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.


View of Goslar from the church tower


Cold feet won’t stop me!


Fairytale houses


Hotel Kaiserworth


Detail of fountain in the town square


Beautiful slate patterns and carved wood


So many interesting doors!


St. Cosmas and Damian church


Carvings on the church’s baroque altar


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

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