• Germany edition
 
Combing through Quedlinburg's charms
Photo: DPA

Combing through Quedlinburg's charms

Published: 21 Jul 2010 16:54 GMT+02:00
Updated: 21 Jul 2010 16:54 GMT+02:00

Quedlinburg’s architecture is hard not to find fascinating. The buildings constantly snatch attention away from ones feet – which can be a hazard seeing as many of the town’s streets are cobbled and lumpy.

But as long as one can keep largely upright, this charming little place tucked away in the bucolic Harz region in central Germany, is a many-splendored delight.

Quedlinburg, a couple of hours southwest of Berlin, is a UNESCO cultural heritage site and rightly so – it’s like wandering through an open-air museum except that intriguingly, is lived-in and unfinished.

The houses in the inner, older part of town are nearly all half-timbered. Numbering more than 1,300, they are in various states of collapse, renovation and pristine condition.

Those with an eye for such things can play games spotting the different kinds of half-timbering, while others can simply marvel at the massive, aged, pieces of wood used in the construction and the fact that it all still stands, even at some crazy angles.

There are a number of guided walking tours which can include historical explanations, more detail on the half-timbered houses, and even a night-time one conducted by fully-costumed night watchman who tells tales relating to specific buildings – some more reliable than others.

But a walk around the crooked streets of the town centre can easily be done alone, starting from the central square with its ancient Rathaus, or town hall.

"It's very pretty to walk around all the old houses, you get a feeling of almost going back in time,” said British weekend visitor Dan Paton. “And you can see that a lot of care and attention has been put into keeping the place historically correct. It just oozes history.”

Best to make a specific trip to the square for the Saturday market, where there is even a stall selling "biodynamic" fruit and veg, next to more conventional produce such as bread, an array of pickled cucumbers, local cheeses and meats of all kinds.

CLICK HERE FOR A PHOTO GALLERY OF QUEDLINBURG

En route up to the castle, a measure of self control is required to delay a visit to the specialist cheese cake café until afterwards – there are a hundred varieties, served in alarmingly large slices. But the short, sharp climb can be rewarded with cake afterwards – and is better undertaken without the extra ballast.

The castle complex is actually an abbey and accompanying basilica. Heinrich I, considered the founder of the mediaeval kingdom leading to the Holy Roman Empire, is said to have been crowned at the bottom of the hill, while he and his queen, Mathilde, were buried in the basilica.

This lent Quedlinburg huge import during the Middle Ages, and the abbey Mathilde founded was later granted large areas of political independence by Otto I, and then rights to mint its own money and impose taxes by Otto III. A bit of mediaeval feminism, if you will.

The town’s basilica, the Stiftskirche St Servatius - dates back to 1129, but there is evidence of three previous buildings on the site. There are fascinating for its traces of early religion, with the tops of pillars carved with animal representations not normally associated with a Christian house of worship.

The relics held in two rooms within the basilica are also magical – chunky mediaeval bibles decorated in gold and big lumpy precious stones, and fabulous carved boxes also covered in rough finery.

A more familiar sense of church life is found in the abbey, also in the castle complex – a 16th and 17th century building where the abbesses lived, studied, ruled and taught.

A row of them are portrayed in pictures hung along one long room – the realism of their ugliness perhaps reflecting their position – like kings, they had no need to be kind to the eye, for they were educated and held power.

More prosaic pleasures can be sought back in town, in the range of art and craft galleries and shops as well as the small range of pleasant eating places in Quedlinburg, including a fine Italian called Antica Roma, the Palais Saalfeld if you want to push the boat out, but also the cute Flammkuchen bistro Himmel und Hölle (which also has holiday flats).

"The town is big enough to have plenty to offer, the locals are very friendly and there seems to be a lot going on - I saw a variety of live bands playing in pubs and bars on a special music night,” said Paton after his visit.

It is worth getting out of town too if one has the time, as the surrounding countryside is gorgeous – and a trip up towards the mountains is definitely worth it, to experience the rocky outcrops and gorges which inspired some of Goethe’s musings as well as ancient tales of witchcraft.

An eclectic trip to Quedlinburg would not be complete without a trip down the road to nearby Halberstadt for the glorious madness that is the John Cage ‘As Slow As Possible’ performance. This composition being performed on an organ will take a mind-blowing 639 years to complete.

At any one time it seems to be no more than a droning note or cord coming from a small organ in an old church, but hundreds of people gather when every few months the next note change is expected.

Of course, Quedlinburg’s ancient history and houses have already stood for longer than it will take the Cage piece to be played, so time in the Harz can become relative quite quickly.

Related links:

Hannah Cleaver (hannah.cleaver@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

17:12 July 21, 2010 by JohnnesKönig
I hope to see this in the next few days...
23:45 July 21, 2010 by goody
I was there in May my Cousin and his wife took me I just loved it I would live there in a moment.The place is a piece of heaven.
Today's headlines
German squad leaves out one-legged long jumper
Markus Rehm. Photo: DPA

German squad leaves out one-legged long jumper

German athletics officials said on Wednesday they would not nominate the country's long jump champion Markus Rehm for the European championships because of fears his prosthetic leg gives him an unfair advantage. READ  

Second man arrested after synagogue attack
The synagogue on Tuesday after the attack. Photo: DPA

Second man arrested after synagogue attack

Police arrested a second suspect on Wednesday in connection with an attempted arson attack in which Molotov cocktails were thrown at a synagogue in western Germany. Another man who said he was Palestinian has denied involvement. READ  

German women fall short of equality
Still a man's world: women in Germany find it hard to rise as high as Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: DPA

German women fall short of equality

Women in Germany are still underrepresented in leadership jobs and among professors, a new government report said on Wednesday. They are also paid less and remain unlikely to study science, technology, engineering or mathematics. READ  

The Local List
Five reasons to visit (and to avoid) Oktoberfest
Photo: DPA

Five reasons to visit (and to avoid) Oktoberfest

With just over 50 days to go until Munich's Oktoberfest starts, it is time to book your train/plane/horse to the world’s biggest beer festival. Or is it? The Local List looks at five reasons you should be making that trip, and five why you'd better steer clear. READ  

Visa chaos hits Bayern Munich's USA tour
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Photo: DPA

Visa chaos hits Bayern Munich's USA tour

Bayern Munich boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is among the club's staff and players who could not join a week-long tour to the USA on Wednesday because of visa problems. READ  

Dead TV star replies to SPD party invite
German actress Renater Küster with a statue of her late husband Dieter Hildebrandt. Photo: DPA

Dead TV star replies to SPD party invite

The Social Democrats (SPD) accidentally invited a dead TV star to attend its summer party. It got a shock when the veteran presenter replied saying, "I can't make it". READ  

Father killed in 'Cold Water Challenge'
The digger tipped over. Photo: DPA

Father killed in 'Cold Water Challenge'

A father died and five of his friends were injured on Tuesday night in western Germany when a digger fell on top of them during a so-called Cold Water Challenge. READ  

Huge Bavarian crop circle puzzles crowds
Raisting crop circle. Photo: DPA

Huge Bavarian crop circle puzzles crowds

A mysterious crop circle in Bavaria has attracted thousands of visitors since it was spotted in a wheat field last week. READ  

German siblings killed by drunk driver in Austria
Photo: DPA

German siblings killed by drunk driver in Austria

A ten-year-old girl and her 21-year-old brother were killed overnight in a road accident on the A1 motorway in Upper Austria, caused by a drunk driver who was driving on the wrong side of the road. READ  

Merkel: Russia sanctions were 'inevitable'
Merkel warned further sanctions could be imposed against Russia. Photo: DPA

Merkel: Russia sanctions were 'inevitable'

Strong sanctions imposed by the EU against Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis were “inevitable”, Chancellor Angela Merkel claimed on Tuesday night, despite Germany's initial reluctance to get tough on President Vladimir Putin. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Analysis & Opinion
Have Your Say: Should Germany legalize cannabis?
Photo: DPA
Education
Germany's students fail to graduate in time
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Hamburg harbour lit up in blue
Business & Money
JobTalk: 'Application process is failing'
Photo: Bundesarchiv/Bild 183-S45825
Culture
Germany puts 700,000 WWI docs online
Photo: DPA
Society
This man wants to give all of us €12,000 a year
Photo: DPA
Education
Top university switches master's courses to English
instagram.com/gotzemario
Gallery
Germany's World Cup stars share their holiday photos
Travel
Plans unveiled for bike trail along former Iron Curtain
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The Local List: 12 best words in German
Photo: DPA
Gallery
German Bucket List: How many of these can you tick off?
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,253
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd