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Myths and Legends of the Harz

Traveling through the Harz Mountains, it's impossible not to feel that you have entered a world of enchantment, a place where landscape conspires with legend to create a feeling of mystery and beauty. A land of craggy peaks, dense forests, misty river valleys banked by towering cliffs and small mountain villages that look like they have just stepped out of a fairy tale book.
Among the stories of mountain men, ghosts and dwarves, three great legendary myths have shaped the Harz:

Walpurgis Night

Walpurgis Night or more commonly known as Witches Night, is an old pagan festival that takes its name from St.Walburga. As Jacob Grimm wrote; "There is a mountain very high and bare, whereon it is given out that witches hold their dance on Walpurgis Night," In 1589, the ecclesiastical authorities of St. Servatius Abbey in Quedlinburg sentenced 133 witches to death, but today you can meet them and party all night long on the evening of April 30th.

Princess Brunhilde

According to legend there was a giant called Bodo who came pursue Princess Brunhilde, the king's beautiful daughter, whom he wanted to marry against her will. The princess fled on a white stallion and had to jump a mighty ravine that opened up in front of her, losing her golden crown as she leapt the gorge, and her horse left behind a visible hoofmark that can be seen today on the Rosstrappe. The giant was not so lucky and fell into the ravine and was transformed into a dog. Today the dog now guards the crown!

Legend of Barbarossa

The Kyffhäuser was once home to one of Germany's largest medieval castles, the massive Reichsburg, built in the 12th century. Legend tells us that Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, who died during the Third Crusade, is sleeping under the Kyffhäuser Mountain and someday would awaken again to life when Germany needed his leadership. Every hundred years he sends a dwarf to check if the ravens are still flying above, if they are he rests again for another 100 years.