Loud, metallic-sounding noises disturb your sleep. You wake up, your back leaning against an oak tree. A group of crusaders on their way to Jerusalem marches by, then stops and takes a break under one of the mighty oak trees. It is 1095, and Pope Urban II has called for a crusade against the Muslim Seljuks. Suddenly your nose tickles, you sneeze loudly. The group of knights turns around, one moves directly towards you. Suddenly, his smartphone rings… Wait a minute, his smartphone? You wake up and see a group of youths standing in the shadow of a Mighty Oak. It was all a dream, more than 900 years have passed.
The oldest trees in Germany
This place makes history come alive. It can not only be dreamed, but also seen and felt. The 1000-year-old Ivenack oaks are a cultural and natural-historical attrachtion without equal. They are among the oldest trees in Germany and have a special symbolic power. The mightiest of the old oaks, with 140 cubic meters, is considered the most voluminous oak in Europe. The exact age of the oak cannot be determined. However, from tree ring measurements it can be concluded that the oaks are between 800 and 1300 years old.
The Ivenack Oaks is a park in the Mecklenburg Lake Plateau in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
Legends around the oak forest
Around the tree giants entwine a variety of legends and stories. Some of the legends allude to the monastery that once existed here.
Nuns of the Cistercian monastery
One story goes that seven nuns of the Cistercian monastery Ivenack broke their vows and were turned into oaks as punishment. After 1000 years, the first of the seven is redeemed and the oak dies. A hundred years later, the second of the nuns is redeemed, and so it happens every 100 years until all the nuns are redeemed.
Another legend tells that seven nuns were surprised in their sleep by robbers and fled half-naked into the forest. The next morning they were ashamed of their sinful appearance and asked the Lord God to protect them like the trees in the forest. The request was heard; they were transformed into oaks.
Legend has it that the strongest oak tree was planted by a nun who, although already engaged, was brought to the Ivenack monastery by her relatives. The nun placed her engagement ring around the delicate trunk of the tree. Since then, the ring has participated in the growth of the oak tree and still encloses the trunk today, even though it is not visible to the human eye.
The following story is mostly based on truth:
At the beginning of the 19th century there was a famous gray stallion Herodotus at the Ivenack stud. In 1806 he was hidden from the approaching French in a hollow oak tree. But he betrayed himself by neighing, was brought out and Napoleon rode him as a lead horse. In 1814, Marshal Blücher brought the stallion back to Mecklenburg.
Herodotus was buried under an oak tree 1,000 meters north of Stavenhagen station.
Forestry Commission Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: https://www.wald-mv.de/Forstaemter/Stavenhagen/Nationales-Naturmonument-Ivenacker-Eichen/