Harz (low mountain range)

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Topographic map of the Harz

Topographic map of the Harz

Highest peak Brocken ( 1141.2  m above sea  level )
location Lower Saxony , Saxony-Anhalt , Thuringia ; Germany
part of Low mountain range threshold
Coordinates 51 ° 45 ′  N , 10 ° 38 ′  E Coordinates: 51 ° 45 ′  N , 10 ° 38 ′  E
Type Low mountain range
rock predominantly Slate , greywacke , granite
Age of the rock oldest rock ≈ 490 million years ( metasediments of the Wippra zone), youngest pre-quaternary rocks approx. 270 million years (variscid molasse of the southern Harz)
surface 2,226 km²
Harz: satellite image

Harz: satellite image

Brocken, highest mountain in the Harz

Brocken , highest mountain in the Harz


The Harz , known as Hart ('Bergwald') until the Middle Ages , is a low mountain range in Germany and the highest mountain range in Northern Germany . It lies at the intersection of Lower Saxony , Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia . The districts of Goslar and Göttingen in the west , the districts of Harz and Mansfeld-Südharz in the north and east and the district of Nordhausen in the south have a share in the Harz . The Brocken is 1141.2  m above sea level. NHN the highest mountain in the Harz and Saxony-Anhalt.

In the Harz Mountains, which is characterized by species-rich flora and fauna , there are extensive forests, partly agricultural plateaus, deeply cut valleys with wild rivers and waterfalls, as well as reservoirs and reservoirs . In many places there is evidence of a long settlement history. There are also winter sports areas and the Harz is a hiking area.

The Harz contains the Harz National Park , three nature parks ( Harz (Lower Saxony) , Harz / Saxony-Anhalt and South Harz ) and the Karst Biosphere Reserve South Harz . The low mountain range lies in the southern part of the Geopark Harz - Braunschweiger Land - Ostfalen .

In the Harz Mountains and in the immediate vicinity there are numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites with Goslar , Quedlinburg , Lutherstadt Eisleben and the Rammelsberg as well as the Upper Harz Water Regiment .


Extension and location

Topography of the Harz

The mountains are 110 kilometers long and 30 to 40 kilometers wide, cover an area of ​​2,226 km² and extend from Seesen (in the west) to Lutherstadt Eisleben (in the east). The largest part of the Harz lies in Saxony-Anhalt (districts Harz and Mansfeld-Südharz), the western part in Lower Saxony (districts Goslar and Göttingen); only a small part in the south is in Thuringia (Nordhausen district).

The Harz is an independent large-scale region of the 3rd order and main unit group; it bears the code number 38 in the handbook of the natural spatial structure of Germany and the code number D37 at the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation , assuming the same limits .


The clearly modeled center of gravity of the low mountain range is formed by the high Harz around the Brocken ( 1141.2  m ), which contains all peaks above 800 meters, including in particular the Wurmberg ( 971.2  m ) near Braunlage , the ridge of the merging elevations Auf dem Acker ( 865.1  m ) and Bruchberg (approx.  927  m ) and the Achtermannshöhe ( 924.7  m ).

A relatively old name is that of the Upper Harz , which historically actually meant the area of ​​the seven mining towns with Clausthal-Zellerfeld as the center, whereby the upper represented a demarcation of places on the outskirts. In a narrower physical-geographical sense, however, it describes the geologically sharply delimited north-western part of the Harz, which is drained via Söse , Innerste together with Grane and Upper Oker together with Abzucht . This would make the mountain town of St. Andreasberg the only one outside of the physical Upper Harz.

As a contrast to the name Upper Harz, the name Unterharz established itself for the part of the Harz that drains east of the Hochharz, mainly to the Bode , in the south also to the left tributaries of the Helmets .

In the work of the Institute for Regional Studies as part of the Handbook of Natural Spatial Structure of Germany, the Central Harz unit was finally introduced in the 1950s , which, in addition to the High Harz Mountains, had its northern, eastern and southern slopes to the Oker (without headwaters) with Radau , Ecker and Ilse ; upper Holtemme with Zillierbach ; Cold and Warm Bode ; Upper Oder and Sieber included. In addition, the eastern section that was drained to the Wipper was separated from the southern Harz under the name of the Eastern Harz roofing . This division into four or five so-called main units (Upper Harz, High Harz, Middle Harz, Lower Harz, Eastern Harz roofing) is still used today by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation . However, its limits are much more blurred than z. B. that of the Thuringian-Franconian low mountain range , within which each main unit represents a self-contained geological and orographic unit. Especially in the central plateaus, the transitions between the three eastern units of the Harz are fluid; only Upper and High Harz are physically clearly separated from the neighboring units everywhere.

Rough geological breakdown

Geological overview map of the Harz together with a rough overview

In geology, too, a subdivision into Upper, Middle and Lower Harz has been established, which however differs significantly from the common and natural spatial classifications. While the Upper Harz is still largely the same as the natural area, the Middle Harz contains , in addition to the Middle Harz in the narrower sense, around the Brocken massif, the entire central northern roof to the east up to and including the Ramberg .

Some of the geological units, especially the Brocken and Ramberg massifs, the Upper Harz Devonsattel (with Wolfshagen reserve basin in the west and the more elevated eastern part), the Acker-Bruchberg-Zug and the Ilfeld basin, form geomorphologically clearly delimited landscape units . However, this does not apply specifically to the units of dinantium . In the Upper Harz there are clear differences between the western edge, the Innerstetal, the plateaus and the Sösemulde. In the geological Lower Harz, the contrasts between the central plateau and the heavily reliefed roofs to the south are similarly clear. Since the habitats in the Harz are also strongly influenced by the river systems, the geological demarcation between the Central and Lower Harz is unlikely to match the actual vegetation as well as experiencing the landscape - especially since only a small part of all the rock is economically important and therefore the landscape has not been significantly changed by mining.

Natural spatial subdivision

Sub-natural spaces of the Harz

In 1963 (extreme west) and especially in 1970, the Harz was divided into individual natural spaces on a scale of 1: 200,000 , with the exception of the extreme eastern edge . Since the number distribution of the two individual editors differs from each other, the natural area numbers given below are only to be understood as an aid when reading the respective source (linked maps).

The main sources of the natural spatial demarcation are:

It was due to the z. In some cases, the sources are divided as follows:

  • Classifications into the main units (there: Upper Harz, Middle Harz, Eastern Harz roofing) mainly according to the manual, as this classification is still used by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation .
  • The additional main unit high resin, however, according to sheet 100
  • Finer units mainly according to sheet 100, in the far west also according to sheet 99
  • Otherwise summary based on geological units

The overall result is the following classification (main units from west to east, within each of them ordered from north to south or clockwise):

  • Upper Harz (north-western part of the Harz, to Söse , Innerste together with Grane and the Oker overflow together with Abzucht draining)
    • Western edge of the Upper Harz
      • Western edge of the Harz (designation on sheet 99; there: 380.0 ; also includes the geological Iberg limestone )
      • Sösemulde (based on the geological Sösemulde; also designation on sheet 99; there: 381.0 , and sheet 100, there 380.32 )
    • (Geological) Upper Harz Devon Saddle (sheet 100: Goslarer Bergland ; 380.2 ; at the Schalke 762 m high)
      • Wolfshagen Basin (name on sheet 100, there: 380.20 )
      • Gose-Bergland (description on sheet 100; there: 380.21 )
    • Inner Upper Harz
      • Innerstetal (designation on sheet 99; there: 380.1 )
      • Altenauer Bergland (name on sheet 100; there: 380.30 / 31 )
      • Clausthal plateau (designation on sheets 99 as 100; each: 380.4 )
  • Hochharz (center of gravity with especially all elevations over 800 m)
  • Middle Harz (mainly catchment areas of the Oker without headwaters with Radau , Ecker and Ilse ; upper Holtemme and Zillierbach ; Kalter and Warmer Bode ; upper Oder and Sieber )
    • Ilsenburg-Wernigeroder Harzrand (name on sheet 100; there: 380.7 )
      • Ilsenburger Harzrand (name on sheet 100; there: 380.70 )
      • Wernigeroder Harzrand ( inscription on sheet 100; there: 380.71 )
    • Northern Central Harz
      • Radautal (designation on sheet 100; there: 380.5 ; consists mainly of the Harzburg gabbro and Eckergneis area)
      • Northern and Eastern Brocken foreland (designation on sheet 100; there: 380.6 )
    • Southern Middle Harz (name on sheet 100: 380.8 , Southern Upper Harz ; consisting of Sieberbergland ( 380.82 ) and Oderbergland ( 380.81 ))
    • Field south-west roofing (designation on sheet 100: 380.9 southern field ridge ; on sheet 99 part of unit 381.1 , on the field )
  • Lower Harz (mainly the catchment area of ​​the Bode without headwaters including Selke as well as the upper left-hand helmets tributaries with Ichte , Wieda , Zorge , Bere and Thyra )
    • Lower Harz northern edge (designation on sheet 100 for the landscape minus the Bodetal and the Ballenstedter foreland; there: 382.6 )
      • Benzingeroder Harzrand (name for the western part on sheet 100; there: 382.60 )
      • Wienroder Bucht (name for the part south of Blankenburg on sheet 100; there: 382.61 )
      • Bodetal (designation on sheet 100; there: 382.4 )
      • Ramberg north roof (designation on sheet 100: Thaler Harzrand , 382.62 )
      • Ballenstedter roof (description on sheet 100; there: 383.0 )
      • Selketal (name on sheet 100; there: 383.1 )
    • Ramberg massif (geological unit, also Ramberg pluton ; with the Ramberg ; on sheet 100 unit 382.5 ; up to 587 m)
    • Lower Harz plateau (designation on sheet 100: Benneckensteiner plateau 382.0 , Hasselfelder plateau 382.2 [contains the geological unit of the Elbinger or mass limestone in the extreme northwest], Güntersberger plateau 382.3 )
    • Südharz (corresponds roughly to the unit Unterharz-Südrand , 382.7 , on sheet 100)
      • Wiedabergland (designation on sheet 100; there: 380.80 ; west of the Ilfeld basin and western part of the geological southern Harz cover ; at the Stöberhai up to 720 m)
      • Ilfeld Basin (geological name; central part of the southern Harz in the Rotliegend ; 382.71 Ilfelder Bergland on sheet 100; on the Großer Ehrenberg in the northwest 635 m)
      • Beremulde (designation on sheet 100; there 382.1 ; northern part of the geological southern Harz cover )
      • Thyrabergland (designation on sheet 100; there: 382.70 ; to the east and geomorphologically, apart from significantly lower altitudes, adjoining the Ilfeld Basin, but geologically more similar to the plateaus adjacent to the north.)
  • Eastern resin roofing (mainly to the Wipper plus a draining)
    • Eastern Harz
      • Eastern Harz plateau (on sheet 100: 383.2 / 3 Leine / Wipper roofing )
      • Wippraer ridge (name on sheet 100: Wipprarer ridge ; there: 383.4 ; corresponds to the geological Wippraer zone )
    • South-eastern edge of the Harz (contains the Grillenberger slope , 383.5 on sheet 100, and in particular the Annaroder spur, which leads to the Hornburger saddle )

Mountains and elevations

The Brocken ( 1141.2  m ) is the highest mountain in the entire Harz low mountain range and Saxony-Anhalt , the Wurmberg ( 971.2  m ) is the highest in the Lower Saxony part of the Harz Mountains and at the same time in all of Lower Saxony and the Great Ehrenberg ( 635.5  m) ) is the highest in the Thuringian Harz part.

National park, nature park and biosphere reserve

In the Harz there is a national park and three legally independent nature parks . There are numerous nature and landscape protection areas within the parks . The parks are located in the Harz - Braunschweiger Land - Ostfalen Geopark .

The Harz National Park , which was founded in 2006 and has an area of ​​247.32 km² (24,732 ha), is located in Lower Saxony (districts of Goslar and Göttingen ) and Saxony-Anhalt (district of Harz). It was created as the first transnational national park in Germany from the previously existing national parks Harz (approx. 158 km² in Lower Saxony) and Hochharz (approx. 89 km² in Saxony-Anhalt).

The Harz Nature Park (Lower Saxony) (NSG No. 319376), which was founded in 1960 and is about 790 km² (79,000 ha), extends in the Lower Saxony districts of Goslar and Göttingen ; it borders on the Harz National Park. The Harz / Saxony-Anhalt Nature Park (NSG no. 33370), which was founded in 2003 and is around 1660 km² (166,054 ha), is located in the Harz and Mansfeld-Südharz districts of Saxony-Anhalt ; it contains parts of the Harz National Park. The Südharz Nature Park (NSG No. 390676), which was founded in 2010 and is around 267 km² (26,700 ha), is spreading in the Thuringian district of Nordhausen .

The Karstlandschaft Südharz biosphere reserve , which was founded in 2009 and is 300.34 km² (30,034 ha) in size, is located in the district of Mansfeld-Südharz (Saxony-Anhalt). It protects a gypsum karst landscape with Zechstein deposits .

Formation of the resin

Gabbro quarry near Bad Harzburg

The Harz is considered to be the geologically most diverse of the German low mountain ranges, with sedimentary rocks that have been slightly metamorphically changed by far predominate. The most common, present at the surface rocks are slate , foliated greywacke and in two plutons upcoming granite . The Rhenohercynian Gießen resin blanket, which is widespread in the Harz Mountains, consists largely of flysch . The limestone deposits around Elbingerode and the gabbro of Bad Harzburg are known and economically significant . The landscapes of the Harz are characterized by steep mountain ranges, block heaps , comparatively flat plateaus with many raised bogs and elongated, narrow notch valleys , of which the Bodetal , Oker and Selke valleys are the best known. A representative cross-section of all Harz rocks is shown on the Jordanshöhe near Sankt Andreasberg near the parking lot.

The unfolding of the Harz occurred in the Upper Carboniferous in the course of the Variscan mountain formation 320 to 300 million years ago. The Harz belongs to the so-called rhenohercynian zone of the European variscides. In the course of the earth's history, the mountains were severely eroded and later partially covered by Mesozoic and Cenozoic rocks. From the Upper Jura occurs due to the effect of the remote alpidic mountain formation to increased tectonic movements and along large fraction structures of the so-called resin northern edge rejection to an accentuation of the resin (Saxonische mountain-building, subherzyne phase).

New research from 2011 dates the Brocken granite to an age of 293 million years. The formation of the chunk granite is therefore to be associated with the formation and the beginning of the disintegration of the supercontinent Pangea . The formation of the Brocken granite should not be related to the so-called Variscan mountain formation, which was completed 40 million years earlier (i.e. 330 million years before today).

The Harz is a (Pult) Schollengebirge that slopes down relatively steeply to the west and northeast and gradually flattens out to the south. It is cut through by numerous deep valleys. To the north of the mountains lie Cretaceous layers of the subhercynian basin in the extensive Harz foreland; south of the mountain range, Permian sediments lie flat on the paleocene sediments dipping to the southwest.

Due to the Harz Edge Fault and the vertical or sometimes even overturned geological layers, a frequently changing geological structure can be observed in the area, which covers only a relatively few square kilometers. As a result of this fact, parts of the northwest Harz are also known as the “classic square mile of geology”.


Climatically, a mountain range stands out from the peripheral landscapes due to lower temperatures and greater rainfall. Regular rainfall throughout the year characterize the low mountain range of the Harz. Exposed to rainy Atlantic westerly winds, up to 1,600 mm of rain per year fall on the windward side (West Harz, Upper Harz, High Harz), whereas, as is typical for the mountains, only 600 mm of precipitation per year fall on the lee side (Eastern Harz, Lower Harz, Eastern) Resin roofing).

With an average warming of over 1 degree in the past 100 years on the Brocken and the corresponding consequences for ecosystems such as the bark beetle developments, global climate change can also be determined in the Harz Mountains.


Reservoir of the Wendefurth dam

Due to the geography and climate, the rivers of the Harz have strongly fluctuating water flows and can carry large amounts of water when there is high rainfall. The lucrative silver mining in the Upper Harz led to extensive changes in the rivers in the headwaters of the Innerste, Oker, Oder and Söse, especially between the 16th and 19th centuries: the Upper Harz water shelf with 143 small dams, most of which are still in operation today not only shapes the waters, but also the entire landscape in the western Harz. The Upper Harz ponds include the oldest still operating dams in Germany. These ponds and ditches have been a listed building since 1977 and were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010 . There are also many traces of montane water management in the Lower Harz. In addition to water-bearing trenches and ponds, there are also long-abandoned trenches and dry ponds. The preserved parts of it were placed under protection in 1991 as the area monument of the Unterharzer pond and ditch system and today some serve as a drinking water reservoir. Parts of the facilities can be dated back to the year 1320.

In the 20th century a system of 16 dams was built in the Harz , which dammed twelve Harz rivers. To this day, the dams are mainly used for drinking water production , electricity generation , flood protection and low water elevation . With the Sösetalsperre , which was built from 1928 to 1931, modern dam construction began in the Harz Mountains.

The largest rivers in the Harz are the Innerste , the Oker and Bode in the north, the Wipper in the east and the Oder in the south . The innermost one feeds the line and has the Lute , Grane and Nice as tributaries . The rivers Radau , Ecker and Ilse flow into the Oker . The Bode is fed by the Holtemme , into which the Zillierbach flows, Hassel and Selke . The Wipper picks up the one . In the Rhume which open Söse and Oder, which the Sieber flows; the Lonau flows into the latter . The Helme , which runs south of the Harz Mountains, is fed by the Ichte , reinforced by the Steina , by the Zorge coming from the mountains , which receives the Wieda and the Bere , reinforced by the Uffe , and by the Thyra , which the Krebsbach flows into.

Flora and vegetation

Altitude levels

The vegetation zoning of the Harz includes six height levels - sorted by height in meters (m) above sea level:

  • Subalpine level: Brocken summit above 1000  m
  • High montane level: highest elevations with the exception of the Brocken summit, which is even higher, from 850 to 1000  m
  • Upper Montane level: higher altitudes from 750 to 850  m
  • Montane level: middle altitudes from 525 to 750  m
  • Submontane zone: lower layers from 300 to 525  m
  • Kolline step: layers of the Harz border up to 250 to 300  m


Beech forests

Bodetal with deciduous forest

From the edge of the Harz up to a height of 700  m , beech forests dominate , in particular the hornbeam beech forests ( Luzulo-Fagetum ) of the poorly nutrient -supplied locations with common beech ( Fagus sylvatica ) often the only tree species. Pedunculate oak ( Quercus robur ) and sessile oak ( Quercus petraea ) are added in lower, dry locations . Sycamore maple ( Acer pseudoplatanus ) occurs in more humid locations . In the light-rich decay and regeneration phases, pioneers in need of light such as mountain ash ( Sorbus aucuparia ), silver birch ( Betula pendula ) and willow ( Salix caprea ) also play a role. The pearl grass beech forest can be found in the few nutrient-rich and base-rich locations above diabase and gneiss and has a herbaceous layer that is rich in species and flowers. Here, too, the common beech dominates, mixed with sycamore maple, common ash ( Fraxinus excelsior ), hornbeam ( Carpinus betulus ) and sycamore elm ( Ulmus glabra ). Due to the increasing continental climate on the eastern edge of the Harz, the common beech is being displaced in favor of mixed forests of sessile oak .

Mixed beech and spruce forests

In the middle locations between 700 and 800  m altitude, one would find mixed forests dominated by spruce ( Picea abies ) and red beech under natural conditions . However, these have long since given way to remnants of spruce trees. The sycamore maple also occurs in these forests.

Spruce forests

In the highest locations from around 800 m to the tree line at 1000  m altitude, spruce forests thrive, in which deciduous trees such as mountain ash, silver birch and down birch ( Betula pendula and Betula pubescens ) as well as willows ( Salix spec.) Can be found. The high humidity is the cause of a rich moss and lichen flora. Despite the closeness to nature, there are only a few native, genetically adapted ( autochthonous ) spruces left. Cotton grass spruce forests ( Calamagrostio villosae-Piceetum ) dominate. Well-developed ground vegetation thrives on fresh, but by no means wet and only moderately rocky soils, the appearance of which is mainly characterized by grasses such as woolly saddle grass ( Calamagrostis villosa ) and wiry Schmiele ( Deschampsia flexuosa ). As in most of the entire Harz, the soils in the high areas are comparatively poor in nutrients and bases, so that only a few herbaceous plants such as the Harz bedstraw ( Galium saxatile ) occur. Instead, it is rather ferns , mosses , lichens and mushrooms that determine the character of these forests in addition to the spruce. In the area of ​​weather-resistant rocks in the high-montane and montane level, rocks and block heaps often occur - extreme locations of the vegetation. Due to the lack of soil material, only sparse, very light-standing block spruce forests thrive on them . They are characterized by a particularly high structural wealth and leave more space for light-loving species such as silver birch, mountain ash, sycamore maple, willow and dwarf shrubs such as the bilberry ( Vaccinium myrtillus ). Mosses and ferns are also common here. The Carpathian birch ( Betula pubescens subsp. Carpatica ) is a specialty . The bog spruce forests can be found in the vicinity of the raised bogs on swamp and bog soils. At these locations, spruce forests can, in exceptional cases, also form the natural forest community at lower altitudes. These bog forests, which are characterized by particular moisture, already have a high proportion of peat moss ( Sphagnum spec.). The ground vegetation can also be characterized by a rich occurrence of dwarf shrubs such as lingonberries ( Vaccinium vitis-idaea ). Extensive populations of the blue pipe grass ( Molinia caerulea ) are also typical for this forest community. Characteristic types of fungus of the natural spruce forests are the thin fire sponge ( Phellinus viticola ) and the olive-yellow wood knight ( Tricholomopsis decora ).

Special forms

Gorge, floodplain and spring forests occur only in small areas. The common beech is taking a back seat in favor of more demanding deciduous tree species such as sycamore maple, summer lime ( Tilia platyphyllos ), mountain elm or common ash. The herb layer is similar to that of beech forests that are better supplied with nutrients . Conspicuous representatives of the plant communities native to this area are alpine milk lettuce ( Cicerbita alpina ), moon viole ( Lunaria rediviva ), thorny shield fern ( Polystichum aculeatum ) and beech fern ( Phegopteris connectilis ).

Raised bogs

The Harz moors are among the best preserved in Central Europe. Their formation goes back to the end of the last ice age over 10,000 years ago. The peat moss makes up a substantial part of the vegetation of the raised bogs. The more humid areas (Schlenken) and the higher-lying drier Bulten are colonized by different species. In Schlenken there is the Sphagnum cuspidatum (Sphagnum cuspidatum) , the Bulten Magellan peat moss (Sphagnum magellanicum) . The peat moss pads are grown through with the dwarf shrubs bilberry, lingonberry and other dwarf shrubs. The rosemary heather ( Andromeda polifolia ) is an ice age relic. Other ice age relics are dwarf birch ( Betula nana ) or little-flowered sedge ( Carex pauciflora ). The common cranberry ( Vaccinium oxicoccus ) blooms from May to June . The black crowberry ( Empetrum nigrum ) can be recognized by the black fruits . On the drier Bulten is heather ( Calluna vulgaris ) to find. Occasionally the bell heather ( Erica tetralix ) occurs. Typical grasses are the vaginal cottongrass ( Eriophorum vaginatum ), known for the bright white fruit clusters and the raspberry ridge ( Scirpus cespitosus ), which is rust-red in autumn. The most fascinating bog plant is the round-leaved sundew ( Drosera rotundifolia ). The bog berries ( Vaccinium uliginosum ) can be found on the drier edge of the bog .


Harzer Rotes Höhenvieh in front of the dump
Lynx - released back into the wild in the Harz Mountains

A large number of animals can be found in the Harz beech forests. Over 5,000 animal species, most of them insects , depend on the beech forest. These include many species that decompose and incorporate the foliage in the soil and in the litter, such as springtails , horn mites , woodlice , roundworms , millipedes , earthworms and snails . The black woodpecker ( Dryocopus martius ) and stock dove ( Columba oenas ) are characteristic breeding birds of the beech forests, which are rich in old wood . The return of the black stork ( Ciconia nigra ) is also a sign of the natural closeness of the beech forests in the Harz Mountains . This shy and trouble-prone inhabitant of richly structured deciduous and mixed forests had become very rare in Central Europe due to adverse effects on their habitat (lack of old trees, lack of near-natural streams). The black stork population has recovered today thanks to habitat improvements as a result of the renaturation of rivers and the promotion of undisturbed quiet zones. A typical mammal species in these deciduous forests is the European wildcat ( Felis silvestris silvestris ), which has a stable population in the Harz Mountains. It prefers the more structured forest areas, which have a rich food supply.

The fauna of the mixed beech and spruce forests is also diverse. Species that are dependent on structurally rich forests can be found here in particular. The mixed mountain forest is the natural habitat of the capercaillie ( Tetrao urogallus ). The rough owl ( Aegolius funereus ) also finds habitat here . It breeds almost exclusively in black woodpecker caves in old beeches and needs the beech forest, which is lighter than the spruce forest, with its higher density of small mammals for its food search. However, he prefers the darker spruce for covering.

A large part of the animal species living in the natural spruce forests are adapted to the special living conditions in the high Harz mountains. In the bird world, the great crested tit ( Lophophanes cristatus ), winter and summer gold fetus ( Regulus regulus and Regulus ignicapillus ), siskin ( Carduelis spinus ), treecreeper ( Certhia familiaris ), coal tit ( Periparus ater ) and red crossbill ( Loxia curvirostra ) are typical inhabitants. Particularly noteworthy here is the pygmy owl ( Glaucidium passerinum ), which inhabits the submontane to subalpine level with forests rich in structures and conifers and interspersed open spaces. The spruce is preferred as a breeding tree, sparse forests or bog areas serve as feeding areas. Similar to the black stork, the pygmy owl, which disappeared a long time ago from the Harz Mountains, returned by itself at the end of the 1980s, when its ancestral habitat had developed closer to nature again, so that in addition to sufficient food (insects , Small mammals, small birds) also standing deadwood (spruce with woodpecker holes) were present.

In addition to many bird species, there are also a number of large butterflies in the various spruce forests that are endangered outside the Harz Mountains or do not occur at all. Two types are mentioned here as examples. In the old, bright wool-reed-spruce forests, partly in connection with boulders or bog spruce forests, which occurs Brown Gray mountain forest Stone Spanner ( Elophos vittaria ) in blueberry-rich peat spruce forests contrast rather the on, Bluish blueberry blade tensioner ( Entephria caesiata ).

Only a few animal species were able to adapt to the extreme conditions in raised bogs. Examples of this are the alpine emerald dragonfly ( Somatochlora alpestris ), which has its only occurrence in Lower Saxony in the Harz Mountains and is highly endangered in Germany, and the high-moor mosaic damsel ( Aeshna subarctica ) , which is threatened with extinction .

Rocks and rock heaps are an essential part of the habitat of the peregrine falcon ( Falco peregrinus ) and ring ossuary ( Turdus torquatus ). The peregrine falcon needs steep, sparsely vegetated rocks that protrude from the landscape. After its population in the Harz Mountains had died out, there are now breeding pairs again. Extensive measures to promote quiet areas in traditional breeding areas for this shy bird species have made a decisive contribution to this. As early as 1980, a breeding pair from a reintroduction project settled in the eastern Harz. The ring thrush prefers semi-open block heaps and loosely wooded transition areas between tree-free raised bogs and forest. One of their few isolated breeding occurrences in Central Europe is in the Harz Mountains. Their main distribution area extends to northwestern Europe including large parts of England and Scotland and the high mountains of southern and eastern Europe.

The flowing waters with their distinctive mountain stream character play an important role in the entire Harz. Compared to other natural regions in Lower Saxony, they are still very close to nature and are characterized by high structural diversity and clean water. Due to the at least temporarily high flow speed of the Harz streams, flowering plants can only very rarely gain a foothold in the waters. The animals of the Harz rivers also have to adapt to the high flow velocities. Only a few species, for example fish, actively swim against the current. The most common species are brown trout ( Salmon trutta fario ) and bullhead ( Cottus gobio ). In contrast, the species spectrum of the gap system under the river bed is far more diverse. In addition to the developing insect and fish larvae, one can find protozoa, strudelworms and water mites . Other animal species cling to stones, caddis fly larvae and snails, or, due to their extremely flattened body shape, can take advantage of the reduced flow velocity at the bottom of the water or stones, stonefly larvae. In flow-calmed areas behind stones or in moss cushions you can also find water beetles and amphipods .

In the rivers of the Harz, one can occasionally come across the two- striped damsel ( Cordulegaster boltonii ) and the blue-winged dragonfly ( Calopteryx virgo ), a species of small dragonfly.

The dipper ( Cinclus cinclus ), which can be found everywhere in the Harz waters, occurs almost exclusively in the mountainous region. Their habitat are fast flowing, clear mountain streams with wood on the banks. She can dive and walk on the bottom underwater. There she turns stones to look for food. The gray wagtail ( Motacilla cinerea ) also uses the rich food supplies of the mountain streams.

From 2000 to 2007, Eurasian lynxes were successfully released into the Harz National Park, which meanwhile fit in well with the ecology and are monitored by GPS-based monitoring. The decline in bat populations in the Harz Mountains has been halted through targeted protective measures in recent years. The mammals that can be hunted include red deer , roe deer , wild boar and European mouflon .


Prehistory and early history

The oldest human remains in the Harz region have been dated to 700,000 to 350,000 years and assigned to Homo erectus . Important sites are the Thuringian Bilzingsleben , as well as the Lower Saxon places Hildesheim and Schöningen .

The Neanderthals appeared in the region around 250,000 years ago and hunted aurochs , bison , brown and cave bears , mammoths , rhinos , horses , reindeer and forest elephants . The tools of the Neanderthals have been proven in the unicorn cave in the southern Harz (100,000 years before today) and in the Rübeland caves. Finds of birch pitch near Aschersleben on the northern edge of the Harz show that this adhesive was used by Neanderthals 50,000 years ago.

The Paleolithic Revolution brought humans (Homo sapiens) from Africa to Europe and also to the Harz region 40,000 years ago , while the Neanderthals are no longer detectable.

Metal age

Many finds in the Harz, such as the bronze club from Thale, which was found in the Roßtrappe, could point to an early cultic use of the Harz. In Ührde in southwestern Harzvorland Stone Age settlement traces were discovered.

By the 3rd century BC BC Celtic tribes settled around the Harz Mountains before they were ousted by the Rhine-Weser and Elbe Germans . Presumably Cheruscans lived west of today's Wernigerode , while the Fosen probably lived east of it . Influences from Slavs are not present in the Harz. The Thuringians also lived in the southern Harz .

Archaeological research confirms early mining in the Harz Mountains, which can be dated to the 3rd century AD, but is probably much older and began as early as the Bronze Age. Ptolemy mentions the resin with the name Μηλίβοκον ( Mēlíbokon ).

middle Ages

The Ebersburg in the southern Harz in Thuringia
Harz 1852

The Harzgau itself is first mentioned in a document from Emperor Ludwig the Pious from 814, in the High German form Hartingowe . According to the Fulda yearbooks for the year 852, the Harzgau was inhabited by the Haruden and named after them the Harudengau ( Harudorum pagus ). Harud, from which hard, hard, resin became, means forest, forest mountains, and the Haruden are the residents or residents of Harud.

The settlements with the name -rode, which are only detectable in the Harzgau since the middle of the 9th century, are of more recent origin. Where the founders of these places came from is unknown.

Charlemagne declared the Harz to be an imperial forest . The Sachsenspiegel , the oldest German legal book, probably written around 1220/30 at Falkenstein Castle in the Selketal, later laid down the ban on the Reich: Those who rode through the Harz Forest had to relax bows and crossbows and leash their dogs - only crowned heads were allowed here to hunt. The Sachsenspiegel of Eike von Repgow , according to which German law has been spoken for centuries, describes the Harz as a place where wild animals are protected in the king's forest . Therefore, not everyone had free access to the three forests described in the Land of the Saxons.

However, this ban did not last forever. Mining, iron and steel industry, water management, increasing settlement, clearing, cattle driving, agriculture and later tourism undermined the imperial protection.

As early as 1224, the monks who moved to Walkenried in 1129 acquired extensive forest holdings in the western Harz in order to economically secure the quarter of the Rammelsberg ore harvest allocated to them by Friedrich Barbarossa in 1157. One can therefore assume that there will be a shortage of wood at this time. From the 12th to the end of the 14th century, large parts of the Harz were economically influenced by the Cistercian monastery Walkenried . In addition to farming and fish farming, silver mining in the Upper Harz and Goslar was also controlled from there.

In the middle of the 14th century, the settlements in the Harz were largely depopulated as a result of the medieval plague . An organized repopulation of the mining sites in the Upper Harz did not take place again until the beginning / middle of the 16th century.

From 1412 to 1413, the Flegler War raged in the southern Harz, in which parts of the County of Hohnstein were devastated.

Modern times until the end of the Second World War

Anabaptists are attested in the Harz from around 1527 to the middle of the 16th century .

In 1588, the Nordhausen doctor Johannes Thal published the Silva hercynia, the first regional flora in the world, and described the floristic characteristics of the Harz. In 1593 the last descendant of the Hohnstein family, Count Ernst von Hohnstein, died. The Duke Heinrich Julius of Braunschweig moved in the County of Hohnstein as an extinct fiefdom and lent it to the Principality of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel , of which he was Prince himself.

War and overuse

In the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), Swedish mercenaries devastated and depopulated large parts of the Harz Mountains. From 1624 to 1627 the Harz riflemen offered bitter resistance. In 1668 Rudolf August , Duke of Braunschweig and Lüneburg , issued the first protection ordinance for the Baumann Cave. The ducal decree states, among other things, that this cave has always been considered by all sensible people to be a strange miracle of nature. Nothing should be corrupted or destroyed in it, and no strange loose rabble should be allowed in unannounced. A local miner was entrusted with the supervision of the natural monument. Until this protection ordinance was issued, there had only been forest protection ordinances that were promulgated by the princes for purely practical reasons. The cave ordinance of 1668 was the first to take ethical and aesthetic aspects into account; 1668 was the year of birth of the classic, conservative nature protection in the Harz. The regulation was triggered by previous, severe destruction of the cave inventory by hooligans.

In 1705 the last Harz bear was shot on the Brocken.

The constantly increasing demand for wood in the pits and huts led to the overexploitation of the forests and, from 1700, to the downright destruction of the forests. There are said to have been 30,000 kilns in the Harz Mountains alone . In 1707 a decree by Count Ernst zu Stolberg forbade Brocken leaders to lead foreigners or locals to the Brocken without special permission; making a fire was prohibited. The first efforts to protect the forest in the Harz have been around the Brocken from the beginning and can be traced back to Count Christian Ernst from the Stolberg family. In 1736 he also had the “cloud house” built on the Brocken.

As a young man, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe visited the Harz Mountains several times and had lasting experiences there. This includes his hikes on the Brocken, as well as a visit to the mine in Rammelsberg. His observations of the rocks on the Brocken were later incorporated into his geological research. His first visit to the Harz aroused a strong interest in the natural sciences (see Goethe: Poetry and Truth ). In 1777, Goethe, coming from Torfhaus, climbed the Brocken. At that time there was no mass tourism on the Brocken; for the year 1779 only 421 hikers are recorded. Goethe later described his feelings on the summit as follows: So lonely, I say to myself, as I look down this summit, the person who only wants to open his soul to the oldest, first, deepest feelings of truth will feel like it. With his Faust I and his ballad The First Walpurgis Night , Goethe later contributed significantly to the spread of the Blocksberg myth.

For the German romantics , the Harz formed a landscape of longing at home, as original as it is legendary. Various travel reports and poems, for example by Novalis , Ernst Schulze and Adelbert von Chamisso , bear testimony to the romanticists' glorifying view of the " mother mountain from which the other crowd like the leaves sprang " (Novalis). The travel report Die Harzreise by Heinrich Heine is particularly well known .

On March 23, 1798, the last wolf of the Harz Mountains was shot near Plessenburg . The count's lodging house on Heinrichshöhe had become too small and suffered from overcrowding; It burned down in 1799. In 1800 a new inn was therefore built on the Brocken.

By 1800 large parts of the Harz were deforested. The spruce monocultures of the Upper Harz, which were not very resistant, and which arose as a result of mining, were largely put to the ground by bark beetle calamities and a hurricane-like storm in November 1800. This largest known beetle calamity in the Harz was called the "Great Worm Dry" - it destroyed 30,000 hectares of spruce forest and lasted for about 20 years. Most of the reforestation was done with spruce. Constant bark beetle problems and storm disasters were the negative side effects of the spruce industry in the Harz mining industry.

In 1818, the riding forester Spellerberg from Lautenthal on the Teufelsberge shot what was initially the last Eurasian lynx ( Lynx lynx ) in the Harz Mountains.

natural reserve

At the beginning of the 19th century, with the increasing reshaping of the natural landscape by the economic people, and after the extinction of the large mammals brown bear, wolf and lynx, people became more aware of the threat to nature. In 1852 the district administrator of Quedlinburg placed the devil's wall at Thale under protection "as an object of folk tale and a rock group famous as a rare natural curiosity", since the residents of the neighboring communities used the rocks as a quarry. This protection order persisted despite all contradictions of the neighboring communities. A high-quality natural monument was thus saved from destruction. The authority expressly asserted romantic motives for the seizure.

In 1890 Albert Peter laid out the Brocken Garden . At that time it was the first alpine plant garden on German soil; the Brockengarten was the first institution of its kind in the world in terms of its scientific conception and task. In 1899, the Brocken Railway went into operation , against which there were strong concerns from nature conservationists even then. The botanist Bley wanted to prevent trains on the Brocken because the Brocken flora was threatened.

In 1907 Hermann Löns uttered his well-known sigh of sigh "More protection for the Brocken" in view of the increasing mass tourism on the Brocken. In 1912 Löns called for the establishment of a Harz National Park in the brochure Der Harzer Heimatspark, without naming it that way. The Harz region played a special role in the life of the well-known local poet, natural scientist and homeland friend, certainly not least because of his second wife Lisa Hausmann , who came from Barbis in the southern Harz region.

The Harz capercaillie population died out around 1920 . In 1926 the Wernigerode rector W. Voigt wrote in the well-known “Brockenbuch”: In America it has long been a matter for the people to create a sacred refuge for the native unspoilt nature in national parks. North and South Germany have their heather and alpine parks. May the joint efforts of the Princely Administration and the Landjägerei, the Wernigerode Nature Conservation Association and individual Brocken friends in Central Germany succeed in making the Brocken a small but unique nature reserve for the German people through loving care and education in the broadest circles to receive such.

In the 1930s the national park plans in Germany became concrete again; verifiable plans existed for the national parks Lüneburg Heath, Bavarian-Bohemian Forest, Hohe Tauern, Höllengebirge, Neusiedler See and Curonian Spit. The Second World War prevented the continuation of these national park plans, but in 1937 the "Upper Harz Nature Reserve" was designated.

During the time of National Socialism , the Harz became an important location for the armaments industry . Numerous war-important companies were located here, which employed more and more forced laborers as the end of the Second World War approached . The Harz was therefore the location of several hundred forced labor and concentration camps at this time . The Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp near Nordhausen in the southern Harz became known.

Harz fortress

On April 8, 1945, the Wehrmacht High Command allegedly declared the Harz to be a " fortress " and called for the defense of Central Germany from the Western Allies. The headquarters of the "Harz Fortress" was near Blankenburg . Previously, Army High Command 11 with around 60,000 men was re-established in the western Harz foreland from all available units under the deputy supreme command of Otto Hitzfeld . A few days later, the supreme command passed to General Walther Lucht . When the General Staff of the 11th Army was taken prisoner in the Michaelstein Monastery near Blankenburg, the US units had conquered around 75% of the Harz region; on April 11, 1945 the First United States Army occupied Nordhausen in the southern Harz without a fight and on April 14, 1945 Halberstadt in the northern Harz foreland. On April 20, 1945, the Brocken Plateau was occupied against resistance. On April 23, 1945, General Lucht was captured and 50,000 German soldiers were taken prisoner. In fact, at the end of the Second World War, the Harz was not a fortress to be taken seriously from a military point of view. The western allies bypassed the Harz relatively effortlessly on their way towards the Elbe and the delay in the advance was slight.

Former inner-German border

In the course of the negotiations at the Potsdam Conference and the reorganization of Germany, the two eastern thirds of the Harz Mountains and the Brocken were occupied by Soviet troops in July 1945. The inner German border ran through the western third of the Harz Mountains from 1949 to 1990 . The Brocken plateau and other Harz peaks near the border became a restricted military area , to which hikers demonstrated for the first time on December 3, 1989 . Since then, tourism to the Brocken has become very intensive - one million people visit the Brocken every year. The former restricted area now has numerous habitats worthy of protection, so that it is being developed as a green belt .

Economy and Infrastructure

Historic mining

The rector's villa on the Wernigerode university campus

The mining in the Harz began in the Bronze Age 3,000 years ago. The seven Upper Harz mining towns ( Clausthal , Zellerfeld , Bad Grund , Sankt Andreasberg , Lautenthal , Altenau and Wildemann ) and around 30 other localities in the Harz interior and on the edge of the Harz owe their prosperity to the Upper Harz mining and metallurgy . The former imperial city of Goslar , whose shine depended on the ore treasures of the Rammelsberg , also mined lead ores containing silver for several centuries. Mining decisively determined the Harz economic life and its landscape. The miners created the famous technical system of the Upper Harz water management, the Upper Harz water shelf , of which 70 km of moats and 68 reservoirs (with 8 million cubic meters of content) are still used. Without their hydropower , silver mining would never have achieved its high economic importance.

The mining industry in Unterharz is the oldest mining of mineral resources in the resin. Due to the lower occurrence and the long territorial fragmentation as well as the interests of the Stolberg princes , some of which were directed against mining, mining did not acquire the same importance as in the Upper Harz. Mining concentrated mainly on Elbingerode , Straßberg , Neudorf and Silberhütte . Nevertheless, ore and fluorspar mining had a lasting impact on the landscape in the entire Lower Harz.

In the eastern Harz foreland ( Mansfelder Land and Sangerhäuser Mulde) copper slate mining was carried out until 1990. Its beginnings were first mentioned in a document around 1199, but according to the latest research, they began as early as the Bronze Age. In its heyday, at the end of the 15th century, it was one of the most important in Europe. The former Rabensteiner Stollen mine, the only hard coal mine in the Harz, is also located in Ilfeld . There were numerous potash mines in the North Thuringian mining area, and geological waxes were mined by a mining company near Röblingen.

The last mine in the Harz Mountains - the "Wolkenhügel" pit near Bad Lauterberg - stopped mining in June 2007 due to inefficiency. Most recently 14 of the 1000 employees worked there, using the most modern technology to unearth the heavy spar. With the closure of this plant, the mining for silver, lead and zinc, which had been in continuous operation since the 16th century, came to an end. The cultural monuments and the negative effects of mining on the environment, such as the heavy metal pollution of ecosystems, bear witness to this.

Current economy

Forest damage to Rabenklippe

The mining industry that flourished in the Harz in the past centuries - especially for silver , iron , copper , lead and zinc  - has declined sharply. What remains, however, are the residues in the soils of the Upper Harz, some of which contain heavy heavy metals , which today represent a major environmental risk.

Copper processing in the Mansfeld area is still important today . The last focal points of mining were the Rammelsberg near Goslar (closed in 1988) and the Help of God mine near Bad Grund (closed in 1992). In Bad Lauterberg, until July 2007, barite was extracted from the Wolkenhügel mine as the last mine in the entire Harz Mountains , which is now primarily used in paint production and soundproofing . In addition, mass raw materials are mined in numerous quarries, diabase, dolomite, gabbro, gypsum and greywacke. Limestone is mined near Bad Grund (Winterberg) and around Elbingerode in the three large opencast mines ( Rübeland plant, Kaltes Tal plant and Hornberg plant). The Clausthal University of Technology is an important employer in the Upper Harz . In addition to the classic subjects of processing, mining, geology and metallurgy, many engineering and natural science subjects as well as business administration are taught and researched here.

Due to the forests of the Harz, forestry plays an economic role as well as the associated processing industry . While still in the first millennium AD at high altitudes - typical for a natural mountain forest - predominantly hardwoods (primarily red beech ; people went "in the hard" = resin) today, monocultures of spruce are mostly to be found in the cultivated areas . The main causes of this development lay in the mining history of the Harz region with its high demand for wood and the associated overexploitation and devastation of the forest. In addition, there were climatic changes in the so-called " Little Ice Age ". The reforestation with the relatively easy to grow and undemanding spruce (below its natural growth area in high-montane locations, see # Spruce Forests ) since the middle of the 18th century can be traced back to the suggestion of the chief forestry and hunter Johann Georg von Langen . Monocultures, however, favor the bark beetle , especially if the trees are weakened by other stress factors - such as climate change in particular. In 2019, after the 2018 drought in the Harz National Park, 3,030 hectares of spruce forest were infested with bark beetles. This corresponds to an area of ​​around 12% of the total of 25,000 hectares of the national park.

Traffic development


HSB steam train on the way to the Brocken

Today the Harz is only accessible by the Harzer Narrow Gauge Railways (HSB). It connects Wernigerode , Nordhausen , Quedlinburg and the Brocken with each other. Until the inner German border was fortified, there was also the network of the Südharz-Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft to Braunlage . A number of branch lines led and partly still lead into the Harz Mountains, currently the connections Halberstadt – Blankenburg , Magdeburg – Thale and Klostermansfeld – Wippra are with regular passenger traffic . All branch lines in Lower Saxony ( Innerstetalbahn , Odertalbahn ) and in Saxony-Anhalt the Berga-Kelbra – Stolberg (Harz) railway line have been abandoned. The Rübelandbahn is currently only used for freight and occasional museum railroad traffic .

The Harz is (clockwise from the north) from the Heudeber-Danstedt-Bad Harzburg / Vienenburg , Halberstadt-Vienenburg , Halle-Halberstadt , Berlin-Blankenheim , Halle-Kassel , Northeim-Nordhausen , Herzberg-Seesen , Neuekrug-Hahausen-Goslar routes and Vienenburg – Goslar .

In addition to the regional trains that run here, the Harz is connected to long-distance traffic in the 2019 annual timetable as follows:

  • Harz-Berlin-Express from Abellio Rail Central Germany , which runs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays on the Berlin – Potsdam – Magdeburg – Halberstadt ( train division ) –Quedlinburg – Thale or –Wernigerode – Goslar route


Road map of the Harz and Harz foreland
Harzhochstraße B 4 / B 242, near Braunlage

The Harz is brushed by the A 7 in the west and the A 38 (Südharzautobahn) in the south . Not far away is the A 14 in the east . A four-lane motorway-like expressway ( B 243 ) runs along the southwestern edge of the Harz from Seesen via Osterode to Nüxei near Bad Sachsa. The northern Harz foreland in particular benefits from the A 36 (North Harz Autobahn) . The B 4 is partly motorway-like (from A 369 and B 6 , north of Bad Harzburg to south of Bad Harzburg and Königskrug to south of Braunlage) or four lanes (from A 369 / B 6 to Torfhaus). It crosses the Harz from Bad Harzburg on the north-south axis via Torfhaus and Braunlage to Ilfeld and Nordhausen on the southern edge of the Harz. The rest of the Harz is also well developed with federal highways. The Harzhochstraße ( B 242 ), which crosses the entire Harz in a west-east direction (from Seesen to Mansfeld), and the B 241 , which runs from Goslar in the north via the Upper Harz and Clausthal-Zellerfeld to Osterode, are particularly important in the south (see also: Alte Harzstraße ), just like the B 498 .


Today's Clausthal University of Technology (TUC) is a nationally and internationally renowned technical university. It is a center for scientific and engineering training and research with a focus on energy and raw materials. The origins of the TUC, which was founded in 1775, lie in mining, namely in the Clausthaler Berg- und Hüttenschule.

The Harz University of Applied Sciences has two locations. The automation and computer science departments as well as economics are located in Wernigerode , and the administrative sciences department in Halberstadt . The young university currently has 3,300 prospective academics. The profile of the Harz University of Applied Sciences is characterized by innovative, internationally oriented teaching content and cooperation with partner universities worldwide.

The Nordhausen University of Applied Sciences is located in Nordhausen .


The tourism represents the resin a significant source of income. There are many spas and virtually every place in the Harz and Harzvorland is inundated with tourists. Well-known destinations are the Harz National Park with Brocken and the historic towns on the edge of the Harz. The city with the most overnight stays in the Harz is Wernigerode; this is followed by Braunlage. Concepts such as the western town of Pullman City Harz or the rock operas on the Brocken are intended to entertain foreign tourists in particular. The Harzer Tourismusverband (HTV) is responsible for the tourist marketing of the entire Harz, most of the municipalities also operate local health resort companies.

Winter sports

View of the Upper Harz

Even if the Harz Mountains do not achieve the same importance as other German low mountain ranges - such as the Rothaar Mountains , Thuringian Forest , Ore Mountains and Black Forest  - or even the Alps for winter sports, there are a number of winter sports venues and resorts. Above all, the places Altenau with the district Torfhaus , Benneckenstein , Braunlage (with the district Hohegeiß ), Goslar - Hahnenklee-Bockswiese , Hasselfelde , Sankt Andreasberg (with the districts Sonnenberg and Oderbrück ) and Schierke are to be mentioned . In addition to alpine skiing on Bocksberg , Matthias-Schmidt-Berg , Ravensberg , Sonnenberg , Große Wiesenberg and Wurmberg as well as in many other smaller ski areas and slopes, Nordic skiing is also of great importance because of the altitude and the length of the routes . International winter sports competitions take place in the biathlon facility on Sonnenberg; there used to be such a thing on the Wurmbergschanze (demolished in 2014) near Braunlage.

The numerous trails in the Harz are worth mentioning . Their quality and equipment are guaranteed by the landowners, in parts of the Harz National Park, as well as by individual municipalities and development associations. The Förderverein Loipenverbund Harz e. V. It was founded in 1996 on the initiative of the Harz National Park by Harz winter sports communities, cable cars and lifts as well as hotels and transport companies. The association pursues the goal of promoting Nordic ski tourism in the Harz Mountains and taking into account nature conservation issues.

The Harz mountain rescue service guarantees the mountain rescue service in the cross-country ski trails, on the toboggan slopes, hiking trails and alpine ski slopes, as well as in the rough terrain .

Sports in summer

Oker with white water, a hiking trail on the right bank

In summer, hiking is mainly used in the Harz. Nordic walking has also been practiced more and more for several years .

Diverse water sports are practiced on several dams in the Harz Mountains . Canoeing and related white water sports are possible on some of the rivers in the Harz Mountains . National and international canoe and kayak competitions take place on the Oker below the Oker dam. The whitewater is created there by temporarily increased water release from the Okertalsperre and is therefore largely independent of the weather.

Some mountains offer a good base for flying ( glider , hang glider ), especially from Rammelsberg near Goslar. The Harz offers various climbing areas, such as the Okertal with its cliffs, with the Adler cliffs there being particularly popular. The Harz has developed into a very good mountain bike area in recent years with 62 signposted mountain bike routes and five bike parks with lifts in St. Andreasberg, Braunlage, Hahnenklee, Schulenberg and Thale. The bike parks have freeride, downhill and fourcross routes. Both the signposted routes and the bike parks are suitable for every level of ability and fitness level.

The roads of the Harz Mountains are used by racing and touring cyclists despite the sometimes high vehicle loads , as there is no area in the entire north of Germany with comparably long and sometimes very steep climbs. In addition, there are numerous train connections with bicycles to the edge of the Harz.

Even in summer, the Harz mountain rescue service ensures that people who have had an accident are rescued from rough terrain.

Hiking concepts and climbing areas

Former climbing areas on the Roßtrappe

The mountains of the Harz Mountains were used for long hikes in earlier times (e.g. by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Heinrich Heine and Hans Christian Andersen). An extensive network of hiking trails is now being used in particular by the Harz Club e. V . to chat. In addition, the European long-distance hiking trails E6 and E11 and the long-distance hiking trails Harzer Hexenstieg , Kaiserweg , Karstwanderweg , Selketalstieg and Via Romea lead through the Harz Mountains . As a supraregional project there is the Harz hiking pin with 222 stamp points; the latter has been awarded as a hiking badge since 2006 . Germany's first official nudist hiking trail - the 18-kilometer Harzer Naturistenstieg - is located in the Lower Harz .

In addition to the Okertal and the Roßtrappe near Thale, the Hohneklippen ( Höllenklippe and Feuerstein near Schierke) are also the destination of climbers.


Dialects of the Harz

In the Harz region, mainly East Westphalian and Thuringian dialects are spoken.

A specialty of the Upper Harz is the Upper Harz dialect. In contrast to the East Westphalian and Thuringian dialects of the surrounding area, this is an Ore Mountains dialect that goes back to the settlement of miners in the 16th century.

The Upper Harz dialect is limited to a few places. The best known are Altenau, Sankt Andreasberg, Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Lautenthal and Hahnenklee. Today in the Upper Harz you hardly hear the dialect in everyday life. It is mainly used by members of the older generations. In order to maintain this, articles in the Upper Harz dialect are occasionally printed in the local newspapers.

For clarification, the refrain of a St. Andreasberger Heimatlied follows:

Eb de Sunne shines, ebs stewert, embraces, ebs snows,
day and night ohmds or early
how maliciously it sounds, but
you ewerharzer talk
O Annerschbarrich how it seemed.

Excursion destinations

Show mines and show caves

Rammelsberg mining museum

In the gypsum, dolomite and limestone layers of the Harz, geological processes have led to the formation of caves. Such caves are the Baumann cave , the unicorn cave , the Hermann cave , the Iberg stalactite cave and the Heimkehle on the southern edge of the Harz .

Since the Harz contains numerous mineral resources, they have been explored by mining since the Bronze Age. Some of the mines have been converted into show mines. For a long time, the Samson Pit was the deepest mine in the world. Other show mines are the Büchenberg , the “Drei Kronen & Ehrt” , the Röhrigschacht , the “Lange Wand” mine in Ilfeld, the Rabensteiner Stollen in Netzkater , the Glasebach mine near Straßberg, the Lautenthals Glück mine or the Rammelsberg mine near Goslar for UNESCO - world heritage matters. The Red Bear mine in Sankt Andreasberg also served as a training mine until the 20th century and is now also a temporary visitor mine . Most of the show mines have more or less extensive mining museums attached to them, the largest of them on Rammelsberg and in Clausthal-Zellerfeld Oberharzer Bergwerksmuseum .

Cities and municipalities in the Harz

The following cities and communities are wholly or partially located in the Harz Mountains.

Monasteries and churches

The medieval monasteries of Wöltingerode , Drübeck , Ilsenburg and Michaelstein are located on the northern edge of the Harz Mountains, while the Walkenried monastery is located on the southern edge . The wooden Gustav-Adolf-Stave Church , consecrated in 1908, is in Hahnenklee and the largest wooden church in Germany, the Market Church of the Holy Spirit, in Clausthal-Zellerfeld .

Towers, palaces and castles


In the Harz there are radio and observation towers at various points due to the elevated location, such as the Carlshaushöhe near Trautenstein , the observation tower on the Großer Knollen and the Josephskreuz . In earlier times, elevated ridges and spurs were used to build castles, and so the castle ruins of Anhalt , Falkenstein Castle , on which Eike von Repkow probably wrote the Sachsenspiegel , the Harzburg castle ruins , and Hohnstein Castle near Neustadt / Harz can be found in the Harz , the ruins of Königsburg , Lauenburg Castle near Stecklenberg, Plessenburg , Scharzfels castle ruins and Stecklenburg Castle . In addition to these fortifications, castles were also built, such as Schloss Herzberg , Schloss Blankenburg , Schloss Ilsenburg , Schloss Stolberg and Schloss Wernigerode .


In the miniature park Kleiner Harz in Wernigerode, detailed replicas of important buildings and attractions of the Harz region are exhibited on an area of ​​1.5 hectares.

Painter and artist

Among the many painters who have depicted the Harz Mountains were Caspar David Friedrich , Ludwig Richter , Georg Heinrich Crola , Ernst Helbig , Hermann Hendrich , Edmund Kolbe , Wilhelm Pramme , Adolf Rettelbusch , Wilhelm Ripe , Hermann Bodenstedt , Walther Hans Reinboth and Rudolf Nickel . Drawings made u. a. Lyonel Feininger especially during his vacation stays in Braunlage . In the summer of 1811, Caspar David Friedrich visited the Harz together with the sculptor Christian Gottlieb Kühn during a hike in the Harz Mountains .


Mountain panorama, from left: Rehberg, Achtermannshöhe, Brocken, Wurmberg, taken from the St. Andreasberger Höhenweg.


Scientific representations

Poetic representations

Art history

  • Hans Reuther : Country on the Harz. ( Deutsche Lande - German Art ). Munich / Berlin 1966.
  • Alexander Frey: Harz. West and East Harz. 2nd edition, Munich / Zurich 1990
  • Josef Walz: The Harz - In the heart of Germany: Travel in a two thousand year old cultural landscape (DuMont art travel guide). Cologne 1993


  • Geological State Office Saxony-Anhalt, Lower. State Office for Soil Research (Ed.): Geological map Harz . With explanations on the back. 1st edition. Geolog. State Office, Halle / Saale 1998, ISBN 3-929951-20-7 (scale 1: 100,000).
  • Land surveying and geographic base information Lower Saxony, Land office for surveying and geographic information Saxony-Anhalt (publisher): Harz: official hiking map of the Harz Club eV Official hiking map of the Harz Club eV 3rd edition. LGN, LVermGeo, Hannover, Magdeburg 2009, ISBN 978-3-89435-669-9 (scale 1: 50,000).


  • Picture book Germany : The western Harz. Documentary, Germany, 1998, 45 min., Script and direction: Jörg Röttger, first broadcast: May 31, 1998, synopsis by ARD .
  • “An unearthly pleasure!” Goethe's Harz Reisen. Documentary, Germany, 1999, 45 min., Book: Rainer Hoffmann, director: Hans-Eberhard Leupold, production: WDR , film data in WorldCat .
  • The Harz - dark forest and light heights. Documentary, Germany 2005, 45 min., Script and director: Uwe Anders, production: NDR , series: Expeditions ins Tierreich , synopsis from NDR.
  • The Harz - canyons, wild animals and luxury hotels. Documentary, Germany, 2007, 60 min., Script and director: Hanna Legatis, production: NDR , series: Landscapes of the North, first broadcast: October 26, 2007 on NDR, film information from fernsehserien.de.
  • In the realm of the black storks. The South Harz Biosphere Reserve. Documentary, Germany, 2008, 30 min., Peter and Stefan Simank, production: Simank-Filmproduktion, synopsis .
  • The resin. Amazing . Documentary 2013 resin in the Internet Movie Database (English)
  • The resin complex . Documentary film series 2015 about the Harz cultural landscape. [1]

See also

Web links

Commons : Harz  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Harz  - Sources and full texts
Wikivoyage: Harz  - Travel Guide
Wiktionary: Harz  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Saxony-Anhalt viewer of the State Office for Surveying and Geoinformation ( notes )
  2. a b c Emil Meynen , Josef Schmithüsen (ed.): Handbook of the natural spatial structure of Germany . Federal Institute for Regional Studies, Remagen / Bad Godesberg 1953–1962 (9 deliveries in 8 books, updated map 1: 1,000,000 with main units 1960).
  3. a b c d e f Map services of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation ( notes )
    (see in particular the map service landscapes , which delimits the main units and makes their landscape profiles available)
  4. The sub-landscapes that are lesser-known by name are not labeled on the map, but can be identified in a self-explanatory manner by the list on the right or by the places and rivers mentioned in the name.
  5. ^ Jürgen Hövermann: Geographical land survey: The natural space units on sheet 99 Göttingen. Federal Institute for Regional Studies, Bad Godesberg 1963. →  Online map (PDF; 4.1 MB)
  6. Jürgen Spönemann: Geographical Land Survey: The natural spatial units on sheet 100 Halberstadt. Federal Institute for Regional Studies, Bad Godesberg 1970. →  Online map (PDF; 4.7 MB)
  7. ^ A b Dietrich Franke: Regional Geology East. Geological online reference work for East Germany with around 2500-page encyclopedia (PDF; 19 MB) and separately downloadable maps and tables ( Figure 29.1: Regional units of the Harz ; PDF; 668 kB)
  8. a b The Altenauer Bergland and Sösemulde units are still assigned to the Middle Harz in the manual, the Sösemulde also on sheet 99. The BfN, however, classifies both as part of the Upper Harz.
  9. Sheet 100 also includes the Sösemulde (see above) under this name.
  10. Sheet 100 also includes the Wieda Bergland in this unit , see p. u., with a!
  11. This name is misleading insofar as Thale lies on both sides of the Bodetal.
  12. ^ Lower Harz southern margin on sheet 100 does not contain the Wiedabergland and the Beremulde ; s. u.
  13. Friedhart Knolle , Béatrice Austria, Rainer Schulz and Volker Wrede: The Harz - Geological excursions. , Perthes, Gotha, p. 14, 1997, ISBN 3-623-00659-9
  14. Alter Brocken: summit rock of the highest mountain in the Harz, dated June 30, 2011, on senckenberg.de
  15. ^ Table of the geological nature trail on the Jordanshöhe with a geological overview map and history of its origins, publicly displayed in Sankt Andreasberg, on wikipedia.org
  16. The Harz lynx project. In: luchsprojekt-harz.de. Retrieved March 22, 2009 .
  17. Lynx project Harz monitoring results
  18. Cf. Urte Dally: Holy weapons in the Harz - The club of Thale and the teeth of Welbsleben . In: Harald Meller (ed.): The forged sky . Theiss, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-8062-1907-9 , pp. 108 f .
  19. House from the Stone Age discovered in the Harz ( Memento from May 24, 2011 in the web archive archive.today ) (NDR 1 Lower Saxony), from July 25, 2010, accessed on July 9, 2011, on ndr.de
  20. Lothar Klappauf : On the archeology of the resin . In: Reports on the preservation of monuments in Lower Saxony . December 1992, ISSN 0720-9835 .  
  21. ^ Mirror of the Saxons. World Digital Library , accessed August 13, 2013 (1295-1363).
  22. ^ Hermann Löns : Brochure Der Harzer Heimatspark , Verlag E. Appelhans u. Co., Braunschweig 1912
  23. Jürgen Möller, Der Kampf um den Harz 1945 , 2011 describes the "Harz Fortress" as a myth and cannot find any sources for this thesis
  24. Manfred Bornemann : Fateful Days in the Harz, the happening in April 1945 , 10th edition, Clausthal-Zellerfeld, 1994, p. 26
  25. Friedhart Knolle : Mining-induced heavy metal contamination and soil planning in the Harz region online archive today ( Memento from March 7, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  26. ^ NDR: Bark beetle infects 3,000 hectares of national park forest. Retrieved July 28, 2020 .
  27. Der Nacktwanderweg , accessed on July 22, 2012, on harzlife.de