The Lost Fort

My Travel and History Blog, Focussing mostly on Roman and Mediaeval Times


27 Sep 2020
  Revisiting the Harz – A Little Autumn Tour

I had planned a spring journey to Lithuania and Latvia that fell victim to Corona, though I hope I can do it some other time. But with traveling within Germany being rather safe now, I decided to sneak in a little autumn tour and went to one of my favourite destinations for a few days – visiting Goslar and Quedlingburg in the Harz, including some hiking. I've visited both towns before, but during day trips that didn't leave me as much time – this time I got a lot of photos, so I'll be able to write virtual town tours that got some real illustrations. For now, let's have a brief look in the style of my Travel Booty posts.
Goslar, seen from the Rammelsberg mountain

The Harz mountain range is rich in silver and ore and thus has been cultivated since the Bronze Age. Mining became important in the Middle Ages, settlements developed in the valleys, cattle was sent grazing on the slopes and trees were used – and later replanted – for building, mining and firewood. The Harz today is a cultural landscape, but with parts that remain but little altered, or are allowed to reset to their natural state; those now encompass the Harz National Park.
Goslar, the palatine castle

Let's start with a well known building that more or less represents Goslar: The iconic palatine castle is a 19th century reconstruction based on the remains of the 11th century building, one of the main seats of the Salian emperors. They traveled around in their realm, but the main feasts like Easter, Christmas and such were usually celebrated in prominent palatine castles. The buildings had undergone various uses after the palace was no longer needed as royal seat after 1252, and was somewhat worse for the wear.
Goslar, the market square

That photo of the market square was taken out of the window of my hotel room. In some places in the Harz, local slate shingles are not only used for roofing, but to protect the walls against the harsh climate as well.

The burghers of Goslar benefitted from the rich silver mines in the Rammelsberg mountain, and the town thrived, as the fine houses in the square demonstrate. It became a free Imperial city in 1290 and later joined the Hanseatic League. Goslar lost its independence only in the 16th century.
Goslar, old houses at the Abzucht brook

Goslar declined in the 18th century, several fires destroyed parts the town. But enough of the Mediaeval and Early Modern buildings remained, and the increasing interest of the Hohenzollern emperors in old architecture led to a restoration boom in the mid- to late 19th century. Today, the old town and palatine castle hold UNESCO World Heritage status.
Goslar, more pretty half timbered houses

The Rammelsberg has not only offered an important silver mine for centuries (mining has been discontinued only in 1988 because it became unprofitable), but also some nice hiking trails that offer views towards Goslar in the parts were the forest opens up to hillside grazings.
The Maltermeister Tower

The Maltermeister Tower on the Rammelsberg was built some time before 1548 to protect the mines. It was also used as belfry for a bell to warn the miners and the town of approaching danger and to signal the begin of a shift. It was the quarter of the Maltermeister, the administrator of the wood used for the mines; that wood was measured in bushels, German Malter.
The Herzberg Pond

On my way back, I passed the Herzberg Pond, a lovely spot of sparkling water among verdant hills. The pond is not natural, but considerably old; it was created as part of the Upper Harz Water Regale (Oberharzer Wasserregal) in 1561 by an earth and grass dam. It has been used as woodland swimming pool since 1926, after the mining technology no longer needed the water wheels. Pity I didn't bring s swimsuit; the water looked really cool and inviting.
Hiking trail on the Rammelsberg

The Upper Harz Water Regale is a system of resevoirs, dams and ditches that dates back to the Middle Ages. Water was needed to drive the water wheels in the mines which pumped up the groundwater in the deeper mines – fighting water with water. The Harz water regale is one of the largest mining water systems in the world. It is a cultural monument since 1978. Today, the ponds and reservoirs are used for reecreational purposes.
Quedlinburg, view to the chapter church and the palace

Another view from my hotel room, this time in Quedlinburg. The scaffolding on the cathedral has wandered a bit – last time I was there it covered the towers – but it is still the same one; repairs will continue until 2025 or so, I was told. Well, two visits still provided me with some photos of the parts not scaffolded in and closed to the public.
Quedlinburg, view from the palace garden to the old town

Quedlinburg, another town listed as UNESCO World Heritage, is first mentioned in a charte by Heinrich I (the Fowler) dating from 922, as location of one of the many palatine castles spread across Germany during the Middle Ages and often used during the Easter celebrations. Heinrich I and several of his successors were entombed in Quedlinburg.
Quedlinburg, old houses with the chapter church and palace in the background

Heinrich's widow Queen Mathilde obtained a grant from her son, Otto I, to establish a canoness chapter which she led for 30 years. In 994, Otto III granted the chapter the right of market, mint and tolls and thus laid the foundation for the development of the town. The town experienced an economical rise in the following centuries and gained more independence from the abbess of the chapter, the nominal lady of the town. In 1426, Quedlinburg joined the Hanseatic League.
Quedlinburg, the town hall

During that time, the burghers began to build those beautiful half timbered houses some of which have survived and been restored. The representative town hall was built in 1310; in 1616 a Renaissance portal was added, and there are later changes from the 19th century that affect mostly the interior.
Quedlinburg, Finkenherd Square

Luckily, the value of the historical substance of Quedlinburg's old town was reocgnised during GDR time (too often, old houses were dismantled and replaced with modern buildings instead) and specialists from Poland were called in to restore the half-timbered buildings. Quedlinburg became an East German show piece for state visitors.
St.Wiperti, the crypt

St.Wiperti is a fine example of the Romanesque style. Heinrich I had the church erected on the foundations of an even older one. The exact relationship between the chapter church on the castle hill and St.Wiperti are still discussed; obviously the Ottonian and Salian emperors used both during their sojourns in Quedlinburg. But while the chapter church was occupied by ladies, St.Wiperti was a Premonsterian monastery for a time, and might also have been used by the royal clerical staff.
Hiking trail in the Bode Valley

Since the Bode Valley is not far from Quedlinburg, I took the chance to have another hike in one of my favourite landscapes. I've bloogged about the valley here. This time I went further up the slope and walked to the Bodekessel, a little waterfall that washed out a cave in the cliffs (though the view down is so overgrown with shrubs that I could not catch a decent photo). The way consists of stones and small boulders, which makes hiking along that path 'interesting'.
The Bodekessel

I had some time left upon return to Thale, so I decided to take the cabin lift to the Witches' Dance Floor, one of the many cliff tops surrounding the valley. Well, I'm not good with heights to begin with and didn't count on the wind that made the tiny cabin sway like a drunken sailor, but I survived. Better than a broomstick, anyway. The way down was less stressful and I could enjoy the view of the valley beneath a bit more.
View from the Witches' Dance Floor

The Hexentanzplatz is a granite plateau overlooking the Bode Valley and several other cliffs. The site has been a popular tourist spot since the late 19th century (with a theatre, a zoo, an overpriced restaurant etc.), though it had been in use before, for example as a pagan cult site prior to the Christianisation of the Saxon tribes. At at this time of the year and with the Chinese tourist groups missing, it wasn't so crowded. The view was definitely worth the visit (and ride in the cabin lift).
The Bode river

Argh, Blogger has totally changed its backend layout, supposedly 'improving' it, but it's a mess more difficult to use than before, including the way the HTML code from my files transfers to the site. Had to adjust several bits of code to this post. Why can't those programmers leave working stuff alone.
 
Comments:
Hello, thank you for your post! Beautiful and so nice shots! Congaratulations and keep posting!
 
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The Lost Fort is a travel and history blog based on my journeys in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and central / eastern Europe. It includes virtual town and castle tours with a focus on history, museum visits, hiking tours, and essays on Roman and Mediaeval history, illustrated with my own photos.


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Location: Goettingen, Germany

I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who still hasn't got an Instagram account.
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The Gospels of Heinrich the Lion
Mediaeval Monster Carvings
The Viking Treasure of Hiddensee

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Mediaeval Weapons
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Feudalism

The History of Feudalism
The Beginnings
Feudalism in the 10th Century

Privileges and Special Relationships
The Privilege of the deditio
A Note on handgenginn maðr

The Hanseatic League

The History of the Hanseatic League
Introduction and Beginnings

Hanesatic Architecture
Examples of Brick Architecture

Goods and Trade
Stockfish Trade

The Order of the Teutonic Knights

Wars and Battles
The Conquest of Danzig
The Siege of Vilnius 1390

The Vikings

Viking Ships
The Nydam Ship


Germany

Geneaology

List of Mediaeval German Emperors

Geneaologies
Anglo-German Marriage Connections
Heinrich the Lion's Ancestors

Kings and Emperors

The Salian Dynasty
King Heinrich IV

House Welf and House Staufen
Emperor Otto IV, Introduction

Princes and Lords

Princes
Otto the Quarrelsome of Braunschweig-Göttingen
The Dukes of Braunschweig-Grubenhagen
Otto of Northeim
The Ludowing Landgraves of Thuringia
Albrecht II and Friedrich I of Thuringia

Counts and Local Lords
The Marshals of Ebersburg
The Counts of Everstein
The Counts of Hohnstein
The Lords of Plesse
The Counts of Reichenbach
The Counts of Winzenburg

Famous Feuds

Royal Troubles
Otto IV and Bishop Adalbert II of Magdeburg

Local Feuds
The Lüneburg Succession War
The Thuringian Succession War - Introduction
The Star Wars


England

Kings of England

King Henry IV
King Henry's Lithuanian Crusade

Normans, Britons, Angevins

Great Fiefs - The Honour of Richmond
The Dukes of Brittany and the Honour of Richmond
The Earldom of Richmond and the Duchy of Brittany

Contested Borders

Northumbria
King Stephen's Troubles with King David of Scots


Scotland

Kings of Scots

House Dunkeld
Malcolm III and Northumbria
Struggle for the Throne: Malcolm III to David I
King David and the Civil War, Part 1
King David and the Civil War, Part 2

Houses Bruce and Stewart
Robert the Bruce and Stirling Castle
The Early Stewart Kings

Scottish Nobles and their Quarrels

Clan Feuds
MacLeans and MacDonalds
A Scottish Wedding


Wales

Welsh Princes

The Princes of Gwynedd
The Rise of House Aberffraw

Rebels

A History of Rebellion
From Llywellyn ap Gruffudd to Owain Glyn Dŵr


Denmark

Kings of Denmark

House of Knýtlinga
Harald Bluetooth's Flight to Pomerania

Danish Rule in the Baltic Sea

The Duchy of Estonia
Danish Kings and German Sword Brothers


Norway

Kings of Norway

Foreign Relations
King Eirik's Scottish Marriages
King Håkon V's Swedish Politics
Beginnings of the Kalmar Union

A Time of Feuds

Famous Nobles and their Feuds
Alv Erlingsson of Tønsberg


Sweden

Troubles and Alliances

Scandinavian Unity
Beginnings of the Kalmar Union


Livonia
(Latvia and Estonia)

Towns of the Hanseatic League

Riga
The History of Mediaeval Riga

Tallinn
The History of Mediaeval Tallinn


Lithuania

The Northern Crusades

The Wars in Lithuania
The Siege of Vilnius 1390

Lithuanian Princes

The Geminid Dynasty
Troublesome Cousins - Jogaila and Vytautas


Poland

The Northern Crusades

The Conquest of Pomerania / Prussia
The Conquest of Danzig

Royal Dynasties

The Jagiełłonian Kings
Władysław Jagiełło and the Polish-Lithuanian Union


Bohemia

Royal Dynasties

The Bohemian Kings of House Luxembourg
King Sigismund and the Hussite Wars


Other Times

Prehistoric Times

Germany

Neolithic Remains
Stone Burials of the Funnelbeaker Culture

Development of Civilisation
European Bread Museum, Ebergötzen
Hutewald Project in the Solling
Open Air Museum Oerlinghausen

Scotland

Neolithic Orkney
The Neolithic Landscape of Orkney
Ring of Brodgar
Skara Brae
Life in Skara Brae

Bronze Age / Iron Age
Clava Cairns
The Brochs of Gurness and Midhowe - Their Function in Iron Age Society

Scandinavia

Gotland
The Ship Setting of Gnisvärd


Post-Mediaeval History

Explorers and Discoveries

Explorers
Fram Expedition to the North Pole
Fram Expedition to the South Pole

Discoveries
Otto von Guericke and the Magdeburg Hemispheres
Raising a Wreck, Now and Then (Vasa Museum in Stockholm)

Biographies

European Nobility
Prince Wilhelm Malte of Putbus


Miscellanea

History in Literature and Music

History in Literature

Biographies of German Poets and Writers
Theodor Fontane

Historical Ballads by Theodor Fontane
(Translated by me)
Archibald Douglas
Gorm Grymme
Sir Walter Scott in Abbotsford
The Tragedy of Afghanistan

History in Opera

Belcanto and Historicism
Maria Padilla - Mistress Royal
The Siege of Calais in Donizetti's Opera

Not so Serious History

Romans
Building Hadrian's Wall
Playmobil Romans

Mediaeval Times
Kings Having a Bad Hair Day
The Case of the Vanished Wine Cask

Other
Rules for Writing Scottish Romances
Tourist Kitsch in St.Petersburg


Geology

Geological Landscapes

The Baltic Sea
Geology of the Curonian Spit
Chalk Cliffs on Rugia
Flint Fields on Rugia

The Harz
Bode Valley and Rosstrappe Cliff
Buntsandstein Formations in the Northern Harz
The 'Hübichenstein' Rock
Karst Formations in the Southern Harz
The Lonau Falls
The Rhume Springs

Meissner / Kaufunger Wald
Blue Dome near Eschwege
Diabase and Basalt Formations
Karst Formations

Solling-Vogler
Raised Bog Mecklenbruch
Hannover Cliffs

The Shores of Scotland
Staffa

Fossils and Other Odd Rocks

Fossilized Ammonites
The Loket Meteorite


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