Goslar: all fairytale, no twee

Easter Sunday in Goslar, at the foot of the Harz mountains in Germany, with a carillon in the town square at noon and a snowfall I never knew existed outside of musical theater: a fairytale village, but real.  Realness is what sets Goslar apart.  We’ve visited charming half-timber villages before, and enjoyed them, but they often take their quaintness and pimp it out to a nauseating level.  Half-timber and cobblestones are lovely.  Half-timber and cobblestone streets stuffed with ye olde gift shoppes on every corner and people dressed as fashionable peasants reenacting a suspiciously sanitized past makes me long for graffiti and piss-smelling alleys. 

The town of Goslar is a (wait for it now, you’ll never, ever guess) UNESCO World Heritage Sight.  It’s quite well preserved and prosperous-feeling.  Most of the town’s buildings are partially covered with intricately arranged slate and beautifully carved and painted wood.  You could spend days just wandering about taking in the details: even the locks of doors were interesting.  And the (literal) icing on the cake: during our entire stay giant fluffy straight-out-of-Hollywood snowflakes drifted down.  It was impossibly picturesque.

Goslar’s superstar is it’s main church, St. Cosmas and Damian.  The church is packed with wonderful art, including 13th century stained glass, a hilariously carved wood Baroque altar, and a Renaissance era bronze baptismal font.   We especially appreciated the contemporary stained glass windows by Johannes Schreiter.  His work has an abstract expressionist vibe, with vibrant colors and a linear quality that resembled stylized cracks in the glass.  My favorite of his works incorporated remnants of medieval stained glass into the designs.   I love it when contemporary art is mixed with art from older eras, and kudos to the church for choosing to work with  Mr. Schreiter.

Go, go, go to gorgeous Goslar.  I recommend spending at least two nights since there’s so much to see.  And if you visit in winter, I hope you can experience the musical theater snow.  Believe me, it’s worth the wet feet.

How we got to Goslar: train from Quedlinburg.

Where we slept: Gastehaus Engelcke.  Price: €60 for a double.  Recommended: yes.

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View of Goslar from the church tower

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Cold feet won’t stop me!

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Fairytale houses

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Hotel Kaiserworth

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Detail of fountain in the town square

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Beautiful slate patterns and carved wood

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So many interesting doors!

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St. Cosmas and Damian church

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Carvings on the church’s baroque altar

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Stained glass by Johannes Schreiter incorporating a fragment of medieval stained glass

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