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Look over the moutains (© fotolia.com)
The Harz region – a resort for nature lovers, hikers, cyclists and bikers
Large parts of the Harz, the most northerly German low mountain range, are covered by woodland. In between them you will find picturesque mountain meadows, rugged rock formations and reservoirs, which were used for the production of drinking water or once upon a time for the bogies in the mines. The Harz region is now ranked fifth in the popularity scale of German hiking areas.
With 10,000 kilometers of signposted hiking trails the Harz is an ideal area for fans of hiking. The hiking trails are signposted and maintained by the Harzklub. In just the same way as the hikers, cyclists also really get their money’s worth here. The mountain roads, which connect the small towns in the Harz region, attract motorcyclists in particular with their many bends.
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National park Harz
The Harz National Park is one of the largest woodland national parks in Germany. Covering some 247.03 km² (approximately 158 km² in Lower Saxony and 89 km² in Saxony-Anhalt), it accounts for about 10 percent of the total area of the Harz region around the Brocken, from Herzberg in the south to Bad Harzburg and Ilsenburg in the north. The park is internationally recognised and forms part of the European Natura 2000 conservation area system. About 96 percent of the area is covered by forests, especially spruce and beech forests. In addition to the extensive forest areas, moors also assume a prominent position due to their special manifestations. The landscape is additionally characterized by granite cliffs and mountain streams. (Source: wikipedia.org)
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Quedlinburg – castle and abbey church (© fotolia.com)
The Harz Mountains are rich in sights and industrial and cultural testimonies to the past. The mining industry once provided prosperity and a certain amount of wealth, and this is still reflected in the towns to this day. Moreover, nobles, emperors, and kings had also discovered the Harz region for themselves. They had imperial palaces, castles and palaces constructed here, which can still be visited today.
Several testimonies to the region’s history in the Harz region rank among the UNESCO world cultural heritage sites; such as the old town of Goslar and the Rammelsberg ore mine, which can now be visited as a mining museum. After this World Heritage site was recognised by UNESCO, the "Oberharzerwasserwirtschaft" was also added a few years later. This extensive, unique system of artificially constructed reservoirs and water ditches helped to ensure the management of the mines in the Middle Ages. It is now easily possible to go hiking along the water ditches in the Upper Harz Mountains and also learn a bit about the history of the Harz region in the process.
The town of Quedlinburg, with its more than 1400 half-timbered houses, also forms part of the world cultural heritage site. The town of Quedlinburg that is more than 1000 years old is located on the north-eastern fringes of the Harz region. The buildings of the Romanesque area, the half-timbered houses and villas of the Wilhelminian period (Gründerzeit) and Jugendstil period reflect the history and culture of past epochs. From the Quedlinburg castle you can savour a unique view of the town, you can admire a treasure from the Crusades in the abbey church.
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In addition to leisure activities such as hiking, cycling, mountaineering, bathing in forest pools, visiting concerts and festivals among other things, the Harz also offers a lot of adventures and action. A lot of offers have been added in the past few years in particular. So you can also try out some “wall running” along the dam wall in Wendefurth. However, the "Megazipline", a steel cable, which stretches across the dam, is the thing that is all the rage there. Using this you can one can glide like a bird flying into the valley. Other offers include Segway tours to the Brocken mountain, rides with a Brocken hot air balloon above the mountains, downhill cross rides on steep mountains, timber forest climbing and much more besides. At any rate you have no excuse for feeling bored during your holiday in the Harz region.
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The Brocken mountain – the highest mountain in the Harz region and in the north of Germany. Climbing this mountain is a must for anyone going on holiday in the Harz region. In administrative terms the Brocken has belonged to Wernigerode since the most recent territorial reform. The Brocken at 1,141.2 m above sea level is the highest mountain in the north of Germany and the Harz low mountain region. The Brocken cannot be accessed by car as it is located in the middle of the Harz National Park. However, you can walk or ride up it or take the Brockenbahn mountain railways or a carriage up to the top. When the visibility is excellent it is possible to see the Fichtelberg mountain, that is some 210 kilometres away.
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Harz narrow gauge railways
You should not miss out on a trip with the huffing and puffing Harz narrow-gauge trains. The original steam locomotives are around 100 years old. You travel through the magical Harz National Park up to the Brocken or even across the Harz from Wernigerode to Nordhausen or from Quedlinburg to Harzgerode. The trains offers a sense of pure nostalgia. Anyone who climbs aboard these trains can still sense how the first strangers must have experienced the Harz region when tourism emerged here a hundred years ago; at that time it was called "Fremdenverkehr” in German (travel for outsiders). The trip to the Brocken is probably the most beautiful journey.