Buildings are silent witnesses to centuries long past, yet they have a lot to tell. The Harz region in northern Germany was once home to emperors and kings of the Middle Ages and has several old castles, monasteries and churches. In six stages, the 95-kilometre (59-mile) long Harzer Klosterwanderweg (Harz Monastery Trail) connects some of these historic sites and the two World Heritage Sites of Goslar and Quedlinburg.
There is plenty to see along the way – blooming monastery gardens, impressive church buildings, the fantastic sandstone cliffs of the Teufelsmauer (Devil's Wall), views over the rolling hills of the northern Harz foreland and narrow paths along the Oker, Ecker and Bode rivers. With your Harzer Wandernadel (Harz Walking Badge) stamp book, you can collect 11 special stamps en route and exchange them for a copper Pilgrims’ Cross hiking pin when you finish.
As the trail is mostly gentle, it’s suitable for beginners. However, sturdy shoes are definitely recommended. At the end of each stage, you can usually choose from several places to stay, but I recommend booking accommodation in advance. Often, you can stay in one of the monastery complexes and immerse yourself in the history of the places. Most of the time, you find places to stop for refreshments along the way, but pack enough food and drinks anyway.
You can comfortably reach the start in the historic town of Goslar either by car or train. As all towns along the trail are connected to the German railway network, you can easily skip stages and return to Goslar at the end.
Your hike starts at the foot of the Romanesque Neuwerk Church in Goslar. After a tour of the interior and the monastery garden, you set out on the path that initially leads you towards the exit of the village. Less than a kilometer after the start you will reach the St. Georg Abbey ruins. Only foundations of the former church are left today, which you can visit freely and which give an impression of the more than 1000-year history of the monastery.Through the city park Köppelsbleek and along the outskirts you leave Goslar and hike with a view of the Brocken through the forest and over the field to Gut Grauhof, on which the baroque monastery church St. Georg stands. The church stands out in particular because of its elaborate late baroque furnishings and the organ, which attracts organists from all over the world to the Harz Mountains due to its sound quality.
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This stage is the shortest at just under ten kilometers, but the most exciting section is definitely waiting for you today. On narrow paths there is a short steep uphill climb, because the Teufelsmauer stretches from the outskirts of Blankenburg to the east and you follow this ridge with its bizarre sandstone rock formations for the first few kilometers.The paths here are partly stony and narrow, but more demanding passages are usually secured with railings and ladders. However, a little surefootedness and sturdy shoes make sense.The path first leads past the grandmother and grandfather - two cliffs that protrude over the surrounding deciduous forest and offer a grandiose view of the surrounding area. On the Südhangweg you follow the Teufelsmauer towards Timmenrode. Shortly before the place, the Hamburg coat of arms rises up, another sandstone cliff that is visible from afar and is well suited for a break. You can even find picnic benches here.