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Germany - Harz Mountains - Teufelsmauer, the Devil's Wall

Does Germany really have something with walls? We went to the wall that was built and destroyed by the Devil himself, one of Germany's strangest geological features.

Germany - Harz - Thale - Teufelsmauer (Devil's Wall)

Germany - Harz - Thale - Teufelsmauer (Devil's Wall)

People seem to have something particular with walls. They seem to think that walls protect them, or separate them from the evil world out there. For thousands of years, country rulers have built walls to impress "the enemy" and to fool their own people into a false sense of security. Or to self-gratify their own megalomaniac ego's and to leave their personal mark in history. The Chinese rulers did it for thousands of years, starting with the Qin Dynasty. The Israeli's did it. Trump is doing it right now, and indeed, the East Germans did it. Walls may stand for a long time, but history also shows that walls are torn down sooner or later, at least partially.

So, building walls (and destroying them, at some point of time) seems like a human trait. But is it really? Or is it a more fundamental part of nature? Or perhaps it is all work of the Devil?

On the northern edge of the Harz, the answer to this question seems to be given. Stretching over more than 20 kilometers, there are the leftovers of a grim, threatening wall made of rock formations, sticking out high above the surrounding landscape: the Teufelsmauer, the Devil's Wall.

  • About 145 million years ago, the Harz mountain range was formed by tectonic forces. Landmasses were pushed together and the earth crest was folded upward over a period of 80 million years. Layers of hard sandstone and softer rock types were pushed from their original horizontal position to almost vertical. The softer layers eroded away by wind, rain and other forces of nature, and the hardest sandstone layers, now standing vertically, were left over like a natural wall of rock. Over time pieces of the wall kept eroding away, must much of it is still there.

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The strange wall of rock has caused fear and fascination to people for many centuries. Even the famous poet Goethe was highly fascinated by the strange rock formation, but even more about the legends about it. Because in the old days people didn't know about geology, so they had to find their own explanation for what they saw. In the dark forests and mountains of central Germany, people had no shortage of myths, legends and sagas to explain natural phenomena.

So here is what happened according to the old tales, and what created the Devil's Wall:

On a certain day, the Devil approached God to resolve their differences, and to divide the nature and the land between them. God agreed with the idea, on the condition that they would place a bet. All the land that the Devil could surround with a wall during one night, until the first crowing of a rooster, would become his property. The Devil agreed, and after sunset he started to build the wall, and worked his butt off to enclose as much land as he could.

Long before sunrise, a farmer's wife walked by. She was going to the market, far away, to sell her chicken and roosters that she had in a basket. When she saw the Devil, still working hard to build the wall, she got very frightened. She wanted to run away, but she fell.

At that moment, even though it was still pitch dark, one of the roosters in her basket started to crow. The Devil heard this, and he thought his time was up, long before he expected it. He got so frustrated and angry, that he destroyed much of the wall that he just built. The pieces that are left over are what we now can see as the Teufelsmauer, the Devil's Wall.

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There are various places where you can see the Devils Wall. The place where you can see that the rock formations really look like a half-destroyed wall is very close to Thale, just south of the village of Wellersleben. For people who want to hike: there is a 35 kilometers long walking route, that follows the Devil's wall all the way from there to the other end, near Blankenburg. The path is well marked, and at some places you can climb the Devil's Wall.

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When we visited the place near Wellersleben, the strangeness of the Devil's Wall was even more intense by a strange bird sound that we heard high in the sky. When we looked up, we saw many crane birds flying in formation to the South, "talking" to each other all the way. This is quite a rare thing to see and hear in many places, but Thale and Quedlinburg are places on their yearly migration route. Perhaps the Devil's Wall has always been one of their orientation points?

Posted by westwind57 00:32 Archived in Germany Tagged mountains hills road_trip nature hiking history germany forest mystery quedlinburg misery worries wernigerode cold_war witchcraft brocken steam_locomotive harz espionage thale bodetal

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