Wernigeorde's charm — derived from its impressive medieval-era Old Town with its fascinating fairy-tale castle and rows of centuries-old timber-framed houses — have led to it becoming a popular waystop on two major tourist routes: the German Timber-Framed Road and the Orange Route, a German-Dutch holiday road. The town is also a good base for exploring the northern Harz on foot or by mountain bike.
phone: +49 3943 5537835address: Marktplatz 10
HistoryWernigerode is first recorded in 1121 when it was the seat of the medieval County of Wernigerode, a status it held until 1429. It was during that time, in 1229, that it was granted town rights. Wernigerode's heyday came during the 14th and 15th centuries as it grew wealthy through trading in cloth, beer and brandy. However, it suffered from plague epidemics in the 16th century as well as the ravages of the Thirty Years' War and fell into decline.
From 1645 to 1807, Wernigerode was the seat of the County of Stolberg-Wernigerode. At the end of the 18th century, the town's economy picked up again, this time based on tanning and the manufacture of cloth and linen. In 1815 it was absorbed into the Prussian Province of Saxony. During the Industrial Revolution, new metal and wood industries settling here. The railways arrived in 1872, the same year that the Harz's best known brewery, the Hasseröder Brauerei, was founded.
After the Second World War, Wernigerode fell on the East German side of the Inner German Border in the newly-created state Saxony-Anhalt. Wernigerode became part of the restored state of Saxony-Anhalt in 1990 after German reunification and did not take long to restore the beauty of its timber-framed town houses. Wernigerode has a population of about 35,000.
By carWernigerode has two junctions (Wernigerode-Nord and Wernigerode-Zentrum) on the B 6, a motorway-like dual carriageway that runs along the northern edge of the Harz from west to east. The B 6 branches off the A 7 motorway near Goslar and the A 395 motorway from Brunswick to Vienenburg.
By trainis on the Heudeber-Danstedt–Vienenburg line with two-hourly services that run between Hanover and Halle using the Harzexpress.
Wernigerode is also the main depot and terminus on the Harz Narrow Gauge Railways. Trains, including steam-hauled services, than run to various destinations in the Harz, including its highest mountain, the Brocken.
Tip: The HarzTourCard enables you to travel by bus, train and narrow gauge train (except trains to the summit of Brocken) as much as you like within three days. It costs for a single card, for a family.
By planeWernigerode is about 1 hr 15 min by car from Hanover airport and about 1½ hours from Leipzig airport.
The vast majority of Wernigerode's important tourist sites are contained within the compact area of the old town, whose narrow cobbled streets aren't particularly amenable to motorized transportation. Walking is probably the most sensible way to get around.
If you're staying in a further-flung area, your best bet is to leave your car at one of the several car parks or roadside parking meter bays near the centre.
The local public transport organization Harzer Verkehrsbetriebe (HVB) operates a municipal bus network throughout the city, consisting of four lines that converge on the , located at Ringstraße 31 in the centre of town. Regular buses run seven days a week, from roughly 06:00 until 19:00 on weekdays and 09:00 until 17:30 on Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays. From roughly 19:00 until 00:00, there's also more limited service courtesy of a night bus (Abendlinie). HVB's website includes a system map and schedules for each route.
address: Am Schloss 1A walk around this striking medieval castle is well worth the effort of the climb from the town centre. There are numerous paths through the woods and grounds of the castle. A climb onto the Agnesberg hill behind it is rewarded with a view over the castle, the town, and the edge of the Harz mountains that many visitors simply miss. The more adventurous can make their way through the woods into the valley of Christianental, where there is a forest inn serving traditional German fare and a small wildlife park with deer, wild boar and birds of prey. The castle is now a museum which is open to the public - see "Museums" section below.
Emperor TowerThis stone observation tower is not part of the town's old fortifications, though it certainly looks of a piece with the remaining medieval-era towers: named and dedicated in honor of Kaiser Wilhelm II, the Kaiserturm has stood since 1902 at the 478-m summit of the Armeleuteberg hill a short distance south of the town centre. From its top, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the castle and old town of Wernigerode and out to the high summits of the North Harz.
Half Toweraddress: north side of Burgberg between Nöschenröder Straße and LindenalleeIn the middle of a small park near the castle is another remnant of Wernigerode's medieval city wall: the semicircular shell of one of the old watchtowers (the side facing away from the castle is open) that was the object of a partial restoration in the 19th century at the request of Count Otto zu Stolberg-Wernigerode, and now is protected from the elements by a new slate roof.
Western Gate Toweraddress: Westernstraße at RingstraßeThis imposing tower, 38 m high, is first recorded in 1356 and acted as a toll gate. It was built in Early Gothic style and formed part of Wernigerode's city wall.
Krummel Houseaddress: Breite Straße 72The Krummel House is another old, timber-framed building, now a restaurant, whose timberwork is beautifully decorated. It was built in 1674 by corn merchant, Heinrich Krummel.
Leaning Houseaddress: Klintgasse 5The Schiefes Haus is an old, timber-framed watermill, the present building dating to 1680 and built for the Guild of Clothmakers. It has subsided on one side because of the undercutting action of the mill stream over the centuries. The stream, which used to supply water to the mill and town, is no longer visible. Today the Leaning House is home to a local society.
Oldest Houseaddress: Hinterstraße 48Wernigerode's oldest house was built around 1400 as a plain post-and-beam structure. It is one of the few that survived the Great Fire of 1847.
- The smallest house in Wernigerode is now a museum; see below.
Elsewhere around the Old Town
Medieval Town Halladdress: Marktplatz 1Described as a "pearl of medieval timber-framed architecture" the town hall is stunningly beautiful and has dominated the town's market square since at least 1277. It used to be owned by the counts of Wernigerode and acted as a courthouse, and as a place of medieval entertainment including weddings. Guided tours are available and the cellars house a classic Ratskeller restaurant.
Old Mintaddress: Oberpfarrkirchhof 5The Old Mint is one of the few remaining timber-framed buildings in Wernigerode from the 16th century. It has a stone base. Today it is home to the Harz Library and town archives.
Orangeryaddress: Lindenallee 21The old Orangery, with its pleasure garden (Lustgarten), was built between 1713 and 1719 by Count Ernest of Stolberg-Wernigerode and was supposed to be a miniature version of the Palace of Versailles.
St. John's Churchaddress: Pfarrstraße 24St. John's Church is the oldest surviving church in Wernigerode and dominates the northwestern edge of the historic Neustadt. The oldest parts of the church - the west tower and transept - were built in the Romanesque style around 1279. Its original main hall was expanded in 1497 into a triple-aisled nave. The church underwent extensive restoration in the 19th century and, after being damaged in the air raid of 22 February 1944, was further restored during the post-war years. Especially impressive is the Gothic carved altar from 1415, the pulpit dating to the early 1600s and a sculpture of John the Baptist from around 1500. One of the portraits on the octagonal font is of the great reformer, Martin Luther.
Town Fountainaddress: Am MarktplatzThe ornate cast iron fountain in the market square was cast in 1848 in Ilsenburg in a neo-Gothic style. It was intended to commemorate those people who had worked for the good of the town.
Firefighting Museumphone: +49 3943 601131address: Steingrube 3The Firefighting Museum has an interesting collection of historic firefighting equipment and a covers the history of firefighting in the town and area.
Harz Museumphone: +49 3943 654454address: Klintgasse 10Housed in a historic timber-framed house in the oldest quarter of Wernigerode, the Harz Museum is dedicated to the history of the Harz including fossils, minerals and rocks, the Harz mining industry, its animal and plant life, as well as the history of the town. It also has exhibitions of art by Harz artists.
phone: +49 3943 633126address: Gießerweg 1The Museum of Aviation and Technology displays over 60 aircraft and helicopters, and over a thousand other exhibits in its four halls. A Transall C-160 airplane is displayed on the roof. It can be visited. Furthermore there are two flight simulators a small restaurant and a souvenir shop.
Smallest Houseaddress: Kochstraße 43Built in the mid-18th century, this is a handsome Baroque-style half-timbered structure much like the others in Wernigerode's old town — except, of course, for its size. In the 1920s, its owner, a well-to-do craftsman who lived there with his wife and seven children, deeded it to the city who now maintains it as a historic house museum with period furnishings and interpretive exhibits.
phone: +49 3943 553040address: Am SchlossWernigerode Castle is an impressive, preserved, medieval castle on a hillside dominating the town. The original Romanesque castle was built in the 12th century, but has been much altered over the years. Until they were dispossessed in 1945, it was the residence of the counts of Stolberg and, later, the princes of Stolberg-Wernigerode, but today it is a fascinating museum. The splendid, turreted stone and half-timbered castle has magnificent views over the town of Wernigerode. You can see the original state rooms that once hosted Europe's highest aristocracy. The castle appears very much as it was when the owners, the counts of Wernigerode, were dispossessed in 1945 and the rooms display many of their artefacts from paintings and books, to furniture and table settings. There are also changing exhibits and the castle hosts a variety of events and scientific symposiums. The museum has audio guides in English, so you can go at your own pace and take in the atmosphere. There is also a cafe in the courtyard and great views from the terrace. A must if you have a couple of hours.
phone: +49 3943 557373address: Breite Str. 95Forge from 1678
Natural sights in the area
Steinerne Rennegorge with small waterfalls and rapids
Kleine Rennecascading mountain stream and officially designated natural monument
Ottofelsengranite rock formation
Mönchsbucheold beech tree, designated as a natural monument due to its age and the stories surrounding it.
Market Place to Wernigerode Castleaddress: start at MarktplatzFrom the market square (Marktplatz) head down Marktstraße to the end, turn L into J.S.Bach Straße, at Schöne Ecke follow the Burgberg road uphill, turn R by the Fürstengrotte restaurant onto the steep path (Schlossaufstieg) up to the castle. Distance: about 1.3 km. Time: 30 min. Return by foot or on the road train (Schlossbahn or Bimmelbahn)
Armeleutebergaddress: start at MarktplatzHead down Westernstraße from the Marktplatz and through the Western Gate Tower. Turn L at the Westernkreuzung crossroads into Salzburgstraße. Continue straight up the long winding forest road called Die Winde. After just under 3 km you reach the Försterplatz and restaurant of Armeleuteberg, named after the hill. The Emperor Tower (Kaiserturm) is above the inn about 400 m away and has super views of the town. The return leg is via the Zwölfmorgental valley.
phone: +49 3943 558-0address: Hauptbahnhof WernigerodeExplore the Harz mountains on the Harz Narrow Gauge Railways - a network of charming railway lines that take you to some of the most beautiful parts of the Harz. Take a steam train to the top of the Harz's highest mountain, the legendary Brocken, or discover the picturesque Selke Valley by rail. A rail journey to Nordhausen on the far side of the Harz, 60 km away, takes 2½ hours. Wernigerode is home to the main terminus for the railways. There is a second station in Wernigerode - Bahnhof Westerntor.
HikingWernigerode is a great starting point for hiking in the northern Harz and the Harz Club (Harzklub) maintains hundreds of miles of trail and organises guided walks. For more information contact at their local branch: Volker Friedrich, Horstberg 18, 38855 Wernigerode, .
phone: +49 3944 954 7148There are over 200 checkpoints in the Harz Hiking Award Scheme, several of which are in the Wernigerode area. Equipped with a pass book and set of maps the idea is to visit the checkpoints usually sited at places of interest - ruined castles, hilltops, viewing points, lakes and museums - and stamp your pass book. You can earn badges for the number of stamps collected and there are also special badges for collecting stamps on themed routes like the Inner German Border. The pass book and maps can be bought at tourist or information offices in the area or online.
Hiking in the local areaWernigerode is a great base for hiking in the northern Harz. Destinations that are within reach include the summit of the mighty Brocken, the Harz's highest mountain (14 km round walk via the Steinerne Renne pub); the town of Ilsenburg (11 km round trip), the Otto Rocks (10 km round trip) and the historic town of Blankenburg (13 km round trip). Another trail, the Upper Harz Crag Trail (Oberharzer Klippenweg - 12 km round trip) takes in several of the well-known tors in the area with great views of the surrounding countryside. More information is given on the town website (link at start of article)
SkiingVisiting during the winter months? Several ski resorts are located on the Lower Saxony side of the Harz mountains, 20-30 km west and south of Werningerode. Though they are not as big and internationally renowned as the ones in the Alps they are still there. Refer to the Goslar, Braunlage and Clausthal-Zellerfeld articles for more information.
Wooden toysOriginating in the Ore Mountains, the German wooden toy industry produces a wide range of wooden decorations and toys, often associated with, but not exclusive to, Christmas. Wooden tree decorations, Christmas pyramids, candle arches, nutcrackers and "smoking men" (Räuchermänner) are just some of the creations available.
Local spiritsGermany is renowned for its alcoholic spirits known as bitters, with their great variety of herbal and minty flavours, but the Harz has a particularly wide range of them, all made in local distilleries. Often sold in miniature bottles and drunk as chasers, the more widespread makes include Schierker Feuerstein and Brockenfeuer.
Christmas MarketWernigerode's Christmas Market is especially atmospheric, thanks to its setting amongst the medieval town houses around the market square. Expect to find the usual range of Christmas artefacts, including wooden figurines, Nativity scenes, decorations and candles, as well as local produce and specialities.
Breite StraßeMany of the central shops are in this street, which is partially pedestrianised. Breite Straße dates back to 1399. Other main shopping streets are Westernstraße, Burgstraße and Marktstraße. On the outskirts of the town are some larger supermarkets.
phone: +49 3943 690625address: Ringstraße 37Small shopping mall, number of specialty shops, cafes and an Edeka supermarket.
phone: +49 3943 601755address: Westernstraße 12Toy shop.
address: Neustadter Ring 17Don't be put off by the rather garish-looking appearance of this cafe on the Neustadter Ring road. Its speciality is freshly backed products especially the Baumkuchen cakes that give it the name. On Fridays and Saturdays you can watch them baking.
phone: +49 03943 632704address: Marktplatz 1Good food and quiet atmosphere in a typical Ratskeller restaurant in the historic cellars of the town hall. Ideal for that slightly special occasion.
address: Armeleuteberg 1Traditional forest inn in the woods behind Wernigerode. Its location in a hunting area is reflected in its menu which includes venison, boar and wild mushrooms.
address: Breite Straße 4Charming, traditional café situated near the centre of the town in one of the oldest buildings of the city (1583).
address: Marktplatz 5Attractive timber-framed four-star hotel with a gourmet restaurant. Great location on the market place with views of the town hall.
alles-Füll-baraddress: Breite Straße 67Small bar with large selection of whiskeys. Friendly atmosphere.
Ars Vivendiaddress: Bahnhofstraße 33Music and cocktail bar. Disco and dancing every Friday and Saturday.
Schlieper's Restaurant Café Baraddress: Burgstraße 7Restaurant and bar in the pedestrian zone, 3 minutes from the market square.
phone: +49 3943 9360address: Auerhahnring 1The brewery has been in the town since 1872. Now owned by Anheuser–Busch InBev. Tours can be arranged by appointment.
address: Christianental 43Modest and traditional forest inn in the Christianental valley behind Wernigerode, with its own wildlife park. There are 3 guest apartments each with 4 beds and one twin-bed apartment. All are en suite. Good hiking base.
address: Amtsfeldstraße 33Small timber-framed inn not far from the town centre and the local swimming baths.
phone: +49 3943 94890address: Pfarrstraße 50aA traditional hotel in Wernigerode's town centre, just a few minutes walk from the station.
address: Nesseltal 11A holiday village with holiday apartments and cottages and free access to the open-air pool. Minimum stay: 3 days or 1 week in the peak season.
address: Am Ziegelberg 1Traditional hotel and cafe in a quiet wooded area on the edge of the Castle Park. 20 minutes walk from the town centre.
address: Marktplatz 2Four-star hotel and listed building in the old market place.
address: Pfarrstraße 41Modern four-star hotel 100 m from the historic old town.
address: Nöschenröder Straße 42-43Historic four-star hotel with wonderful views of the Mühlental valley and Wernigerode Castle. Sauna, internet access.
Wernigerode's is located at Minslebener Straße 19, about a kilometer outside the Old Town. It's open on weekdays from 09:00-12:30 and 13:00-17:00, and on Saturdays until 12:00.
There are no Internet cafés in town, but most hotels (and many other public places) offer public WiFi for free or for a nominal charge.
- Blankenburg, a historic, timber-framed town and castle on the northern rim of the Harz (20 min by road)
- Brocken, the highest mountain in the Harz, accessible by steam railway from Wernigerode.
- Halberstadt, the "Gateway to the Harz" from the north, contains many medieval buildings including a trio of 11th- and 12th-century churches.
- Quedlinburg, a UNESCO World Heritage site thanks to still more historic timber-framed buildings
- Brunswick, the Lion City, north of Wernigerode (about 30 min by road)
- Goslar, ancient imperial town on the northwestern edge of the Harz (about 20 min by road)
- Halle, Saxony-Anhalt's largest city (about 1 hr 20 min by road)
- Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt's capital, a medieval city on the River Elbe (about 1 hr 10 min by road)
- Schierke, home to a well-known local drink, Schierker Feuerstein.