Castles and palaces in the Harz Mountains – In the Harz Mountains there is a multitude of castles and palaces. Immerse yourself in the Middle Ages and experience the history of kings and princes. The castles and palaces rise above the landscape and are usually visible from afar. Most castles and palaces in the Harz Mountains are open to the public. You will find information about worthwhile destinations on this page.
Castles and palaces in the Harz
Stolberg Castle towers majestically above the half-timbered houses of the town of the same name. The white façade stands out against the backdrop of wooded mountain slopes and sky. Up there on a ridge in the southern Harz Mountains stood the cradle of the Count’s house Stolberg. Probably in a medieval castle. Over the centuries, piece by piece, the magnificent palace complex of today has been created. Always, until 1945, the property was property and residence of the count family. The count’s coats of arms at the entrance portal of the prince’s wing also bear witness to this.
The ancestress of the Dutch royal family was born here in 1506. The current owner of Schloss Stolberg is the Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz. Under their care, the castle ensemble was restored, renovated and rebuilt and is now open to the public. The castle tour leads through representative rooms such as the Breite Gang and the Ortenberger Gang. Bridal couples can get married in the magnificent Empire Hall. The Terrace Gardens and the so-called Forest Park were rebuilt according to historical models. If you like, you can sit on the red sofa and let the history of the castle affect you.
Wernigerode Castle fascinates even from afar. With towers and little towers, picturesque roofs and old walls, it crowns a wooded hill on the north-eastern edge of the Harz mountains. At its feet the old town stretches from Wernigerode. The magnificent castle in the Harz can be traced back to a medieval hilltop castle from the 12th century, which was probably built by Count Adalbert. In the 15th century this castle came into the possession of the Count House Stolberg and became the ancestral castle of the Count line Stolberg-Wernigerode. In the course of time the Ritterburg underwent several alterations in the style of the respective time. Two curtain-arched windows from the late Romanesque period have been preserved in the inner courtyard.
The Renaissance stair tower reminds of the extension to a Renaissance fortress. After the Thirty Years’ War the castle became a baroque castle. Schloss Wernigerode was given its present form in the second half of the 19th century by the architect Carl Frühling. He created a castle ensemble which today is regarded as the model of North German historicism. Today Schloss Wernigerode houses a museum and together with the pleasure garden, zoo and terrace garden forms a national cultural monument. gardens and the castle courtyard are freely accessible. The Palace Museum can be visited individually or as part of a guided tour. Those who want to see how the German high nobility lived in the late 19th century will get an authentic impression during the tours.
The imperial palace in Goslar stands for almost 1000 years. Together with other important sites in the region, the ensemble of buildings is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The foundation stone was laid by Ottone Heinrich II around 1050. His successors, Salier Konrad II and his son Heinrich III, expanded the Palatinate according to their rank. The chronicler Lambert von Hersfeld described the result as “the most important residence of the empire”. Even today the imperial house is regarded as the largest secular building of its time. In the Palatine Chapel the Heart of Henry III was buried. Until 1253 the travelling Salian and Saxon emperors and kings together with their retinue made regular stops in Goslar. Afterwards the plant lost its importance, was misused and partly demolished. What remained was restored in the second half of the 19th century. Visitors can explore the Kaiserpfalz Goslar as part of guided tours or individually and also admire the famous Kaiserstuhl. Exhibitions and murals by the history painter Hermann Wilsicenus give an insight into the time of the travelling emperors.
Quedlinburg Castle dates back to a palace built by King Heinrich I around 920 and donated to his wife Mathilde. After the death of the Saxon king his widow founded the famous lady’s pencil , which had become a direct part of the empire. Nearly 900 years high-born, strong women lived and worked in the monastery on the sandstone rock. In the 16th and 17th centuries the medieval castle was rebuilt into a Renaissance chateau.
Today the Quedlinburg Palace is home to a museum. Its exhibitions are dedicated to the settlement history of the region, the development of the Burg Hill from the royal palace to the open-world women’s cloister and the city history of Quedlinburg. The exhibits also include the legendary wooden robber baron box, the gold disc fibula from the Grand Order and the pieces of the Bronze Age hoard find from the Lehof. State apartments present the noble living culture of the Baroque and Classicist periods. The tour also leads through the Ottonian cellar vaults and to the oldest stucco elements in German-speaking countries. In addition, the Palace Museum houses the collections of the Historical Library Quedlinburg.
Ballenstedt Castle is a landmark of the town of the same name in the Harz Mountains. It sits enthroned on a spur of the Harz mountains and impresses as a baroque three-winged complex with a picturesque castle park. Its origins go back to a medieval castle, which is considered the ancestral castle of the Ascanians. The lord of the castle Count Esico founded a collegiate foundation in 1034 which was later transformed into a Benedictine monastery. From this monastery the crypt as well as remains of the west work and the refectory are still preserved. After an eventful history of plundering and destruction, the 18th century saw the beginning of the conversion to today’s representative castle. From 1765 to 1945 it was the residence of the princes of Anhalt-Bernburg from the Ascanian family. Today parts of the castle are used for gastronomic and museum purposes. In the Krypta of the former monastery church is the tomb of Albrecht the Bear and his wife. Among the attractions are the exhibition about the early Ascanians in the castle tower, the Roman Room and the Film Museum in the north wing.
Castles and palaces in the Harz Mountains – Ballenstedt Castle – Information about the castle park & directions on Google Maps
Burg Falkenstein Harz
On a mountain between Meisdorf and Mägdesprung the Falkenstein Castle in the Harz Mountains watches over the nature reserve Selketal. It was built in the 12th century and has retained the character of a medieval hilltop castle. The steep slopes of the mountain spur, which always protected the castle from conquerors, also contributed to this. In the chronicles Burchard von der Konradsburg appears as the first lord of Falkenstein. His descendant Graf Hoyer of Falkenstein extended the castle by fortifications, kennel and palace. He was also known as the patron of the Eike von Repgow, who probably completed his “Sachsenspiegel” on Falkenstein. Externally, the castle complex embodies the symbol of a knight’s castle to this day; inside, the good old knight’s time can be experienced. Because the castle museum contains among other things a authentic knight’s hall with a covered table and the functional castle kitchen. Other attractions include the Herrenstube with its Pleyel hammer wing and the high-middle stained glass windows of the castle chapel. Burg Falkenstein is recommended as a trip destination for the whole family.
Schloss Herzberg watches over the roofs of the old half-timbered town Herzberg am Harz. It rests on a steep ridge of Zechsteindolomit. Originally there was a hunting lodge, later a medieval castle. In 1158, Heinrich the Lion acquired the plant from Emperor Barbarossa in a barter deal. From then on the property was in the possession of the Welfen for about 700 years. Large parts of the building were destroyed in a major fire in 1510. The present four-winged half-timbered building was built on the foundation walls, its richly decorated buildings enclosing a rectangular inner courtyard. Numerous late Gothic and Renaissance elements can be seen on the facades. Especially impressive is the castle storm at the eastern corner, which stands out with Guelph hood and castle clock. The old Welfen Castle now houses a cultural centre, a knights’ hall used for events and a museum. Participatory stations make a visit to the museum entertaining not only for children. The exhibitions are dedicated to the Forestry in the Harz and the History of the castle.
Castles and palaces in the Harz Mountains – Herzberg Castle – Information about the castle & Directions on Google Maps
Harzgerode Castle is located near the market square of the town of the same name. Today it presents itself in Renaissance style. Originally it was a medieval stronghold of the princes of Anhalt, which was probably built in the 13th century. The estate was first mentioned in the chronicles in 1326. The castle was pledged to the Wettin family for some time, but was bought back in 1536.
A few years later Prince George III of Anhalt commissioned the reconstruction of the complex and the new construction of the dilapidated castle. The three-storey residential building with a crippled hipped roof on the east side was also built. Harzgerode Castle was part of the city fortifications and served as the residence of the Anhalt-Bernburg-Harzgerode noble family from 1635 to 1709. In the meantime Harzgerode Castle belongs to the town and is open to the public. It accommodates, among other things, the city library, the city information, event rooms and a museum. A permanent exhibition of the castle museum is dedicated to the ironworks Mägdesprung. There is also an exhibition of works by the sculptor Wilhelm Otto.
Castles in the Harz Mountains – traces of a past time
Hohnstein castle ruin
The Hohnstein castle ruin is an adventurous destination in the southern Harz Mountains. It stands on a porphyry dome north of the small town of Neustadt/Harz and is considered the ancestral castle of the Grafen von Hohnstein. There are contradictory theories about the construction period and the builder, probably the castle was built in the 12th century. Most of the building material was found directly on site. Because the stones were broken from the porphyry hill and the gypsum comes from the surrounding gypsum karst landscape.
The lords of the castle fought out several feuds, from which the castle also suffered. It was besieged, conquered, destroyed, rebuilt and burned out completely during the Thirty Years War. Since then there have been only ruins on the mountain. These are now secured and can be easily explored. During forays over the extensive area and through the old walls there are many traces of the changeable castle history to discover. For example, the 80 meter deep well and semi-decayed residential and commercial areas. A modern steel staircase leads to the draughty viewing platform in the former keep.
Castles in the Harz Mountains – Hohnstein castle ruin – Information about the castle ruin & directions on Google Maps
Castle and fortress Regenstein
Castle and fortress Regenstein form a landmark in the northern Harz foreland. From a distance, the ruins of the medieval rock castle are particularly striking. The remains of the fortress, which was built later, can only be seen on site and are sometimes difficult to discover. After the castle had long since been abandoned and ruined, Elector Friedrich Wilhelm recognized the strategically important location of the mountain spur. From 1670 he initiated the construction of the fortress, which was accompanied by fortifications in the field and also included the Felsenburg. Only remains of the bastions of the Regenstein fortress remain. Around the mountain, often hidden under the vegetation, interested people can still see the remains of the earth walls and ramparts of the fortress.
Castle ruin Scharzfels
The Scharzfels castle ruin is a popular hiking destination in the southern Harz. It stands on a steep dolomite rock near the villages of Scharzfeld and Barbis. Who built the castle, when, is unknown, it already existed in 1131. During this time, King Lothar acquired the complex and expanded it into the imperial castle. For centuries, the castle offered its inhabitants a safe, impregnable shelter. In the 17th century the fortress was converted into a fortress with a state prison. It was not until the Seven Years’ War that the French defeated the bulwark and blew up the castle. According to tradition, this required a 6000 strong troop and a traitor. Information boards on a circular route around the site provide a lot of information, the castle ruins themselves can be explored on your own and at your own risk. A newer staircase leads up to the ruins of upper castle Scharzfels. Only the remains of the superstructure are left. The rooms and corridors carved directly from the rock are almost completely preserved.
Video castle ruin Scharzfels
Valuable monasteries and churches in the Harz Mountains
There are not only castles and palaces in the Harz mountains. Numerous monasteries and churches bear witness to the rich past of the Harz Mountains. Experience the eventful history of the church princes.
Walkenried Monastery belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage along with other important sites in the Harz Mountains. One of the reasons for its inclusion in the World Heritage list was the outstanding structural special form of the northern cloister wing. This double-nave wing of the six-metre-high cloister has become a landmark of the former monastery. In the middle, columns support the cross-ribbed vault, the chapters of which are decorated with foliage. Founder Adelheid von Walkenried founded the monastery in 1127 as the third Cistercian monastery in German-speaking countries.
Today the monastery complex in the southern Harz is a museum. With its originally preserved enclosure building, it invites visitors on a journey back in time to the Middle Ages. Visual and acoustic stagings make the life and work of the Cistercian monks comprehensible. The children’s flap and the children’s audio guide make the Cistercian Monastery Museum a place of experience for younger visitors. There is only one ruin left of the Gothic monastery church. Architecturally, in addition to the cloister building and the cloister, the chapter house with the late Romanesque stand is also remarkable.
Drübeck Monastery is located between Ilsenburg and Wernigerode in the village of the same name. Nothing is known about the founding date. Drübeck is regarded as the daughter foundation of the monastery Corvay, the nuns lived according to the strict rules of St. Benedict of Nursia. The first written evidence can be found on a document from 960, when Emperor Otto I donated land to the monastery. Later he placed the nunnery under his protection, giving him and the abbess a privileged position. Today the former Benedictine monastery forms a station of the tourist Road of the Romanesque . The monastery gardens belong to the project Gartenräume Sachsen-Anhalt. At the heart of the complex is the monastery church of St. Vitus, whose monumental western structure rises far above the roofs of the village of Drübeck. The basilica is one of the most important preserved sacral buildings of the Ottonian period. In the crypt there is the tomb of the monastery founder and first abbess Adelbrin. Drübeck Monastery also houses a meeting and education centre for the Protestant Church and a monastery shop.
Kloster Ilsenburg looks back on a long history, which is closely connected with the diocese of Halberstadt. Originally it was a Jagdpfalz that Heinrich I gave to the Halberstadt church in 1003. From this the then bishop Arnulf founded a Benedictine monastery and generously furnished it with lands and tithes. Thus the rich monastery quickly gained importance and influence in the Harz region. This changed in the course of the Reformation.
The former monastery becomes the property of the Counts of Stolberg. The counts build a manorial residence on the southwest side. Later, the interior of the former monastery church is redesigned in baroque style, the enclosure buildings are used economically. Today the monastery church belongs to the city Ilsenburg. The remaining part of the monastery complex is operated by the Ilsenburg Monastery Foundation, founded by Maria Fürstin zu Stolberg-Wernigerode. The restored rooms are used for events and exhibitions. Civil weddings are also possible in the particularly atmospheric refectory and in the chapter hall.
Monasteries and churches in the Harz Mountains – Ilsenburg Monastery – Information about the monastery & directions on Google Maps
Gustav Adolf Stave Church
The wooden Gustav Adolf Stave Church fits perfectly into the Harz landscape and yet looks strange. It stands on a mountain slope between the villages Hahnenklee and Bockswiese. Their structural models are Norwegian stave churches. Even from the outside, many details such as the terraced roofscape and the porthole windows captivate the eye. At the top, the ridge turret protrudes far, carrying a prayer and hour bell. The actual bell tower stands free. It is only connected to the church by a bridge, which also provides access to the gallery. The interior reminds strongly of a Viking ship. The design as a ship’s corpus contributes to this just as much as the symbolism and the wheel chandelier in the middle of the ceiling. The name Stave Church derives from the vertical staves, which are also called stems in shipbuilding. Of the 14 staves of the Gustav Adolf Stave Church, 12 support the construction of the nave. The entire wooden church building rests on a sandstone pedestal. One of the special features of the church is a carillon made of 49 bronze bells.
Market Church of the Holy Spirit
Big and blue the wooden market church to the Holy Spirit in Clausthal-Zellerfeld draws attention to itself. The hall church is built entirely of oak and spruce wood and measures 57 metres in length and 26 metres in width. Thus it deserves the predicate largest wooden church in Germany. The architecture and furnishings make the church an important building of the North German Baroque. After the predecessor church burned down at a fire , the Clausthals erected a new, larger church. This was consecrated in the year 1642 and offered more than 2000 people space at that time. Today the church still has 1200 seats. Many trees had to be felled for the construction of the church, 56 tons of wood were used for the tower alone. Due to constructional reasons, the market church did not receive its distinctive blue painting until 1655. Economical modernisers later painted the building green and grey. In the course of the external renovation of 2012, the Market Church of the Holy Spirit was given a blue colour again, which comes close to the historical model.