The German state of Lower Saxony stretches all the way from the verdant Harz Mountains in the south to the sparkling North Sea. The towns and cities belonging to this state are widely diverse: while some are picture-postcard maritime settings, others are practically pages from history books; some enthrall with stunning architecture, while others have inspired famous fairy tales. Let’s explore what Lower Saxony has to offer.
The world-famous Herrenhausen Palace and Gardens alone are worth making a trip to Hanover for. You can easily spend several hours admiring the four symmetrical, beautifully landscaped gardens that make up the parkland—the Great Garden (Großer Garten), the Berggarten, the Georgengarten and the Welfengarten. Each garden has a unique layout and is peppered with architectural landmarks, including the Herrenhausen Palace. Additionally, the palatial New Town Hall and the majestic ruins of Aegidienkirche add ample character to the skyline of Hanover. Hanover is also known for its vast swathes of greenery as well as the beautiful Lake Maschsee.
Braunschweig, the land of iconic ruler Henry the Lion, is rather unsung but is nonetheless bathed in a historic atmosphere. The 12th-century imperial castle of Dankwarderode is the top attraction in town and is worth a visit for its elegant architecture and interesting museum. The Residence Palace, crowned by the massive silicon-bronze Quadriga, is not to be missed either. The 12th-century old town, the heart of Braunschweig, still beats in a medieval rhythm. A stroll through this part of town will take you past stunning architectural specimens from various eras.
Goslar is a gem of a town in Germany’s Harz Mountains. As Goslar is steeped in a rich history of mining, the most popular activity in town is to explore the UNESCO-listed Rammelsburg Mine, which was in operation for 1,000 years before it closed in 1988. Goslar old town, also a UNESCO site, is deemed to be among the most well-preserved medieval town centers in the world. The romantic cobbled lanes of the old town meander past 1,500 half-timbered houses that date back centuries.
Hildesheim is a place that will pull on the heartstrings of history and architecture enthusiasts. The two most famous landmarks in town, Mariendom and St. Michael’s Church are both UNESCO sites. They are not only examples of medieval architectural genius but also specimens of substantial historical importance. Don’t forget to check out the miraculous 1,200-year-old rose bush clinging to the façade of Mariendom. Natural history aficionados can get their fill of culture at Roemer-Pelizaeus Museum, a museum of Egyptian and Peruvian art, German history, ethnology, etymology and archeology.
The 1,000-year-old town of Celle, by the River Eller, practically stands as a living contradiction to the busy, fast-changing modern world. In Celle, the pace of life is unhurried and changes even slower. When in town, linger over your coffee, stroll the beautiful old town, take your time to soak up the medieval atmosphere and perhaps mingle with friendly locals. If you want to fit in some sightseeing, the ducal castle, Kunstmuseum, Filmtier Park and Bomann Museum will keep you busy.
Göttingen is another great choice if you wish to slow down and experience the true essence of a quintessential German medieval town rather than tick tourist spots off a list. The university town of Göttingen has an impressive historic square guarded by stunning architecture. If you wish to break away from the brick and concrete, simply head over to the solitary beach of Leine River or the flourishing University Botanical Gardens.
How about walking the steps of dukes, counts and grand dukes in the former royal seat of Lower Saxony, Oldenburg? While the five-towered Lamberti-Kirche and Degodehaus might appeal to your love of architecture, a series of great museums like Horst-Janssen-Museum, State Museum for Art and Cultural History, Augusteum, Stadtmuseum and Landesmuseum für Natur und Mensch take care of your culture fix. For an awesome, rejuvenating experience, you might consider making a trip to the health resort of Bad Zwischenahn just outside Oldenburg.
Trace the footsteps of the iconic Pied Piper at Hamelin. Yes, the town, or for that matter, the story of the Pied Piper, were not mere products of the Brothers Grimm’s imagination but were inspired by real events. Locals would be only too happy to share with you legends that seem to indicate that one fateful day many centuries ago, all the children of the town did disappear. All over town, you will find tributes to the beloved fairy tale in the form of souvenirs, sculptures, graphics and even themed edibles.