Euskirchen is a town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, capital of the district Euskirchen. While Euskirchen resembles a modern shopping town, it also has a history dating back over 700 years, having been granted town-status in 1302. As of December 2005, it had a population of just over 55,000.
Parts of the ancient town wall, and three of its defensive towers, are still standing. Tourists are also attracted by Euskirchen due to the proximity of two large cities, Cologne and Bonn, to the North-East, and the hills of the Eifel region to the South. It is also the birthplace of Emil Fischer, born 1852, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1902.
The Eifel is a low volcanic mountain range in western Germany. It occupies parts of southwestern North Rhine-Westphalia and northwestern Rhineland-Palatinate.
The Eifel is bordered by the Mosel River in the south and the Rhine in the east. In the north it is continued by the hills of the High Venn (Hohes Venn), in the west by the Ardennes. (Ardennes and Eifel are actually the same geological region. They are a single volcanic field.) The Eifel is a part of the Rheinisches Schiefergebirge.
In the Tertiary geological era, the Eifel was a site of extensive volcanic activity. Some of the hills are volcanic vents. The lakes of the regions are former volcanic craters (maars). The last eruptions took place around 10 000 years ago. The volcanism of the Eifel is caused by a hotspot, a place where hot material from deep in the mantle rises to the surface. Research has shown that the mantle plume is still active; the Eifel region is rising by 1-2 mm per year. Historically, the Eifel volcanoes had inactive phases of 10 000 to 20 000 years between active phases, suggesting there is a possibility of future eruptions.
There are several distinct chains within the Eifel.
The northernmost parts are called Ahrgebirge and rise north of the Ahr River in the district of Ahrweiler.
South of that river there is the Hohe Eifel ("High Eifel"), with the Hohe Acht (747 m) being the highest mountain of the Eifel.
In the west, on the Belgian border, the hills are known as Schneifel (originally Schnee-Eifel, = "Snowy Eifel"), rising up to 698 m. Also in the west, by the Belgian and Luxembourg border, the region is known as Islek(Aquilania).
The southern half of the Eifel is less high. It is cut by several rivers running north-south towards the Mosel. The largest of these rivers is the Kyll, and the hills on either side of this river are called the Kyllwald.
In the south the Eifel is concluded by the Voreifel above the Mosel.
The Nürburg Ring, one of the world's most famous motor racing courses, is located in the Eifel. The northern loop (Nordschleife) of the course is also known as the green hell (Grüne Hölle), because of its long, difficult and dangerous path through the local forest.
Since 2004 about 110 km² of the Eifel have been protected as the Eifel National Park.
An interesting archeological feature of the region is the Eifel Aqueduct, one of the longest aqueducts of the Roman empire, providing the city of Cologne with water.
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Created: Sep 28, 2007
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