Goslar Nail Head – Goslar, Germany - Atlas Obscura
Our new kids' book is on sale! Shop now.

Goslar, Germany

Goslar Nail Head

This strange sculpture is an enigmatic icon of this medieval German town. 

This distressing sculpture depicts a narrow head pierced through by about 10 large nails, mouth open with a painful grimace. The meaning of this mysterious work is not entirely known, though it has received many interpretations over time.

The bronze sculpture is located in front of the old Town Hall in the medieval German town of Goslar. One proposed explanation is that the nails represent the stubbornness of local townspeople, or that the pained expression depicts the difficult, headache-inducing decisions that town managers have to make. Another explanation suggests the sculpture is a monument against terror or narrow-mindedness.

The artist, German sculptor Rainer Kriester, has several other sculptures displayed in public spaces around Germany, which similarly depict giant, abstract heads with faces bound in tied masks or covered with clasped fingers. They have been interpreted as representing oppression by overwhelming powers. Kriester, however, has given little guidance as to what to think about this intriguing work.