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Lübbenau/Spreewald, Germany

Gurkenmuseum (Cucumber Museum)

A museum honoring Germany’s cucumber mecca offers a great dill of gherkin history.  

Spreewald, a wetland region in eastern Germany, is known for its plethora of pickles. Cucumbers have been one of its agricultural staples for centuries. The Starick family opened Gurkenmuseum, a private museum in the quaint village of Lehde, to honor the area’s star fruit.

Spreewald’s gherkins have held worldwide fame for the last 150 years among pickle partisans. It’s been said the region once had as many different types of cucumbers as it had farms. But the fruit’s importance goes back for millennia. The Sorbs, the people who have inhabited the region since the 6th century, placed great importance on the crop.

The Gurkenmuseum, which is housed in one of Lehde’s oldest buildings, is full of information about the traditions associated with cucumber cultivation and processing. Visitors can also peruse the many different pickling tools on display, as well as sort their way through photographs and trivia. They can also relish in the abundance of gherkin recipes and even sample some of the region’s renowned produce.

Each August, Spreewald holds a gherkin festival, where the year’s current Gherkin Queen is crowned and celebrated. The museum also features the 500-gallon barrels used to soak the gherkins. There’s also a replica of a Sorbian bedroom, which displays the traditional communal family bed.