The Christmas market in Braunschweig takes place in Burgplatz, the square surrounded by the Dom and the castle Dankwarderode in the heart of the city. It has in recent years extended all around the Dom and the castle and over to the square in front of the city hall.
The market opens in late November - a few days before the first Advent Sunday - and lasts till Dec 23, then closes for the holidays and reopens on Dec 27 and 28.
See my Christmas market travelogue for more pictures.
From approximately the onset of advent you will find Christmas markets emerge in many German towns and cities and Braunschweig is no different. You will find locals, kids and adults alike, assembling at this festivity for the food, drink and gift stores. It is very unique and lots of fun. You will find glüwein (mulled red wine), eirlikör (a kind of German egg nog) and even warm beer! It is here you can also sample 1/2 metre bratwursts - what a culinary delight!
In Braunschweig you will find the 'weihnachtsmarkt' in the historical Burgplatz - just follow the people and the kids smelling all the sweets :)
On Wednesday and Saturday mornings there is a fresh food market held in the Alstadt markt opposite the old Rathaus. Make sure you bring a basket or bags because the produce is fresh and delicious at reasonable prices. Wherever the locals accumulate you know is a good thing. In summer, the variety of berries and the like is staggering and you have to be careful not to buy too much... always a problem of mine. Apart from fruit and veggies there are other local produce such as flowers, eggs, honey, bread, meat, cheese and fish. Tempting??
If you are in Braunschweig I urge you to check out the event calendar because chances are something will be on in the region, particularly in summer when it feels like almost every weekend. You can do this by logging on to the website or visiting the tourist information office in the Burgplatz.
Pictured was the 2-day Feldschlossen (a local brewery) concert held in August 2004 in the Burgplatz. The headlining act were a band called 'Sweety Glitter and the Sweethearts' which was quite an experience I assure you :)
Braunschweig seems to have replaced Munich's beer gardens with ice cream cafes and I for one am not complaining.
If you visit Braunschweig you will not have to walk too long before you stumble upon your first eis cafe and wander not much farther you will find your second. You get the drift.
You will see locals indulging in this treat with frightening regularity making it very hard to resist your own portion. And if you feel like spaghetti ice cream, look no more because you will find it on every menu in Braunschwieg. Don't feel like spaghetti? No problem, try the lasagne or pizza ice cream. My favourite has got to be the spaghetti carbonara which is beyond delicious.
Come to think of it, I feel like an ice cream right now...
A Brief History of Brunswick
Mysterious legends are all that remain of the beginnings of the City of Brunswick. Brunswick probably developed from a supply and resting place (Wik), which was set up by traveling merchants over 1000 years ago. This place was located at the intersection of important trade routes. From this point onward, the Oker was navigable by way of the Aller and the Weser to Bremen and then to the sea. The favorable location of the market settlement caused Henry the Lion to choose Brunswick as his place of residence during the middle of the 12th century. This initiated Brunswick's development into a large medieval city. The cathedral (Dom), castle (Burg) and the statue of the lion - landmarks of the city - provide modern proof of the economic and cultural importance of the Duke's place of residence.
The medieval city structure was unique. It consisted of five districts: Altstadt, Hagen, Altewiek, Neustadt and Sack. Each of these districts had its own constitution, townhall, market and, with the exception of Sack, its own parish church.
Under the guidance of merchants, who were primarily residents of the Altstadt district, a flourishing community arose from trade and commerce during the 13th and 14th centuries.
Trade relations reached as far as Flanders, England, the Nordic countries and into Russian regions. The creation of magnificent buildings can be attributed to the development of the power of the middle class and the resulting riches. The Roman pillar basilicas St. Martini, St. Katharinen and St. Andreas (see picture) were renovated into hall churches with high ships flooded with light. The creative and stylistic abilities of the citizens are especially impressive in the timberframe buildings of this period. This important epoch (during which Brunswick was, among other things, also a suburb of the Saxon quarters in the Saxon alliance) ended at the end of the 17th century. The independence of the city originating in the 13th century was lost again in 1671. The Welf rulers moved their place of residence (which had been in Wolfenbüttel since 1283) back to Brunswick in 1753. The to a great extent free and open-minded city lost its former political, economical and cultural importance due to its integration into the absolutist-ruled government. After several years, trade and culture began to flourish once again. A new upswing resulted from the promotion of the economy by the Dukes who created two yearly conferences (1681) and the founding of the lending institute (1765) from which the Norddeutsche Landesbank originated. A further impetus for the citizens was the founding of the Collegium Carolinum in 1745 from which the present technical university originated. The opening of the ducal art and natural products cabinet were of importance during this period and were the nucleus for the Museum of Natural History (Staatliche Naturhistorische Museum) and the Duke Anton Ulrich Museum (Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum) which displays masterpieces by Cranach, Hollbein, Van Dyck, Reubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer van Delft and others.
Music and theater made the city into a cultural center during the period of the Enlightenment. The first important bourgeois tragedy in German, Lessing's 'Emilia Galotti' (1772) and Goethe's 'Faust I.' (1829) were premiered in Brunswick. Just as the skill of craftsmen and the cleverness of merchants were the bases of the affluence of the medieval city, these forces were representative of technical progress and the industrialization of companies in Brunswick during the 19th century. The founding of new companies around 1900 led to a complex economy, the products of which were then and are presently still being sent throughout the world. Cameras from Rollei and Voigtländer, pianos from Schimmel and Grotian-Steinweg and vehicles from VW and MAN-Büssing are known to people on all five continents.
Until 1918 Brunswick was a dukedom and afterwards, until 1946, it was a free state. Over 15,000 servicemen from the Brunswick region lost their lives during the first World War. Towards the end of the war, Brunswick became a center of social unrest and political protest. The Revolution of 1918/19 eventually lead to strong polarization between the working class and the middle class. This was a decisive influence on political developments during the time of the Weimar Republic and the National Socialist period.
The NSDAP in the Brunswick area had governed as part of a coalition with bourgeois parties since 1930. For this reason, the National Socialists acquired political power earlier here than in other places and were able to act against those opposing them with terror and violence - especially against trade unionists, social democrats and communists.
Dietrich Klagges (Minister of National Education and the Interior from 1931 onwards and Minister President as of 1933) was the central figure of National Socialist rule in Brunswick. He was responsible for the persecution and murder of many people and for attempts to make Brunswick into a National Socialist center of power by means of a rigorous gleichshaltung (forcing into line) policy and creation of pompous buildings and ideological productions (such as the building of 'thingsteads' or the conversion of the cathedral (Dom) into a 'national holy place').
Countless Jews, Sinti, Roma, homosexuals and Jehovah's Witnesses from Brunswick were the victims of the National Socialist policies of persecution and extermination. Foreign forced laborers and prisoners of concentration camps suffered and died in many places in Brunswick. Thousands died during air raids.
The National Socialist leadership also altered the character of the city of Brunswick which had developed over the centuries. Construction projects of the National Socialists and disastrous air raids had almost completely destroyed the old townscape by the end of the war. After the end of the second World War, the reconstruction of the city with modern buildings and wide streets began. Public buildings and churches were rebuilt. The development of Brunswick into a city of research began when scientific institutes were moved into the city. With a population of approx. 250,000, Brunswick is now not only a major economic and cultural center of the region, but also a first-class research center. As of the autumn of 1989 and reunification, the City of Brunswick is once again in the middle of Germany. It is a great city, both to live in and to visit.
If you speak German have a look for street names in Braunschweig. A lot of them are rather funny and very very old apparently.