The once booming medieval mining town of Hettstedt sits between the southern edges of the pretty Harz Mountains and the Wipper Valley. It was this mining fueled economy that allowed for the building of a few exquisite churches and the protection giving Stadtmauer (fortification wall) and defense towers.
Legend tells that the Sankt Gangolf Chuch was built on the site of where two brothers first found copper. In reality the church was built in the 1200’s and is one of the oldest churches in the region.
Everyone can find out more of Hettstedt’s mining history and legends at Hettstedt’s Mining Museum. At least the kiddies will certainly get a real kick on riding the museum’s railway cars!
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If you come to Hettstedt’s Old Town from the north on your way to the Market, you’ll pass right through the Saigertor, the former northern gateway into the city that was built in 1535.
The Zuckerhutturm (Sugar Loaf Tower), built in 1434, is another defense tower and originally attached to the Stadtmauer, as was the Hexenturm, or Witches’ Tower. You’re also quite close to the Sankt Jacobi Church, which stands here for more than 700 years.
During a more recent century, Hettstedt was an industrial town, helping the German war effort in the 20th century. Although, the war didn’t hit so close to home until April 1945 when the town was hit hard by Allied bombing. Over fifty people here lost their lives and over 100 buildings were destroyed but many pre-war homes were spared in the residential Molmeck District.
After the war, Hettstedt dedicated memorials to the “victims of fascism,” Polish workers who had been kidnapped and killed in the labor camp, and the New Village Cemetery has one dedicated to many other prisoners of war.
Hettstedt also has some great festivals, like the Steam Engine Festival held on the last weekend in August at the mining museum. There’s also an excellent Christmas Market held in December.
One of the most fun is the Bulb Market, held in mid October and where they crown the town’s Bulb Queen. If that’s not reason enough to come visit Hettstedt! ;-)