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The Best Things to do and see in the Medieval Town of Quedlinburg

by Silke Elzner

The small town of Quedlinburg is located in the heart of Germany. It’s a charming place with a lot of medieval flair – think timber-frame houses, cobblestone lanes, quaint restaurants – yet it is still widely unknown. Let me change that because I think Quedlinburg deserves all the attention that it can get. It is such a charming town, and the perfect place for a romantic getaway in Germany.

We visited Quedlinburg with the family in the first week of the year. Coming from Berlin, it was a quick drive, and the location right on the border of Harz National Park made it the perfect winter destination with a chance of snow. While we had to get on top of the Brocken Mountain to actually see snow, we did not regret our decision to favour Quedlinburg over the Iron Mountains.

In this article, I want to introduce you to some of the sights of Quedlinburg, accompanied with a set of photos that should really show off the cuteness of the town. I will add to that a number of excellent restaurants and shops that I think you should check out on your visit. Lastly, I will share with you the place where we stayed because I feel that it was such a brilliant choice for our family. But before we start, let me give you a very short history of Quedlinburg which was actually quite an important city in the Middle Ages.

Quedlinburg is in my view one of the most beautiful small towns in Germany. The historic city is perfect for a romantic getaway.

Quedlinburg is in my view one of the most beautiful small towns in Germany. The historic city is perfect for a romantic getaway.

A Very Short History of Quedlinburg

You may want to skip this chapter if you are not very interested in history. However, I do believe it always helps to learn a little bit about the background of a place to have a better experience when visiting it. Besides, Quedlinburg is indeed a very interesting place as it played some important roles in the past.

It all started in 919 when Duke Henry of Saxony was elected King of Germany while in Quedlinburg. You have to understand that in the Middle Ages, Germany did not have a capital city. Instead, the kings and emperors would constantly travel around the country with their court, staying in purpose-built castles or with family and friends. Quedlinburg already had a castle, and it happened to be one of the most favourite castles of the royal family so they stayed here many times. Queen Matilda even founded an important community for noble women (abbey) in Quedlinburg.

Quedlinburg has one of the best preserved medieval town centres in Germany. This is probably due to the fact that it was located in East Germany where capitalism could not change the face of the city streets with modern buildings and shop windows. Compare Quedlinburg to nearby Goslar on the other side of the former inner German border and you will know what I mean. Of course, one mustn’t underestimate the power of the people who put so much effort into preserving the houses with very little help from outside.

Today, Quedlinburg is a UNESCO world heritage site. This is not just thanks to the medieval city centre or the beautiful art deco houses in the surrounding suburbs. There are also the invaluable treasures of the abbey church which were lost after WWII and which are now partly returned to their place of origin, the Stiftskirche.

Narrow roads like this make the town centre of Quedlinburg almost traffic-free.

Narrow roads like this make the town centre of Quedlinburg almost traffic-free.

The Best Sights in Quedlinburg

The perfectly preserved medieval town centre of Quedlinburg with its many timber-frame houses, pretty churches and narrow lanes is of course an attraction in itself and well worth a visit. However, there are some truly spectacular sights I would like to point out which deserve a closer inspection.

If you are planning a trip to Quedlinburg and would like to know what to expect in terms of sights and attractions, have a look at my suggested highlights.

The market square is the most recognisable part of Quedlinburg. In the background you can make out the historic town hall.

The market square is the most recognisable part of Quedlinburg. In the background you can make out the historic town hall.

The Market Square

A great starting point for a day trip to Quedlinburg is the market square right in the middle of the town. The most imposing building here is of course the old town hall but there are also many pretty restaurants and shops that you can explore. A pretty fountain with Bohemian musicians is a popular photo object. If you need some extra help for your visit to Quedlinburg of if you want to book a guided tour, the tourist information is located right here, too.

Make sure you have a look inside the town hall to check out the pretty staircase and the stained glass window!

Make sure you have a look inside the town hall to check out the pretty staircase and the stained glass window!

The Town Hall

Quedlinburg’s town hall is located in central position right on the market square. It was built in the beginning of the 14th century in Gothic style and is heritage-listed. Many people will just look at the outside but I urge you to also go inside and have a look at the pretty staircase and the stained glass window.

It may not be the prettiest house in Quedlinburg, but the Ständerbau is definitely one of the oldest.

It may not be the prettiest house in Quedlinburg, but the Ständerbau is definitely one of the oldest.

Timber-Frame Museum Ständerbau

From the outside it may not look like much, but the Ständerbau is a real object of pride in Quedlinburg. That’s because it is one of the oldest timber-framed buildings in Germany. If you have a look at the frame, it still looks very basic. The house was built in the middle of the 14th century and is now home to a dedicated museum which explains the history of timber-frame architecture. Unfortunately, the museum was closed on the day the we visited so I cannot give you further information on the museum.

16th century Adelshof was once owned by the abbey and is today the home of a good French restaurant.

16th century Adelshof was once owned by the abbey and is today the home of a good French restaurant.

Adelshof

The Adelshof in the south of the city centre is another well preserved treasure in Quedlinburg. Most of the buildings that make up the Adelshof originate in the 16th century, and there is also a pretty pigeon tower in the inner courtyard. The estate was once property of the abbey but is now owned by the city. It is also the home of an excellent French restaurant which specialises in tarte flambée.

I just love this narrow house at Finkenherd. It today houses the tourist information office.

I just love this narrow house at Finkenherd. It today houses the tourist information office.

Castle Hill and Finkenherd

When heading to the castle from the old town you have no choice but pass through a part of the city that people call Finkenherd. This is my most favourite part of Quedlinburg. The houses are really wonky and stand very close together, and there are a number of small cafes and great shops. You will find another tourist information in a very narrow house where you can get more information on things to do in Quedlinburg. Other attractions in the area include the Klopstock museum (birth place of the famous German poet Klopstock), the house of the sacristan and the castle gate.

Tip: Instead of heading straight to the castle, take a left turn and walk down the street that runs parallel to the hill. There is a small art gallery here (Galerie am Schlossberg, Brandgasse 1) which has a cute art machine mounted outside. You can purchase a small work of art from the machine which will be a great and original souvenir to take home. Also, check out the private gardens that the locals have created on the slopes of the castle hill.

The abbey on the castle hill was once a very rich and powerful Medieval institution. Today, you can still see some real treasures inside the church.

The abbey on the castle hill was once a very rich and powerful Medieval institution. Today, you can still see some real treasures inside the church.

Abbey Church and Treasures

On top of the hill you will find the most memorable attraction in Quedlinburg, at least in my view. To see it, you have to pay the entrance fee to get inside St. Servatius church which in itself is not very exciting. But head straight to the chambers that contain the treasures of the church and you will see what I mean. Some of the items displayed here include an ivory comb from the 7th or 8th century, a jewel-encrusted religious book from the 10th century, and a huge jug made from alabaster. Add to that a number of reliquaries, fragile boxes and parchments.

While we visited, there was also an interesting exhibition in the church about Saint Matilda, the founder of the abbey. In the museum next door we could also see the lavish quarters of the convent ladies from the 18th century, and in the basement there was an interesting exhibition around the Nazi’s take on Quedlinburg’s history.

Tip: Walk to the edge of the castle hill garden and have a look down. One of the locals has put up an inflatable children’s pool to serve as a make-shift wishing well. You may want to try your luck and toss a coin!

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There are a lot of really excellent restaurants in Quedlinburg, so its easy to overindulge on traditional German food.

There are a lot of really excellent restaurants in Quedlinburg, so its easy to overindulge on traditional German food.

Recommended Restaurants in Quedlinburg

There is a surprisingly high number of top-notch restaurants in Quedlinburg. The focus with most restaurants is on German cuisine, either in the traditional way or with a modern twist. But there are of course also other types of restaurants that you can visit.

What we found rather astonishing was that even though there were so many restaurants in Quedlinburg it was still quite the task to actually find a free table in any of them. It may be easier in summer, when restaurants can also use the space outside to set up more tables. But considering that we were visiting in the middle of winter when there were not so many visitors around, the number of people dining out was still astonishing.

I therefore strongly recommend that you book your table a day or two beforehand to avoid disappointment, in particular if you are looking for a table for more than two people. The following list includes restaurants that we all frequented ourselves and that we can happily recommend.

From experience I can only recommend you book a table at your favourite Quedlinburg restaurant since most restaurants appeared very busy, even in winter.

From experience I can only recommend you book a table at your favourite Quedlinburg restaurant since most restaurants appeared very busy, even in winter.

Ristorante Perli’s Pasta Mia

The Italian restaurant Ristorante Perli’s Pasta Mia is right on the market square in the centre of town (Steinbrücke 23). It was our first choice since we were looking for a place to eat with our picky kids. Don’t be fooled by the multilingual welcome on the windows: this restaurant is not a tourist trap. Considering location and quality of food and service, the prices were moderate. Since the owner is from Tyrol consider ordering a traditional dish from his home region (check out the specialities in the menu). I ordered dumplings three ways and was the envy of my family. Website

Himmel und Hölle

We were really lucky to get a table at Himmel und Hölle (Hölle 5) after having knocked on several restaurant doors on that night, only to be told that they had no free tables available. But when we arrived here, a couple had just left, and so we could squeeze into the tiny corner and enjoy our meal. Others were not so lucky. The main focus of this restaurant are the delicious tarte flambées, but I ordered cheesy spätzle instead, a wonderful choice. Website

Restaurant Helena

One night, we felt like we needed some proper Greek food. We decided to try our luck with Restaurant Helena which happened to be faily close to our accommodation (Word 12). Once again, we were extremley lucky to get a table which had only just become available. Be warned that portion sizes were huge and that the snack option was absolutely sufficient for my appetite. Another good thing about this restaurant is that there is an Irish pub just across the street where we could sip some whiskeys to help with digestion. Website

Arts and craft, antiques and local delicacies: shopping and browsing is a must in Quedlinburg.

Arts and craft, antiques and local delicacies: shopping and browsing is a must in Quedlinburg.

Great Shopping in Quedlinburg

There are not just great restaurants in Quedlinburg but also a number of very interesting shops which sell craft and local treats. I would like to list a number of these shops for you which I truly loved for their ingenuity. Also, window shopping in Quedlinburg is great fun, as the little boutiques and shops integrate seamlessly in the medieval feel of the town.

  • Baumkuchenmanufaktur at Café Harz (Markt 12) – German “tree cake” is to die for
  • Quedlinburger Senf (Finkenherd 6) – mustard specialist
  • Keksmanufaktur Keks-Art (Lange G. 3) – cookies galore
  • Friedrich Häusser (Breite Str. 51) – antiques
  • Regionalladen Harz (Steinbrücke 20) – local food specialities to take home
  • Teekontor Quedlinburg (Breite Str. 46) – teas
A welcome fruit wine and lots of little details to make our stay in Quedlinburg as comfortable as possible: This is where we stayed with the family.

A welcome fruit wine and lots of little details to make our stay in Quedlinburg as comfortable as possible: This is where we stayed with the family.

Our Accommodation in Quedlinburg

Since we were really, really happy with our accommodation in Quedlinburg I would like to give you some further information. Our plan was to find a place for our family of four. We wanted it to be modern and clean of course, and ideally equipped with a bathtub, and private parking.

We ended up staying in a 115sqm apartment in a historic art deco villa just outside the medieval city centre. It offered much more than we ever thought possible. On two levels there were two bedrooms, a separate kitchen, a big bath with free standing bathtub, two TV sets and lots of extras such as bathrobes, toiletries, chocolates, fruit wine, etc. We felt right at home and had a fantastic time here.

For further information and to book please click here to get redirected to Booking.com (this is an affiliate link which means I receive a small commission if you end up booking an apartment at Villa Le Palais).


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Photos of Quedlinburg

Quedlinburg is the perfect place for photographers and couples (read here about our romantic nighttime stroll). I would like to end this post with some of my most favourite shots which hopefully will provide you with a good idea about how beautiful a town Quedlinburg really is. Enjoy!

The picture-perfect city centre of Quedlinburg is lovingly restored.

The picture-perfect city centre of Quedlinburg is lovingly restored.

There are many details on the timber-frame houses that you can discover as you stroll the narrow streets.

There are many details on the timber-frame houses that you can discover as you stroll the narrow streets.

A pretty house near the castle hill. You can imagine how much prettier it will even be in summer when the leafs turn green.

A pretty house near the castle hill. You can imagine how much prettier it will even be in summer when the leafs turn green.

Faded words on an old house wall.

Faded words on an old house wall.

The house of the sacristan near the castle hill.

The house of the sacristan near the castle hill.