In June we spent three beautiful days in the Harz region in the East of Germany. Honestly we didn’t know much about the Harz before, but after these three days I can safely say that we will be back! In an earlier post on this blog you were introduced to the Harz where I took you from the highest to the lowest point. Now it’s time for a deep dive into what the Harz region can offer you!
This post describes a tour from Quedlinburg to Thale that you can easily do within one day. The city of Quedlinburg (established in the 9th century) was our homebase, a town that you really should not miss! The old town of Quedlinburg is an UNESCO World Heritage and described as an “extraordinary example of a medieval European town.”
Start you day by wandering through the narrow streets and gaze at over 1300 half-timbered houses. There are really a lot of them (it kind of looks like a movie set) and the quality seems to be extremely high. The nucleus of the town is the castle hill. Make sure to climb up to the St. Servatius church on top from which you have a fabulous view over the city.
We were lucky to experience the Quedlinburger Kaiserfrühling event (Festival of the Emperor), happening every year in June. You can enjoy music performances, enjoy local food and try to get a glimpse of how people lived in the Middle Ages.
In and around the St. Servatius church people dress up like knights, craftsmen and noble women. Of course our son couldn’t resist…
All highlights in the city are within walking distance. Quedlinburg breathes history, architecture and culture. The city really surprised us!
Let’s continue on our day trip. After a morning visiting Quedlinburg drive towards the city of Thale. Make sure to stop half way at the Teufelsmauer (Devil’s Wall), a strange looking rock formation that goes on for miles and miles.
This is almost a magical place where you really wonder how this rock formation could have been formed. There is a great legend to explain this formation. It goes something like this: the Devil proposed to God to split the world below them into two by building a huge wall. God agreed but under one condition: the Devil had to build the wall in one night before the first rooster would crow. The Devil started to work. But a farmers wife came by during the night with her rooster that she wanted to sell on the market. She saw the Devil, was shocked and tripped. The rooster started to crow and the Devil thought he failed his job, after which he destroyed parts of the wall.
The Devil’s Wall is actually more than 20km long (!) and was put under protection as a nature reserve in 1935. It’s one of the oldest nature reserves in Germany. In reality the wall is of course formed by erosion. Softer rock eroded, leaving hard rock to form ribs up to 20 meters above the surrounding area. It’s really a beautiful and peaceful place.
Next up on our trip is the town of Thale where you can engage in nice (family) activities in the nearby Bodetal: beautiful views after a great trip with a chair-lift or a gondola lift, a fun 1km all-weather toboggan run (HarzBob), mountain bike tracks, and a climbing forest (with special kids tracks).
Thale is a very popular place for both tourists as well as locals. With the gondola lift you will reach the top of the mountain where you can visit the famous ‘Hexentanzplatz’ (Dancing spot of the Witches). Really, everything here is about old legends of witches and goblins where it is believed witches danced at night on this particular spot (although I don’t know if they really did it naked…).
Don’t skip the Harzbob! You can include a run when buying your ticket for the gondola lift. You will run through the forest for 1 kilometer with 55 meters difference in altitude. Definitely a fun ride.
Back to Quedlinburg…but not yet
After Thale you might want to return to Quedlinburg (lots of activities done already!). When we visited we were not ready yet to go back so we decided to drive a bit further to Rübeland and watch the huge Wendefurth dam.
If you are a real dare devil you might want to try the Harzdrenalin Megazipline….zipping for 1 kilometer all across the river passing the dam. We were too late as it was already closed, but I would have loved to experience this one!
On the way back to Quedlinburg you will pass small villages where you might find little treasures like this: an old Trabant (or Trabi) car, built in the former German Democratic Republic (DDR). Positioned in a private garden it really looked like it was on display!
Our first day in the Harz was a perfect one! Our kids just had to run up and down the hills, taking it all in. We loved it here.
In Quedlinburg we enjoyed a daily dinner in the Hotel Schlossmühle, right below the St. Servatius church. What better way to end the day.
We made use of the convenient Harz Card, providing free entry to all kinds of places for just one fee. On the tour described above the following is included in the Harz Card: various museums in Quedlinburg, all kinds of activities in Thale including a ride with the chair-lift and a visit to the information center of the Wendefurth dam.
We were invited by the German National Tourism Board and Marketing Saxony-Anhalt to explore the Harz region. In the next post we will offer another itinerary for a day trip to Wernigerode, the Brocken mountain and the mines in Goslar.