Last Updated on 31/01/2023
According to legend, the knight Ramm, or rather, his restless horse, discovered silver ore on Rammelsberg. The horse was tied to a tree while hunting. Out of boredom, he dug up the ground with his hoof and exposed the ore, a sample of which the knight brought to the king. The wife of a knight named Gose Goslar owes its name. From this legend, the real were the kings. For quite a long time, Goslar was the imperial residence town.
Rammelsberg has been a source of wealth for the Goslar for centuries. Now both the former mine and the preserved half-timbered town are included in the UNESCO list.
Other posts on Harz – #Harz.
About the Rammelsberg mines
Harz. 4. Quedlinburg
Harz. 2. Brocken, Wurmberg
Harz. 1. Wernigerode
Sights of Harz on the map: Harz map, part 1 west and Harz map, part 2 east
Coast of Germany. Lower Saxony and Hamburg. What to visit
It is known that mining took place here already in 968, under Emperor Otto 1. The settlement of Goslariae was founded even earlier, under King Henry 1, in 922.
Emperor Henry II ordered the construction of the Pfalz (imperial travel palace) here in 1005-1015. For 150 years, especially under Henry III, the Pfalz at Goslar was the most important in Germany. Until 1219, Reichstags were held here regularly. Emperors often visited the city, and for Henry 3 this residence was a favorite, and he lived in Goslar for months and died here. The emperor’s heart was buried in the church of St. Simon and Jude. In 1050, Henry 4 was born in Goslar, he also spent most of his time here. From the end of the 12th centur the Pfalz lost its significance. The city was under siege several times.
In 1253 there was the last visit, after which the palace ceased to function as an imperial palace. Since that time, the city has gained greater independence. The profits obtained from the mining of silver are used to build the town hall, city fortifications, guild houses and wealthy residents. In the 13th century Goslar entered the Hansa.
From the middle of the 16th century, after a long conflict with the Duke of Brunswick Heinrich 5, the city lost most of its rights to mining metal and timber. By the end of the 18th century he was heavily in debt, and Goethe described it as an imperial city, decayed in its privileges.
From 1802 Goslar became part of Prussia. From the middle of the 19th century it is becoming a popular resort. Goslar suffered little from the Second World War.
How to get to Goslar
Those who drive can leave a car in the parking lot at the station (note: one half of the parking is paid, the other is free).
By public transport (train) from Goslar it is easy to get to Wernigerode (45 min), Hannover (1 h 10 min), Braunschweig (45 min), Wolfsburg (1 h 25 min), Hildesheim (35 min). Therefore, it is suitable as one of the bases for those who want to see also the nearest surroundings of Harz.
A walking takes at least three hours, with museums – another couple of hours plus. Rammelsberg – taking into account that you must to sign up for an excursion at the entrance to the mines and it might be 2-3 hours later – at least half a day.
Goslar old town
Goslar residents were sometimes not very attentive to their historical monuments, but still much has survived. At least more than in Wernigerode, since Goslar reached UNESCO, and Wernigerode did not. Nevertheless, you may not like the city, it is very peculiar. Goethe and Heine, for example, were disappointed with him. On my first visit, I was also not happy. However, the second time I started to like him.
To get a better impression of the city, it’s best not to follow the route suggested by the tourist office – it surprisingly misses half of the interesting places.
In Goslar there are about 1500 half-timbered houses of different eras. I suggest an approximate route.
In Harz you need to know a little more about half-timbered houses. Read more about History of Fachwerk.
Let’s start our way from the station (1).
– station – Rosentor – Schilderstr.
Neuwerkkirche (2) – originally the church of a Cistercian monastery, it was built in the 12th century and has managed to survive to our time unchanged. It can be visited from March to October.
Jakobikirche (3) – the oldest of the currently used churches of Goslar (it was built in the 11th century). Ancient frescoes (13-16 centuries) were discovered in the church. In the photos there is a square near the church.
– the area where the miners lived:
– Beekstrasse – (Marktstrasse – Bergstrasse)
– House Siemens (Schreiberstr. 2)
The Siemens family has lived in Goslar for over 600 years and has been involved in the production of beer. But its most famous member, without whom this house would not have been included in all tourist plans of the city, was Werner Siemens, the founder of the concern.
The Siemens house was built at the end of the 17th century. It is engraved with the motto: “Pray and work.” Not all buildings originally belonged to Siemens – they acquired some for organizing family meetings and keeping the family archive. The house can be visited with a city tour, but, in my opinion, it is enough to look at the photos on the house’s website.
Frankenberger Kirche (5)
Church dedicated to St. Peter and Paul, is located in the area where the miners lived. It was built at the beginning of the 12th century. (changes were carried out in the 14-15th centuries, 18th century) at the highest place of the city. The tower of the church was part of the city’s fortifications. Inside, features of a Romanesque basilica, frescoes from the 13th century have been preserved. The carved main altar, pulpit and organ belong to the Baroque era (late 17th century). The church can be visited during the summer.
– An der Gose – Worthsatenwinkel – Hoher Weg – Liebfrauenweg – imperial Pfalz – Zwinger
Hospiz Grosses Heiliges Kreuz (6) – the building of the 13th century hosts masters of various crafts (Kunsthandwerk) and their works: testil, gold, wool, glass, porcelain, ceramics, stones, leather. Admission is free from 11.00 to 17.00, closed Mon (and Sunday in winter).
Imperial Pfalz (7)
The Imperial Palace is the oldest and best-preserved non-religious building in Germany.
It was built in the middle of the 11th century and was completed in the 12th century. Near the palace there were other buildings, small churches and the Cathedral of St. Simon and Judas were all surrounded by a wall. In the 13th century there was a big fire that destroyed many buildings. Later the wall turned into ruins, the tower of the cathedral collapsed. Chapel of St. Ulrich was used as a prison.
Cathedral, for lack of funds, in the 19th century was sold to artisans for stone. One “hallway” survived from it (Vorhalle, 8, on the photo).
Palace, after in the 13th century emperors finally lost interest in him, served as a place for the court, then a granary. In the 19th century they thought to sell it on a stone, but the state commission decided to carry out the restoration.
During the restoration, the building was given a monumental character: it was raised, connected with the chapel of St. Ulrich gallery, made a staircase in front of the entrance, changed the shape of the windows on the first floor, added lions. The statues of Frederick Barbarossa and Wilhelm 1 were installed. A monumental painting on the entire wall was created in the great hall.
As you might guess from this brief history, there is practically nothing to look inside. Although the caretakers strongly forbid taking photographs (I suspect that no one would have guessed that it is not necessary to go inside).
We came to the palace half an hour before closing time, when they are officially not allowed to enter, but we said that we handle to look all quickly, and we did it without any problems.
Most of the building is occupied by a very large hall with very boring standard for 19th century paintings on historical themes. You can go down to the former chapel of St. Ulrich and look at the bare walls. A narrow staircase leads to the chapel. In other rooms of the palace (and there are only few of them, mainly on the ground floor), the little that survived from local merchants is exhibited: the remains of jewelry, columns, as well as models.
The highlight of the program is the imperial throne, which was kept in the cathedral, and then moved to the lower floor of the palace. It is one of the two surviving thrones of the German emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. But the copy is on display in Vorhalle, you can see it and save time.
The tower of the city fortifications (1517), the walls of which are 6.5 m thick, houses a museum of the late Middle Ages. This small museum exhibits armor and weapons from the 16th to the 19th century, and Roman weapons. You can go up to the observation deck.
– Abzuchtstrasse – Klappenhagen – Gemeindehof – Markt – Fleischscharren – Schuhhof – Rathaus
Goslar Museum (10)
In a building belonging to the monastery (1514), an exhibition dedicated to the history of the city: valuable church items, coins printed here, household items.
Mill Lohmühle (11)
The mill (the beginning of the 16th century) – the only surviving of 40 mills that stood on the stream. At the end of its working career, it processed cement and tree bark. There is a museum of pewter figurines inside the building.
Butterhanne and Brusttuch (14)
The cities have official business cards, and there are unofficial ones.
These unofficial ones include the butter-maker, who bared her back, – the decoration on the wall of the house “with breast handkerchief” – Brusttuch. According to the main version, since beating butter was a hard business, butter-makers were traditionally considered to be associated with evil spirits. And this particular butter-maker Hannah shows the devil on the next devoration her back to prove the lack of connection with him.
However, there is another version that interprets the behavior of the butter maker more frivolously, especially since other images on the house are not very piety.
Other figures on the house deserve your attention too.
Brusttuch was built in 1527. Now it houses a hotel and a restaurant.
Note, that this house, maybe the most known in Goslar, has no signs in the town. If you will find it, put it on your map in advance.
And the second: the decorations are at the top and are quite small.
Market Church of St. Cosmas and Damian (12)
was built in the 12th century. Nine medieval stained-glass windows (13 th century), a baptismal bowl (16th century) and the remains of Gothic frescoes (about 1440) have survived. The baroque carved altar dates back to the middle of the 17th century. You can climb the church tower (www.marktkirche-goslar.de).
At the corner formed by Marktstrasse and Bergstrasse is the home of the baker’s guild, Bäckergildehauses. This house, like Brusttuch, is raised on a stone foundation (which demonstrates the city’s growing wealth), while the upper floor remains from half-timbered. The guild coat of arms is on the facade.
A small “courtyard” next to the church – Schuhhof (pictured below). This is the oldest square in the city. It is surrounded by old half-timbered houses and an arcaded house that belonged to the shoemakers’ guild.
Now we get to the Market Square (Marktplatz). The main building here is, of course, the Town Hall (13). The construction of the town hall began in the middle of the 15th century (the part that overlooks the market square), and since this time it has been repeatedly expanded. From the very beginning, it serves as for the city authorities.
The most interesting part of the town hall is the Huldigungssaal, the meeting room of the city council (in the photo there is a staircase leading to the hall).
The hall is completely covered with murals, including the ceiling; it was created in the first third of the 16th century. If you want to visit the hall, pay attention to its schedule – it closes quite early (if it has already woken up from a long renovation at all). First, visitors are introduced to the paintings using multimedia, then they are offered to take seats on the benches and look at everything through the eyes of city dignitaries.
Opposite the town hall is a red house with turrets – Kaiserworth. This is the building of the richest inhabitants of the city – the guild of merchants, and it actively demonstrates its wealth. The building was built in 1494. For the last two hundred years, it has been a hotel.
In 1968, a carillon (Glockenspiel) was installed on the building opposite the town hall (next to the tourist office) in honor of the millennium of the Rammelsberg mine. In the morning and in the evening (at 8.30 and 18.30), the bells play the morning and evening song, respectively, and 4 more times a day (09.00, 12.00, 15.00, 18.00) moving figures illustrate the legend of how the knight Ramm found the mine, and other moments in the history of the mine.
The Market Square Fountain is the oldest and largest surviving medieval fountain in Germany. Two bronze bowls one above the other (lower – 12th century, upper – 13th century), above which the imperial eagle is the symbol of the city. The eagle is a copy; the original is kept in the Pfalz.
– Worthstrasse – Knochenhauerstrasse – An der Abzucht – Breites Tor – Breite Strasse
St Annenhaus (15) – the oldest fully preserved half-timbered house in Goslar (1488). It belonged to a monastery founded in 1494.
Breites Tor (16). The gates were built in 1443, but they were too weak to defend the city, especially since on the other side was the domain of the hostile dukes of Braunschweig. Therefore, in the 16th century the gate was turned into a fortress, mighty defensive towers, barracks and a second, outer gate were built.
In the 19th century. the city authorities, great lovers of the principle “to break easier, then to build”, demolished most of the city fortifications. The inner gate and one of the towers remained from the complex. You can go upstairs by taking part in a city tour.