© HTV, M. Pagenkemper

Harz Myths

the stuff of legends

Three great legendary myths that have shaped the Harz: the days of medieval emperors and kings, the enchanted world of witches and devils, and the subterranean realm of mountain men and dwarves.

These sagas captivate because they are based in truths - and therefore, in many places in the Harz Mountains are almost tangible - albeit slightly embellished. When Charles the Great ruthlessly converted the pagans and disbelievers to Christianity, one of the last unspoiled places of refuge was sought in the Upper Harz Mountains. The distorted representation of the pagan ritual activities and faith had probably arisen during the late Middle Ages.

The most well-known of these, was the famous "witches meeting" in Europe. The exuberant celebrations around the "Brocken" on Walpurgis Night, the first night of spring is not least memory of a time when Germanic tribes would celebrate the wedding of the powerful god Odin to Freya, the goddess of love and fertility. The famous legend of Princess Brunhilde the king's daughter, who dared to escape from the giant Bodo, by jumping across a mighty ravine that opened up in front of her, leaving a visible hoofmark embedded in the rock on the Ross Trappe.

The mining legends tell of the hard life, in the dark tunnels and the eerie helpful spirit of the mountain monk, which reflects the Christian faith (and superstition) off the miners in their subterranean darkness. The sleeping Barbarossa in Kyffhäuser is a historical figure, among others in the Harz, who have left their mark. From these templates, writers and artists have viewed the Harz as a reflection of their own inner world and found inspiration for their works.

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