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Germany - Saxony-Anhalt

Wernigerode

A Karen Brown Recommendation
Arriving at the northern foot of the mountains in *Wernigerode, secure a parking place on one of the little side streets near the pedestrian Altstadt and make your way to the Marktplatz where you find the magnificent *Rathaus (town hall) whose slender spires and intricate woodwork occupy one side of the square. The Oberfarrkirchof is a picturesque little nook behind the town hall. House number 13, the House Gadenstedt, dating from the 15th century, is one of the loveliest houses in the town. The nearby Kochstrasse contains the smallest house in town—its little door is only 1.7 meters high and the house is only 4.2 meters up to the eaves. Number 72 Breite Strasse was built in 1674 and you can hardly see the original half-timberwork for the amount of intricate carving that decorates it. A horse’s head and horseshoes over the door of 95 Breite Strasse indicate that this was for over 300 years a blacksmith’s shop, Krell’sche Schmeide. The museum contains a display of all things pertaining to blacksmithing and outlines the lifestyles of two families who lived here. (1–5 pm, Wednesdays to Sundays; 10 am–3 pm, Fridays.) The tourist office is on Nicolaiplatz. High above the town, the *Schloss Wernigerode dominates the skyline. While it is possible to walk up to the castle (a half-hour walk through the suburbs), a less strenuous approach is to take the little tractor-train from just behind the market place. A castle has been here since the 13th century but beyond the ancient portcullis what you see today is an ornate, 19th-ccentury baroque castle-style home. Guided tours are available in German or you can tour the castle with the aid of an English brochure and walk from one beautifully furnished room to another. (10 am–5 pm, closed Mondays except in the summer.) Wernigerode is the headquarters of the Harzer Schmalspurbahnen (HSB), which operates the great little trains of the Harz that give you magnificent views of the mountains. Their brochure Great Adventures with Narrow-Gauge Steam outlines three railway adventures, two of which leave from Wernigerode. The *Harzquerbahn leaves from the Hauptbahnhof, and steaming between houses and gardens, the little train chugs into the forest, winding its way up through the trees as it climbs into the mountains. Following a long tunnel, the track becomes steeper and steeper as the train approaches Drei-Annen-Hohne where the track divides: the Harzquerbahn continues across the Harz to Nordhausen (three hours from Wernigerode) while the Brockenbahn begins the climb of the Brocken mountain. From Drei-Annen-Hohne the Brockenbahn train climbs ever steeper to the summit of the Brocken, offering magnificent views of the Hochharz National Park. (8 trains a day, May 28 to November 5, tel: 03943 558162, fax: 03943 32107.)
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