If you want to get an overview of the history of Wernigerde and/or the nature around the town including the Harz mountains then go and visit this museum. It is located a few steps behind the town hall, next door to the hotel where I stayed in a townhouse from 1821. After thorough renovation it was reopened in 2001.
The permanent exhibit is clearly split in two different parts: One deals with the history of Wernigerode, which goes back to the 9th century. They have a nice exhibit on craft from the area. Also, tourism is a topic in the museum. Quite interesting.
What I thought was even better done was the other section of the museum: the exhibit on the nature, the geology, flora and fauna, mining. It made me want to head out to the Harz mountains right away and explore. No time for that, too bad!
Mon-Sat 10-17 h
Admission fee: 2 Euro
The famous castle on the hill was built in 1862-1883 at the site of an old knights' castle and is still called Knights' Castle.
You can see it practically from every corner of the city.
The castle houses a lot of exhibitions now and is visited by lots of travelers not only from Germany, but also from many other countries.
There is a very nice view of the city and its neighbothood from the castle.
There is also one of my old black-and-white pictures that I took in September 1981 during my first visit to Germany from one of the city street before climbing the hill to see the Feudal Museum. The picture is from my student's photo album.
Another picture of the castle from inside.
Very impressive, isn't it?!
Visiting this site is really a must for the visitors of Wernigerode....
There are actually two gardens that belong(ed) to the castle: One, called 'Lustgarten' and located at the foot of the castle hill close to the town, was created in the 16th century, then re-designed as a formal Baroque garden in the early 18th century but in 1752 it was re-designed in English style (financial reasons). The two remaining buildings from previous centuries are: The Orangerie (built 1713-19) that served as a greenhouse for tropical plants until 1787 but was used as library of the Counts of Wernigerode from 1826 on. It was severely damaged in 1944 and houses now the town's archive. The other building is the Marstall, once stables and garage for the carriages.
The other garden is the small but beautiful formal garden that stretches over a couple of terraces below the entrance to the castle and the restaurant Schlossterrassen. It is a very pleasant place to escape the crowds and enjoy the views of the Harz mountains while listening to the gurgling fountain.
One of the more intriguing rooms in the castle was the chapel. You see it twice - once right upon starting the tour on the ground floor, the other time during the second floor tour - this time you walk along the balconies and have a good view from above.
The chapel was consecrated in 1880, built during the reconstruction in neo-styles. It is done in pure neo-Gothic architecture and decoration. The craftmanship is amazing but again, it felt somehow odd. The chapel lacks the authenticity of a really medieval chapel.
The castle is located on a hill above Wernigerode, visible from almost any place in town and first thing you see when approaching the town by car or train. It is *the* landmark and top sight of Wernigerode. Sort of the 'Neuschwanstein' of the Harz mountains :-)
A castle at this place was first mentioned in the 12th century. Except for some cellars nothing is left of this early castle. About the year 1500 the castle was reconstructed, sort of 'modernized', especially the fortifications. But alas, again not much is left of that one - just the so called Hausmann tower, the one you see at the terrace in front of the main entrance (under which you walked through the long and dark passageway to get there).
After the 30years war the counts of Stolberg-Wernigerode gave up on the castle since it was clear it couldn't withstand a siege. Lack of water was probably the main reason. In the Baroque era the castle was redesigned as a Baroque palace - but in the shape of a medieval castle - and saw some construction works again. However, 1862 85 another major reconstruction was done which changed the character of the castle completely. Back to medieval appearance but with modern comfort of the 19th century. Just like it suited the owner, vice-chancellor under Bismarck.
I must admit I am not really a fan of the 'Neo' styles (called Historism in Germany). Thus the castle didn't do much for me. Too dark, too massive, overly ornate. And if you have a closer look you can see that sort of mass production of the decorative details in sandstone. Not that the craftmanship wasn't admireable, though.
The one room I really liked was the porcelain room, in a sunny corner with view of the Brocken and the town. See my pictures.
For opening hours and admission fees please see their website (link below). The good thing is they are not closed on Mondays in summer. Admission fee is fair IMO.
To get there either take one of the mini trains (see transportation tip) or walk. As I visited on a rather cool and cloudy day I chose the mini train.
The pedestrian zone (since end of the 1970s) in Wernigerode stretches from the Market square to the west, east and north. The main shopping street and the one where the most beautiful townhouses are located is the Breite Strasse that leads east from Market square.
A few steps from the Market square you'll see Cafe Wien with its very beautiful facade, a pastry shop since 1897, which is the oldest house in that street - built in 1529 right after a big fire.
Some steps ahead you'll get to the relatively large Nikolai square, at the northern side the former hospital from 1851, now a school.
Probably the most beautiful townhouse in Wernigerode is the so called Krummel's house, constructed in 1674 for a merchant from Berlin. The facade of the two upper floors is completely decorated with excellent woodcarving works from that time. Take some time and watch the details. When the house was restored in 1875 a shop was built on the ground floor and that part of the facade got a new decoration, similar to the upper floors.
Another house worth a look is Krell's blacksmith's shop. You cannot miss it - there's a carved horse's head on the facade and next to it a - smaller - horseshoe. There's still a blacksmith's working in that house. He creates wonderful pieces so if you're looking for a souvenir or something to decorate your home then that's the place to go.
Of course, there's more to see in that street. Don't hesitate to walk through the open doors and see the backyards of the houses - many of them are very beautiful and have more shops, cafes/restaurants.
The smallest house of Wernigerode, a timber-framed (what else) house from the 18th century, is in the area east of Oberpfarrkirchhof, where Marktstrasse and Kochstrasse form a very beautiful ensemble. The width of the house is only 2.95 m, the largest room has only 10 square meters. The last person who lived there died in 1976. Since then the house is a museum.
April - Oct, in February and Dec only during school holidays: daily 10 - 16 h
Nov, Jan, March: only on weekends 10 - 16 h
Admission fee is 1 Euro
The square where St. Sylvester church is located is one of the oldest settlement places in Wernigerode. And it is one of the most picturesque spots in the town. The timber-framed houses that go back to the 16th to 19th centuries are well preserved.
One of the most beautiful houses in Wernigerode is Haus Gadenstedt, Oberpfarrkirchhof 13, from 1582. The oriel window in Renaissance style is amazing. Have a closer look at the woodcarving works!
At house Oberpfarrkirchhof 11 you can see a little path that leads through the house to Westertor, a former city gate. In past times it was much frequented but due to the remote location people used it as a loo from time to time, thus it often smelled bad. The owners tried fighting the smell with rosemary - don't know if that helped, but thus the name: Rosemary alley. LOL
Other places of interest might be the house Oberpfarrkirchhof 6, a Baroque timber-framed house with a beautiful entrance, built for the superintendent. Also, the city archive which has a cute garden is there.
St. Sylvester is the main parish church of Wernigerode. It was first mentioned in 1230. Shortly afterwards it was rebuilt as a burial place for the counts of Wernigerode in the shape of a Gothic basilica. Not really much of that church is preserved. From 1881 to 1886 it was reconstructed in neo-gothic style (which *looks* medieval, granted).
Highlight of the church is the amazing woodcarved altar, created in the second half of the 15th century, a Dutch or Flemish work. Also worth to see is a late-gothic crucifix.
They demand a small donation for admission to the church. No problem. However, when the lady asked for an additional fee for taking photos I declined. So no photos of the interior, sorry.
The town hall is *the* landmark of Wernigerode's old town. It must be one of the most beautiful timber-framed buildings/town halls in Germany. The first structure on this ground was mentioned 1277, the present building dates back mostly to the construction works between 1480 and 1544. Architects were Thomas Sprengel, Thomas Hilleborch and his son Simon.
Remarkable are the 33 woodcarving works at the so called "Knaggen" (see pic #4) - they depict saints, musicians, jesters, drinkers and dancers with the May Queen. They were created in the 15th/16th centuries.
Please take a closer look at the sayings above the main entrance. The German "Einer acht's, der andre betracht's, der dritte verlacht's, was macht's" roughly translates to "One appreciates it, the other watches it, the third one laughs at it, who cares?"
Guided tours are possible and take place on a regular basis. Cost is Euro 6.30 which includes a welcome drink also. Check with the tourist office for dates.
Like in many German cities, Markt is the central square attracting all the visitors of the city due to its splendid medieval architecture and sites.
First of all it's the medieval City Hall, the fountains, stores, cafes.
Owing to its medieval architecture, the city attracted lots of newly-weds from all over Germany.
It was/is called Newly-Weds City.
Hochharz means "High Harz" and therefore includes some real peaks in this mountain range. It is the national park on the former GDR side (the western national park is just known as Naturpark Harz) and therefore, I have yet to set foot in it but I have seen it from the west many times even though it was never a national park in them days (too many surveillance activities along the Wall). It was only in 1990 that it was given that status. Here you find thick spruce forests, high meadows and peaks like the Brocken. The latter is served by a steam train from Wernigerode. Unfortunately, November did not bring clear enough wheather for us to want to fork out for it as we wanted to see things from the top. If you want to see what to expect, have a look at my Torfhaus page where you can see what Brocken looks like from the western side.
If you are further interested in the Harz environment, you can visit the Harz Museum in Klint 10 (one of the oldest parts of town) for exhibitions on the nature, minerals etc. of it all. More interesting that it looks I'm sure (we never had time) since this is an area famous for its silver mines and such. To the museum also belongs "Das kleinste Haus", the smallest house in town, since that's just what it is. A one-room house, only 2.65 metres wide but with a high ceiling once housed a family with no less than seven children! How they did it? Have a look for yourself.
Not as old as it looks but nevertheless on an impressive site, high above town. There has been a castle here since the 13th century when the German nobility needed a resting place whilst hunting. However, despite fortifications, it was heavily destroyed in the Thirty Years' War (oups...did we do that?) and had to be rebuilt in late 17th century Baroque style into what you see today - although that has also been altered a bit. You can visit many of the castle rooms which include some old furnishing, and if you are on a romantic visit, why not go here by horse and carriage from the town centre :) In summer, there is a festival here which you can get more details on from the webpage.
Again, one of the most beautiful houses I have ever seen. Named after the 1582 owning family, this house with its Renaissance bay window is fantastic. A very particular half-timbering has been used and that includes "thresholds" around the windows.
You know how things sometimes end up at all sorts of odd angles in your photos? Well this time it's for real. The Schiefes House looks like this! There was a mill here since 1356 but in 1680, the house was changed. At that time, they bult it on top of the old mill stream which meant that soon the house began to lean until it finally ended up on the rocks at the bottom of the now dry stream. Today, the house leans something like 120 centimetres from one end to the other!