Nestled in the Harz Mountains overlooking the town of Wernigerode, the Wer-nigerode Castle is one of the most popular tourist landmarks in Saxony-Anhalt. Dating to the Middle Ages, it’s an impressive example of the Norddeutschen Historismus building style and exhibits similarities to the fairytale-like architecture of Schloss Neuschwanstein in southwest Bavaria.

The Wernigerode Castle was originally established in the 12th or 13th centuries as a medieval fort and a stronghold for the German emperors during their hunt-ing excursions. In the 16th century, it was rebuilt as a Renaissance fortress before being reconstructed in a baroque style following the 17th-century Thirty Years’ War by Count Ernest of Stolberg-Wernigerode.

The castle was again rebuilt by Ernest’s descendant, Count Otto, who served as the first president of the Prussian Province of Hanover from 1867. It was rede-signed in a Neo-Romantic Historicism style, with a chapel added in 1880 by the renowned Vienna architect Friedrich von Schmidt.

Today more than 40 grand living quarters of the Wernigerode Castle are open to the public, with guided tours offering a fascinating insight into the lavish lifestyle of the German nobility. Many rooms are decorated with original furnishings, including ornate chandeliers, intricate wooden carvings and tapestries, while others host special exhibitions and displays detailing the castle’s history. In addition to guided tours, visitors are welcome to explore the castle with the help of an audio guide.

The terraces and castle ramparts also offer stunning views overlooking the town of Wernigerode below. After exploring the Wernigerode Castle, be sure to wander through the town marketplace that’s lined with colorful medieval buildings, such as the timber-faced Rathaus that dates to the late 15th century.