Harz, the other Winter Wonderland
Done the Alps? Then may I suggest something different this winter and discover Germany’s wondrous Harz region in Saxony-Anhalt, where nature and culture create the perfect mix for a magical break in the snow
MORE THAN 50 slopes in the ski regions of the Upper Harz cater for experienced skiers and snowboarders as well as beginners alike with a variety of ski runs and all mod cons, including T-bars, chair lifts and cable cars. Cross-country skiers will delight in a 500km trail network, enabling them to enjoy the Harz winter wonderland in all its splendour. You could also try snowshoe hiking (a great workout, believe me!) in deep snow or tobogganing on a choice of 40 runs and slopes.
Winter is also a magical time to explore the Harz region’s uniquely charming towns when colourful timber frame facades come into their own. Quedlinburg is a favourite, with visitors from around the world marvelling at more than 2,000 timber frame houses, Romanesque buildings and art nouveau mansions. The town’s history goes back more than a thousand years and UNESCO-listed Quedlinburg is a unique urban gem where past and present intertwine and history comes alive. A special treat for art lovers is the town’s Lyonel Feininger Gallery, containing the most comprehensive collection of the German-American artist’s graphic work in Europe. Quedlinburg also has a thriving art scene, with young artists and craft workers working in studios and workshops here.
A mere 18 miles further west, the so-called ‘colourful town in the Harz’ is another visitor highlight. Wernigerode, on the northern edge of the Harz, delights with its multi-coloured timber frame houses, narrow, picturesque streets and splendid buildings from six centuries, including the stunning red town hall (1277) on the market square with its characteristic turrets. Wernigerode Castle above town has its origins in the Middle Ages and was reconstructed in the late 17th century in the baroque style as a romantic castle, providing a particularly beautiful sight in a snow-covered winter landscape.
Speaking of which, for many arguably the best Harz winter experience is a steam train ride up the Brocken mountain, whose peak can be seen on a clear day when wandering through Wernigerode. It is not unusual for it to be covered in snow as early as November, and the nostalgic trains of the Brocken Railway, part of the Harz Mountains narrow gauge train lines, take visitors up the mountain to the Brocken station at 1,125 metres.
Main image: Wernigerode Town Hall. The town delights with its multi-coloured timber frame houses (© Investitions-und Marketinggesellschaft Sachsen-Anhalt mbH)
More information at www.harzinfo.de
NEED TO KNOW
Saxony Anhalt Tourism, www.saxony-anhalt-tourism.eu, is part of the Cultural Heart of Germany, www.cultural-heart-of-germany.com, a tourism initiative of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt & Thuringia Tourism. The neighbouring states of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia feature a unique cultural heritage and rich musical tradition that the Cultural Heart of Germany promotes in the UK.
GETTING THERE – Easy access to the Cultural Heart of Germany is via Ryanair to Leipzig and all major airlines to Berlin.