The Cultural Harz
Those who think that in the Harz, "you can't see the culture for the trees," are wildly off the mark. The forests of the Harz can tell you more about a unique cultural landscape than you would think at first sight. Even the name "Harz" is derived from the old German word, "Hart", meaning mountain forest. And today's woodland is an artificial product in many parts. The impenetrable coniferous forests are the result of an industry that transformed the Harz, especially around Clausthal-Zellerfeld and Mansfeld, and brought prosperity to the Harz people over many centuries: Mining. The underground treasures turned out to be so rich that the only material to support the mineshafts and to melt the metals, wood, simply disappeared from the Harz, and had to be planted again by human hand.
Heinrich Heine wrote, "The Brocken is a German". You can certainly come to the same conclusion for the whole of the Harz region. And yet, German history is reflected in this landscape in very different ways. The historical highlights, with a national, even European significance - the foundation of the Holy Roman Empire, the German Nation and the once more freely accessible Brocken as a symbol of German reunification, to name just a few - are contrasted with the Harz's own local history, reflecting world history, or at some places simply preserving it.
This feeling of time standing still that can be found everywhere, for example when walking through towns full of affectionately restored half-timbered buildings, such as Hornburg, Duderstadt or Wernigerode, takes the visitor into a different world. The Harz offers an almost physically perceptible intensification of this "atmospheric landscape" through events and testimonies which shine only dimly through the passage of time that overlays them.
The Harz can quite easily be seen as a work of art, as a whole. Experience its cultural diversity!
With its castles, fortresses, churches, monasteries, gardens, parks, cultural-historical museums and its historical townscapes, as well as memorials, it is a stage of world history.
Above all in the relicts of the historical Harz mining landscape, the thirst for research and the pioneering spirit can be seen that originated here.
Those two Harz hikers, Goethe and Heine, have firmly cemented the Harz into world literature. But they are not the only renowned artists to be inspired by the history and nature of the Harz. Experience the Harz as an inspiration for geniuses!
Details of the cultural highlights of the Harz can be found at the Harzer Verkehrsverband (Harz Transport Authority), at www.kultur-harz.de