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Towns in the Harz - unspoilt mountain scenery full of mysticism

The Harz on the northern edge of central Germany is the country's most northerly highland region. The mountain range consists of the Lower Harz in the south-east, whose plateaus are also used for agricultural purposes, and the higher peaks of the largely forested Upper Harz in the north-west. Since the late Middle Ages, stories have been told of witches gathering on Mount Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz at 1141 metres. The wild goings-on here are described by Germany's foremost author Johann Wolfgang Goethe in his classic novel, "Faust".
The many different facets of the Harz
The Harz countryside features a number of very different landscapes: gently rolling hills in the southern Harz, sheer cliffs and wild, romantic valleys in the northern Harz. In the Upper Harz, numerous mining lakes and reservoirs surrounded by colourful mountain meadows create a truly Alpine setting. The Harz National Park consists of various areas of vegetation and some amazing natural attractions in the heart of Germany. This remarkable conservation area is a bio-diverse highland with dense forests, mysterious moors, clear rivers and streams, and rock biotopes - a picture-book German wilderness dedicated to teaching people about the environment. A project for reintroducing the lynx was established here in 1999.
1,300 timber-framed houses spanning six centuries - Quedlinburg
Situated on the northern edge of the Harz region, Quedlinburg has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994. The whole of the old quarter with 1,300 timber-framed houses from six different centuries, winding lanes and cobbled streets enjoys protected status. Architectural highlights in the old quarter include the market with its Renaissance town hall and castle, the Romanesque collegiate church with its cathedral treasure and the Romanesque Church of St. Wiperti with its crypt. Not far from Quedlinburg, Wernigerode also lies on the northern edge of the Harz. With its beautifully restored, colourful timber-framed houses, this town also has unique appeal. From here, you can travel on the famous Brocken railway up to the legendary Brocken mountain - the Harz narrow-gauge railways run along the largest contiguous stretch of narrow-gauge railway tracks in Germany. Alongside the vintage trains, regular services are also offered by historical steams trains and trams.
Centuries of mining traditions
Due to an abundance of precious ores, and silver in particular, the region can look back on a long tradition of mining. Many places flourished because of mining and the iron and steel industry, especially the former imperial town of Goslar, which owes its splendour to the valuable ores found in Rammelsberg mines, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. In the Upper Harz Mining Museum in Clausthal-Zellerfeld and the Wettelrode visitor mine, you can experience what it was really like working underground.
Walpurgis Night - a gathering of witches on Mount Brocken
Walpurgis Night is celebrated by many towns in the Harz on the night before the first of May. The festival marks the start of spring. As in days gone by, a bonfire is lit and people gather around it, dancing and jumping around the flames. When Christianity was introduced to the region, the festival was banned and anyone found still celebrating it was declared a witch by the church. This is where the custom of dressing up as a witch on Walpurgis Night comes from.
Harz - active holidays
The Harz is the ideal place for active holidays at any time of year. In the summer, you can walk along the 94 km Harzer-Hexen-Stieg (Harz witches' trail) or enjoy a mountain bike tour through the Harz Volksbankarena. You'll also find plenty to do in winter. With activities such as skiing, tobogganing and hiking, there's something for everyone.
Harz cheese - quite different from Harzer cheese
In contrast to Harzer cheese, which is available all over Germany, Harz cheese is a regional speciality. The main difference between the two lies in the way they are produced. While Harz cheese is made using fresh whole milk, Harzer cheese uses soured milk. Harz cheese is usually produced by individual farmers and therefore varies in quality and taste. It is sold almost exclusively at markets or farm shops. One of the regional specialities that does not agree with everyone is the Tscherperessen. This traditional miner's dish consists of home-slaughtered meat, cheese, dripping, gherkins and schnapps.

Tradition and history

  • Old quarter and Imperial Palace
  • Goslar Walkenried Abbey
  • Collegiate church, Gernrode
  • "Gateway to History", Bad Gandersheim
  • Walpurgis Night and all kinds of witches
  • German Half-Timbered Houses Route
  • Yodelling competitions
  • North Harz Theatre Association

Hospitality and gastronomy

  • Hasseröder beer
  • Harz "tree cake"
  • Schierker Feuerstein (schnapps)
  • Pottsuse (a spread made of pork, dripping and spices)
  • Kersttranke (a specially matured, medieval white wine)

Romanticism and charm

  • Weddings at Wernigerode Castle
  • Weddings in the Rübeländ dripstone caves
  • Weddings in the mine Westerburg moated castle
  • Romanic Road

Countryside and scenery

  • Highland scenery with steep valleys and gently rolling hills
  • Harz nature reserve
  • End moraine landscape
  • Spa resorts and wellness hotels
  • Climatic health resorts