The Eifel is part of the Rhenish Massif; within its northern portions lies the Eifel National Park.



Location of the Eifel in Germany

The Eifel lies between the cities of Aachen to the north, Trier to the south and Koblenz to the east. It descends in the northeast along a line from Aachen via Düren to Bonn into the Lower Rhine Bay; in the east and south it is bounded by the valleys of the Rhine and the Moselle. To the west it transitions in Belgium and Luxembourg into the geologically related Ardennes and the Luxembourg Ösling; in the north it is limited by the Jülich-Zülpicher Börde. Within Germany it lies within the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia; in BeNeLux the area of Eupen, St. Vith and Luxembourg. Its highest point is the volcanic cone of the Hohe Acht (746.9 m). Originally the Carolingian Eifelgau only covered the smaller region roughly around the sources of the rivers Ahr, Kyll, Urft and Erft. Its name was more recently transferred to the entire region.


The Eifel belongs to that part of the Rhenish Massif whose rolling plateau is categorised as peneplain highland (Rumpfhochland), which was formed by the erosion of the ancient mountains of the Variscan mountain building phase and subsequent further uplifting. Individual mountain chains, up to 700 m, such as the Schneifel and High Fens, run through the western part of the plateau. In the eastern part, in the High Eifel and Volcanic Eifel, individual cinder cones and basalt kuppen, like the Hohe Acht and the Ernstberg, emerged as a result of volcanicity in the Tertiary and Quaternary periods and rise above the undulating countryside.

The rivers draining into the Moselle, Rhine and Meuse, such as the Our, Kyll, Ahr, Brohl and Rur, have cut deep into the edge of the Eifel and formed larger valleys.

The Eifel covers an area of 5,300 km² and is geographically divided into the North and South Eifel. It is further divided into several natural regional landscapes, some with further subdivisions.

National and nature parks[edit]

Since 2004, part of the North Eifel has been designated as the Eifel National Park, from north to the south, there are also four nature parks in the Eifel: Rhineland, High Fens-Eifel, Volcanic Eifel, South Eifel, although the first-named park only extends into the northern foothills of the Eifel.



There are several distinct chains within the Eifel.

  • The northernmost parts are called North Eifel ("Nordeifel") including Rur Eifel the origin of the river Rur, High Fens ("Hohes Venn") and the Limestone Eifel ("Kalkeifel").
  • The northeastern part is called Ahr Hills[1] (German: Ahrgebirge) and rise north of the Ahr river in the district of Ahrweiler.
  • South of the Ahr is the High Eifel[1] (Hohe Eifel), with the Hohe Acht (747 m) being the highest mountain of the Eifel.
  • In the west, on the Belgian border, the hills are known as Schneifel (part of the Schnee-Eifel or "Snowy Eifel"), rising up to 698 m. Also in the west, by the Belgian and Luxembourg border, the region is known as Islek (Aquilania).
  • The southern half of the Eifel is lower. It is cut by several rivers running north-south towards the Moselle, the largest of these is the Kyll, and the hills on either side of this river are called the Kyllwald.
  • In the south the Eifel is concluded by the Voreifel above the Moselle.

Since 2004 about 110 km² of the Eifel within the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia have been protected as the Eifel National Park nature reserve.

Natural regional divisions[edit]

Up to 1960, the German part of the Eifel, which belonged to the natural region of the Rhenish Massif, was, according to the Handbook of the Natural Region Divisions of Germany, divided into three major unit (i.e. two-digit) groups and these were subdivided into (three-digit) major natural units.[2][3] These divisions were subsequently refined the in the individual map sheets Trier/Mettendorf, Cochem (both 1974) and Cologne/Aachen (1978) as follows;[4][5][6] for the most detailed natural region divisions in Rhineland-Palatinate, fact files were produced by the state information system of the conservation administration (LANDIS):[7][8][9]

  • 56 Venn Foreland
    • 560 Venn Foothills
      • 560.0 Kornelimünster Venn Foreland
    • 561 Aachen Hills
      • 561.0 Stolberg Valley
      • 561.1 Aachen Bowl
      • 561.2 Aachen Forest
      • 561.3 Vaals Hills
  • 28 West Eifel[9]
    • 280 Islek and Ösling (Designation in the map sheets of Cochem and Trier; Handbook: Islek)
      • 280.0 Eastern Islek
        • 280.00 Lascheid Plateau
        • 280.01 Middle Prüm Valley
      • 280.1 Central Islek
        • 280.10 Arzfeld Plateau
        • 280.11 Neuerburg Enz Valley
        • 280.12 Karlshausen Plateau
      • 280.2 Western Islek
      • 280.3 Middle Our Valley
        • 280.30 Urb-Vianden Our Valley ( Cochem map sheet; Trier map sheet: Vianden Our Valley)
        • 280.31 Genting Our Valley
      • 280.4 Southern Schneifel Foreland
      • 280.5 Islek Foothills
    • 281 Western High Eifel
      • 281.0 Schneifel Ridge
      • 281.1 Northern Schneifel Foreland
      • 281.2 Grenzwald Ridge
        • 281.20 Ommerscheid
        • 281.21 Losheim Forest
      • 281.3 Oberes Kyll Valley
      • 281.4 Duppach Ridge
    • 282 Rur Eifel
    • 283 High Fens
      • 283.0 Venn Plateau
        • 283.00 Lammersdorf Fen Plateau
      • 283.1 Northern Venn Foothills
        • 283.10 Roetgen Venn Foothills
      • Roer Spring Plateau (entirely in Belgium)
      • Upland of the Upper Warche (Southern Venn Foreland; entirely in Belgium)
    • Eastern High Ardennes (entirely in Belgium)
      • St. Vith Plateau
  • 27 East Eifel[8]
    • 270 Moselle Eifel (Lower Eifel)[11]
      • 270.0 Eastern Moselle Eifel
      • 270.1 Lower Üßbach Valley
      • 270.2 Kondelwald
      • 270.3 Offling Plateau
      • 270.4 Middle Lieser Valley
      • 270.5 Southern Volcanic Eifel
        • 270.50 Daun-Manderscheid Volcanic Hills
        • 270.51 Dauner Maar Region
      • 270.6 Wittlich Hedge Land ( Cochem map sheet; Trier map sheet: Heckenland)
        • 270.60 Naurather Horst
        • 270.61 Arenrath Plateau
        • 270.62 Littgen Plateau
      • 270.7 Meulenwald
    • 271 Eastern High Eifel
      • 271.0 Olbrück Eifel Perimeter
      • 271.1 Kempenich Tuff Plateau
      • 271.2/3 Central Eastern High Eifel
        • 271.2 Hohe Acht/Nitz-Nette Upland
          • 271.20 Hohe Acht Upland
          • 271.21 Nitz-Nette Forest
        • 271.3 Elzbach Heights
      • 271.4 [[Southwest foothills of the Eastern High Eifel
    • 272 Ahr Eifel
      • 272.0 Reifferscheid Upland
      • 272.1 Northern Ahr Upland
      • 272.2 Middle Ahr Valley
        • 272.20 Dümpelfeld Ahr Valley
        • 272.21 Recher Ahreng Valley
      • 272.3 Southern Ahr Upland
    • 274 Münster Eifel Forest and Northeastern Foot of the Eifel (Cologne map sheet; Cochem map sheet: Northeastern Eifel Perimeter; Handbook: Münster Eifel Forest)
    • 275 Mechernich Pre-Eifel
    • 276 Limestone Eifel
    • 277 Kyllburg Forest Eifel
      • 277.0 Neidenbach Sandstone Plateau
      • 277.1 Middle Kyll Valley
      • 277.2 Kyllburg Forest Ridge
        • 277.20 Prümscheid
        • 277.21 Wittlich Forest
      • 277.3 Salm Hills

The BfN groups the 3 (two-digit) major unit groups under the combined group designated D45.

Mountains and hills[edit]

View from the Raßberg of the striking dome of the Hohe Acht
View of the Ernstberg from the Mäuseberg to the SE
Castle hill of the Nürburg from the air
The Aremberg and the village of Aremberg seen from the SSE
The Hochsimmer from the ENE
View from Houverath looking S to the Hochthürmerberg
View over the Moselle and past the village of Dorf Bremm to the Calmont

Apart from its valleys, the Eifel is a gently rolling plateau from which elongated mountain ridges and individual mountains rise, the majority of these summits do not attain a great height above the surrounding terrain. Several, however, like the Schwarzer Mann in the Schnee-Eifel, stand out from a long way off as long, forested ridges or clearly isolated mountaintops.

The highest mountain in the whole Eifel is the Hohe Acht at 746.9 m. It is the only Eifel summit above 700 m. However, many peaks, mountain ridges and large regions, such as the Zitterwald reach heights of over 600 m. These include two dozen peaks with good all-round views, of which many have an observation tower, from north to south they are: the Michelsberg, Häuschen and Teufelsley in the north; the Adert, Hohe Acht and Raßberg in the northeast; the Hochkel, Nerotherkopf, Dietzenley and ruins of the Kasselburg in the central area; the Prümer Kalvarienberg, Hartkopf and Prümer Kopf in the east, the Steineberg and Mäuseberg near Daun, the Hochsimmer and Scheidkopf near Mayen; the Eickelslay and Absberg in the southeast; and the Krautscheid and Hohe Kuppe in the southwest.

The mountains and hills of the Eifel include the following (in order of height in metres above sea level):

For a list of these and other Eifel mountains and hills see the List of mountains and hills of the Eifel.

Many of these prominent points are linked by the Eifel-Ardennes Green Route, which crosses the east and south of the region, the German Volcano Route, the German Wildlife Route and the South Eifel Holiday Route.


The Prüm
Upper basin of the Rur Reservoir between Einruhr and Rurberg

Due to its moist and mild Atlantic climate, the Eifel is bisected by numerous streams and small rivers. Impoundment of these streams, especially in the North Eifel has led to the creation of very large reservoir, such as the Rursee, which is the second largest in Germany by volume, and the Urftsee.

A feature of the Eifel are its natural lakes of volcanic origin, the largest, the Laacher See, is a collapsed, water-filled caldera, whilst the many maars are water-filled volcanic eruption bowls. The largest maar lake is the Pulvermaar, the Meerfelder Maar has an even bigger basin, but three-quarters of it has silted up.

Rivers and streams[edit]

The many rivers and streams of the Eifel drain into the North Sea via the great rivers outside of the Eifel: the Rhine (and its tributary, the Moselle) and the Meuse (with its tributaries, the Rur and Ourthe). The rivers and streams within the mountain range, together with their larger tributaries, are as follows:

Rhine tributaries:

Meuse tributaries:

Lakes and reservoirs[edit]

Reservoirs of the Eifel that drain into the Rur


Volcanic lakes


Dark argillaceous slate of the Siegen stage (deep Lower Devonian, between 410 and 405 million years old), near Monschau in the northern Eifel
The Richelsley, an erosion remnant of conglomerates of the Gedinne stage (deepest Lower Devonian, ca. 415 million years old), west of Monschau in the Belgian Eifel

The Eifel and its western continuation into Belgium, the Ardennes, are a part of the Variscan mountain belt and belong to the Rhenish Massif (Rheinisches Schiefergebirge).

The Eifel consists mainly of Devonian slates, sandstones and limestones, laid down in an ocean south of the Old Red Continent[14] and folded and overthrust in the Variscan orogeny. The Eifel geological structures like main folds and overthrusts can be traced in a SW-NE direction far beyond the Rhine valley.

Eifel volcanic area[edit]

In the Tertiary and Quaternary geological eras, the Eifel was a site of extensive volcanic activity. Some of the hills are volcanic vents, the peculiar circle-shaped lakes (maars) of the volcanic regions formed in volcanic craters. The last volcanic eruptions in the Laacher See volcanic site took place around 10,000 years ago and generated a huge volume of volcanic ash, now found in thin ash layers in contemporaneous sediments throughout Europe, the volcanism of the Eifel is thought to be partly caused by the Eifel hotspot, a place where hot material from deep in the mantle rises to the surface, and partly by melt-ascent at deep fractures in the Earth's crust.[15] Research has shown that the volcanism is still active; the Eifel region is rising by 1–2 mm per year.

Historically, the Eifel volcanoes had inactive phases of 10,000 to 20,000 years between active phases, suggesting there is a possibility of future eruptions.[citation needed]


Lissingen Castle
Eltz Castle
Manderscheid castles

Well preserved[edit]

19th- and 20th-century rebuilds[edit]

  • Bollendorf Castle
  • Genovevaburg
  • Vlatten Castle
  • Cochem Castle


Points of interest[edit]

  • The Nürburgring, one of the world's most famous motor-racing courses. The northern loop (Nordschleife) of the course is known as the Green Hell (Grüne Hölle), because of its long, difficult and dangerous course through the local forest.
  • The Eifel Aqueduct, an interesting archeological feature. One of the longest aqueducts of the Roman empire, it provided water to the Roman settlement of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium (modern-day Cologne).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Elkins, T.H. (1972). Germany (3rd ed.). London: Chatto & Windus, 1972. ASIN B0011Z9KJA.
  2. ^ E. Meynen, J. Schmithüsen et al.: Handbook of the Natural Region Divisions of Germany Bundesanstalt für Landeskunde, Remagen/Bad Godesberg, 1953–1962 (9 issued in 8 books, 1:1,000,000 scale map with major units, 1960).
  3. ^ online map of the major unit groups and list of major units
  4. ^ Ewald Glässer: Geographische Landesaufnahme: the natural regional units on map sheet 122/123 Cologne/Aachen. Bundesanstalt für Landeskunde, Bad Godesberg, 1978. → online map (pdf; 8.7 MB)
  5. ^ Heinz Fischer, Richard Graafen: Geographische Landesaufnahme: the natural regional units on map sheet 136/137 Cochem. Bundesanstalt für Landeskunde, Bad Godesberg, 1974. → online map (pdf; 5.6 MB)
  6. ^ Otmar Werle: Geographische Landesaufnahme: the natural regional units on map sheet 148/149 Trier/Mettendorf. Bundesanstalt für Landeskunde, Bad Godesberg, 1974. → online map (pdf; 4.5 MB)
  7. ^ parameter error
  8. ^ a b Landscape fact file (major landscape) of the Landscape Information System of the Rhineland-Palatinate Nature Conservation Office (Naturschutzverwaltung Rheinland-Pfalz) (East Eifel)
  9. ^ a b Landscape fact file (major landscape) of the Landscape Information System of the Rhineland-Palatinate Nature Conservation Office (Naturschutzverwaltung Rheinland-Pfalz) (West Eifel)
  10. ^ A boundary line between the two plateaux is not shown on either of the two map sheets, however the Hollerath Plateau lies largely on the Cochem map sheet Cochem and the Broich Plateau on the Cologne map sheet.
  11. ^ addendum from the Handbook
  12. ^ a b Between natural regions 272.0 and 272.2 on the Cologne/Aachen map sheet no boundary is shown. It probably runs from Eicks via Kommern to Firmenich.
  13. ^ In the Handbook on the Cologne map sheet the numbering of the Blankenheim and Zingsheim Forests has been reversed.
  14. ^ Meyer,W. 1986. Geologie der Eifel, p.4. Schweizerbart'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart. ISBN 3-510-65127-8
  15. ^ Meyer 1986, p. 275

External links[edit]