The natural heart of Mecklenburg Vorpommeron are the two swathes of forest, heath and moorland that make up the MÜRITZ NATIONAL PARK (Nationalpark Mürtiz) around the Baroque backwater of Neustrelitz. By far the largest area is that to the east of the town, which represents nearly three-quarters of the park’s total 322 square kilometres and is characterized by its large pine forests and open moorland, although there are also ancient beech woods in the Serrahn area, whose virgin forest is largely thanks to a former incarnation as the hunting ground of the Grand Dukes of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The focus west is water, namely the Müritzsee, which at 115 kilometres squared is the second largest lake in Germany after Lake Constance. Most of its reed-choked east shore falls within the park boundary, as do over a hundred smaller lakes lying further east: one reason why this is known as the “Land of a Thousand Lakes”. Not surprisingly, the park is a haven for water birds: ospreys and white-tailed sea eagles breed in the area, and storks and cranes stalk among water lilies in the shallows. Sky-blue moor frogs are usually heard rather than seen among the reeds, while red deer roam the remote woodland areas.