In the 10th and 11th century the area around the Harz mountains was the heartland of the emperors from the "Saxon" dynasty. Quedlinburg became an important Pfalz for them, they used to celebrate Easter there. The names of Heinrich der Vogler (Henry the Fowler) and Otto I (Otto the Great) are especially connected with the town. After the death of Heinrich in 936, his widow Mathilde founded a religious convent for women on castle hill, which she herself governed for the rest of her life. The convent became proprietor and governor of the city and head of a state within the Holy Roman Empire and determined the town's history until 1803. The church, also named "Dom" although it is not and has never been a cathedral, is an important example of Saxon Romanesque architecture.
The silhouette of the sandstone cliff with the convent church (Stiftskirche St. Servatii) and the palace buildings is the landmark of the town. The walk up the rock is short but steep; wearing high heels is not recommended. The church and the crypt with the tombs of Heinrich and Mathilde can be visited with guided tours (tours in English must be prebooked; information sheets are available in more than a dozen languages).
The most precious possession of the church is the treasure chamber which contains unique medieval art works. A visit to the treasure chamber is included in the ticket.
April to Oktober: Tuesday to Saturday 10:00-18:00 (Saturday until 16:00 if there are concert rehearsals), Sunday and holidays 12:00-18:00
November to March: Tuesday to Saturday 10:00-16:00, Sunday and holidays 12:00-16:00
Closed on Mondays, on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Day.
There are various combination tickets for church, crypt and tour, treasure chamber, castle museum depending which of them you want to do.
Quedlinburg's town hall is a gothic building from the late middle ages, which was then refurbished around 1600. The portal and the rectangular windows tell of the Renaissance era. Its facade is the focus of the market square.
Like many cities in Northern Germany Quedlinburg has a Roland statue in front of the town hall: a knight in armour, larger than life size, holding up a naked sword. The presence of a Roland indicates the rights and privileges of the respective town concerning law and order, markets etc. During the Christmas market the statue was hidden from view behind stalls and the Christmas tree; throughout the year he is prominent, though.
The market square is the centre of the town. During the Christmas market it was full with stalls and crowds, impossible to catch a photo of the whole square. So I am adding some older pictures from 1991 and 2001. The market square and the timberframe buildings around it have been kept in shape already during DDR times, it seems.
The square is a long rectangle which opens up into a trapezoid shape towards the town hall at the far end. Together with the gable of the half-timbered house on the left and the steeples of Marktkirche St Benedicti in the background it forms a picturesque ensemble (photo 4).
The tourist information office, useful to grab maps, get information and buy souvenirs, is located in the baroque Haus Grünhagen, the large whiteish stone house on the right side by the town hall.
The cute little half-timbered house, built around 1500, is a sight in itself. Its name and that of the alley refers to events that are said to have taken place exactly in this spot about 600 years earlier. According to the legend Heinrich, Duke of Saxony, was out hunting birds here when he received the news that he had been elected King of the Holy Roman Empire in 919. As a consequence he received the nickname Heinrich der Vogler (Henry the Fowler). Both Heinrich and his wife Mathilde, the founder of the convent, are buried in the convent church on castle hill.
The top of the cliff offers a view over the whole old town, the red roofs and the steeples of the churches.
We were granted a little compensation for the uncomfortable weather, wind and cold rain: a rainbow posed over the old town for our photos.
As comparison, photo 4 shows the same view in 1991. Many houses were in urgent need of repair, roofs were crumbling. The two tall poplar trees are gone.
As comparison to the new photos, here are some pictures that I took during my first visit to Quedlinburg in 1991. A lot has been renovated in the meantime, especially down in town. Church and castle don't look that different.
The little house with the eyecatching construction is the oldest half-timbered house in Quedlinburg, and one of the oldest in the whole of Germany. It is dated to the year 1346. The structure consists of long vertical timbers that extend from the floor to the roof, and the beams of the floor let into them. This is the oldest principle of timberframe construction. Later centuries changed to a different technique, building each storey separately (compare to the majority of facades in town and you'll see the difference). This house is a rare example of authentic medieval architecture. Nowadays it hosts the Fachwerkmuseum (museum of timberframe).
Also towering high up on the Schlossberg is the castle built by Heinrich I. After his death, it was kept by his queen Mathilde and women in general had a strong influence in Quedlinburg throughout history. As you approach the hill, you can see how the sandstone below is withering away and if you read German, you might want to click on the link below to see that the whole hill is in fact in danger and that you can contribute towards restoration work being done to stop that. The castle today houses a museum with all sorts of things related to its history.
The cosy and unique 17th century Speicher Building is the setting for this museum where you can see painted glass but also take part in workshops or paint your own mug yourself if you are a whole family. When it has dried, you come back to pick it up. To do that, please call the number below to make sure they can arrange it that particular day. Children will also like the colour and light exhibition.
Over the city of Quedlinburg, her old buildings and her surroundings a quite unique magic rests both in scenic like in a historical relation. The Castle hill with his Church in which the Grave of the first German King, Heinrich I. is. Then the Coining Mountain with his picturesque little Houses, from both Mountains a marvelous View of the resin and the Town comes.
Quedlinburg with his medieval ones town center and the many frame-work houses restored lovingly as the biggest German area monument the UNSECO belongs to the world cultural heritage.
The hospital was founded in 1433 by the Quedlinburger robe tailors "All misery to utility and pious" - seems to be their motto - Hmmm... a jolly bunch then those robe tailors (or maybe something is lost in translation ;-)). Anyway, after extensive rehabilitation in 2000/2001, it has now been made into dwellings suitable for the elderly.
Legend (and a memorial plaque) has it that this is the very place where the Saxon duke Heinrich received the German regals as told of in a famous song by Vogl. Hence Quedlinburg has the honour of being where the German "First Reich" was created.
We were never inside (the white building), but this is the house where poet Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock was born in 1724. The house itself is in a 1560s Lower Saxon half timbering and very nice. In 1899, it was bought by the town council to house a museum about the poet and now also has exhibitions on other famous locals.
King Heinrich (read further tips) was buried in a church building here already in 936 but what you see today was started in 1129. If you want to see the royal tomb, head for the crypt. There is also nice stairs up to the choir. Those who know their architecture says there is a Lombardian influence on the style, but I can only see the general romantic. The towers were a later addition and that they look the way they do today is because the church was bombed in 1945 and during the repair work, their roofs were lowered. The most famous part of the church is the treasury where the Domschatz is kept. There is a bizarre twist to the church in that the nazis of course knew that Heinrich I was crowned here and created the First Reich. That is why they held all sorts of events here in 1938, including Heinrich Himmler by the altar, recognising himself as the second Heinrich for the Third Reich...
Quedlinburg's smallest street is in fact a small alley and started off as the shoemakers' yard. You find it just off the market square where you enter a "gate" and end up in a small yard with more half-timbered houses. Some have book shops and such and it is all very pretty. Several houses have doors which close at the base to keep animals out but which have an open top half so that the residents could talk to passing people. People were coloquially known as "klön" which is why the doors are called Klön-Türen. You can see another picture under my hotel tip which also shows the wooden counters that the shoemakers could fold up to use as window shutters at night.