It’s one of the many joys of my #CrossBorderRail project – it takes me to these amazing and sometimes slightly odd border places, and I never know quite what I am going to find when I get there. This was the case when I went to Bad Muskau – Łęknica in May 2023.

As ever I had checked OpenRailwayMap before going – this is what it shows (link to the zoomable map):

An active railway line to Weißwasser (orange), the narrow gauge Waldeisenbahn Muskau (green), and the abandoned lines into Poland to Łęknica (dotted brown). And given that the Neiße River is the border Germany-Poland since 1945 there must be a former railway bridge there too. Some quick searches about Bad Muskau led me to Fürst-Pückler-Park which looked like it was worth a visit, not least as the grounds of the castle cross over to Poland.

So here is how it went.

Arrive in Weißwasser, nice old station, if a little eerily quiet:

Hop on my bike and head towards Bad Muskau, via the Waldeisenbahn station – and there happened to be a cute little train:

Approach Bad Muskau, and there, before getting into town, is the old railway bridge:

No railway is ever going to run there again, but OK, no problem – I am glad I have checked it out.

Put up the drone to get a nicer picture of it – there is a cycle lane on it now:

Fly the drone a little further, and then…

what the HELL is that on the right, on the Polish side?

That is the Polenmarkt Łęknica, that is the subject of a Arte documentary I have just stumbled across:

The documentary is worth watching in full (there are English subtitles as well), for it covers many of the tensions and joys of this place in a series of very human stories, some of them a little dark as well.

But if you can, it is better to simply go there and browse around:

And then go onwards to the Fürst-Pückler-Park and just cross in and out of Germany:

And admire the slightly bizarre architecture:

Overall an amazing and bizarre place. The scrubbed up but slightly eerie Bad Muskau. The gritty vibrancy of the Polenmarkt. These two towns, Bad Muskau and Łęknica, pretty much one town until 1945 and then divided by a hard border until 1989, and then since then somehow coming to live with each other again, but in a relationship bound up with commerce and exchange, but also with difference and prejudice and a hefty share of mutual suspicion (which the Arte film conveys very well). Pretty hopeless in terms of #CrossBorderRail, but damn I am glad I have been there – and I will definitely return!

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