Albrechtstrasse 1, Helmstedt, Lower Saxony, 38350, Germany
More about Helmstedt
Former Chapel of St Georg
Hausmannsturm and chapel
Travel Tips for Helmstedt
Church of St Walpurgis
Actually the whole town of Helmstedt is "off the beaten path" so it is hard to divide the tips, but some places are even more hidden than others, so let's give it a start...
The green spire of St Walpurgis is visible from many placesin the old twon but it is located rather on its edge in a less interesting area. The parish church of the northern quarter is, like the main church of St Stephan, located on a hilltop and surrounded by a walled churchyard. It originates in the 13th century but was rebuilt in the late middle ages into its present shape. It also became the church of the shoemakers' guild.
The church was closed when I passed and it does not seem to have regular opening hours.
Nazi versus Democratic Justice: Sculpture
I would like to draw your attention to an interesting sculpture that deals with Nazi justice and the new beginning after the war. It can be found in closest vicinity to the Juleum Novum but is easily overlooked. This sculpture is standing in the yard of the law court west of the university. According to the sign it was created by S. Neuenhausen in 1984/85 – sorry I cannot tell anything about the artist.
The column is divided in two parts. The lower half shows and accuses what justice used to be under the Nazi regime: unjust, cruel, a tool of the government. The upper half depicts the new beginning after 1945 in democratic Germany when justice returned to being what it ought to be.
Location: in the front yard of the Amtsgericht in Bötticherstraße, opposite Juleum Novum
Future teachers studied at the Pädagogium in Kybitzstraße. The stone ground floor has a sculpted renaissance portal. The upper floors consist of timberwork with carved ornaments.
The most famous student of the Pädagogium was Hoffmann von Fallersleben, the poet who wrote the text of Germany’s national anthem. He studied here in 1812-1814.
Kybitzstraße has, apart from the Pädagogium, a number of other renaissance and baroque houses that are worth a closer look.
Helmstedt's fame in Cold War Times was based on its location close to the Iron Fence, that border which divided Germany and Europe in two. Helmstedt was situated along the shortest and probably most important among the transit routes from West Germany to West Berlin through the DDR for both highway and railway. I grew up in the region and border checkpoint Helmstedt-Marienborn was our usual gateway to Berlin.
Apart from that, we remember the open-cut coal mines in the vicinity, and that's about it. The small town of Helmstedt itself hardly ever came into anyone's focus. In the meantime the mines have been closed down, the border checkpoint is no more, and the economy of the little town is struggling.
Few people know that this "roadhouse by the highway" once was a centre of humanism, science and protestant theology. In 1576 Duke Julius of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel founded the protestant university for his territory here after introducing the reformation. The old university building, the Juleum, is a jewel of renaissance architecture.
Famous professors taught in Helmstedt in the 16th-18th century. Their houses, many remarkable examples of renaissance and early baroque architecture, can still be admired in the streets of the old town.
Then there are two medieval monasteries, St Ludgerus and Mariental, and the two parish churches of St Stephan and St Walpurgis. The streets of the old town are lined with half-timbered houses that are so typical for this region around Harz Mountains and Lüneburg Heath.
Helmstedt is not a tourist hotspot but an interesting off-the-beaten-path destination that is worth a stop if you are in the area and have already seen all the 'big' places.
A Wombat in Helmstedt
Helmstedt is not far from Braunschweig. During our recent visit to Mommy's parents we decided to do a day trip. We both did not have much idea what we'd find there, apart from the old university of course.
I love such surprise trips. You always find something interesting whereever you go if you keep your eyes open.
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