At the northern edge of the town of Lohr we cross the 50th parallel of north latitude. There is a red line painted across the bicycle route at this point, with the number 50.
Next to the bicycle route, the local chapter of the Social Democratic Party has set up a large boulder with a plaque, listing (in no particular order) a few of the many places in the world that are on the north 50th parallel.
Lohr is listed first, of course, followed by Aschaffenburg (Germany), Wiltz (Luxembourg), Arnstein (quite nearby, just 27 km due east of Lohr), the southern tip of England, Schesslitz (also in Germany, near Bamberg but not directly on the Main River), Winnipeg (Canada), Prague (Czechia), Krakau (Poland), Charkov (Russia), Tenurtan (Kasachstan), Ulangom (Mongolia) and Sachalin (an island belonging to Russia, but also claimed in former times by Japan).
Not on the list, although it is probably the largest city worldwide on the 50th parallel of the northern hemisphere, is Kharkiv, the second largest city in Ukraine. Kharkiv had a population of over 1,400,000 until it was attacked by the Russian army in the 2022.
To get an impression of Kharkiv in happier times, see the informative post by the blogger (and former VirtualTourist member) toonsarah, including a look at Kharkiv’s 50th parallel monument.
This sketch map of the Main River and bicycle route is from the back cover of the ‘bikeline’ guidebook Main-Radweg from the Austrian publishing company Esterbauer, which says it has published “a total of over 400 bikeline and hikeline titles on the most interesting cycling and hiking regions in Europe, with a focus on Germany and Austria.” (I have used several of their guidebooks, and can highly recommend them.)
On the map, if you were to draw (or imagine) a straight line connecting Mainz, Aschaffenburg and Lohr, that line would be the 50th parallel. The Main River curves up and down while flowing in a generally east-to-west direction and crossing the parallel several times, not only in Lohr.
(In the southern hemisphere there is of course also a 50th parallel, but it runs mainly through the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, hitting land only at the southern tip of South America, for short distances in Chile and Argentina.)
This is my 1001st blog post here on Nemorino’s Travels.
My photos in this post are from 2004. I revised the text in 2022.
See more posts on the Main Valley Bicycle Route.
8 thoughts on “Main Valley Tour: The 50th Parallel”
Thank you for linking to my post. I found it interesting to see that long list of other places bisected by the 50th parallel. You mention that Kharkiv isn’t included which is indeed surprising, so I did some investigating. While there is a Charkov in Russia, as far as I can see it doesn’t lie anywhere near the 50th parallel – it’s much further north. Look at this map: https://www.mapsofworld.com/lat_long/russian-federation-lat-long.html. Only the very south of Russia is crossed by that parallel and looking at Google maps I see that Charkov is just east of Novokuznetsk, well to the north of the line.
Meanwhile Charkov is ALSO the Russian version of the name Kharkiv (albeit more often spelled with a capital K). It was used for the city in Soviet times and is still preferred, I think, by the separatists and their Russian supporters. So did the writers of this sign confuse the two cities perhaps? Or is there another explanation? At first I though t it must predate the break-up of the Soviet Union, but then it would give the USSR as the country, not Russia. Could the Social Democratic Party have sympathies with the Russian agenda to return this part of Ukraine to Russia? Surely not?!
Hi Sarah, thanks for researching this. I think you are probably right that the writers of the sign must have confused the two cities Charkov and Kharkiv.
My first thought when you said the 50th parallel was Korea, but of course when I looked it is the 38th parallel that divides North and South Korea.
Yes, the 38th parallel in Korea is always the first one I think of, followed closely by the 49th parallel between the US and Canada.
Une pensée pour les habitants de Kharkiv, ville martyrisée par les forces du président démocratiquement élu Poutine.
Est-ce que Bayreuth, un endroit qui m’est cher, est sur le 50° parallèle (sur la carte, ça a l’air juste en dessous).
Bonne soirée, Dan.
Oui c’est vrai. Bayreuth est un peu en dessous du 50e parallèle, à 49°56’53″N. J’ai visité Bayreuth, mais je n’ai jamais assisté à un opéra là-bas. (Mais samedi prochain, je verrai Lohengrin ici à Francfort.) — Don
Ah Lohengrin, je l’ai vu, justement, à Bayreuth en 1986 et 1987, and it was fabulous !
J’espère que tu auras autant de plaisir à le voir samedi prochain que moi, il y a 35 ans.
How nice! 🙂