The Medieval City in Saxony-Anhalt is Germany’s books of Legends
The medieval town, that was founded in the 9th century, resembles a picture book of the art of half-timbering with its 1300 half-timbered houses. One of Germany’s last remaining upright Staender houses is home to the museum of half-timbering. At the core of this unique old town with its unchanged medieval ground plan lies the castle hill with the Collegiate Church and the tomb of Germany’s first king, Heinrich I and his wife Mathilde.
Quedlinburg, the finest timber-framed townscape in the country, lies on the edge of the Harz, Germany’s northernmost mountain range in the west of Saxony-Anhalt. The city boasts a treasure trove of medieval religious art, which is displayed in the town’s hilltop Saxon-Romanesque cathedral. UNESCO has declared the entire town a World Heritage Site in 1994.
Where German History Began
A narrow, very small half-timbered house is located at the Finkenherd in Quedlinburg. This is the place where in 919, whilst snaring birds, the Saxon Duke Heinrich I (Henry) was offered the crown of the East-Franconian king by Franconian noble men. This small, insignificant place is where in 919 German history began. Quedlinburg became the location of Heinrich’s favourite palace.
When in the Third Reich the Memory of Heinrich I Became a Cult
During the Nazi regime, the memory of Heinrich I became a sort of cult, as Heinrich Himmler saw himself as the reincarnation of the “most German of all German” rulers. The collegiate church and castle were to be turned into a shrine for Nazi Germany. The Nazi Party tried to create a new religion. The cathedral was closed from 1938 and during the war. Liberation in 1945 brought back the Protestant bishop and the church bells, and the Nazi style eagle was taken down from the tower.
The Emperor’s Spring Festival in Quedlinburg
In commemoration of the Ottonian tradition to spend Easter in Quedlinburg, the city celebrates its annual Kaiserfrühling (emperor’s spring) with ceremonial processions on Easter Sunday and with a medieval market, Kaisertafel (imperial banquet) and amateur plays at Pentecost.
The Collegiate Church of St. Servatius
The Collegiate Church on castle hill is pure Romanesque in style and houses the collegiate treasure. It contains precious Byzantine artefacts given to Empress Theophanu as wedding gifts. The castle and the cathedral still tower above the city the way they dominated the town in early Middle Ages. The Domschatz, the treasure containing ancient artefacts and books, was stolen by an American soldier and finally bought back to Quedlinburg in 1993 and is again at display here.
Museum on the Münzenberg
Substantial parts of the former Marienkloster (monastery) can be seen in a private museum on the Münzenberg. Over centuries the citizens built their half-timbered houses on top of the cellars of the monastery, which had fallen into disuse in the 16th century. The view from a café across to castle hill and the old town is simply magnificent.