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Harz

The name Harz, itself derived from the old German word for “mountain forest”, designates a wide-spread mountain range in the Northern half of Germany. The range reaches its highest point in the peak of the Brocken mountain at 1141 meters and extends into the federal states of Lower Saxony, Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt, altogether stretching over a length of about 110 kilometers. The Harz is home to a National Park of the same name.

The region has no designated center point, but instead features a number of quaint, well-preserved small towns, many of which are worth visiting for their historic cityscape and architecture. In addition, there are a number of castles and historic fortifications in the area.

Harz Brocken

But first and foremost, the Harz is a unique, wide-spread natural habitat that is home to a multitude of species in flora and fauna. Birches and spruces dominate the higher elevations, while in the lower areas,  beech woods as well as oaks and Sycamore trees dominate the picture. In between, a number of moors provide a habitat for mosses and grasses. The Harz is a favorite for nature watchers, who will find plenty of bird species here, owls, falcons and woodpeckers being among them. They share the area with mammals such as bats, deer, and wild boar. Since the beginning of the 21st century, lynx have been reintroduced and now live here side by side with wild cats.

The region is a favorite for birders, hikers, climbers and ambitious cyclers, but it is also well-known for its winter sport opportunities. Cross-country skiers find plenty of runs in the Harz, also biathlon is possible in many places. As the Harz usually gets large amounts of precipitation, it is a comparatively safe bet for snow in the winter.  In the summer, there are many bodies of water that allow for canoeing and white water kayaking. There are a number of dammed reservoirs, some of which can also be used for swimming. The Harz rivers are notable for their clear water quality.

Tourism is the main economic factor of the region today. However, traces of the mining businesses that have operated here for centuries can be found everywhere. Copper, iron and silver are among the resources that have been exploted here for a long time, but these enterprises have by now mostly closed. The traditional mining heritage can still be discovered in many of the Harz towns, for example in the form of museums.