Water is the lifeblood of the Wetterau.

Four notable rivers run through the region between Taunus, Vogelsberg and Kinzigtal.

Despite thousands of years of farming, there were always large wetlands that were only recently drained for fields or pastures, which in turn led to the straightening of the rivers.

Favored by general rethinking with the decreasing importance of agriculture and animal husbandry, this has meanwhile changed fundamentally, for which the "Wetterau floodplain network" created in 1989 is providing exemplary pacemaker services.

The entire river system formed by Wetter, Nidda, Horloff and Nidder has since undergone extensive renaturation measures and is now the largest biotope in Hesse at 7400 hectares.

A good fifth are nature reserves (NSG).

Two of them, the NSG Nachtweid and Mähried near Florstadt-Staden, were identified as harbingers of changed environmental awareness years before the floodplain network was designated.

Far beyond the core areas of around 200 hectares in total, a grassy landscape was created in which shy ground-nesting birds find ideal retreats.

With their various subspecies such as moorhens and coots, rails have their largest colony here.

Around 250 bird species are counted.

For a better overview, some shelters were recently added in front of water areas.

Of course, the large birds are easier to see from the slits, gray herons, mute swans and the stork, which has become a symbol of an intact environment.

Nesting aids erected in many places are just the most obvious feature.

New records are set every year – up to 100 pairs, more than when an inventory was taken in 1904. In both NSGs, three or four young crowd up in the dizzy heights before courageously plunging downwards for the first time these days.

The gently undulating Wetterau is hardly suitable for castles alone.

But why aim high when water can also protect stately buildings.

There are some impressive examples such as Büdingen or Bingenheim, and Staden has also been built close to the water.

As early as the 12th century, a wall was placed between two arms of the Nidda. Whether the ditch was a deterrent or whether the future Ganerbenburg seemed less suitable for military conflicts, the castle was never destroyed, although it was redesigned several times.

Of these, the mighty gate tower and the main building of the Ysenburg Palace (today the hotel) remained.

The abundance of water later accommodated the creation of parks with exotic trees, including a bald cypress whose branches are bent at right angles.

Directions

Thanks to its convenient location, Staden is a good starting point for excursions to the Nidda floodplains.

Starting from the Am Park bus stop (there is also a parking strip and the sports field) you walk through the Herrenpark with old trees opposite the classicist church, bypass the baroque Löw'sche Schloss and reach Ysenburg Castle.

To the right you can see the "sighing bridge" from 1684. The prisoners are said to have taken the thoughtful half-timbered passage across the mill race to the left-hand dungeon with lamentations.

Today, the municipality prefers to see itself as the "Venice of the Wetterau".

On the country road we move into the Niddatal, but turn right before the bridge onto the cycle path towards Nieder-Mockstadt.

In addition, green signs of the Auenlandweg appear sporadically.

After two "hooks" through a small forest, the signs send us out into the wide plain, not without passing a stork mast in the immediate vicinity as a greeting.

On the other side of the autobahn, the path leads straight ahead between meadows and fields before turning right towards Nieder-Mockstadt.

Walk along the outermost row of houses and turn left at the first crossroads;

now without a bike path and Auenlandweg, which soon turns right in front of the detached farmsteads.

One more curve and ahead we see an observation hut 400 meters away.

It can only be included by branch line.

Seen from below, you turn left in front of the houses or right immediately.

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