The Iron Curtain, once the ominous line dividing Cold War-era rivals, is being transformed into a 4,225-mile cycling trail for recreational travelers.
European Union officials interested in boosting bike tourism have set aside $2.4 million to connect and brand existing trails that extend from the Barents Sea, north of the border between Finland and Russia, to the edge of the Black Sea, at the border between Bulgaria and Turkey. Sections of trail already pass by popular historic sites like the remnants of the Berlin Wall.
European Parliament Member Michael Cramer, chair of the committee on transport and tourism, has proposed marking the trail with small blue squares similar to ones already in place in parts of Germany. He envisions the trail as a sustainable way to promote greater unity within Europe. “The Eastern and Western Europeans have very different memories of the border,” he writes in the brochure describing plans for the trail. He hopes that with the trail, the Iron Curtain will become “no longer a dividing line but a symbol of shared, pan-European experience in a reunified Europe.”
According to the Guardian, biking across Europe, from Spain to Norway, has become a cult challenge in recent years. Casual cyclists interested in giving the Iron Curtain Trail a spin should budget about a month for the full journey.