Monday, October 29, 2007

Braunschweig – City of Lion – Die Löwenstadt

Braunschweig, the city of Henry the Lion, has about 257 000 inhabitants and is the biggest city located between Hannover and Berlin.
I had a chance to visit this nice hanza-town in October 2007 due to an international conference of the organization HFES hold there. By the way, in 2007, Braunschweig was nominated as a City of Science, so there couldn’t have been a more suitable place to organize a scientific conference.
October isn’t the nicest month to visit most places in Europe… It is usually grey, dark and rainy… So was Germany. I think I didn’t have a chance to see sunny Braunschweig at all, however, the lovely relaxing atmposhere of this town reached me despite of bad weather conditions. I’m just sad the photos do not transmit the beauty of this city, and my own much happier feelings than the grey Autumn was to offer.
Anyway, Braunschweig is a lucky town to have so much history in itself, and playing an important role in Germany in the past; but also an unlucky city because of II World War, particularly one sad day: October 15, 1944 , when the Anglo-American military planes destroyed 90% of the medieval Altstadt (old town), which was the largest ensemble of half-timbered framework houses in Germany, as well as most of the churches. Only the Main Cathedral in the town centre withstood the bombs. The look of the city changed completely within one day.
Why is the town City of Lion? The reason is the following: Because of it’s good location (from Braunschweig, the Oker was navigable to the North Sea allowing the town become a cross-roads of important trade routs and entrance to the Hansatic League), Duke Henry the Lion chose Braunschweig as his place of residence during the middle of the 12th century. This initiated Braunschweig's development into a large medieval city. The cathedral (Dom), castle (Burg) and the statue of the lion - landmarks of the city - provide the proof also nowadays, that Braunschweig was once a very important Duke's place of residence.

Photo: The symbol of Braunschweig - Lion - is standing in the main square of the town - Burgplaz. It is actually a copy of the Burglöwe, a Romanesque statue of a Lion, cast in bronze in 1166. The original statue can be seen in the museum of the Castle Dankwarderode. Today the lion has become the true symbol of Braunschweig. It was the first free-standing monument of the Middle Ages.

The Old Town of Braunschweig is quite small, and is navigable by foot. My hotel was in the corner of the Old Town, so it took about 5 minutes by foot to reach the Main Square. It is called Burgplaz – Castle Square. It of a group of buildings of great historical and cultural significance:

Photo: The old town of Braunschweig.

Cathedral (Dom) – Henry the Lion built the Cathedral between 1173 and 1195. It is a large Protestant church dedicated to St. Blaise. The cathedral was the first fully vaulted structure in Lower Saxony. Henry and his consort Matilda are both buried in the cathedral.

Castle (Burg) – Henry the Lion built the Castle in the 12th century as well. Unfortunately it was destroyed within the years. The present structure was rebuilt in 1887 by City Building Administrator Ludwig Winter. The reconstruction was based on archeological investigations and in accordance with the ground plan of the hall building which the Duke originally built in 1175.

Photo: The Castle, which was built by Henry The Lion, but was destroyed and is now rebuilt (in 1887).

Photo: I and one of my traveling mate Kai in the Burgplaz in front of the Castle.
Guild House – this is a lovely picturesque half-timbered house which is nowadays the seat of the Craftsman's Association:
Photo: I and Kai in front of the Guild House in Burgplaz.

Photo: The Guild House

Kleine Burg is one of the few remaining preserved old streets in Braunschweig. Another place is called Othilien Quarter where you can find for instance St. Giles Church, St. Giles Monastery.
It is the part of Braunschweig, which presents the common house type in the town before the bombing in 1944 – the half-timbered framework houses. A few of these houses survived the bombing and fire, but most of them have been brought here from other parts of town, or built up again like the houses used to be, to restore the look which Braunschweig once used to have. Some of the houses are modern as well, and have been decorated with inscriptions and carvings of figures in an attempt to blend with the historical tradition.

Photo: I and Kai and some really nice looking half-timbered framework houses behind the church of St Magnus. House No 1 is an example of bourgeois construction from around 1500. It was moved to this location in 1916.
Photo: Another street with the typical German houses.

Photo: Another nice house.

Photo: And some cute dogs, too :)
Ducal Palace - The Braunschweiger Residenzschloss - was badly damaged in World War II and was then completely demolished in the 1960s. The reconstruction of the Palace began in the summer of 2005 using some original parts of the facade that had been preserved, and is now ready again, since 2007. It is mostly occupied by shops, but also a Palace Museum is found inside.
Photo: The rebuilt Ducal Palace.

COLUMN "Christianity 2000" - The history of Christianity at the Ruhfäutchenplatz is portrayed in numerous individual sculptures on the 9-metre tall bronze column. The sculptures combine to make illustrative pictures.
Photo: Column 2000 year of Christendom by Jürgen Weber.
Photo: A nice restored German house with the church called St Andreas. Our hotel was right behind the church.

Photo: An overview of Braunschweig from a tower the church you can see in previous photo.

Photo: The Happy Rizzi house (from 2001). A funny house by a New York pop-artist called James Rizzi. His target is to be always a bit different and to stand out of the mass. This building is a office-building and when you look closely, you notice, that each window is someone's eye!

Photo: The wall of the Rizzi house.

Photo: Was Cow Parade once in Braunschweig?