Welcome to the Colorful town in the Harz foothills

"Bunte Stadt am Harz" is its nickname, which means "the colourful town in the Harz foothills". Wernigerode north of the Harz Mountains is a town with very special charms: In an unparalleled fascination and variety, splendid timber-framed houses compete for the observer's attention.

The oldest among them has been doing this since 1400.


A Modern Town With a Great Deal of History

The foundation of the town Wernigerode dates back to the times of the Great Clearings, which took place in the Harz between the 9th and the 12th centuries. Archaeological finds point to the fact that the first clearing took place on the Klint at the end of the 9th Century. Owing to its situation quite close to two trade routes over the Harz Mountains, what was initially a rustic village soon provided good conditions for settlement of crafts and trade.

The village grew swiftly and developed into a market-town. When early in the 12th Century the Counts of Heimar bought land in the Harz, erected their castle above the settlement and adopted its name, this was also a stimulation to the town's development. The first documentary evidence dates back to 1121 with a mention of the "Comes de Wernigerothe", which is the Count of Wernigerode.

On April 17th in 1229, Conrad, Berthold, Gebhard and Burchard "By the Grace of God Counts of Wernigerode" awarded town privileges to the inhabitants. Crafts and trade prospered in the shelter of the city walls which surrounded the town even then. Shortly after town privileges had been awarded, Wernigerode's New Town (Neustadt) was built, which came under common Land Law until it was awarded its own town privileges in 1410. In 1529 Old and New Town were merged. Wernigerode was given its own Council Constitution. The town hall that was built between 1529 and 1544 from the former playhouse testifies to the self-assurance of the Bourgeoisie to this very day. Wernigerode's development in the last centuries was a dynamic one.

A great boost in the town's development has occurred in the 19th Century. Its importance and size grew when tourism arose. Under the Prince Otto zu Stolberg-Wernigerode, Vice Chancellor of Bismarck, Wernigerode climbed to the peak of its historical importance. In the Castle of Wernigerode, vital parts of Germany's very first social legislation were developed.

After World War II, which fortunately left much of Wernigerode undestroyed, a prosperous economy developed, which could be continued even after the fall of the Wall and during the turbulent times of German Reunification at the end of the 20th Century. This was far from natural in other parts of East Germany.

Today, Wernigerode is a modern town with a great deal of history.