Most European towns change a lot over the course of a decade, but Halberstadt has hardly changed at all since the 12th and 13th centuries. Known as one of Germany’s best examples of medieval Saxony architecture, visiting this time is like stepping into the past. The town was damaged badly during the Second World War, but it has been almost completely restored to its former glory. Among the many historical buildings within the town, the most significant are St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Liebfrauenkirche, both of, which house important collections of medieval art and tapestries–including some of the oldest tapestries in Europe.
Location: Halberstadt–a passage through history
Even the public transport in Halberstadt has a vintage feel. The town is served by an efficient tram network and visitors can choose to tour the area on a fully restored 1939 tram. The famous Magdeburg-Thale railway line also runs through Halberstadt, connecting the town with the rest of the Harz district.
Business: An eclectic economy
Halberstadt has won a reputation as something of an ‘alternative’ holiday destination, where history buffs, transport fans and experimental artists meet. The town’s population is served by excellent transport links, great retail facilities, and a scattering of good schools. One of the biggest successes of the city is the export hit Halberstädter Würstchen, smoked, cured pork sausages that are shipped all over Germany and beyond in tins.
Culture: Sounds of the past and the future
Halberstadt’s big claim to fame is that it was the site of the world’s first known pipe organ, in 1361. Organ music can still be heard at the local churches, but there is a new musical craze in Halberstadt these days. In 2001, experimental composer John Cage began his ‘As Slow as Possible’ performance. It will take 639 years to perform, with 17-month periods of rest between each sound change.
Activities: Walk on the wild side
Halberstadt is the sort of town that needs to be seen on foot, and there are many walking tours available for visitors. The Freizeitzentrum leisure centre has a range of sports facilities including tennis courts, swimming pools, and a gym. Kids will love the Tiergarten Halberstad–an educational petting zoo, which features dingoes, camels, and wolves.