First mentioned and officially chartered in 1121, Wernigerode is known as the ‘colorful town of the Harz’, and nowadays it is a must-visit for all who are traveling to the northern part of the Harz region. The rural town, known for its signature medieval timber-framed architecture, has been favored by many famous novelists and poets, such as the novelists Wilhelm Raabe and Theodor Fontane, along with journalist Hermann Löns. Wernigerode is small and easy to get around on foot. Here’s how a day-trip itinerary can be well planned and followed.
Marktplatz – Wernigerode Town Hall and tourist office
Start the trip from Marktplatz, where you’ll find the stunning medieval Town Hall (Rathaus) with its remarkable timber-framed architecture that represents the symbolic typical housing designs of Wernigerode. Since 1544, the Town Hall building has been completed and transformed into an outstanding masterpiece of half-timbered architecture, where festivals and wedding ceremonies used to take place. You will be spellbound by the marvelous aesthetic perfection and harmonious blending together of stone and carved wood. Walk-behind the town hall to Wernigerode’s tourist office to get a free map and start your journey from here!
Walk around to explore the medieval architecture of Das Schiefe Haus and Das Kleinste Haus
There is so much more to explore in this small and mysterious village. Some remarkable spots close by are the Leaning House (Schiefes Haus) – an old, timber-framed watermill built for the Guild of Clothmakers in 1680. The Leaning House has subsided on one side due to the undercutting action of the mill stream over the centuries. Another area worth checking out is the Smallest House (Das Kleinste Haus) on Kochstraße that was built in the 18th century in Baroque style. From the base to the eaves it is only 4.20 meters (13.77 feet) high and does not exceed 2.95 meters (9.67 feet) in width. The door measures 1.7 meters (5.5 feet) in height, and the only room in the house has a total living area of 10 squares meters (107.6 square feet).
Wernigerode Castle – Wernigerode Castle
The marvelous panorama of the Harz Mountains is dominated by the famous Wernigerode Castle rising high above. The former medieval construction was eventually transformed and rebuilt into a neo-Gothic luxury castle at the end of the 19th century, where the counts and princes held court in splendor. Following the signs from the town center, there are plenty of paths through the woods and grounds of the castle making it a short hike to the castle’s front yard for a 360-degree view over the castle itself, the edge of the Harz Mountain, and the town nestling at its feet. Visitors can stroll along the wide terrace of the castle, and enjoy the wonderful views of the village and the Harz Mountain. Art enthusiasts will find plenty to see, including religious art, elaborate craftwork, and gorgeous interior designs, from the Renaissance to the 19th century, while learning about the history of Germany. The castle itself is a museum and the entrance fee is 12 EUR (13.67 USD) per adult.
Visit the highest peak of Harz National Park
Wernigerode is a good starting point for hiking in the northern Harz with plenty of trails organized by the Harz Club. A more comfortable way to explore the Harz is to take the Harz Narrow Gauge Railway (Harz Schmalspurbahnen). A must-do is to take a trip with Brockenbahn to the Brocken – the highest peak of the Harz Mountains, 1114 meters (3654 feet) above sea level. On the Harzquerbahn train, you can enjoy a beautifully scenic 60 kilometer (37.2 miles) ride from Wernigerode to Nordhausen. The trail winds around the so-called Steinerne Renne (a waterfall and natural monument) before it gains heights and ascends to the Drei Annen Hohne Station where the Brocken branch diverges and takes you to the Brocken peak.
Other things to do
Wernigerode is ideal for an escape from city life. Enjoy the green surroundings of the village where the Mühlental Valley runs directly into the mountainous area, leading to the old town of Elbingerode. When you are done indulging in the natural surroundings, relax at the Cafe Wien lying just on the side of the Town Hall, or lounge through the shopping streets of Wernigerode.