Our legends

Legendary! Our region is full of legends and fairytale stories - discover our sleeping emperor, enchanted caves and devilishly good schnapps.


Deep down in the mountain, enchanted in a subterranean castle, he is said to sleep, for many hundreds of years - so long that his glowing red beard has grown through the table. Every hundred years he has it checked whether the ravens - a sign of evil - still fly around the mountain, for if they have not disappeared, he must rest enchanted in his castle for another hundred years - Emperor Barbarossa! Frederick I is a myth and, as a symbol of a united empire, inspired poets and writers to create the legend of the eternally sleeping ruler who lies hidden deep in the Kyffhäuser Mountains. The Brothers Grimm made the Kyffhäuser legend famous at the beginning of the 19th century with their story Friedrich Rotbart auf dem Kyffhäuser, as did Friedrich Rückert with his Barbarossa poem.

The legend of Emperor Barbarossa is carved in stone on the 120-year-old Kyffhäuser Monument, which towers over the legendary Kyffhäuser Mountains. He seems to be just waking up, on his stately throne - the medieval emperor, immortalised in red sandstone. Barbarossa visited the palace in Tilleda, at the foot of the Kyffhäuser, in 1147, and at that time he deeded it to "Tullede".

But where is the legendary underground castle of Emperor Red Beard? When miners accidentally discovered natural cavities in 1865 while searching for copper shale, they must have thought they had found it, because the name Barbarossa's Cave was quickly found.

Mountain stories

The Harz is full of legendary places that have inspired people to tell stories since time immemorial. For example, several legends have grown up around the karst cave near Appenrode. One tells of a girl who wished to sink into the earth because she felt so miserable. A journeyman mason, hearing this, took his trowel and threw it into the earth, which opened up. The trowel sank deep into the split open earth. The trowel did not reappear and is said to have given its name to the place where the girl is now hiding - some say as a mermaid in the lake of the trowel.

The devil and tbe schnapps

If one believes a fairy tale of the Thuringian poet Ludwig Bechstein, it was the devil himself who became a schnapps distiller in Nordhausen and taught the high art of schnapps distilling to the people of Nordhausen, so that soon there was no other place in the world where more schnapps was distilled. The devil's intention was clear: Hell should not run out of souls - no problem thanks to sufficient consumption of the good brandy.

Nordhausen is the oldest grain town in the world: As early as 1507, the town clerks mentioned "distilled water" in their chronicle, and even then, the town councillors imposed a tax on the noble drink, the Bornewynzins. Only tested, first-class barrels received the coveted council seal. In 1789 the city authorities laid down the first purity law for grain, which could be distilled from at least two thirds rye and at most one third barley or malt. At that time there were about 100 distilleries in Nordhausen. Due to its full-bodied aroma, Nordhausen Korn had many fans, including famous personalities such as Reich Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. This unique tradition can still be experienced today at the Echter Nordhäuser Traditional Distillery - at the original historic site where Korn was distilled over 110 years ago and which is still in operation today. Aromatic gin specialities and a double cumin are distilled here by hand.