The Harz is a low mountain range in Germany and the highest mountain range in Northern Germany. It lies at the intersection of Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. So why is it soo popular?
The Harz National Park offers hikers a multitude of beautiful hiking trails, and those who climb the 1141 m high Brocken can expect rocky barreness and a wide view of the mountains and forests of the Harz.
Why are the Harz soo popular with tourists?
Even more leisurely-minded holidaymakers can reach the mythical summit: a ride on the nostalgic Harz narrow-gauge railway is always an experience. Once at the top you can trace the stories of witches and devils, who achieved world fame through the Walpurgis Night scene in Goethe’s “Faust” and are conjured up again every year at the May dance.
Wernigerode can be the starting point for a trip on the Harz narrow-gauge railway to the Brocken. The city of half-timbered houses has monuments such as the town hall, the Leaning House and Wernigerode Castle, which is accessible as a museum.
The first ore veins were discovered near Goslar, in the Rammelsberg, in the 10th century, and from then on, the Harz was a mining region. Today the pits have long been exhausted, but many of them are accessible as visitor mines. The Harz owes its great heyday in the Middle Ages to mining and the emperor made the region his residence due to its economic wealth.
Thanks to its diverse cultural history, the Harz has several UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Goslar with its perfectly preserved old town ensemble and the Romanesque imperial palace, Quedlinburg with the collegiate church and the Luther town of Eisleben with its Luther memorials.
The 10 popular sights around the Harz mountains
1. Torfhaus, Altenau
The Torfhaus district south of Altenau is over 800 m high. In addition to a ski lift, it now also has the first toboggan lift in the Harz Mountains. If you don’t have your own sledge with you, you can borrow such a vehicle at the valley station (parking lot on the B4 at the Brockenblick hotel).
Offer for children: toboggan rental, skiing, ski rental, ski school.
2. Kornmarkt, Osterode
If you come to Osterode on a Saturday or Tuesday, you should definitely visit the Kornmarkt in the morning. There is something really going on there. Surrounded by historic half-timbered houses, you feel as if you are back in time and enjoy strolling along the colorful stalls with their fresh products from the region.
The Kornmarkt has been the center of urban life in Osterode since the Middle Ages. Large events such as the old town festival or the Christmas market also enjoy this historical backdrop. The “Three Chattering Women” still symbolize the talkativeness and sociability of the Osteroder residents.
3. Karst hiking trail, Osterode
The “Karst hiking trail” begins in Osterode, and covers 200 km of geological features that arise when gypsum and lime are washed out of the rock layers. The path leads past caves, sinkholes, sinkholes and springs.
In the district of Osterode am Harz there are two parallel themed hiking trails due to the larger geological area of the karst landscape, from Lasfelde along the Harz border to Walkenried (62 km) and from Förste in the Harz foreland to Nüxei (44 km). Here, sections of both paths can be meaningfully combined into day tours.
Most of the signage is integrated into the Harz Club’s path markings. In the Osterode district, follow the yellow circle on a brown field and then through the Nordhausen and Sangerhausen districts, follow the red crossbar on a white background.
The location of the karst phenomena determines the course of the route; sturdy, high footwear is particularly useful in wet seasons. At the important locations, around 200 explanatory boards provide information on geology and landscape, environmental and nature conservation, groundwater, and settlement and industrial history. The “Harzer-Hexen-Stieg” long-distance hiking trail, which is over 111 km long and connects the Harz regions as well as the eastern and western federal states, also begins in Osterode.
4. Sternwarte, St. Andreasberg
The (barrier-free) observatory shows and explains the magnificent night sky of the dark region. In one of the darkest locations in Germany, the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy can be seen with the naked eye on many days of the year.
5. Schloss Wernigerode, Wernigerode
A short but steep ascent leads up to Wernigerode Castle, a prime example of historicist architecture. Carl Frühling rebuilt the castle, which had existed since the 11th century, on behalf of Count Otto zu Stolberg-Wernigerode from 1862 onwards. The guiding principle seems to have been to avoid boredom: Symetrics were deliberately avoided, none of the 250 rooms in the castle are the same. A tour leads through 40 living rooms, many of them originally furnished. The highlights are the ballroom, castle church and keep with a wide view of the Harz Mountains. The English landscape garden around the castle is ideal for a stroll.
Offer for children: Many children’s programs, e.g. fairy tale fairy tales, individual programs as desired. Children’s tours, children’s birthdays.
6. Hexentanzplatz, Thale
A special cable car has been leading up to the mystical Hexentanzplatz (451 m) since 1970, which is separated by a deep gorge from the opposite Rosstrappe (403 m), to which a chair lift, which was completed in 1980, leads. According to legend, the king’s daughter Brunhilde is said to have taken a daring leap on horseback from the Bohemian King Bodo to safety here.
The striking hoof print on the Rosstrappe is a stone proof of their test of courage. In the wild and romantic landscape, the Teutons already paid homage to their gods on the rocky plateau. Pagan customs are still alive today on the annual Walpurgis Night.
The tourist offer is complemented by the all-weather toboggan run “Harzbob”, which rushes down a 1000 m long, winding track from the Hexentanzplatz into the Steinbachtal and then automatically transports the passenger back up, and the adventure park “Funpark” adds a madhouse for children.
Offer for children: Fun park between the valley stations of the cable car and chairlift with a madhouse for climbing, sliding, etc. free of charge.
7. Baumannshöhle, Rübeland
It is the stalactite caves that made the small town in the Bode valley famous. The Baumannshöhle, discovered in 1535 by the miner Friedrich Baumann, is the oldest and most famous show cave in the world.
The labyrinth of fantastic stalactite formations has been open to the public since 1646. Tsar Peter I and Goethe, who was interested in geology, were among the enthusiastic visitors at the time.
The approximately 600,000 year old cave, in which not only fossilized bear bones but also human tools from the Neolithic Age were found, surprises with extensive gorges and grottos on the 800 m long route. A special feature is the 40 by 60 m large Goethesaal with the crystal clear Wolfgangsee. Due to the unique acoustics, theater performances and concerts are occasionally held here.
8. Kaiserpfalz, Goslar
The Kaiserpfalz lies on a hill south of the old town. Henry III. had the Palatinate, which was built under his grandfather Heinrich II, splendidly expanded between 1040 and 1050. At that time the Romanesque main building with the adjoining Ulrich chapel and the cathedral were built. From the 11th to the 13th century, 23 Reichstag took place here, and emperors and kings visited Goslar a good 100 times. When they stopped coming to Goslar, the Palatinate gradually began to decline.
The cathedral also became increasingly dilapidated and was finally demolished in 1820. Today only the cathedral vestibule stands on the edge of a parking lot, on which colored paving stones trace the original floor plan of the church. Only the Ulrich chapel with the grave of Heinrich III remained intact. (1016 / 17-1056).
The imperial palace faced a similar fate as the cathedral, until the restoration was decided in 1867. Since then, historical additions have been superimposed on the original building fabric. After the establishment of the German Empire in 1871, Kaiser Wilhelm I finally made the Imperial Palace a national monument.
9. Gustav-Adolf-Kirche, Hahnenklee-Bockswiese
Germany’s only Nordic stave church is located on a hill between Hahnenklee and Bockswiese. The Gustav-Adolf-Kirche, built in 1908 in ten months of construction, consists of twelve sturdy rods (masts) that are joined to the crossbeams without nails or screws. The wood-paneled church interior, richly decorated with carvings and paintings, has a warm atmosphere. Its four-octave, mechanically playable glockenspiel is something very special.
10. Harzer Bergtheater, Thale
The Harz mountain theater on Hexentanzplatz, which can be reached with its own cable car, is one of the oldest and most beautiful natural theaters in Germany. It was opened on July 8, 1903 with the spring game “Walpurgis”. Since then, the Walpurgis Night has been taking place every year on the night of May 1st.
Theater founder Dr. Ernst Wachler wanted to create an open-air stage based on the model of a Greek amphitheater in the Harz Mountains. Operas, musicals, theater and children’s plays are performed on the green stage from May to September.
Offer for children: plays for children.
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