Goslar was established mainly as a mining town, being just in
the shadow of the Rammelsberg Mountain. Silver was discovered there
in the 10th century, and the town immediately prospered from this -
becoming known as "the treasure chest of the Holy Roman Empire".
The town soon became a favourite summer residence of the German
Emperors. In the later Middle Ages both lead and zinc were
discovered in the vicinity. With this further boost to the local
economy, Goslar was soon ranked as one of the most prosperous
communities in Europe.
Two large fires swept through Goslar in 1800, destroying a large
number of buildings there. But in spite of this, and the bombing of
the Harz area in the Second World War, much of the town's historic
architecture remains intact. In fact, Goslar is home to almost 1500
buildings dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries - 168 of which
are from before 1550. Today the entire town now enjoys the status
of a protected monument.
Rammelsberg is a 2086 ft (636m) mountain at the edge of Goslar. The
mines there served the town from the 10th century right up until
the 1980s, when the mine was finally exhausted. The site was
quickly awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, and there is now a
museum detailing the history of the mine, and some of the
industrial equipment used in it.
The Kaiserpfalz was built by the German Emperor Henry II at the
beginning of the 11th century, after silver had been discovered in
the mine nearby. The grand structure was designed as a summer
residence, and was used as such for many years, though it was
almost destroyed by the fires of 1800. However, it was restored by
Kaiser Wilhelm I in 1868, and it is now the largest Romanesque
palace to have survived anywhere in Europe. Now the palace is open
daily, and the stunning interior is a joy to discover.