Public Art: Witch sculpture
Sculptor: © Jochen Müller Quedlinburg
Sculptor’s Website: www.jo-mueller-figurenkunst.de
Description: The naked bronze depicts a witch, with a rat on her shoulder, attempting to push an enormous boulder. This is one in a group of four sculptures at the Hexentanzplatz (Witches’ Dance Floor). The other statues include Thalix, Homunculus and the devil.
Date Unveiled: The sculptures were unveiled on the 21st of April, 1996.
Location: The Witch sculpture can be found at Hexentanzplatz (Witches’ Dance Floor) in the Harz Mountains, situated high above the Bode Gorge opposite the Rosstrappe in Saxony-Anhalt, Thale, Germany.
The Legend of the Witches’ Dance Floor: As one legend goes, on Walpurgisnacht (the 1st of May) witches on broomsticks rode through the air with animals in tow to the Hexentanzplatz (the witches’ dance floor). Waiting patiently in the castle on the cliff was the Devil. When they all arrived, the witches flew down to the bottom of the valley where the Devil’s basin was located. There the newly recruited witches would be sprinkled with Devil’s water as part of their initiation into the evil congregation. They would then fly back up on their broomsticks to the Hexentanzplatz where they danced wildly and screamed until the end of the midnight hour.
Another legend is that The Hexentanzplatz is reputedly an old Saxon cult site where celebrations on the 1st of May were held in honour of the so-called Hagedisen (forest and mountain goddesses). Eventually, the cult was banned by invading Christian Franks who placed soldiers in the area to stop their pagan ways. Undeterred the Saxons scared away the soldiers by dressing up as witches and riding on broomsticks at night.
Trivia: For many years, the Hexentanzplatz was in a militarily restricted area of East Germany and off-limits to visitors.
During pre-Christian times, Hexentanzplatz was believed to be an important site for secret pagan ceremonies. This was where the witches gathered before their flight to the Brocken on Walpurgisnacht, immortalized by Goethe in Faust.
On the plateau is the Thale Mountain Theatre (Bergtheater Thale) one of the oldest open-air theatres in Germany with 1,350 seats, which was founded in 1903 by Ernst Wachler.