Wernigerode Castle in the Harz Mountains of Germany

Towering 300 ft above the town of Wernigerode in the Harz Mountains of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, stands a romantic baroque castle that was once a medieval fortress.

Wernigerode Castle aerial view. Credit Deutsche Fotothek
Wernigerode Castle aerial view. Credit Deutsche Fotothek
Wernigerode Castle. Credit Andreas Tille
Wernigerode Castle. Credit Andreas Tille

Originally built as a Romanesque hunting lodge for 12th-century German counts, its tumultuous history included several rebuilds in completely new architectural styles.

Wernigerode Castle. Credit Voyage48
Wernigerode Castle. Credit Voyage48

Evolving from Romanesque, the Gothic style appeared during the 14th century and can be seen depicted in the large arched windows.

Wernigerode Castle. Credit Klugschnacker
Wernigerode Castle. Credit Klugschnacker
Wernigerode Castle. Credit Klugschnacker
Wernigerode Castle. Credit Klugschnacker

Strolling around the castle ramparts reveals stunning vistas over Wernigerode town.

Wernigerode Castle. Credit Klugschnacker
Wernigerode Castle. Credit Klugschnacker

Morphing into a Renaissance fortress in the 1500s, Wernigerode Castle was heavily damaged during the Thirty Years’ War of the 17th century.

Wernigerode Castle. Credit fanglan (3)

One of the longest and most destructive conflicts in human history, the Thirty Years’ War was the deadliest European religious war, resulting in eight million fatalities.

The Battle of Rocroi (1643) by Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau
The Battle of Rocroi (1643) by Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau
Wernigerode Castle. Credit fanglan
Wernigerode Castle. Credit fanglan
Cannon at Wernigerode Castle. Credit Timur Y
Cannon at Wernigerode Castle. Credit Timur Y

Devastating entire regions, the war spread famine and disease, imposed severe hardships on the inhabitants of occupied territories, and bankrupted most of the combatant powers.

The capture of Rheinfelden by the troops of the Duke of Feria, 1633 by Vincenzo Carducci
The capture of Rheinfelden by the troops of the Duke of Feria, 1633 by Vincenzo Carducci

Despite several renovations and later additions, mostly between 1862 and 1893, Wernigerode Castle retains its original medieval gothic tower and spiral stone staircase.

Wernigerode Castle. Credit fanglan
Wernigerode Castle. Credit fanglan
Wernigerode Castle staircase. Credit Luha
Wernigerode Castle staircase. Credit Luha

Renowned Vienna architect Friedrich von Schmidt built the chapel inside of Wernigerode Castle in 1880.

Chapel of St. Pantaleon and Anna in Wernigerode castle. Credit Stefan Schäfer
Chapel of St. Pantaleon and Anna in Wernigerode castle. Credit Stefan Schäfer

Wernigerode Castle’s rooms feature ornate chandeliers, wood carvings, and tapestries.

Wernigerode Castle. Credit Romantikgeist
Wernigerode Castle. Credit Romantikgeist
Wernigerode Castle. Credit a.froese
Wernigerode Castle. Credit a.froese
Wernigerode Castle Felmish Tapestry. Credit Luha
Wernigerode Castle Felmish Tapestry. Credit Luha

Adorning the marketplace are colorful medieval buildings, including the town hall with timber face dating from 1498.

Wernigerode's Gothic Town Hall. Credit Klugschnacker
Wernigerode’s Gothic Town Hall. Credit Klugschnacker
Wernigerode Town Hall. Credit Misburg3014
Wernigerode Town Hall. Credit Misburg3014
The market square in Wernigerode. Credit Klugschnacker
The market square in Wernigerode. Credit Klugschnacker

Please beware of the dragon—he may be only a puppy, but he can get a bit playful at times.

Wernigerode Castle dragon. Credit Mundus Gregorius, flickr
Wernigerode Castle dragon. Credit Mundus Gregorius, flickr

Oh, and don’t mind the wild boar, his squeal is worse than his bite.

Wild boar in Wernigerode Castle courtyard. Credit Mundus Gregorius, flickr
Wild boar in Wernigerode Castle courtyard. Credit Mundus Gregorius, flickr
Wernigerode Monsters. Credit Steffen Prößdorf
Wernigerode Monsters. Credit Steffen Prößdorf

Linking the little towns and villages in the Harz mountains is a steam railway.

Wernigerode narrow gauge steam railway. Credit Gerry Balding
Wernigerode narrow gauge steam railway. Credit Gerry Balding

Dense forests of oak, beech, and spruce with deep gorges and sheer cliffs characterize the dramatic landscape of the Harz Mountains.

Spruce Woods in the Harz. Credit Andreas Tille
Spruce Woods in the Harz. Credit Andreas Tille
The Harz Mountain in Central Germany. Credit ArtMechanic
The Harz Mountain in Central Germany. Credit ArtMechanic

Whatever the season, Wernigerode Castle is sure to surprise and delight history buffs and fantasy fans alike.

Wernigerode Castle. Credit schwientek
Wernigerode Castle. Credit schwientek
Wernigerode Castle. Credit Andreas Tille
Wernigerode Castle. Credit Andreas Tille
Wernigerode Castle. Credit Andreas Tille
Wernigerode Castle. Credit Andreas Tille
Sun rising behind Wernigerode Castle. Credit Tillea
Sun rising behind Wernigerode Castle. Credit Tillea

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