Central Uplands

The Central Uplands[1][2] (German: die Mittelgebirge[3]) is one of the three major natural regions of Germany and covers most of the land area of the country. To the north lies the North German Plain or Northern Lowland; to the south, the Alps and the Alpine Foreland.[1]


The German Central Uplands, like the Scandinavian and British mountain ranges and the Urals, belong to the oldest mountains of Europe, even if their present-day appearance has only developed relatively recently. In the Carboniferous, i.e. about 350 million years ago, Variscan mountain ranges were formed in central Europe by the uplifting caused by tectonic plate collision. Immediately after their formation the erosion of the mountains began under the influence of exogenous processes during the Permian period. During the Triassic period, which began about 225 million years ago, what is now central Europe was sometimes above and sometimes below sea level. As a result, there are various layers of sedimentary rock in the Central Uplands: in most cases new red sandstone has been laid down as the terrestrial layer of rock and keuper and muschelkalk as marine sedimentary layers. The Jurassic period primarily saw the formation of limestone, whilst chalk was the main deposition from the Cretaceous period.

With the beginning of the Cenozoic era, some 70 million years ago, the process of erosion of the Hercynian mountain ranges changed. During the Tertiary, alpidic mountain building took place, in the course of which strong forces deformed the stumps of the Hercynian mountains. As these rocks were already folded, further tension led to cracks and fractures, which in turn created fault blocks. These blocks were later uplifted (forming horsts such as the Harz), or downfaulted (trough faults or graben such as the Upper Rhine Valley) or thrust over one another (tilted fault blocks such as the Ore Mountains). Thus the German Central Uplands exhibit the widest variety of forms, something that is also attributable to the erosion of sediments from the Mesozoic (Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous). In some ranges the sediments have been relatively well-preserved, in others they have been carried away completely. The determining factor is the geographical location and associated intensity of exogenous processes.

Most important ranges

The following table lists the mountains and hills over 300 m high that are generally considered to be part of the Central Uplands. The coordinates give the location of the highest point in each case. Many of the uplands overlap. The ranges are listed in order of height.

Mountain or hill rangeHighest ElevationHeight (m)CoordinatesPrecision
Wiehen HillsHeidbrink 32052°17′29″N 08°38′13″E± 30″
ElmEilumer Horn 32352°12′00″N 10°45′00″E± 30″
Calenberg HighlandHohe Egge (Süntel) 43752°10′30″N 09°23′00″E± 30″
Teutoburg ForestBarnacken 44651°51′30″N 08°54′30″E± 30″
SiebengebirgeGroßer Ölberg 46050°40′56″N 07°14′54″E± 1″
Egge HillsPreußischer Velmerstot 46851°50′00″N 08°57′30″E± 30″
KyffhäuserKulpenberg 47451°24′42″N 11°04′39″E± 1″
SollingGroße Blöße 52851°47′00″N 09°26′00″E± 30″
KaiserstuhlTotenkopf 55748°04′51″N 07°40′14″E± 1″
SpessartGeiersberg 58649°54′00″N 09°26′00″E± 30″
Gladenbach UplandsAngelburg 60950°47′17″N 08°25′43″E± 30″
HabichtswaldHohes Gras 61551°18′30″N 09°21′30″E± 30″
OdenwaldKatzenbuckel 62649°28′30″N 09°02′30″E± 30″
KnüllEisenberg 63650°53′14″N 09°31′02″E± 1″
Kaufungen ForestHirschberg 64351°14′30″N 09°46′00″E± 30″
WesterwaldFuchskaute 65650°39′30″N 08°06′00″E± 30″
Ebbe MountainsNordhelle 66351°08′54″N 07°45′23″E± 1″
Palatine ForestKalmit 67349°19′08″N 08°04′58″E± 1″
KellerwaldWüstegarten 67551°00′59″N 09°05′03″E± 10″
North Palatine HighlandDonnersberg 68749°37′29″N 07°55′38″E± 10″
Franconian JuraHesselberg 68949°04′00″N 10°32′00″E± 30″
Elbe Sandstone MountainsHoher Schneeberg / Decínský Snežník 72250°47′30″N 14°07′00″E± 30″
EifelHohe Acht 74650°23′30″N 07°00′30″E± 30″
Hoher MeißnerKasseler Kuppe 75451°14′30″N 09°51′30″E± 30″
VogelsbergTaufstein 77350°31′00″N 09°14′30″E± 30″
Zittau MountainsLausche 79350°51′00″N 14°39′00″E± 30″
Franconian ForestDöbraberg 79450°17′00″N 11°39′00″E± 30″
HunsrückErbeskopf 81649°44′00″N 07°05′30″E± 30″
Elster MountainsPocatecky Vrch (see also: Hoher Brand) 81850°19′30″N 12°26′30″E± 30″
Rothaar MountainsLangenberg 84351°16′30″N 08°33′30″E± 30″
Thuringian HighlandGroßer Farmdenkopf 86950°30′30″N 11°02′00″E± 30″
TaunusGroßer Feldberg 88250°13′55″N 08°27′26″E± 1″
RhönWasserkuppe 95050°29′53″N 09°56′16″E± 1″
Thuringian ForestGroßer Beerberg 98350°39′29″N 10°44′38″E± 5″
Swabian JuraLemberg 101548°09′00″N 08°45′00″E± 30″
Upper Palatine ForestSchwarzkopf/Cerchov 104149°23′00″N 12°47′00″E± 30″
Fichtel MountainsSchneeberg 105350°03′30″N 11°51′30″E± 30″
HarzBrocken 114151°48′00″N 10°37′00″E± 30″
Ore MountainsKeilberg/Klinovec (see also: Fichtelberg) 124350°24′00″N 12°58′00″E± 30″
Bavarian ForestGroßer Arber 145649°07′00″N 13°08′00″E± 30″
Black ForestFeldberg 149347°52′25″N 08°00′14″E± 1″
Panorama from Rimberg, interface between Rothaar Mountains (Rhenish Massif) and West Hesse Highlands

See also


  1. Dickinson (1964), p.18 ff.
  2. Elkins, T H (1972). Germany (3rd ed.). London: Chatto & Windus, p. 13. ASIN B0011Z9KJA.
  3. N.B. In German die Mittelgebirge (plural) refers to the Central Uplands; das Mittelgebirge refers to a low mountain range or upland region (Mittel = "medium" and -gebirge = "range").


  • Dickinson, Robert E (1964). Germany: A regional and economic geography (2nd ed.). London: Methuen. ASIN B000IOFSEQ.

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