Harz Mountains – adventures in the world of witches

The Harz Mountains are famous for their scenic beauty. All over the region you find a variety of landscapes including soft, sloping hill but also steep ascents and impressive rock formations. The Harz is a perfect location for all kinds of activities. You find possibilities to go hiking, mountain biking and even skiing in winter times (if there is snow). The area is full of witchcraft, myths and magic. According to many legends the woods in the Harz Mountains are home to witches. Especially the highest mountain, Brocken, is an important meeting point for them. During the Walpurgis Night the witches gather there every year to celebrate their witchcraft. No wonder that a trace of myth lies everywhere you go in the Harz Mountains.

Admire the Hahnenklee Stave Church

Inspired by Norwegian stave chruches Professor Karl Mohrmann constructed Hahnenklee church in 1908 completely from Harz wood. The church is unique in its construction and famous even beyond the borders of Germany. In addition to its impressive outer architecture the interior remembrance a Viking ship. Couples ofthen choose the Stave Church as their wedding venue. Church services, readings, classical concerts and gospel concerts regularly take place inside and outside the church.

The Love-Bench trails leaves and ends very close by the curch. This two hours hike is a very cute trail leading up the Bocksberg. During the train you encounter different benches designed after the different stages of a marriage. You learn why certains milestones of relationships are being celebrated and how. Furthermore the views from the trail on the valley are truly impressive.

Hike up the summit of the Harz Mountains

The Brocken is the hightest peak with an elevation of 1,142m. There are several options to reach it. Obviously the easiest way is the Brocken Bahn, a train operating though the different villages going straigt up the Brocken. Take the Brocken Bahn regardless if you plan to hike the Brocken. A short ride between two villages let you enjoy an unique train ride experience. The old steam train inspires you to imagine you are on the Hogwarts Express on the way to the famous school of witchcraft.

There are different options to start the hike to the Brocken. However they all converge into the Goetheweg or depending on the site of the mountain, into the Brockenstrasse. The shortest way to the summit starts in Schierke. You hike through the forest and reach the Brocken after 5.4 km and about 2 hours. To add a bit more spice take the famous Teufelsstieg and not the Brockenstrasse at the end. The Teufelsstieg is the way Mephisto took up the Brocken in Goethes famous Faust. Take the longer route back and enjoy the Neuen Goethewanderweg as well as the Alten Goethewanderweg. As the Goethewanderweg not takes you back to Schierke you need to turn East onto the Oberer Königsberger Weg and follow it until you reach Schierke.

When on top don’t miss the museum. It is a very good one describing the history of the Brocken hilltop as one of the most iconic spots in Germany.

Also you propably won’t need it on the Brocken, you can still check out our guide on how not to become altitude sick.

Step into the Witch House

Kochstrasse 43, 38855 Wernigerode is the address of the smallest half-timbered house in Germany dating back to 1792. The Tiny House is only 2.95 meters wide and 4.20 meters high. The door fits only 1.70 meters. On the first floor you find a kitchen and a hallway, the second floor houses a 9 square meters big living room. The bedroom sits on the third floor. The toilet is outside in a small garden behind the house. Today the Tiny House hosts a cute folklore museum.

Stroll around Wernigerode Castle

The castle started out as a midieval fort somewhere between 1110 and 1120. In the years after the fort was redesigned several times until it took appereance of a classic castle. Today the castle is of particular architectural value. When walking around the castle every 45° a new version of the fassade appears. It hosts different elements of classic, gothic and renaissance architecture. In addition the interior of the castle features a impressive arrangements and can be visited as part of a museum.

Take a short hike up to Agnesberg to enjoy a beautiful panorma view on the Wernigerode Castle and Wernigerode. Besides, during a clear day it is even possible to catch a glimpse on the Brocken.

Visit most beautiful town in the Harz Mountains

Clearly the city Wernigerode is not on everyones radar. However when in the Harz region it should be definetly on the list, at least for a day trip. It is possible to reach Wernigerode via the Brocken Bahn or alternatively by car. Wernigerode is famous for its beautiful half timbered houses. In addition to the cute streets the townhall is an especially beautiful example of this architectural style so common in Germany. Enjoy a cup of coffee or an ice cream at the town square and watch the sunlight play with the yellow and orange colors of the townhall.

Take a picture of Germany’s smallest wooden chruch

As you might have noticed a lot of sites around the Harz Mountains are claiming to be the “tiniest so and so in Germany”. Along with Germany’s tiniest half-timbered house in Wernigerode the region also hosts the tiniest wooden church. The Woodchurch Elend is located in the village Elend which literarely translates into “Misery”. The church dates back to the 1896 and with an inside area of 5 times 11 meter. Not only the fact that it is the tiniest wooden chruch Germany’s but also that it’s called “Misery” makes this a fun site worth to visit.

Educate yourself on the forest dieback in the Harz Mountains

The fancy Instagram pictures won’t show but without a doubt the forest around the Harz region is severely hit by climate change. Reason are hot temperatures and the droughts of last years leaving the forest dry and vulnerable to storms. In addtion the spruce monoculture of the industrial forest is especially prone to bark beetels. Under favorable conditions such as warm winters the beetels develop up to three generations within a year. The national park reacts to the danger of dieback by allowing the forest to regenerate itself. No planting of new softwood monocultures but instead letting the trees grow back as mixed forest. This return the forest to it’s original shape prior to human’s intervention and will make the forest more resilient to climate change.