Travelling across Germany from the north east, to the south west, you come across a region known as The Harz. This is a place of high mountains, deep valleys, mysterious caves and strange folklore about witches. This region of Germany used to be on the border between East and West Germany, and this seems to be why it is relatively undeveloped and unknown. The area is famous for its hikes, its skiing, its beautiful mountainous scenery, and its limestone caves. We were only in the area briefly, on our way from Berlin to Frankfurt, but it is definitely worth a visit and perhaps a longer stay if you enjoy outdoor activities.
While we were in the Harz we visited the Baumannshöhle and Hermannshöhle caves, where we saw some very strange stalactites and stalagmites, and a bear skeleton. On the day we went there, only Baumann's Cave was open (they alternate the opening of the caves between the two, outside of the main tourist season). Inside the cave is a huge chamber that is known as the Goethesaal, named after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and which is now used for theatre performances. While you are in the Goethesaal, your guide turns out the lights so that you can experience what 'pitch blackness' really feels like. There is a small but informative area outside the entrance to the caves, where you can read about how they were formed and (of course) buy your children some crystals.
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