Not to be confused with Eiffel (disambiguation).

Map of the Eifel

Highest point
Peak Hohe Acht
Elevation 747 m (2,451 ft)
Length 100 km (62 mi)
Area 5,300 km2 (2,000 sq mi)
Countries Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg
States Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia
Range coordinates 50°23′N 6°52′E / 50.39°N 6.87°E / 50.39; 6.87Coordinates: 50°23′N 6°52′E / 50.39°N 6.87°E / 50.39; 6.87
Parent range Rhenish Slate Mountains
Orogeny low mountains
Type of rock slate, limestone, quartzite, sandstone, basalt
Eifel scenery
View of the Laacher See, one of the lakes in the Volcanic Eifel

The Eifel (Luxembourgish: Äifel) is a low mountain range in western Germany and eastern Belgium. It occupies parts of southwestern North Rhine-Westphalia, northwestern Rhineland-Palatinate and the south of the German-speaking Community of Belgium.

The Eifel is part of the Rhenish Massif; within its northern portions lies the Eifel National Park.



Location of the Eifel in Germany

The Eifel lies between the cities of Aachen to the north, Trier to the south and Koblenz to the east. It descends in the northeast along a line from Aachen via Düren to Bonn into the Lower Rhine Bay. In the east and south it is bounded by the valleys of the Rhine and the Moselle. To the west it transitions in Belgium and Luxembourg into the geologically related Ardennes and the Luxembourg Ösling. In the north it is limited by the Jülich-Zülpicher Börde. Within Germany it lies within the states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia; in BeNeLux the area of Eupen, St. Vith and Luxembourg. Its highest point is the volcanic cone of the Hohe Acht (746.9 m). Originally the Carolingian Eifelgau only covered the smaller region roughly around the sources of the rivers Ahr, Kyll, Urft and Erft. Its name was more recently transferred to the entire region.


The Eifel belongs to that part of the Rhenish Massif whose rolling plateau is categorised as peneplain highland (Rumpfhochland), which was formed by the erosion of the ancient mountains of the Variscan mountain building phase and subsequent further uplifting. Individual mountain chains, up to 700 m, such as the Schneifel and High Fens, run through the western part of the plateau. In the eastern part, in the High Eifel and Volcanic Eifel, individual cinder cones and basalt kuppen, like the Hohe Acht and the Ernstberg, emerged as a result of volcanicity in the Tertiary and Quaternary periods and rise above the undulating countryside.

The rivers draining into the Moselle, Rhine and Meuse, such as the Our, Kyll, Ahr, Brohl and Rur, have cut deep into the edge of the Eifel and formed larger valleys.

The Eifel covers an area of 5,300 km² and is geographically divided into the North and South Eifel. It is further divided into several natural regional landscapes, some with further subdivisions.


There are several distinct chains within the Eifel.

Since 2004 about 110 km² of the Eifel within the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia have been protected as the Eifel National Park nature reserve.


The Prüm
Upper basin of the Rur Reservoir between Einruhr and Rurberg

Due to its moist and mild Atlantic climate, the Eifel bisected by numerous streams and small rivers. Impoundment of these streams, especially in the North Eifel has led to the creation of very large reservoir, such as the Rursee, which is the second largest in Germany by volume, and the Urftsee.

A feature of the Eifel are its natural lakes of volcanic origin. The largest, the Laacher See, is a collapsed, water-filled caldera, whilst the many maars are water-filled volcanic eruption bowls. The largest maar lake is the Pulvermaar. The Meerfelder Maar has an even bigger basin, but three-quarters of it has silted up.

Rivers and streams

The many rivers and streams of the Eifel drain into the North Sea via the great rivers outside of the Eifel: the Rhine (and its tributary, the Moselle) and the Meuse (with its tributaries, the Rur and Ourthe). The rivers and streams within the mountain range, together with their larger tributaries, are as follows:

Rhine tributaries:

Meuse tributaries:

Lakes and reservoirs


Volcanic lakes

Reservoirs of the Eifel that drain into the Rur


Dark argillaceous slate of the Siegen stage (deep Lower Devonian, between 410 and 405 million years old), near Monschau in the northern Eifel
The Richelsley, an erosion remnant of conglomerates of the Gedinne stage (deepest Lower Devonian, ca. 415 million years old), west of Monschau in the Belgian Eifel

The Eifel and its western continuation into Belgium, the Ardennes, are a part of the Variscan mountain belt and belong to the Rhenish Massif (Rheinisches Schiefergebirge).

The Eifel consists mainly of Devonian slates, sandstones and limestones, laid down in an ocean south of the Old Red Continent[2] and folded and overthrust in the Variscan orogeny. The Eifel geological structures like main folds and overthrusts can be traced in a SW-NE direction far beyond the Rhine valley.

Eifel volcanic area

In the Tertiary and Quaternary geological eras, the Eifel was a site of extensive volcanic activity. Some of the hills are volcanic vents. The peculiar circle-shaped lakes (maars) of the volcanic regions formed in volcanic craters. The last volcanic eruptions in the Laacher See volcanic site took place around 10,000 years ago and generated a huge volume of volcanic ash, now found in thin ash layers in contemporaneous sediments throughout Europe. The volcanism of the Eifel is thought to be partly caused by the Eifel hotspot, a place where hot material from deep in the mantle rises to the surface, and partly by melt-ascent at deep fractures in the Earth's crust.[3] Research has shown that the volcanism 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.


Lissingen Castle
Eltz Castle
Manderscheid castles

Well preserved

19th- and 20th-century rebuilds


Mountains and hills

In winter the Eifel is often covered with snow

The mountains and hills of the Eifel include the following (in order of height in metres above sea level):

For a list of these and other Eifel mountains and hills see the List of mountains and hills of the Eifel.

Points of interest

See also


  1. 1 2 Elkins, T.H. (1972). Germany (3rd ed.). London: Chatto & Windus, 1972. ASIN B0011Z9KJA.
  2. Meyer,W. 1986. Geologie der Eifel, p.4. Schweizerbart'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart. ISBN 3-510-65127-8
  3. Meyer 1986, p. 275
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