‘I lived in a more conservative, small-minded town nearby before coming to Goslar. The locals here are really friendly and welcomed me with open arms-I fell in love with the place instantly.
It has the atmosphere of a small town but the friendly nature of a big city. We don’t have too many bars or restaurants but I love them all. I like the fact that I am near the mountains. My favorite part of living in this city is wandering through the cobbled streets at night with all the medieval buildings lit up. It feels magical.
Hanna Gast. Goslar local
Goslar is a small town in Germany’s Lower Saxony but for all its smallness, it certainly packs a lot of punch on the importance scale. For here, is the rags to riches story of a small, unassuming town, hidden in the Harz mountains that were propelled to unprecedented levels of wealth and prosperity from the simple discovery of silver ore in a nearby mountain.
The rich silver mines discovered in the Rammelsberg mountain shifted the fortunes of many generations of Goslar residents, attracted the attention of the early Holy Roman Emperors who deemed the area a suitable residence, fit for kings.
Today, the Rammelsberg mines have been depleted of all their wealth, but the town of Goslar and the Rammelsberg Mines and are an important tourist site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and serve as a reminder that it takes just one landmark discovery to shift the fortunes of an entire town, region, and country. Here is a list of my 13 best things to do in Goslar in the form of a 48-hour itinerary.
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1. Market Square of Goslar
What better place to start our exploration of Goslar than at the heart of the Old Town Square – at the Market Fountain. The Market Fountain might appear as a single structure but in reality, it is a composite creation where details have been added or changed over a period of six centuries.
Just to give you an idea of its different layers the lower bronze basin is from the 12th century, with fine Romanesque details. The smaller upper basin, a 100 years younger, sits jauntily atop the lower basin like a fine goblet, sending out small streams of water.
The golden eagle perched on the top is from the 18th century and originally of gold, although nowadays after getting stolen too often is just painted into gilt glory.
In medieval times, many people couldn’t believe that humans could carry such a large fountain to the middle of the market square. Therefore, it was thought that the devil himself had brought it there.
Following this legend, some people used to believe that if you would knock against the fountain at midnight during a full moon, the devil would appear from the market fountain.
Market Square is also the place of the Glockenspiel. Merry chimes ring out four times a day and are a sight worth waiting around for. The figures being shown tell the story of the beginnings of Goslar’s mining industry starting with the knight Ramm, whose horse discovered the ore on the mountain, up to modern times.
2. Goslarer Museum
If you are particularly interested in the cultural and sociological history of Harz and Goslar, The Goslarer Museum is definitely worth a stopover. Documenting millennia of city history, the museum is housed quite appropriately in a monastery that dates back to 1514.
Exhibits of special interest include a cabinet of curiosities, in the shape of coins with the Goslar mint stamp that dates back to the tenth century. Artifacts that were once housed in Goslar Cathedral are also on display here.
An example is the Krodo Altar, the sole surviving church altarpiece made of metal from the Romanesque period and is, therefore, of great religious and historical importance. It’s antiquity probably dates as far back as the early twelfth century.
Tip: Most of the exhibits have German descriptions but there is an English guidebook -just ask the lovely staff at the reception.
Address: Konigstrasse 1, 38640 Goslar, Germany
Entry prices: €4. If you are planning to visit the next door Zinnfigurenmuseum, a Kombi-Ticket for both costs just €6. Tickets for the kids start at €2.
3. Lunch at Goslar Die Butterhanne
If you are looking for good quality traditional fare in a touristy but cozy local setting, then you can’t go wrong with the Goslar Die Butterhanne. Start off with a glass of the local Gose beer- a top-fermented local beer that is brewed by the Brauhaus Goslar next door.
You can choose from the light Gose Hell version and the Gose Dunkel version. The menu is varied, generous portions and well priced- choose from healthy salads ( Starts from €6.20) to Flammkuchen ( Starts from €8.40 ) and more heartier dishes like Beer Goulash with Spatzle and Red Cabbage (€10.20)
The name of the restaurant is a nod towards one of the town’s most infamous citizen, the Butter Hannah, a charming young lady who was known to casually reveal her bottom to local citizens while churning the butter. You can see the Butterhanne on the walls of the Brusttuch House along with a riot of carved wooden figures ranging from red devils to angels.
Address: Marktkirchhof 3, 38640 Goslar
4. Zinnfiguren-Museum Goslar- Germany’s most beautiful tin museum
If you love miniatures ( I’m a huge fan of the Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg) the Zinnfiguren Museum in Goslar, described as the most beautiful museum of its kind in Germany is a must-visit.
Upholding the legacy of 1000 years of mining history in the region the museum is dedicated to the display of over 10,000 hand-painted tin figures, diorama and the cultural history of the development of the art of tin figure making. There are 30 dioramas that depict fairy stories that will surely captivate audiences, young and old.
The museum came into existence in 1985 and visitors are presented with the unique opportunity of making and painting a unique tin figure themselves. If you so wish, you can purchase a figure to take home as a memento. The museum is housed in a 500-year-old mill that was once part of a tannery.
Address: Klapperhagen 1, 38640 Goslar, Germany
Entry prices: If you are planning to visit the next door Goslarer Museum, a Kombi-Ticket for both costs just €6. Kombi-ticket for children and young people: EUR 3.50
5. Imperial Palace of Goslar
Built-in the Romanesque style, The Imperial Palace of Goslar is one of the largest, oldest, and best-preserved secular buildings from the 11th century in Germany and enjoys UNESCO World Heritage status alongside Goslar’s Old Town and the Rammelsberg mines.
The palace was famously described by the chronicler Lambert of Hershel’s as being the “most famous residence in the empire” and certainly for the time (early 11th century) it was a very impressive building. Despite falling into a state of disrepair for several centuries, the palace reconstructed in 1879, still remains an impressive structure to date.
In the palace’s upper hall visitors can admire huge mural paintings dating from the 19th century by the artist Hermann Wislicenus that showcase scenes from old German legends as well as pictures of royalty. In the Ulrich chapel, next door visitors can view the royal sarcophagus of the Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich III.
Address: Kaiserbleek 6, 38640 Goslar
Entry prices: Adults €7.50 and Children/Kids €4.50
6. Walkthrough the Old Town of Goslar
Afterward, if you have time to spare, I would definitely recommend a walk through the Old Town of Goslar. It is a very charming, beautiful preserved town traversed by the gurgling Abzucht River.
The fabulous Market Square, ornate Gothic arches, picturesque half-timbered houses and cobbled streets transport visitors to another time, steeped in medieval splendor.
The town also is in a scenic location, nestled against the backdrop of the northwestern hills of the Harz mountains. It is one of these mountains, Rammelsberg that provided abundant mining opportunities to the people of Goslar in the form of lead, copper and silver mines-more on that later.
There are many places of interest to visit in the Old Town including the War Memorial at Barrack Yard and Thomaswall, The Medieval Imperial Palace, and the Zwinger Tower and Pond.
During your walk don’t miss out on the beautiful preserved Siemenshaus (Schreiberstraße 12 ) built-in 1693 which was the ancestral home of the Siemens family who originated in Goslar.
They started off as brewers ( downstairs of the home was the beer brewing room-in the 17th century more than 380 properties in Goslar had the right to brew beer ) then became tradesmen, shoemakers before moving to Brunswick and then Berlin.
If you are traveling with young ones or family, I highly recommend a ride on the Choo Choo Train to add to the air of nostalgia. The tours are run by friendly locals and give you an excellent feeling of the city. The duration of the tours are about 30 minutes and it runs from Easter until October, and during the Christmas Market.
Choo Choo Train:
Children: € 3,00
7. Check out the Bare bottoms of Goslar: Dukatenmännchen and Butter Hannah
Not everything in Goslar is charming and fairytale-like. Be prepared for the ribaldry of the Bare Bottoms of Goslar in the form of the infamous Butter Hannah, a charming young lady casually scratching her behind while churning the butter.
This, along with a riotous array of carved wooden figures in the forms of red devils, angels and a dignified lady riding a goat backward in the nude are to be found as reliefs on the exterior timber frames of the Brusttuch House. The house built in 1521 is now a hotel and restaurant and has an architecturally interesting trapezoid shape.
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Another quirky statue not to miss on the stunning exterior of the medieval guildhall, the Kaiserworth (on Goslar’s market square) is the Dukatenmännchen which depicts the cheeky figure of a man defecating gold coins. The figure and act of pooping coins is a nod perhaps to the act of illegal money lending which was rife at the time.
8. Beers at Brauhaus Goslar
Situated in a half-timbered house right next door to the Die Butterhanne on the market square, stopover at the Bauhaus Goslar for a glass of Goslar’s original beer, the Gose which is named after the little river that runs through the city.
Dating back to 995 AD, this is one of Germany’s oldest breweries. Choose from 4 beers on tap and also dine on classic hearty local cuisine in their cozy traditional Brauhaus style medieval interior-perfect place to end your day in Goslar.
Address: Marktkirchhof 2, 38640 Goslar
9. Ore Mines of Rammelsburg
The Rammelsberg Ore Mines are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and their discovery propelled the fortunes of an entire region. The first records of mining in Rammelsburg, a 2000 foot mountain in the Harz range, date back to the Middle Ages.
The Saxon chronicler, Widukind of Corvey, in 968 describes Emperor Otto the Great, opening the silver mines and having the precious metal extracted. In 1005, lured by the region’s prosperity, King Henry II of Germany had the Imperial Palace built at the foot of the Rammelsburg.
The main metals extracted from the variety of ores found in the mines included silver, lead, zinc, and copper. Mineral deposits were declared largely exhausted (after 30 million tonnes of ore extraction) in 1988 and the mines were closed.
The disused mines have been preserved to serve as a history lesson for visitors, curious to know about the history and development of the region. The mines, now converted to a museum were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.
Address: Bergtal 19, 38640 Goslar
Adult: guided tour and museum visit: € 16
Children: guided tour and museum visit: € 9
Groups: guided tour and museum visit: €13 per person
Restaurant Alte Munze, Goslar
10. Lunch at Restaurant Alte Munze
Situated in the boutique 4-star Hotel Alte Munze, enjoy a very tasty lunch in their historic breakfast room which dates back to 1509. Definitely not the cheapest option in town but the food and the service here is wonderful-start with their delicious pumpkin orange soup (€6) and then choose their gnocchi in sage butter with pumpkin and mushrooms ( € 16.50 )
Address: Marktstraße 1, 38640 Goslar
11. Marktkirche Goslar
The first mention of the Evangelical Marktkirche of Goslar is found in 1151 and over the ages, due to redesign the church has suffered many changes. Despite the mix of Gothic, Romanesque and Renaissance design this unassuming yellow brick church with asymmetrical church steeples is a charming building.
The north tower was rebuilt with a Renaissance-style cupola due to a fire in 1589. This is in fact the tower to be scaled in order to take in the best view of Goslar. Medieval stained glass windows, frescoes, and a bronze baptismal font are all lovely period details.
Panoramic view of Goslar from the top of the Marktkirche Goslar
The 200 steps to the top will leave you breathless but the panoramic views will be worth it.
Address: Marktkirchhof 1, 38640 Goslar
Entry prices: Around €3 per person.
Monchehaus Museum, Goslar
12. Monchehaus Museum Goslar
This is a museum dedicated to modern art in the heart of Goslar. The museum features exhibitions by acclaimed international artists including those of Joseph Beuys, Max Ernst, Georg Baselitz, Eduardo Chilida and others.
The building, originally built in 1528 is a museum piece in itself, spread over three floors. Along with this is the citizen farmer’s house, also from 1528 with its half-timbered buildings, stone-vaulted cellars, and ornate sculpture garden.
The international award in the Arts, the prestigious “Kaiser Ring” is presented by the town of Goslar and every year the award recipient is asked to display their works at the Monchehaus.
Address: Monchestrasse 3, 38640 Goslar, Germany
Children / young people €1.50
13. Finish the trip with beers at Musikkneipe Ko
End your day in this classic German-style kneipe ( with smokers room ) where you can expect well priced local priced beers, friendly service, and, classic pop, rock tunes from the ’80s.
I hope you enjoyed this travel guide, Don’t forget to tell me your experience in the comments down below.