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Quedlinburg Travel Blog

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Stain glass depicting Heinrich I being presented with the crown.
This past week has gone by and I was left with a tough decision. After my last entry, I was really nervous about what I would be writing about in the weeks to come. This summer was easy since the group I was with was traveling so much. I didn't have to wait long before I had a camera full of pictures and a few stories to relay to everyone. Now that the school year is here and most of the time I'm here in Quedlinburg, I only have the weekends to travel and see the sights of Germany. I asked my mom about what I should write about and she suggested relaying my progress with the language training. As fun as that might seem to those who know me best, the rest of the people reading this probably won't find it quite as enthralling as it sounds.
Quedlinburg Rathaus
So, after a couple of bottles of wonderful German goodness, I had an epiphany. I'm in one of the well preserved medieval towns in the world, why not tell the rest of the world about it. True, it's not on the Riveria or nestled between the bosom of the Alps. However, it is beautiful in its own way, and I think the world should know about this jewel in the Harz.
Quedlinburg's history began over 1000 years ago, but the defining moment in this city's history took place in the year 919 with the coronation of Henry I (Heinrich). At this point in time, Germany was not a unified nation. It existed in pieces ruled by Dukes. In 919, a council of nobles gathered together and decided that in order maintain strength and security, unification under one ruler would be the best option. They elected the then Duke of Saxony, Henrich, and offered him the crown here in Quedlinburg.
Marktplatz Quedlinburg
Although it never was the official capitol of the German Kingdom, it was the seat of power for the length of Heinrich's reign. After his death in 936, King Heinrich's son took up the mantel of ruler and became the first emporer of Germany, Otto I. Kaiser Otto moved the seat of power to Magdeburg, but Quedlinburg's significance in the world was not lost.
In 936 Heinrich's widow, Mathilda, established what is known as a Frauenstift. This place was a religious community for women that provided education and protection for the female children of the noble class. It was not a convent, because the ladies were allowed to leave to marry. This stift became a very important figure in the world and Quedlinburg became famous for the strong women who lived here.
Scale model of the the UNESCO protected part of town

Fast forward to the present. Quedlinburg still maintains the beauty of days past because it has been lucky enough to escape the two major causes of devastation in this part of the world: fire and war. The city is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, because there are over 1300 half-timbered houses that date back to the 14th century. During the Soviet East German days (Deutsche Demokratische Repulik), Quedlinburg fell behind the Iron Curtain. There were plans in the 1980's that would have destroyed the beautiful facades of the houses and made them more Communist, but the lack of funding within the government and the eventual fall of the Berlin Wall saved Quedlinburg from that fate.
In upcoming episodes, I'll talk about how Quedlinburg got its name, the theft of the Quedlinburgshatz (shatz = treasure), and why Quedlinburg was occupied by Americans after the war but still ended up as part of Soviet DDR.
Karsten, my host-dad, and me


Now, for my next trick.....a bunny!
Ok, enough of the history lesson. This past week has been great. I'm starting to get to the point where I'm understanding more and more German and my ability to speak it is improving rapidly. There is a great amount of knowledge that I am constantly sorting through trying to make sense of it all and I have huge gaps in what I'm able to say because I only have the vocabulary for half of what I'm thinking. I'm also frustrated because I only know present and present progressive forms of verbs, so I can never really communicate how something happened in the past without getting quizzical looks.
Yesterday, several of the students, my Host-father, and the host-father of another student grabbed our backpacks and jackets and headed out for a hike to the top of the tallest peak in the Harz Mountains, Der Brocken.
Coming back down
The starting point for our hike was at 600 meters above sea level and finished 5 kilometers later at 1142 meters. It was a great day for a hike through the woods. It was cloudy enough that the sun wasn't beating down on us and cool enough that we weren't simmering in our own juices. From the top of the Brocken, it is said that you can see 100 km. I'll have to take their word for it, because, being a cloudy day on the bottom of the mountain means that on top you can't see more than 20 feet in front of you. Oh, and with wind gusts up to 90 km/hr, you really get to experience what it would have been like had you been stationed here. Since the Brocken in right on the dividing line between East and West Germany, it was set up as a Soviet radio listening post. There were soldiers and government officials at the top year round, which would probably have been the equivalent of being stationed in upstate Alaska. Now, there is a museum and several restaurants at the top that cater to the 1000's of vistors the site recieves every year.
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Stain glass depicting Heinrich I b…
Stain glass depicting Heinrich I …
Quedlinburg Rathaus
Quedlinburg Rathaus
Marktplatz Quedlinburg
Marktplatz Quedlinburg
Scale model of the the UNESCO prot…
Scale model of the the UNESCO pro…
Karsten, my host-dad, and me
Karsten, my host-dad, and me
Coming back down
Coming back down
What a wonderful view!
What a wonderful view!
Example of half-timber structures
Example of half-timber structures
Another wonderful example of the h…
Another wonderful example of the …
Up Der Brocken
Up Der Brocken
Further up Der Brocken
Further up Der Brocken
Almost to the top
Almost to the top
Karsten being blown away
Karsten being blown away
Me being blown away
Me being blown away
Check out the wind speed
Check out the wind speed
What beautiful weather atop der Br…
What beautiful weather atop der B…
On der Brocken, with the wind
On der Brocken, with the wind
The Brocken Crew
The Brocken Crew
Playing in the wind
Playing in the wind
Another look at the wind
Another look at the wind
174 km (108 miles) traveled
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Quedlinburg
photo by: Koralifix