In towns and villages of both East and West Harz one often feels to
be stepping back into the Middle Ages. Many have half timbered
framed houses (Fachwerkhäuser), with rich decorations of coloured
rosettes and other symbols.
Houses such as these in Stolberg, above right, are typical.

Quedlingburg is well worth a special visit as it is a remarkable place.
Once a centre of the German Empire, the town has kept much of its
medieval character. It is now an UNESCO World Cultural Heritage listed
town and was seen by the DDR authorities as a great national asset.
The town has a preservation order for the 1600+ buildings listed as of
historic interest. Many of these are half-timbered houses and others
are of whitish sandstone. The centre of the town has remained
virtually intact from the Middle Ages with tiny, narrow, winding streets.
The spacious triangular Markt has several fine buildings, including the
Rathaus where the statue of Roland dates from 1426. These Roland
statues symbolise the citizens' rights. Buildings on the Burgberg, one
of the two hills at the south of the town, include the Schloss (Castle)
and the Romanesque Collegiate Church of St. Servatius. On the nearby
Schlossberg is the childhood home of 18th century classical poet,
Friedrich Klopstock. It now houses a recently renovated museum.
upper photo' of the Klopstock Haus is of unknown date. The lower one is from 1992.

Wernigerode. The town stands on the northern edge of the Harz but
is set into the wooded slopes of the mountains. It came through the
DDR time in relative prosperity and is known as the colourful town of
the Harz. Like Quedlingburg it has managed to preserve its medieval
town centre, the Alstadt (Old Town), with many half-timbered houses.
The pictorial Rathaus in the Markt, pictured to the right, is
Wernigerode's pride and joy. The imposing and pedestrianised Breite
Strasse has several interesting buildings. The striking silhouette of the
fairy tale castle, the Schloss, dominates from its setting on a wooded
hill. It is not actually medieval and dates only from 1881!



This is an unforgettable place to wander round and enjoy at leisure. It is a perfectly preserved small medieval town, known as "the gem of the South Harz." Set in the Harz's southern slopes and nestling where 4 narrow valleys meet
amidst fine hills, it is dominated by the Renaissance Schloss (Castle)
overlooking the town. Once a mining centre, it has streets of unbroken
rows of well-preserved half-timbered houses. It is the birthplace of
Thomas Müntzer, a colleague of Martin Luther and leader of the
savagely repressed Peasants' War of 1575. This small town was also
beautifully cared for in the DDR period for Müntzer, as the leader of popular revolt, was regarded as a national hero.His thoughts were a forerunner of the idea of a Peoples' State. A fine modern memorial
(above right) to this local hero stands in front of the Rathaus. Stolberg was awarded the title of "Historic European City" in 1993.

Schierke. I first saw Schierke from a distance, at the top of
Braunlage's Wurmberg just inside West Germany, in May 1987. We
then visited it in 1990 when we walked there through one of the
gradually widening gaps in the Iron Curtain, precisely at a spot where
we had been at the Kaffehorst parking place on the slope of Wurmberg
in November 1989. A prettily situated resort village it was a spa and
wintersport resort before the Cold War, a sort of St. Moritz of the Harz, 
when it had large villas and holiday hotels. Schierke Rathaus from the
Kurpark is shown right.
During the Cold War it lay very close to the
border and from 1961 it was in the restricted zone and its health and
wintersport activities ceased. It housed State holiday homes in the
villas and hotels, especially for the State's officials and other
prominent people. When this isolation ended in December 1989
Schierke quite quickly re-established its attractions, especially with
the reopening of the
Brockenbahn on the 15th September 1991. The
village stretches out a long way and it can take half an hour or so to
walk through. Close to the village are odd looking rock formations,
known as klint or klippen. The best known is Feuersteinklippen (right),
from the red colour of the rocks, and the name was also given to a popular bitter-sweet herb liqueur, called Schierker Feuerstein.

Elend. Many people would think this small Harz community, situated in
the valley of the Kalten Bode or Cold Bode, to be a quite unremarkable
place. It stays in our affections as it was the second East German
village we visited in 1990. It has so far changed very little, although it
is acquiring some modern apartments. The normal German meaning of
Elend is "misery" but the true meaning of the village's name comes from
the days of the Ilsenburger monks, who established Elendsburg as their
first halt on pilgrimage. They called this "Ali Lanti", in Old High German.
In the 16th Century this became the present Elend. Elend has a station
on the Wernigerode to Nordhausen line of HSB. Another little claim to
fame is that the village has Germany's smallest wooden church.
There is a very nice walk along Elendstal to Schierke.

Visit a Dutch enthusiast's album of East and West Harz pictures collected on 11 pages here.






Lower Ilse Falls in the Ilsetal.


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