Harz is a district in the state of Saxony-Anhalt in northern Germany. The region has many buildings of Romanesque and Gothic style and consists of a mountainous terrain that shapes the architecture of the region. Colorful houses and buildings dot the hilly landscape of the towns in this area. Wooden and stone buildings that date back to the 1600s or even before are found in towns like Wernigerode, Thale, Halberstadt and Quedlinburg. A steam-powered narrow-gauge railway running through these hills adds to the picturesque landscape of the region.

An Architectural review of Harz, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany - Sheet1
Wernigerode Castle_©wikipedia

The town of Wernigerode takes one to the Middle Ages with its colorful wooden buildings and sloping roofs. The mountainous landscape was apt for the construction of castles and towers. Medieval castles belonging to nobility such as the Falkenstein castle and the Hohnstein castle were built in Romanesque styles and were later turned into museums. Another popular castle is the Wernigerode castle completed in the late 19th century. The Romanesque stone building also features a chapel in its premises and is one of the most visited buildings in the state. The structure is a mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles due to the many renovations carried out over the years. 

Owing to the climate of the Harz region, most buildings are built using wood from the forest mountains. Large tiled sloping roofs top these wooden buildings. Cobbled streets, a typical element of medieval times, are seen in the older parts of the town. The region has historical significance as it was used by the then royalty and nobility of Germany and adjoining regions. The massive castles commissioned by them are built using stone in Romanesque style perched atop hills in the region. A blend of Gothic and Romanesque styles is found in the architecture of these towns.

An Architectural review of Harz, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany - Sheet2
Wernigerode Town Hall_©wallpaper flare

The town halls, such as the Wernigerode town hall, stand taller than the surrounding houses in the town square. These Gothic-style buildings are adorned with intricately carved wooden elements also found in chapels and churches from the same period. Apart from the castles, most other buildings which were built later were of Gothic style. A typical style of the time was the half-timbered building style predominantly seen from the 17th century and later on. These buildings have a timber frame structure but brick or plaster filling. They are later adorned with wood carvings and coloured plaster.

The structural timber is left exposed while the infill between the members is used as a decorative element. This style eliminated the need to decorate plain walls as the structural members themselves were designed to form interesting patterns. This was a commonly followed style in most parts of Germany and Europe. Gables, townhouses etc., were commonly built using this technique even until the late 20th century in the rural areas. Typically, the ground floor was built in stone while the upper stories were timber-framed. 

The city of Quedlinburg is a UNESCO World Heritage site owing to its historic buildings. The Romanesque style medieval buildings of the city were once the favorite residences of Saxon emperors. The entire city appears as if one large museum connecting the then and the now. Contemporary buildings and modern interventions to older buildings manage to create synchronous cityscapes despite their many differences. Gothic style half-timbered buildings are lined along paved roads dating back to medieval times along with contemporary museums and modern roadways. 

An Architectural review of Harz, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany - Sheet3
Quedlinburg_©wikimedia- jodrexel

Harz is a popular tourist destination for architecture. The mountains attract visitors for trekking and winter sports. An example of modern architecture in the region is the Feuerstein Arena. It is an extension to an existing historic natural ice stadium. The roof structure over the ice stadium is anchored at only two points. While protecting the space from rain and other elements, it also provides unhindered views of the surrounding mountains and historic buildings. The white roof doesn’t stand out but appears to blend in with the snowy landscape of the region. Another example of modern architecture is a 458-meter-long steel suspension bridge known as the Titan-RT constructed in the Harz mountains. The cable is anchored in slate rock on both sides of the valley. It is one of the largest pedestrian suspension bridges in the world and was built above the Rappbode dam.

An Architectural review of Harz, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany - Sheet4
Quedlinburg_©wikimedia-jodrexel

The Harz region is known for its scenic landscape. The region’s architecture is a blend of many periods from the Roman period to today’s modern architecture. In the cities and towns in the Harz region, one can see the fusion of architectural styles. Entire towns and cities consist of numerous buildings from medieval times that make it appear as if one has entered the pages of history.

References: 

  1. Wikipedia. Harz. [Online]. Accessed on: 19 December 2021) Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harz (Accessed on: 19 December 2021)
  2. Britannica. Quendlinburg. [Online]. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/place/Quedlinburg (Accessed on: 19 December 2021)
  3. Wikipedia. Harz. [Online]. Accessed on: 19 December 2021) Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timber_framing (Accessed on: 19 December 2021)
  4. Wikipedia. Harz. [Online]. Accessed on: 19 December 2021) Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architecture_of_Germany (Accessed on: 19 December 2021)
Author

Sanika Palnitkar is an architect who loves to read. She finds science fiction fascinating and one of the reasons for joining architecture. Other than that, she prefers reading or watching thrillers, mysteries, adventures or fantasies (nerd stuff). Learning new software is another one of her hobbies.

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