Experience the town’s history

Leather Tanners’ Mill „Lohmühle“ In the entire Harz region historic mining left its imprint on the landscape: extensive slag heaps, cart ruts cut deep into the soil, and even the Harz forest itself was changed from the indigenous mixed beech and oak forests into the presently typical spruce forest.

It has been verified that over 3000 years ago ore was extracted from the Rammelsberg Mountain and in the Upper Harz Mountains. About 1000 years ago - under the rule of the Ottonians - systematic ore mining was begun. The Rammelsberg became the foremost copper source of the High Middle Ages. In the 11th century Heinrich II moved the royal palatinate from Werla to Goslar, into the centre of the emerging economic region. Heinrich III extended it into the largest palatinate complex of the Salic dynasty. During the 11th and 12th centuries Goslar was one of the most important seats of the kingdom: 23 imperial diets were held here and some hundred visits of kings and emperors are recorded.

Rammelsberg
Rammelsberg

After the last royal visit (King Wilhelm of Holland, 1253), Goslar evolved into an important Free Imperial City and a member of the Hanseatic League.

In 1253 Kaiser Friedrich II gave the Rammelsberg to the Duchy of Braunschweig-Lüneburg, who later lien-leased it to Goslar. After technical problems had brought the ore extraction to a still-stand in the 14th century, mining began to flourish once again around 1460, bringing profit to the town itself. During this period the townscape took on the form which it has today: the Town Hall ("Rathaus") with the Hall of Hommage ("Huldigungssaal") and the Cloth Merchants’s Guildhall ("Kaiserworth") dominate the Market Square, while the Bakers’ Guildhall marks the transition from the central area to the large Frankenberg district, where most of the miners lived, and the stone and half-timbered "Brusttuch" house clearly displays the wealth of its builder.

Lohmühle
Lohmühle
The churches, erected during the Romanesque period, were extended and refurbished and the town fortifications were once more reinforced. During this period the townscape radiated the image of the "Daughter of the Mountain", a metaphor which the physician and humanist Euricius Cordus applied in 1552 and which is still fondly employed.

Also in the 16th century the legend of the Knight called Ramm was first recorded: while on a hunting trip the Knight Ramm, a vassal of Emperor Otto the Great, tied his horse to a tree in order to stalk game in the rugged terrain on foot. Impatient for the return of his master, the horse pawed the ground and exposed an ore vein that lead to an abundant ore deposit. In honour of the knight the mountain was called "Rammelsberg" (Ramm’s Mountain) and the city at its foot was named "Goslar" after Ramm’s wife, Gosa.

Marktplatz
Marktplatz

But back to reality. Goslar’s fortune was short-lived: the Duchy of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel remembered its ownership rights to the Rammelsberg Mountain, refunded the lien fee and, after a fierce conflict, regained control of it in 1552. The loss of that asset, together with the political and economic upheaval of the period, made Goslar "a Free City rotting in its privileges" – that was the unfavourable impression gained by Johann Wolfgang Goethe during his Harz journey in 1777. It was not until the mid-19th century that Goslar’s economy began to flourish once again.

In 1988, upon depletion of the ore deposits in the Rammelsberg– with 27 million tonnes one of the largest copper, lead and zinc ore deposits in the world – mine operations closed down. Since then the site has evolved into one of the largest and most original museums of labour in Germany. In the outstanding historical monument ensemble, with high-calibre above- and below-ground exponents, a wide variety of geological and cultural aspects of mining are presented in a completely novel way. It is the only mine that was in operation for more than 1000 years. The Rammelsberg Ore Mine and the Old Town of Goslar were entered on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List in 1992. A palette of tours both above and below ground provide an informative experience covering about 850 years of mine work. Time is easily forgotten here.

In this city at the foot of Rammelsberg Mountain, visitors can enjoy a fascinating mix of culture, commerce, catering and entertainment. An exhibition in the vaults of Kaiserpfalz (Imperial Palace), one of the most important secular monuments of the Romanesque period, provides information about the epoch of the travelling emperors and the architectural history of the Palace. In the Goslar Museum outstanding local history objects, such as the Krodo altar, the Goslar Gospel Book and the town’s "Bergkanne", a silver wine pitcher used by the Town Council, are on display. The adjacent Lohmühle, the former leather tanning mill with its stamping mechanism still intact, is an interesting technological monument. At the Tin Figure Museum, history is reflected in the wonderful miniature world of dioramas.

One of the main attractions of the town itself is its fascinating atmosphere of apparently contradictory elements: activity and liveliness coupled with the inherent peacefulness of the rich historical scenery which is in turn interspersed with almost provocative counterpoints of modern art. Since 1975, the Goslar Town Council and the Mönchehaus Museum of Modern Art have awarded a prize that has attained international acclaim: the Goslar Kaiser Ring Award. Works of Kaiser Ring recipients and other well-known artists can be found in public spaces and at the Mönchehaus Museum itself.