Coalmine lakes in former DDR - Germany


Gräbendorf Lake - near Cottbus - Germany. 51° 41' 24.378" N, 14° 6' 1.2852" E
Coalmine lakes in former DDR - Germany

The former East German DDR operated a vast amount of open-cast coalmines for fueling electricity plants. Nowadays most coalmines are shutdown and converted into man made lakes - many are now recreation areas. An impression of Gräbendorfer See – in the south-east near the Polish border.


Open cast coal mining in the DDR

The former DDR region under Berlin has an amazing amount of man made lakes – most of them retired open cast coal mines. Nowadays many of these lakes have their own recreational scene after several years of being cleaned-up,  redeveloped and filled with  water.

Open cast mine turned into a natural lake
Open cast mine turned into a natural lake - many can be found in East Germany - former DDR

In the German language they even have a word for these lakes: Tagebausee, which translates into something like open cast mine lake. In 2000 the German ministry for environmental protection researched more than 500 of such lakes. More than 50 % have stabilized and integrated into the natural surroundings. Others are still acid some with PH values of 2 – 3 due to the nature of the mining activities.

Gräbendorf lake in East Germany.

The Grabendorfer lake in the former DDR is located in the south - east in the region of Cottbus near the Polish border. This lake a gem with an easily accessible shore line surrounded by a cycling / walking / skating path of several Km.

Sign at Grabendorf Lake - explaining the redevelopment into a recreational area
Gräbendorfer open cast mine sanatized into a natural lake - a recreation area.

Grabendorf lake scene – “The desert is in us”

Ben Wagin – a German visual artist – made the Grabendorfer lake his workshop and planted several of his works – with a touch of Nietzche “Die Wüste ist in uns”. A reference to Nietzsches poem "Die Wüste wächst":

Ben Wagin Art - Canalboat turned into a road sign with "Die Wuste ist in Uns"
Ben Wagin Art at the Gräbendorf Lake - "Die Wüste ist in Uns".

and Gräbendorf torched into the metal of old coal train wagons:

Ben Wagin Art - Gräbendorf cut out of coalmine train wagons
Ben Wagin Art at the Gräbendorf Lake - Gräbendorf cut out of coalmine train wagons

The canal boat is visible from the road - and has certainly baffled us and likely many others.

Gräbendorf lake activities

The lake was also the place to be for the 5th Breeza festival in july 2011. Great surrounding for such an event.

  Breeza summer festival website at Gräbendorfer Lake
Breeza summer festival at Grabendorfer See

A PADI dive center – Waldi’s Diving Center - on the shores of the Gräbendorfer lake. The dive center has a floating house on the lake.

  PADI diving center at Gräbendorf lake - Waldi's Diving center
PADI dive center – Waldi’s Diving Center See

And there's lots of space to park a truck - another "WOMO stellplatz" / RV / Mobilehome / campervan parking area in Germany.

WOMO stellplatzt at Gräbendorf Lake
Parking at Gräbendorf Lake - lots of space at many spots along side the lake

More information about Gräbendorfer See


Ben Wagin Art

Waldi’s Diving Center

Open cast mining

Breeza festival

Gräbendorf Lake info - East Germany - former DDR


Other interesting public coal mines in Europe

- The Red hills of Rio Tinto in Spain

- Huge bucket wheel excavator in Germany

- Deep open cast mine Cap Decouverte in France


The location of this story

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