“With its red roofs out of the green fir woods,” it looks out, “like a moss rose.” Heinrich Heine has aptly described the Lower Saxon town of Osterode am Harz. Angled lanes around the elongated Kornmarkt characterize the well over 1000-year-old Osterode in the Oberharz. The later urban area was already settled in the Iron Age, before a castle was probably built in the 12th century to protect the emerging market settlement and old Harz road. The keep of the old castle on the Butterberg between the Söse and the Lerbach stream, which is now only preserved in ruins, towers above the historic old town in the northeast.
Discover medieval architectural treasures
Osterodes colourful half-timbered houses bear witness to the long history of the town in the valley, which was a trading centre, member of the Hanse and logistic centre for ore mining. Cloth production and iron smelting also determined urban life in the past. The oldest half-timbered house in the city is the Ratswaage, built in 1550 and equipped with an extremely remarkable high gable. Worth a visit is also the Church St. Aegidien, which towers over the Osteroder Altstadt with its mighty 13th century tower.
The city’s self-confidence is reflected in the Old Town Hall, which was built in the middle of the 16th century and has a magnificent slate gable facing the street Am Schilde. In the past it was mainly traders and craftsmen who lived here, making an important contribution to the economic upswing of Osterode since the Middle Ages. It is worthwhile to walk around the church and the town hall during a walk through the town, as in this way one gets to an extremely picturesque ensemble of houses in Aegidienstraße and discovers the formerly four-port town wall.
Osterode at Harz – starting point for hiking
Osterode am Harz is ideally suited for excursions into the unspoilt nature of the Harz, as numerous hiking trails offer all kinds of experiences and natural beauties for those seeking relaxation and hiking. The city is also connected to four German distance hiking trails. As a starting point for the Harzer Hexenstieg, which can be started from a car park in the northwest of the city not far from the Old Castle, Osterode is enrolled in the hiking trail network. The Harzer Hexenstieg opens the way to the Dam of the Söse, which flows through the city of Osterode.
The reservoir offers many leisure activities and is a paradise for anglers. On well signposted paths you can enjoy the silence of the forest, marvel at the lakes surrounded by mountain landscapes and look out from the impressive dam wall while hiking. One of the most beautiful mountain ranges of the Harz can be explored on the Baudensteig. The three most important reservoirs of the western Harz Mountains are connected by the Försterstieg. And finally the Karstwanderweg begins in Osterode at the Harz Mountains, where the unique nature of the Harz Mountains can be explored in an instructive way.
Significant history and untouched nature – both come together in and around Osterode am Harz to form a unique mixture that can only be experienced on foot.