As a local, you always suffer a little blindness when it comes to your own region. If you’re exposed to certain stimuli every day, you eventually stop reacting to them. But maybe that’s also the reason why I’ve come to like my homeland more and more in recent years. Just like in Saxony-Anhalt in general, there are also many sights and things to do in Mansfeld County. Especially when the rape fields stretch over the hills and in between the Mansfeld pyramids rise into the sky, Mansfeld county is extremely beautiful. That’s why I want to introduce you to my homeland and whet your appetite to discover this rather unexplored region in Germany for yourself.
Eisleben – Birthplace of the reformator and a city of ecumenism
I was born in Eisleben. I share that with Martin Luther. The Luther monument on the market square in Eisleben commemorates the town’s greatest son. And the market square in Eisleben itself is also one of the most beautiful I know in Germany. Especially the St. Andrew’s Church and the town hall make a perfect photo motif in good weather.
Sights of Martin Luther in Eisleben
Luther preached his last sermon from the pulpit in St. Andrew’s Church. Today it bears his name. But Eisleben is also worth visiting for the official Luther sites, which UNESCO has even declared a World Heritage Site. Martin Luther’s birthplace, the house where Luther supposedly died and St. Peter’s Church, where Luther was baptized, are among them. Today’s hotel “Graf Mansfeld” used to house the town castle of the former Counts of Mansfeld. The counts were considered faithful supporters of the reformator. On the street Breiter Weg you should definitely see the monument of the miners called “Comrade Martin”, which is probably the oldest monument in the Mansfeld region and was erected as early as 1590 and reminds of the centuries of mining that happened in the region.
Helfta Monastery – Catholic monastery in Luther’s town
And even though Eisleben is the hometown of Martin Luther, the revived Catholic Helfta Monastery also has a home here. In the 13th century, under the abbess Gertrud von Hackeborn, the Cistercian convent of Helfta was the center of German women’s mysticism and, through the mystics and theologians Mechthild of Magdeburg, Gertrud von Helfta and Mechthild von Hackeborn, was considered an important place of religious and secular education of the time.
Sangerhausen – Mammoth skeleton and largest collection of roses in the world
As Mansfelders from near Eisleben, we always look to Sangerhausen with some skepticism. Especially the fact that Sangerhausen has become the district capital of the Mansfeld-Südharz district, which was formed from the previous districts of Mansfelder Land and Sangerhausen, is a thorn in the side of many people from Eisleben. But in the end, the people of Sangerhausen share the regional history, and there is much to see in the town that is also significant for the entire Mansfeld region.
In the Spengler Museum, many things revolve around prehistoric creatures, whose remains were largely brought out of the earth by mining in the Mansfeld region. For example, a steppe mammoth was found near Sangerhausen in 1931. It is the only complete skeleton of a mammoth in Germany. Besides the mammoth, there are also other fossils here. Also interesting: the museum was the first new building of its kind in the GDR. The people of Sangerhausen were afraid of losing their mammoth to Berlin or other museums, so they built one themselves.
The European Rosarium (Europa-Rosarium) is something like the Encyclopædia Britannica among rose collections. Unlike normal rose gardens, here they also collect old varieties that are sometimes no longer available elsewhere. That means you can see real rose rarities here! The best: There is a rose collection here that deals solely with roses from former communist countries – no joke!
St. Ulrici Church
St. Ulrici is the most beautiful church in Sangerhausen and a point on the Romanesque Road in Saxony-Anhalt. The church was built at the height of the Romanesque period in the 12th century and is dedicated to St. Ulrich. The church was frequently rebuilt, but in the 20th century has been more strongly restored to its original Romanesque form.
Sangerhausen train station with GDR mosaics
The people of Sangerhausen themselves probably don’t find their train station all that exciting. It was built in 1963 and is now a listed building. It is said to have been the first new station building in the GDR and is exemplary in its form. The huge mosaic in the entrance hall was created by Wilhelm Schmied and restored together with the station from 2016. As you can see from the picture, it is a tribute to mining and rural life in the Mansfeld County. The kiosk in front of the station is also a beautiful GDR round building.
Stolberg (Harz) – experience the Middle Ages
The administrative district in which the Mansfeld County is located is now called Mansfeld-Südharz. And even though Stolberg was not historically part of Mansfeld County because it had it’s own counts, it is a very beautiful place that every visitor to the region should see. With its half-timbered houses, one embarks here on a journey back in time to the Middle Ages, when Stolberg was still ruled by those counts. Thomas Müntzer, a leader of a peasant uprising, was born here and some battles of the German Peasants’ War took place near Stolberg. The castle of the Counts of Stolberg is one of the most beautiful in the Harz Mountains and the coffee houses serve delicious cakes from the region. Also worthwhile is a hike to the St. Joseph’s Cross (Josephskreuz), another landmark of Stolberg.
Heimkehle Cave Uftrungen
The Heimkehle is one of the show caves that exist in the Harz Mountains. Uftrungen just belongs to Saxony-Anhalt. About a kilometer further west lies the state of Thuringia. But this means that the people of Mansfeld-Südharz can still count Germany’s largest gypsum show cave to their own. A good thing, because it is one of the best places to visit in Mansfeld County. The halls, up to 22 meters high, are impressive and the lighting makes the visit a real experience.
Castles and palaces in the Mansfeld County
The Mansfeld County was a county in its own right until the 16th century. Only later was it passed around and was part of various other realms. But precisely because of the many lordships and because some parts of today’s Mansfeld-Südharz district belonged to other ruling dynasties, there is quite a variety of castles and manor houses to discover, many of which are well worth seeing.
Mansfeld Castle – one of the most beautiful castles ever
It is by far my favorite sight in the Mansfeld region. Mansfeld Castle is one of the most beautiful I know. The castle towers over the town of Mansfeld where Luther went to school. It costs a small donation to visit, but the view alone would be worth more. You can walk freely through the castle grounds and even spend the night at Mansfeld Castle. Besides the view of Mansfeld from the castle garden, the moat and especially the Mansfeld Castle Church are not to be missed. And there is even a real highlight for lovers: the balcony of Romeo and Juliet! They never stood there. But you can imagine it very well.
Seeburg Castle – dream castle with a view of the “blue eye of the Mansfeld region”
Seeburg Castle is one of the oldest castles in Mansfeld-Südharz. It may have existed as early as 743 as the Hoohseoburg of the Saxon Theoderich. In any case, however, the castle is documented for the year 1036, when it was also the seat of Wichmann II of Seeburg, who was not only Archbishop of Magdeburg, but also one of the most important princes in the German Empire. Later it came into the possession of the Counts of Mansfeld, who expanded it considerably. This was also a reason why they eventually went bankrupt. Ownership changed several times over the centuries. Since the 1990s, the upper part of the castle has been empty. The lower part has been renovated and is used by a restaurant, among others.
Allstedt Castle – one of the hotspots of the reformation
Allstedt was once a palatinate and the most important rulers of the 10th to 12th centuries met here. Allstedt is even mentioned in the Sachsenspiegel, one of the oldest German chronicles. Later Allstedt was expanded to a fortified castle and therefore has walls up to 3.50 meters thick. The castle kitchen is one of the largest and most beautiful in Europe and can be visited too. Thomas Müntzer stayed at the castle and was a minister in the local church, where he was the first to hold a service in German. Goethe wrote parts of the work Iphigenie on Tauris here. In short, Allstedt is simply a must on the list of places to see in the Mansfeld region.
Royal palace in Tilleda – how a king lived in the early Middle Ages
In the open-air museum of the royal palace (Kaiserpfalz) Tilleda you can experience how German kings once lived. The replicas show how the rulers held court here and what crafts were used to work here. The list of German kings and emperors who used Tilleda as their residence is long: Otto I, Otto II, Henry III, Frederick I Barbarossa, Henry VI – all were present here and made Tilleda at the foot of the legendary Kyffhäuser one of the most important places of that time. It is also nice to watch the craftsmen. They will show you the methods with which people worked back then.
Industrial culture in the Mansfeld region – How man has wrested everything from nature
For anyone who grew up in the Mansfeld region, as I did, industry and the Mansfeld region are inextricably linked. Until 1990, one of the largest industrial enterprises in the GDR existed here – the VEB Mansfeld Kombinat Wilhelm Pieck, or just “the Mansfeld”. At one time, 47,000 people worked here in the mining and metal processing plants of the Mansfeld Kombinat. Today, however, little of this remains. However, there are some places where you can still explore the history of this huge industrial corporation.
Hiking the Mansfeld slagheaps
They rise up to 150 meters high from the landscape and offer a fantastic view all the way to the Brocken Mountain and the Leipzig Panorama Tower. The Mansfeld slagheaps are not only the landmarks of the Mansfeld region, but also a great destination for excursions. I have already written about the Mansfeld pyramids in a separate article here.
Mansfeld Mining Railway (Mansfelder Bergwerksbahn)
In the past, miners used them to travel to plants and shafts. Today, the Mansfeld Mining Railway (Mansfelder Bergwerksbahn) only ferries excursion guests around. Almost every Saturday, the steam locomotives run on the narrow-gauge line between Klostermansfeld and Hettstedt. When the Bergwerksbahn is closed, you can still take a look around the Malowa site where they repair old trains from all over Europe. That’s why there are still a few old railroad treasures on the site.
Röhrig-Mine in Wettelrode
The Röhrig-Mine in Wettelrode is the only tourist mine in the Mansfeld region. Here you can see underground how copper slate ore was once mined in the Mansfeld region. Visitors can also ride underground on a mine train and see other machines that were once used in the mines of the Mansfeld Corporation. The Röhrig mine is thus an absolute must and one of the most interesting destinations in the Mansfeld region.
Mansfeld Museum in Hettstedt
In addition to the mining railroad, the machines in the Mansfeld Museum also bear witness to what the people of the Mansfeld County wrested from the earth in the mining industry. Thus, in the Mansfeld Museum, one can not only see an old steam engine, but also view the machines and technology from the time when the Mansfeld mining district was one of the most important copper suppliers in Europe. In addition to the hard technology, however, Humboldt Castle, which houses the museum, was for a time the home of German writer Wilhelm von Humboldt and his wife. The house’s collection also includes fossils that show which prehistoric creatures once swam around here and whose imprints can be found in the rocks extracted from underground.
Lakes in the Mansfeld Region
If only the Mansfeld region were by the sea, I sometimes hear people moaning. But people simply have no idea what beautiful lakes lie in the Mansfeld region. Here is a small hit list:
Sweet Lake (Süßer See) near Seeburg
With the Seeburg Castle, the Sweet Lake (Süßer See) is definitely the highlight among the lakes in the Mansfeld region. There are countless water sports opportunities here with sailing, windsurfing or simply swimming. The local campsite has also become famous on a reality TV show on German television. You can relax in the saunas of the Saunadom and jump directly into the cool water of the lake. The Sweet Lake definitely belongs on every list of places to see in the Mansfeld Region.
The largest reservoir in the Mansfeld region is not necessarily the most beautiful. Nevertheless, it is also worth a trip, if only for the view of the Kyffhäuser mountains that you have from here. The beach is long and offers a lot of space. Many events take place here in the summer as well.
The Wippertal Dam with its imposing dam wall is idyllically located in the middle of the forest near Wippra. Here it is wonderful to relax in nature and there are guided tours inside the dam. A nudist hiking trail also runs here, which probably makes it one of the freest destinations in Mansfeld-Südharz.
Anna and Neptun Baths in Helbra
The Anna Baths were the destination of my childhood. Actually, only the people of Helbra know the place. But it is a beautiful natural bath. A club maintains a kiosk with a café and a boat rental. The Neptun Baths are also filled with natural water and in summer is always well-stocked with bathers from Helbra and the surrounding area.
Festivals in the Mansfeld Region – Wiesenmarkt, Dirty Pig Fest and Brass Music Festival
When my friends abroad rave about the Oktoberfest or the Cannstatter Was’n, I can only smile wearily. Because even if the southern German festivals are much better known, you can still experience real festivals in the Mansfeld region.
Wiesenmarkt in Eisleben
At the end of April, the festival summer always begins with the Spring Wiesenmarkt (Frühlingswiese) in Eisleben. This is the little brother of the real Wiesenmarkt. The Wiesenmarkt in Eisleben is much older than the Oktoberfest (it has already taken place about 500 times) and ends the festival summer.
Dirty Pig Fest
But my favorite thing to do at Whitsun is to go to the Dirty Pig Festival in the valley of Mansfeld (Mansfelder Grund). There you can see men throwing themselves into the mud and helping to drive away the winter.
Helbra Brass Band Festival
However, an insider tip (actually all festivals are) is the Brass Band Festival in Helbra. It takes place only every two years (hopefully again in 2021). Brass bands from half of Europe gather there. There is more brass music here than at the Oktoberfest!
Places to see in the Mansfeld Region – Don’t miss the sights in Mansfeld County!
In my eyes, the Mansfeld County is a region that is often completely neglected. Yet there are not only UNESCO World Heritage sites to see here, but also unique nature and the industrial heritage of an entire region to discover. The many castles are a real highlight for medieval fans and there are also some beautiful railroad lines to see. If you spend the night here, you will not only get to know the rustic coziness of the region, but you can also try real Mansfeld specialties, such as the bratwurst (unlike the Thuringian or Nürnberg bratwurst a cold sausage) and other house butcher specialties, regional wines and fruits from Seeburg. In short, there are many things here you can’t even imagine!
Booktips Saxony-Anhalt and Germany
Even if Saxony-Anhalt has been rather neglected so far, there are already some travel guides and books about the region. Here you can find a small overview of a few good titles.
The German Merian has covered Saxony-Anhalt in depth and it’s quite a good brochure to get an overview over this rather unknown German destination. We can therefore recommend it to get a better idea.
There is not much specific literature on Saxony-Anhalt for travlellers in English. This beautiful picture guide gives a nice overview over the area and will help you navigate better in the region.
The classic guide book also has a good edition about Germany. Although it’s not primarily focussed on the East of Germany, it still covers many regions and let’s you connect it with other parts of the country.
The Rough Guides are always a great alternative to other guide books. The Germany edition is no exception and covers part of Saxony-Anhalt as well.