In this life, there are very few things that can truly take your breath away but standing in the midst of Wernigerode Castle is one thing that can do just that. During the day, it stands tall and mighty amongst the hills, but during the night is when it truly comes alive. At night, the castle walls are illuminated and become a glowing light within the mountains, it is truly a sight to behold.
Wernigerode Castle was originally built as a medieval fortress to provide a safe and secure spot along the way for German emperors when they were embarking on large hunting trips within the Harz mountains. Now, it has blossomed into something far more intricate and beautiful.
The early history of Wernigerode Castle
The first actual mention of Wernigerode Castle was in some documentation from 1121 regarding Adalbert of Haimar, Count of Wernigerode. It was about a century earlier that the castle grounds had been found when deforestation had come to the area and then in 1213, Wernigerode Castle was first mentioned as a castrum. The counts had done many hard yards to be able to construct the castle on a steep slope which would hopefully soon become their residence.
Over its time, the beautiful castle known as Wernigerode Castle saw many various significant changes to its structure and surrounding areas.
Extinction and the 15th century
The castle remained in the same ownership for a rather long time, however, in 1429, the family line had become extinct which meant that the castle would need new ownership to continue being the beautiful architectural landmark it had always been. The land was then inherited by the neighbouring County of Stolberg. It was after that, that Wernigerode Castle became the seat of the subordinate Amt administration which resulted in it being put in pledge several times.
The end of the 15th century brought some new and exciting styles to Wernigerode Castle in the form of two arched curtain windows and other significantly gothic styles. This Neo-Gothic flair made the castle seem quite architecturally confused considering the large amount of styles that were featured in the castle at this point, it is said to be an identity crisis of sorts.
The 16th and 17th century
When the 16th century finally came around, Wernigerode Castle had become a sort of Renaissance fortress, and an extremely grand one at that. This era of the castle can still be seen within the castle because of its Renaissance staircase tower which is still quite sturdy and well put together considering is age. In 1645, the Stolberg-Stolberg line had split and Wernigerode once again became the capital of the County of Stolberg-Wernigerode.
Unfortunately, this beautiful renaissance building fell on hard times during the 17th century when the 30 Years War went through and wiped out many things, including a lot of Wernigerode Castle. The 30 Years War wiped out many significant parts of the castle, and from the mouth of many people, it is said to have been absolutely ravaged. The devastation was almost too much to handle, though there were high hopes that the castle would be restored to its former glory.
It was in the late 17th century that times certainly changed for the castle when it was taken under the control of Count Ernst zu Stolberg-Wernigerode. He began to reconstruct the castle, however, instead of restoring it back to what it once was, he instead followed an opposite path and opted to make it into more of a Baroque style this time around. However, this didn’t last for long either which is very much unfortunate and it only added to the blunder of architectural styles already within the castle.
Count Ernst zu Stolberg-Wernigerode ruled for 61 years, but soon enough, in 1714, he had to give in to the overruling of King Frederick William I of Prussia. A new ruler, Count Otto, in the 19th further added to the architecture of the castle by rebuilding more parts of the castle, this time in a Neo-Romantic Gründerzeit type style. He finished the large project in 1878 and it is said to be the most important modification of the castle to date.
The present day
The castle we see in the present day is essentially an architectural smorgasbord. The castle was officially opened to visitors in 1930, and since then it has absolutely taken off as a great tourist attraction that is inclusive for the whole family. There are in-depth tours within the castle in which you venture through and check out the interior of at least 50 stunning rooms as well as the beautiful surrounding gardens.
In 1998, the castle underwent one final little transformation and has now become the first German centre of art and history of art of the 19th century (1803 to 1918). Wernigerode Castle is the perfect example of the many building styles throughout time and how they have developed.
Highlights and features of Wernigerode Castle
Wernigerode Castle is clearly a very magnificent piece of architecture, and that also means it comes along with its fair share of highlights and features. Let’s take dive in a little deeper and enjoy the wonderful highlights and features of Wernigerode Castle.
The view from Wernigerode Castle
The view from Wernigerode Castle is simply enchanting. From its direct position in the wonderous Harz mountains, you can see a breathtaking panoramic view of the surrounding hills and the quaint little area of Wernigerode. However, the view from Wernigerode Castle isn’t the only one to set your sights on.
Heading down the road again and settling in Wernigerode is also recommended. Looking from the ground up, the view is once again astonishing, especially at night. You will feel like the main character in a fantasy movie while looking up at the awe-inspiring Wernigerode Castle. Between a fairy tale look, a misty mountain placement, and its astonishing architecture, this beautiful gem really stands out.
Wernigerode Castle tours
The tours at Wernigerode Castle are not something you want to miss out on. During these tours, you get exclusive access to a various range of different type of architecture and inside knowledge of what went on in the Wernigerode Castle walls. Between the stunning rooms which have been perfectly decorated and the other furnishing within the castle, you are certainly in for an awe-inspiring adventure throughout the ever so beautiful Wernigerode Castle.
There are two different tours available to the public and they significantly vary. Each one is a great forty minutes long and they both show you completely different sides of the castle. We recommend staying for a day or two and completing both tours as there is just so much to see at Wernigerode Castle. There are also a series of attractions surrounding the castle and it is also recommended to take a day trip around Wernigerode and bask in the glory of such an old and historical town.
Special events at Wernigerode Castle
Another great thing about the present day Wernigerode Castle is that there are several special events hosted on the ground each year. There are large exhibits about the castle, the general life inside the castle, and also information about what living in those times would have been like. Wernigerode Castle also often acts as a place for scientific symposiums and conferences to be held which is certainly interesting and even more so intriguing.
One more thing to add is that if you are someone dreaming of a true fairy tale princess type wedding, Wernigerode Castle also offers the site for weddings.
You may enjoy reading more about German castles here.