Blankenburg (Harz) — The Shy Town In The Harz Mountains

It’s hard to find a town in Germany that wasn’t touched by the ugliness of the Second World War and Blankenburg in the Harz Mountains wasn’t immune.

It was here in 1933 that the ill-famed SS-Obergruppenf├╝hrer Friedrich Jeckeln tortured and killed 140 opponents of the National Socialists, and the Gestapo opened a hard labor camp here sometime in the 1930’s.

Blankenburg also once had a thriving Jewish community (as far back as the 12th century), including a synagogue, but by 1938 the Jewish community was all but gone.

As dark as those days were, this town shouldn’t be forever shadowed by the atrocity of the war.

What should be remembered are the romantic medieval castles, like the 12th century Schloss Blankenburg with it’s Baroque garden, tea house, and city museum. Schloss Regenstein (12th century) may be in ruins but is still beautiful after more than 800 years. There must be a reason that Blankenburg is on the Romanesque Route

There’s beautiful medieval artwork to be found in the Parish Church Bartholomaeus which was built in 1200. Not as old, but still beautiful, is Blankenburg’s Town Hall built during the days of the Renaissance.

For a aerial view of the town and its surrounding mountains head over to the Ruins of Luisenburg, a lookout point for the Duchess Christine Luise von Braunschweig in the 18th century. You can also see for miles up on Oak Mountain at the Wilhelm-Raabe-Warte, a watchtower built in 1896.

Ziegenkopf is totally awesome — an observation tower that stands 30 meters high with its wooden top disguising the stonework bottom and right next door to a mountain retreat hotel. Don’t miss the Devil Wall, a unique natural sandstone formation, which is closeby.

What else should be remembered are the the monks who loved it here and built the Monastery Michaelstein in the 10th century. In addition to the monk’s herb garden and musical instrument museum, there’s also a summer monastery celebration and many concerts.

Of course, there are plenty of other festivals around town. The Wikingerfest (held around Easter), the Knights Tournament in July, and plenty of Historical Weekends. And, again, not to forget its history since Blankenburg is just shy of its 900th birthday.

And, this is exactly how this town wants to be remembered, it seems.

 

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