Architecture, Kitsch and Culture in the Harz Mountains

Last week I shared the first day of my weekend in the Harz Mountains in Germany with you, which was all about hiking and taking in the views. Today I'll tell you a bit of our second day in the Harz and about traditions and the culture of that particular region.

The Harz is situated in the middle of Northern Germany and was divided into a western and eastern part until the fall of the Iron Curtain. People in West Germany were able to visit the Harz Mountains prior to that, while people in the East were not, as the DDR regime used the Harz Mountains as an observation space and military base.

My parents visited the Harz in the 1980s and told me that it was really strange for them knowing that they have reached the end of their country - not being able to cross the border. My mum said the woods and mountains only increased this depressive feeling.

Fortunately these times are over now and we could explore the area freely. We went to some spa towns like Bad Harzburg and Bad Grund and they were clearly developed to fulfill the needs of tourists aged 60+. 

These places had two things in common: witches and kitsch. As it was the weekend before Walpurgis night, there were witches everywhere! They were up in the air, they sat on benches in the park and they were in front of hotels and restaurants. Also, typical Harz architecture definitely looks like the buildings are inhabited by witches.

There were these little witch's cottages everywhere with little towers and ornaments. Some of them were really cute while others looked somewhat strange.

Apart from the spa towns, we also visited the city of Clausthal-Zellerfeld, a mining and university town in the western Harz. We drove through the city on our way to the hotel one day prior and I noticed a beautiful blue building that I wanted to take some pictures of.

So the next day we stopped there and it turns out that the beautiful blue building was a church! I have never seen a church that beautiful! 

We also got to admire the house where Robert Koch, a nobel price winner in the category of medicine, grew up in, which is equally gorgeous as the rest of Clausthal-Zellerfeld!

The last stop on our way home was the clock museum in Bad Grund. It exhibits various forms of clocks and watches, old and very old. You probably think it was kitsch but it was actually really interesting. I have had this dream to get a tattoo of the Big Ben clock, a black and grey traditional one, for a long time, though the lack of money kept me from getting it so far.

Anyway there were many clocks and watches that I really loved in the museum and below you can only find a few of the most beautiful ones (yes a few, really! I took a hundred pictures....)

Apart from the exhibiton of clocks you could also get an insight into how tower or church clocks function.

So all in all it was a busy weekend but I really enjoyed it. I was glad to finally discover this part of Germany and although I can't imagine living there, it was a great visit and the woods and witch's cottages are really beautiful.

I can only recommend visiting the Harz if you want to have a weekend without wifi and if you want to go hiking and exploring unique little museums!


More information about the Harz Mountains: