Marking the border between Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt, the Kyffhäuser is a range of hills that lie to the southeast of the Harz Mountains. It has long been associated with German traditional mythology as the resting place of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, as well as being home to the medieval Kyffhausen Castle and the 19th-century Kyffhäuser Monument.
The Kyffhäuser extends for 19 kilometers in length and is seven kilometers wide, bordering the fertile plains of the Goldene Aue basin and the Hainleite hills. Large extents of the hills are protected as a nature park, encompassing karst slopes, calcareous grasslands and sandstone quarries. It’s the setting for numerous hiking trails, including the Kaiser Way that leads across the Kyffhäuser north to the Harz mountains.
Take time to explore the remains of the Imperial Castle of Kyffhausen, which is believed to have been founded around 1000 AD and completed during the reign of Barbarossa. Since the late-18th century, the castle ruins were a popular desti-nation for writers, with the likes of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe finding inspira-tion as he wandered through the Kyffhäuser.
Also on the castle grounds is the late-19th-century Kyffhäuser Monument, an 81-meter-high monument with a statue of Emperor Wilhelm I on horseback and a stone figure of Barbarossa. It boasts commanding views of the Goldene Aue, the Harz region and the Kyffhäuser Nature Reserve from its high-level terrace.
Nestled just below the Kyffhäuser is the Royal Palace Tilleda, which is the only completely excavated Palatinate in Germany. Today it functions as an open-air museum where you can experience medieval games, traditional crafts and music, as well as displays of medieval dishes and weaponry.