To be honest, that is a question I never had until I visited the World Heritage region Wartburg-Hainich. I had heard of places like the Greenwich meridian or of traditions that come with crossing the equator or the arctic circle. Do they do something like that in the middle of Germany, too?
How is the geographic centre of a country calculated?
My research showed that there are different methods to calculate the geographic centre and all of them result in a different place. I am not going to explain exactly how it is done, it is just too much math. It is surprising, though, which formula brings out which spot as the exact centre.
Calculating a point of intersection takes the most northern point and the most southern point and connects them with a straight line. This line will intersect with a second line drawn from the most eastern point to the most western point and the intersection turns out the centre…. In Besse near Kassel. One possible centre of Germany.
Using the lines of latitude and longitude results in a different centre… Niederdorla in Thuringia. The second possible centre of Germany.
There is another method with uses the geometric centre, sometimes taking bodies of water into account, sometimes leaving them out. And the method that uses math to determine the minimum distance to the German border. And these produce centres in Flinsberg, Silberhausen, Landstreit, Krebeck, …
This is chaos! That makes the calculation of the centre of the earth seem easy.
This doesn’t even take into account how Germany’s borders moved over the course of history and with them the geographic centre.
My visit to one geographic centre of Germany
There is a region in Germany called Unstrut-Hainich, in Thuringia. There, between the towns Oberdorla and Niederdorla lies the intersection of the lines of latitude and longitude that frame Germany.
And in this location, there actually is a rock to mark the centre as well as a tree on a small square. There is no set tradition that dictates what to do when visiting the centre of Germany. If there was, that would be a good opportunity to stand out from all the other centres! It would certainly make the place a little more interesting.
Straße zum Mittelpunkt
99986 Vogtei – OT Niederdorla