The WHO reported in 2019 that in Germany, about two-thirds or 65% of the country’s population are in good health, an improvement from the WHO report in 2018. Back then, the country’s national health insurance company DKV, released the findings of a study that conveyed concerns about the German people’s lack of vigorous activity. However, the state of health in Germany today is different, as the wanderlust of the Romantic era has been revived to provide Germans the traditional outdoor activity that most Germans love.
The DKV study found out that a large percentage (43%) of Germans surveyed were falling short of the World Health Organization (WHO) benchmark for the number of hours of vigorous activities to balance out the health effects of the number hours spent in sitting. The DKV 2018 report warned that Germans will likely develop serious health issues such as poor blood circulation, cell atrophy amd low blood pressure, if they continue living a largely sedentary lifestyle, Apparently, the DKV warning has been heeded as the WHO reported recently in 2020 that Germany is now a staunch advocate of good health.
In Germany today, about 68%of the population are engaged in extensive hiking activities by hitting the country’s 200K kilometre hike trails. Last year’s hiking data revealed that overall and every year, Germans hike 370 million times. Mainly because hundreds of activities are being organized as hiking themes. The wandern themes vary ranging from nature conservation, to trail maintenance, physical health, and to promote bonding between families and youths.
Looking Back at Germany’s “Wanderlust” Years
The term “wanderlust” goes back to a time when the most popular form of outdoor activity in Germany was “wandern’, which translates in English as to hike and not just to wander off pointlessly. It was actually a passion for most Germans, as the people loved to explore the country’s natural environment. Wandern became wanderlust, because hiking experience for most Germans brought “lust,” the German term for joy.
The “wanderlust” years of passionate hiking reached its peak during the Romantic Period, which was sometime in the late 18th century up to the early 19th century. During the period, many German artists, including musicians captured the joys of hiking through their works of art or musical compositions.
About Germany’s Famous Romantics
Romanticism and Germans are a good match, because the people are quite passionate in their love of nature and its beauty; so much so that it became the most dominant intellectual movement in Germany. Exploring and experiencing nature greatly influenced literature, aesthetics, philosophy and music. It was the era when the careers of German musicians like Chopin, Beethoven and Schubert, as well as Chopin, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Debussy, Dvorak, Liszt, Rachmaninoff , Verdi, Wagner, and Tchaikovsky flourished to count as among the most well-loved classical music throughout the globe.
Even the famous patron of Romantic German music and arts, King Ludwig II was so enamored by the arias of composer-librettist Richard Wagner. The Bavarian king had a castle built and named after the elements of Wagner’s Lohengrin, the Knight of the Swan.
A true Romantic at heart as he was a great believer of folklores and fairy tales, King Ludwig II commissioned the building of a 200-room castle complex, called the Castle of New Swan Stone. It was nestled on a cliff so he could have a panoramic view of the Bavarian Alps and the countryside.
Unfortunately, not everyone in Germany was a great believer in Romanticism, especially if the kingdom’s wealth was at stake. Through a political ploy to end the construction of the Neuschwanstein Castle, King Ludwig II was declared insane, essentially for his eccentricities. It was a tragic end to Bavaria’s well-loved fairy tale king, as the latter died a mysterious death on the same day he was officially declared a mad man, stripped of his kingly powers.
Nevertheless, Schloss Neuschwanstein nahe Füssen is today one of the most visited tourist destinations of Germany, from which the money spent by King Ludwig II for its partial construction was quickly recovered.