Idyllic location surrounded by the untouched Harz landscape and a rich offer of hiking possibilities – Altenau im Oberharz has the right thing for every interest.
From mountain town to health resort
Altenau lies on the shore of the Oker and is spread over several narrow mountain valleys. The waters flowing together in the city area lent its name to the town, which was founded in the first third of the 13th century. In 1636 Altenau was free mountain town. After the closure of the iron and silver works in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the town developed into a destination for those seeking recreation and is now a state-approved climatic health resort. The largest herb park in Europe, situated in the Schultal valley on the banks of the Altenau and within easy walking distance of the town, is a perfect match.
Between the herb park and the crystal hot spring “Heißer Brocken” there is the market place in the centre of the spa town, where the Altenau and the Oker merge. The market is surpassed by the worth seeing Holzkirche St. Nikolai from the year 1670, due to its wooden construction a speciality in Germany. Old miner’s houses from the early modern period characterise the appearance of the town. A good panoramic view over Altenau can be obtained from the Schützenklippe, which is not far from the centre.
Explore the Oberharz from Altenau
Due to its central location in the Upper Harz Mountains, including views of the Brocken, Altenau is ideal for hiking trips through the densely wooded, cliff- and water-rich surroundings of the national park. For example, the Harzer Hexenstieg leads to the Dammgraben southeast of the city, the longest artificially created ditch in the upper Harz and an important component of the Water shelf. It draws its water from a total of six Harz rivers and offers a rushing experience of nature in the midst of an unspoilt landscape. In the immediate vicinity, the Forest swimming pool Okerteich, whose water quality received top marks, impresses with its quiet atmosphere, bathing fun in a beautiful ambience and relaxation possibilities.
Hiking around the city and into the Harz National Park at any time of the year on an extensive and well signposted network of paths – Altenau is the ideal starting point for this and attracts many outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers every year with its diverse offers. From Altenau you can reach the national park places Torfhaus, Bad Harzburg and Braunlage in shortest time. If you want to climb Northern Germany’s highest summit, Torfhaus and Schierke are the best options. From Schierke train station you can take the Brockenbahn to the Brocken or set off for a Brocken hike. From Torfhaus you walk on Goethes tracks the shortest way to the Brocken.