In Europe/ Outdoors

Is This Europe’s Most Beautiful Medieval Village?

When you picture the kind of quaint Medieval German village worthy of a postcard, you’re picturing Quedlinburg and it’s roughly 1,200 half-timbered homes. This pristine level of preservation landed the town on UNESCO’s list of world heritage cities, which is essentially bureaucratic recognition that this place is gorgeous.

I know what you’re thinking. How did Quedlinburg stay so well preserved? Two factors come to mind… 

First of all, it wasn’t heavily damaged during World War II. Another is its relatively isolated location in east Germany. The communist East German government usually preferred modernization over preservation. But Quedlinburg was far enough away from major cities to avoid that fate. This helped foment a tradition of preservation and renovation with local government support in the ’70s and ’80s.

Just four years after German reunification, UNESCO was salivating over Quedlinburg and bestowed its World Heritage honors upon the town.

But none of that’s why I’m here. I’m here for a couple of reasons. Namely, I want to find the best Käsekuchen or cheesecake there is. And it’s supposedly in Quedlinburg.

But first, I need some fresh air. And few places offer it in Germany quite like the Harz Mountains. So it’s a quick train ride to Thale and we’re off into the damp, moody mist of the Bode Valley. Goethe himself couldn’t have penned a more appropriate setting for this backdrop, the legendary home to witches and other supernatural creatures who, because this is Germany, probably eat children or something for misbehaving.

The Cake War of Quedlinburg

After the run, it’s time to get to the important business of finding the best cheesecake. We head to a plaza in the Old Town at the foot of the castle to try a piece at both Café Vincent and the Käsekuchen Café am Finkenherd direclty across from one another.

I found these cafés from a 2018 article in the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung about the “Kuchenkrieg of Quedlinburg” or the “cake war of Quedlinburg.” Supposedly the cafés had a less-than-friendly rivalry, to put it lightly.

We first went to Café am Finkenherd, but a man was standing at the door, turning people away. We still don’t really know why. We tried asking questions, but he just kept shaking his head like a Berghain bouncer, which is a comparison I’m making solely for the reference because I’ll be damned if I ever wait in that line for some shmendrik to tell me they’re not letting me in because of how I’m dressed! 

Anyways, no idea what that was about.

In any event, we at least got to try some bites at Café Vincent where they’ve made up to 193 different cheesecake varieties. They’re sold out of the original by the time we arrive, so we get blackberries with basil, raspberries with rosemary, and blueberries with pomegranate––the agreed upon winner among our group.

Trail Running in Harz National Park

Another day, another trail. Except this time… a not-so-minor meteorological miracle. Wait for it… YES! DIE SONNE LEBT! The sun lives! 

I don’t know what combination of frogs and potions had to be boiled together in a cauldron to concoct this surreal spell. But frankly, I don’t give a damn. Give me that sweet sunny D!

What else can I say about Quedlinburg? I mean, look at the video! The problem is, I can’t tell you about Quedlinburg. No amount of wordplay will put you on the cobblestones themselves and into the narrow Medieval alleyways. This is a tactile place, from the crunch of the hiking trails to the clip-clop of your shoes tapping across the centuries-old streets. 

It’s frankly hard to believe this is just a few hours away from my home in the concrete cacophony of Berlin.

This is one of the many reasons why I love living in Germany. This is all in my relative backyard. But if you want to know why Germany is the best place to move to in Europe, watch this video.

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