Brunswick is a city of around 250,500 people in the federal-state of Lower Saxony, Germany.
It is north of the Harz mountains at the farthest navigable point of the Oker river, which connects to the North Sea via the rivers Aller and Weser. The date and circumstances of the town’s foundation are unknown. Tradition maintains that Braunschweig was created through the merger of two settlements, one founded by Bruno II, a Saxon count who died before 1017 on one side of the river Oker – the legend gives the year 861 for the foundation – and the other the settlement of a legendary Count Dankward, after whom Castle Dankwarderode (Dankward’s clearing),
which was reconstructed in the 19th century, is named. The town’s original name of Brunswik is a combination of the name Bruno and Low German wik, a place where merchants rested and stored their goods. The town’s name therefore indicates an ideal resting-place, as it lay by a ford across the Oker River. Another explanation of the city’s name is that it comes from Brand, or burning, indicating a place which developed after the landscape was cleared through burning. The city was first mentioned in documents from the St. Magni Church from 1031, which give the city’s name as Brunesguik
Understand : Brunswick was a city of importance in medieval Germany. Economically, it was situated at the intersections of major trade routes moreover, the river Oker was navigable from Brunswick, allowing access to the sea port of Bremen. It was among the last nine cities of the Hanseatic League.
Politically, Brunswick gained importance through one of its most important rulers, Henry the Lion, duke of Saxony and Bavaria. During his reign, Henry founded several German cities (among them Schwerin and Munich), defying his cousin German Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, and married Richard the Lionheart’s sister Matilda of England, thus establishing familial ties to the royal family of England, which still exist. His son, Otto of Brunswick, was crowned German emperor in 1209. To document his claim to power, Henry had the Lion monument erected in 1166, which also appears in the city’s coat of arms. You can still find the red lion on the coat of arms of Scotland and the British Royal Family.
Brunswick is considered having been one of the most tumultuous cities of Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (next to Paris and Ghent). Numerous constitutional conflicts ended in uprisings and civil unrest.
Despite its rich medieval tradition, Brunswick’s appearance today owes much to its almost complete destruction during World War II. Allied bombing destroyed 90% of Brunswick’s medieval city centre (leaving only 80 of over 800 timberframe houses). Only a small number of buildings have been re-erected; the majority of downtown buildings nowadays exhibit the sombreness of 1950s post-war architecture.
An important industrial hub, the district of Brunswick is home to many companies, such as the steel industry in Salzgitter (Salzgitter AG) and Peine, or Volkswagen in Wolfsburg.
The region of Braunschweig is the most R&D-intensive area in the whole European Economic Area investing a remarkable 7.1% of its GDP in the research & technology sector (places two and three go to Varsinais-Suomi and East Anglia with 4.1% each). It is home to the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), the national institute for natural and engineering sciences and the highest technical authority for metrology and physical safety engineering in Germany. Part of its assignments is the accurate measurement of time. It is responsible for the German atomic clock CS2 and the longwave time signal DCF77. In addition, the PTB operates time servers for the distribution of time on the internet.
Brunswick is further known for its universities Technische Universitat Carolo-Wilhelmina zu Braunschweig, Hochschule fur Bildende Kunste Braunschweig, Ostfalia Hochschule fur angewandte Wissenschaften, Welfenakademie Braunschweig, and 19 research institutes, among them the Johann Heinrich von Thuenen Institute (the Federal Agricultural Research Centre until 2007), and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research.
Braunschweig was declared Germany’s City of Science 2007.
Access : Coordinates: 52.266667, 10.516667 / By plane : The nearest commercial airport is Hannover Airport (HAJ IATA) (approximately 30–40 minutes by car, or around 1 hour by train). Braunschweig Airport (BWE IATA) is mainly a research airport and is primarily used by the Technische Universitat Braunschweig, the German Federal Agency of Aviation (Luftfahrt-Bundesamt), and the German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Investigation (Bundesstelle fur Flugunfalluntersuchung). It is, however, served by Volkswagen Air Services, Volkswagen ‘s corporate airline, with a few destinations in Europe (Prague, Poznan, or Ingolstadt). Tickets can be booked through the airline, or directly at the airport.
By train : Due to its location in the centre of Germany, Braunschweig Hauptbahnhof is well-served by German national railway company Deutsche Bahn. There are lots of high-speed trains ICE that stop in Brunswick.
Picturesque Goslar and the Harz Mountains, as well as the Luneburg Heath can be reached by local train. Travellers can purchase a Niedersachsen-Ticket, valid on local trains in the whole state of Niedersachsen for €21 for a single ticket, or €29 per ticket valid for up to 5 people. A Schones-Wochenende-Ticket, which is valid for up to 5 people for all local routes of Deutsche Bahn in Germany on weekends (Saturday and Sunday).
Brunswick main station is not very close to the centre, and the surrounding area does not offer a lot of sights worth seeing (Ringcenter commercial centre and the clubbing area behind it Stereowerk/Cube 11. Take the bus or tram from here to reach your final destination in Brunswick.
By car : Brunswick is served and easily reached by the German Autobahn highway system. Autobahns include one of Europe’s main traffic artery the A2 (sometimes jokingly referred to as Europe’s biggest parking lot since traffic jams are not uncommon, especially on Fridays). In addtition, the A39 cuts through Brunswick, connecting the city with adjacent Wolfsburg and Salzgitter, and merging into A7 to Kassel and Frankfurt. City autobahns are the A391, A392 and A395.
Depending on the traffic, Berlin can be reached in two hours – Hamburg, Bremen and Kassel in one hour and a half, Frankfurt in 3½ hours, Hannover in 30–40 minutes, and Magdeburg in one hour using the autobahn. Goslar and the Harz mountains are approximately 30–40 minutes away by car.
By bus : Brunswick serves as a major stop for bus travel throughout the country and Europe, thanks in large part to its central location. Buses frequent cities in Eastern Europe, especially Poland. Tour operator Rainbow Tours offers low-cost (and often bumpy) trips to European metropolises.
For information on domestic bus routes see Long distance bus travel in Germany
The central bus station (Zentraler Omnibus-Bahnhof or ZOB) is on Berliner Platz between the main station and the German Mail building (next to the Steam Locomotive monument).
Get around : The city centre is easily explored on foot. Most places of interest can be reached walking. The downtown shopping district is a car-free pedestrian zone. In case you need to visit places further out, you can rely on the public transportation system .
All major car rental companies have branches in Brunswick. But since Brunswick’s highways tends to get gridlocked during rush hours (neighboring Peine is the county with the largest number of commuters in Germany, most of which commute into either Braunschweig or Hanover). Moreover, Brunswick is rumored to have the highest per-capita-density of traffic lights in Germany. Try to count your number of stops when moving around by car in Braunschweig.
Brunswick has many parking garages, which are organized through a pretty efficient parking guidance system. You can access information on spaces available, fees, and opening hours via your cell phone at wap.braunschweig.de
By public transportation
The Braunschweiger Verkehrs-AG serve the city and the district of Braunschweig. Places within city limits are easily reached by public transportation, either bus or tram. Ticket prices vary depending where you need to go based on various zones.
Prices are available here. Tickets can be purchased at the driver, at certain stores, or via cell phone. The price for a one-way ticket within city limits is €2.50 (€2.30 by mobile, €1 less for children 6-14), or €5.50 for a day ticket (€5.30 by mobile) (Dec 2018).
Information on schedules and connections can be found either at the BSVAG itself, or on the EFA site, where you can look up connections for all of Lower Saxony and Bremen.
Taxis are comparatively expensive in Germany, and Brunswick is no exception. They are usually used by locals on weekends (after buses and trains stop running) for a ride home, or if you need to move lots of luggage to, e.g. the train station. The concept of sharing a cab with strangers is foreign to locals and drivers alike, although some people can be persuaded to share a cab, if your stop is on the same way (and when cabs are sparse e.g. in inclement weather).
Publicly registered taxicabs – those with yellow signs on top which say Taxi and are usually taxi-colored (creamy eggshell color) – can be phoned (0531-5 55 55 or 0531-6 66 66) or hailed. Private companies, such as MiniCar or HighlineTaxi, only pick you up with a prior reservation.
- The Brunswick Lion. It is the best-known landmark in the city of Brunswick. It stands on the Burgplatz square in front of Dankwarderode Castle and Brunswick Cathedral. Within Brunswick it is thus commonly known as the “castle lion” (Burglowe), giving the city its moniker Lion City (Die Lowenstadt). Originally erected by Henry the Lion in 1166, it was replaced by a replica in 1980 due to damages to the original caused by air pollution. The original can be found inside Dankwarderode Castle.
- Dankwarderode Castle.
- Brunswick Palace (Braunschweiger Schloss or Braunschweiger Residenzschloss). It was rebuilt in 2007 after having been bombed out in World War II and torn down in the years to follow. Now merely the facade of the former castle with a shopping mall on the inside. The quadriga Brunonia (the allegorical deity of the old duchy, the free state, and the city of Brunsick) is by far Germany’s largest (making it de facto the largest in the world). It is possible to climb to the top of the Schloss and see the statue from up close) The building also hosts the Braunschweig public library. Two equestrian statues are placed in front of the castle, one featuring Duke Karl II. Wilhelm Ferdinand of Braunschweig-Wolfenbuttel, founder of the Braunschweig Technical University, under whose reign Braunschweig for a brief period of time turned into the German centre of Enlightenment, and Duke Friedrich Wilhelm von Braunschweig-Wolfenbuttel, one of the most renowned German military leaders during the Napoleonic Wars.
- Literaturzentrum (Raabe-Haus). It is a historical builidng in which German author Wilhelm Raabe lived from 1901 until his death in 1910. The house now functions as a museum, centre for literature and research, and venue for literary events.
Rizzi-House. Office building designed by New Yorker pop-artist James Rizzi, located next to the Schlossarkaden.
Bruchstrasse. It is Braunschweig’s red light district. Referred to as Gurke (gherkin or cucumber) by locals, this area is off-limits to minors and “non-working “women (women are likely to be subject to harassment and verbal abuse through prostitutes when walking down this street), and shielded from public views by two iron gates. It has an interesting historic side to it though, since it is one of the oldest red lights districts in Germany, maybe in the world (prostitution in this part of town was documented as early as 1594), featuring some Medieval-style timber-framed houses, which can be seen from outside the gates.
Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum. Second-oldest museum in the world (after the British Museum in London)
Braunschweigische Landesmuseum. (BLM)
Judisches Museum (part of the BLM). The world’s oldest Jewish museum
Museum fur Fotografie Braunschweig (Museum of Photography).
Naturhistorisches Museum. Museum of Natural History.
Museum of Agricultural Engineering Gut Steinhof (Landtechnikmuseum Gut Steinhof).
Cistercian Museum Riddagshausen Abbey.
Brunswick Cathedral (Braunschweiger Dom).
Prinz-Albrecht-Park. A nice park, where many people barbecue in the summer
Riddagshausen Nature reserve and arboretum
Canoeing around the city (go to Kennedyplatz, there is a place for renting).
Hugo the Nightwatchman. Enjoy a tour with “Hugo the Nightwatchman” through medieval Brunswick. Other tours offered are “Carl-Friedrich Gauss” (sights related Germany’s famous mathematician) and “Count Hugo” (Renaissance Brunswick). Phone ahead for tours in English.
Watch a game of Eintracht Braunschweig, Brunswick’s traditional football team which plays in Germany’s second division. 23,500 people can watch the games in the stadium in the north of Brunswick.
First division basketball team Braunschweig New Yorker Phantoms plays at Volkswagenhalle.
Brunswick is home to the very successful (ten times German champions, most German Championships of all teams to date (2015), “three-peat” champion 2013-2015) first division American Football Team New Yorker Lions Braunschweig. They play their home games (season roughly May to September, pre season in April, playoffs in September/October) in the same stadium as Eintracht Braunschweig.
Floats at Schoduvel
Traditionally on the Sunday before Rosenmontag the Schoduvel takes place. Rosenmontag (Rose Monday) is the Shrove Monday before Ash Wednesday (usually in mid-February). It marks the beginning of Lent and is the highlight of the German Karneval (carnival). The Schoduvel is the largest carnival parade in Northern Germany and the fourth largest in Germany, behind those of the traditional carnival strongholds of Cologne, Dusseldorf, and Mainz. The term originates from Low Middle German, meaning “to shoo the devil”. It was first documented in 1293, making it the oldest recorded carnival celebration in Germany. However, this tradition has not been a continuous one in Brunswick. Schoduvel celebrations include dressing up in costumes, dancing, heavy drinking, and the parade of Schoduvel floats. Usually candies are thrown into the costumed crowds lining the streets among cries of “Brunswick” to which the spectators respond “Helau”. The procession starts at 12:30 and ends around 17:00. Afterwards, the crowd continues drinking and celebration in bars along the procession route and in the bars of Magniviertel.
Braunschweig Classix Festival. The is an annual classical music festival held in and in the area around Brunswick. The main concert season is from May to June and consists of more than 60 concerts and events, and concerts are presented throughout the year.
The Brunswick Schutzenfest (German “marksmen’s festival”, a traditional festival featuring a target shooting competition) is celebrated with the Braunschweiger Masch each June. Over 70 rides and several beer tents attract a crowd from Brunswick and the surrounding area. Highlight are the fireworks on the last Friday. Usually, although taking place in June, it rains during the Masch. Legend has it that this festival is hexed, since the festival site used to be the old Jewish cemetery.
Traditionally over the Pentecost weekend, Brunswick’s castle square turns medieval during the annual Medieval Market Fair .
Nord LB Open. The is a professional tennis tournament played on outdoor red clay courts. It is part of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Challenger Tour. It is held annually at the Braunschweiger Tennis und Hockey Club in Brunswick.
The festival Kultur im Zelt takes place each August and September, featuring acts, readings, bands, and stand-up comedians in a circus tent in Burgerpark. Tickets should be bought in advanced, as this festival is usually booked out pretty early.
On every first September weekend, the quaint neighborhood Magniviertel is host to the Magnifest . During this weekend, the whole area is closed is for car traffic, and food stands and band stages are erected throughout the Magniviertel. Artisans offer their products during the day, whereas bands play and people celebrate during the evening and nights. Drinking goes on until way past midnight.
Braunschweig International Film Festival. The takes place in November. Arthouse and independent films are shown in cinemas all over town. Prizes, such as the Heinrich and the Europa are awarded to independent movies, actors, and directors.
Braunschweiger Weihnachtsmarkt (Brunswick Christmas Market). The opens its gates during the week before the first Sunday of Advent (usually late November), and closes the week after Christmas (end of December). It is one of the most picturesque in Germany and is voted the most beautiful in Northern Germany on a regular basis. Typical beverages served include Gluhwein (a mulled wine), Feuerzangenbowle (literally translates as fire-tongs punch – a traditional German alcoholic drink for which a rum-soaked sugar loaf is set on fire and drips into mulled wine), Met (German mead), and Mummebier. Various specialties such as Braunkohl, Meterbratwurst (One-meter-long bratwurst), Heideschinken (baked ham in a rye bun), shashlik, baked camembert, etc. are also offered by numerous vendors on and around the castle square, along with sweets such as sugar-coated almonds and apples, Schmalzgreben (yeast dough squares seethed in oil) and Brunswick specialty Prillecken. Market booths open around 10:00 and close at 21:00. Do not miss it, should you happen to be in the area in December.
Go next : Wolfenbuttel / Schoppenstedt / Bad Harzburg / Magdeburg / Gottingen / Wolfenbuttel / Wolfsburg / Helmstedt