Introducing Wernigerode

In 1121 was when Wernigerode was mentioned for the first time. This "colourful town of the Harz Mountains" has been attracting travellers for decades with its beautifully restored and well-kept half-timbered houses.

The settlement between Holtemme and Zillerbach (two streams which are nearby) probably took place in the 11th Century. The leader of the settlers could have been somebody by the name of "Wern", "Wernher" or "Werniger". The second part of the city’s name "rode" derives from the German word Rodung (clearing). This is because the still existing riverside woodland used to be cultivated.

Later Count Adalbert, from the area around Hildesheim, chose Wernigerode to be his home. The present-day castle was later built on the foundation walls of Count Adalbert’s fortress.

The Count of Wernigerode gave the city municipal rights on the 27th of April 1229. Since then Wernigerode has become a quite considerable town in size.

Goethe visited Wernigerode in 1777, no one could even have thought about holidays in the Harz Mountains. It was not until the end of the 19th Century, that Wernigerode’s newspapers announced the first summer guests. Among them were Theodor Fontane and Herrman Löns, two German poets. The latter introduced the name "colourful town of the Harz Mountains", which still seems true today.

Since then visitors from home and abroad have come to Wernigerode.

Geography and demographics
It is located southwest of Halberstadt, and is picturesquely situated on the Holtemme river, on the north slopes of the Harz Mountains. Population (1999): 35,500. During the GDR period, it was very close to the border between East and West Germany.

It contains several interesting Gothic buildings, including a fine town hall with a timber facade of 1498. Some of the quaint old houses which have escaped the numerous fires that have visited the town are elaborately adorned with wood-carving. The Gerhart-Hauptmann -Gymnasium (Gerhart - Hauptmann - Gymnasium - Wernigerode), occupying a modern Gothic building, is the successor of an ancient grammar-school, which existed until 1825. Brandy, Hassserode Lager, cigars and dyes are among the products manufactured in Wernigerode. Above the town rises the castle (Schloß Wernigerode) of the prince Stolberg-Wernigerode; the original was built in the 12th century. The present castle was built between 1862 and 1893 by K. Fruhling and includes parts of the medieval building.

The Harzer Schmalspurbahn is a narrow gauge railway that leads from Wernigerode to The Brocken (1141m), the highest peak in the Harz Mountains, and then goes to Nordhausen to the south of the Harz mountains. The second highest peak, Wurmberg (971m), is accessible by cable car from Braunlage which is connected by bus to Wernigerode. Wernigerode has numerous museums, galleries, libraries, monuments and parks.