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Eckstedt, Thüringen, Germany

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The municipality Eckstedt lies in the south east of the Thüring basin in the rural district of Sömmerda. The population is approx. 630 and has grown about 10 percent in the last ten years. In contrast in the rural area of Sömmerda it is declining. The possibilities to make a living in the village are very modest, there are 250 outgoing commuters compared to 30 incoming. Most of the inhabitants are daily commuters to the surrounding municipalities and towns whereby the state capital Erfurt in 20 kilometres is the furthest.

Evidence of the first documented reference goes back to 874. Eckstedt has always been a farming village due to its fertile ground. There was a manor here with large farming areas until 1945 when it was dispossessed. As a result many small farms were created in the fifties around the village centre. With the foundation of a production cooperative the role of main employer was taken over by it, not only in production but also in the running of a canteen kitchen. Apart from that on the former manor a private construction brigade was supported as well as a regional apprentice training school and an agricultural repair plant. Also 48 apartments were built in a multi-storey building. After the political shift in 1990 most of the jobs in the vill age disappeared. The inhabitants became commuters, Eckstedt degenerated into a sleeping village.

This depression could be counteracted with the  start of the village renewal at the beginning of 1999. The citizens were successfully motivated and a new revival was initiated. Thus many new clubs were founded with manifold social and communal activities where all generations are integrated the year round. The voluntary commitment keeps the municipality going and brought about the creation and upkeep of a library, an internet meeting point, and sport and music groups.

The municipality managed, with the active support of the inhabitants, to renovate several old traditional buildings and to give them new functions. In this way the local history museum, the village community house and the club house came into being. Also the impressive baroque church was lovingly restored and due to its striking acoustics is used not only for church purposes but more and more also for concerts. The apartment buildings on the grounds of the former LPG were also renovated and the surroundings turned into leisure facilities.

New homes were constructed exclusively in gaps so that no „new building ghettos“ were created. Also the renovation of the pond in the castle park and its remodelling was successfully completed and enjoys great acceptance by the village inhabitants as a well visited green oasis.

Eckstedt is characterised especially by a committed population with great willingness to per tonal contribution and a rich all generation em brac ing club life. Numerous initiatives and measures, especially to maintain and put to new use the building culture of their heritage contribute deci sively to an increase in the attraction of the municipality and the quality of life of its inhabitants. For this Eckstedt was awarded a „European Village Renewal Award for Special Achievements in multiple fields of Village Development”.