The zoo with the imaginative name is situated in the South between the suburbs of Melverode and Stöckheim, close to lake Südsee. It is a small private zoo, so don't expect too much, but a nice option as a break from sightseeing or to entertain kids for an afternoon. When I was little I was a regular there (we lived nearby).
Since then the zoo has been enlarged and rearranged, most of the old sorry metal and concrete cages have been replaced by modern grassy enclosures that are much roomier. The zoo owners have done a lot.
Still I could not help but notice that some of the animals did not look too well-kept, scrubby fur with sore skin underneath does not indicate health. Visitors are allowed to feed the animals, in theory only with food that is sold at the zoo but people bring bread and whatever, so the diet and the amount of food the animals get is not controlled.
Open daily. March 15 to Oct 31: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Nov 1 to March 14: 10 a.m. till dusk.
Entrance fee: adults € 5, kids € 3
Access by car from Leipziger Straße (parking available). The website linked below has a map.
Public transport: Tram M1, direction "Stöckheim", get off at "Siekgraben".
Houses in medieval Braunschweig were usually built of wooden timberwork. Patrician families had a small stone house, called Kemenate from Latin caminus (oven, hearth) in the back of their courtyard which could be heated. This is where the family lived. These stone houses were comparatively fire-safe, so the vaulted basement served for storing valuables.
Before World War II more than 80 Kemenaten still existed in the old town. Only one of them, the one in Hagenbrücke, has been completely preserved, remnants of a few others are known.
Location: Hagenbrücke, west of Hagenmarkt
The renaissance house was built in 1630 for Mayor Georg Ackermann whose family crest is shown above the portal. The sculpted portal and oriel were added during the following years, they bear different dates in the 1630s. The date of construction is remarkable because it is in the middle of the Thirty Years War.
The house was heavily damaged in World War II. The front facade has been reconstructed. The upper storey, originally in timberwork, has however been rebuilt in stone. The interior is entirely modern. The building hosts offices of a health insurance company and municipal authorities.
Location: Reichsstraße, off Hagenbrücke north of Neustadtrathaus.
The village church of Melverode, now a suburb south of the city, was built around 1200 and has been preserved as an example of purest Romanesque architecture. The choir still has the original frescoes inside, depicting scenes from the lifes of Christ and St Nikolaus. In the middle ages the church was connected to a nunnery.
The massive steeple in the west served for defence purposes and as last refuge for the villagers in emergencies.
The church has no regular opening hours. If you want to visit it, contact the protestant parish in Melverode.
The little palace outside the town was built in 1768-1769 as pleasure palace and summer retreat for Duchess Auguste, an English princess, sister of King George III., who was married to Duke Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand of Braunschweig. Since she felt homesick she named the palace "Richmond" after her home. The little palace is situated on top of a hill and overlooks and English landscape park along the river Oker.
The palace is usually not open for visitors but the courtyard and the park can be visited for free any time. The City of Braunschweig uses Richmond for official receptions, and it can be rented for meetings and other events, it is especially popular for wedding receptions.
More photos of palace and park on my Richmond travelogue page
Location: Wolfenbütteler Straße, South of the city, direction Wolfenbüttel.
Tram M1 and M2 and bus 420 to "Schloss Richmond"
The university was founded in 1745 by the Duke of Braunschweig as educational institution between secondary school and university that taught humanities and fine arts and mathematical-technical subjects. In 1878 it was turned into a technical university. The focus of studies is still on science, mathematics and engineering.
The old main building (photo 1) was built by Konstantin Uhde in 1874-1877 in Italian renaissance style. After destruction during World War II only the front side was restored. The 17-storey skyscraper behind it (1954-1956 by Dieter Oesterlen) hosts several science institutes.
The square in front of the main building is surrounded by 3 modern buildings by Friedrich Wilhelm Kraemer, architect and professor at the TU: the university library (photo 2), the administration and the Auditorium Maximum, the largest lecture hall (photo 3). The western facade of the AudiMax bears an abstract relief by the sculptor Hans Arp, after which students nickname the building "Amöbensilo" ("amoeba silo").
Needless to say that most students prefer sitting in the Auditorium Minimum to sitting in the Auditorium Maximum (the AudiMin is a cafe just round the corner...)
Around 1980 another tower (photo 4) was built along Wendenstraße which is used by the faculty of - ahem - architecture.
The magnificent former station building was erected in classicist style by Carl Theodor Ottmer in 1843-1845. In town it is still known as Alter Bahnhof. Since it was a dead-end station, the train tracks were transferred in the 1960s, and the station was substituted by the new central station in the southwest of the city.
The front part of station hall was then turned into a bank building. All that is left of the original building is the restored facade.
Location and tram/bus stop: Friedrich-Wilhelm-Platz
In the northern half of the old town, the amount of historical architectrue that survived the war is close to zero, witht he exception of some churches. The streets north of Altstadtmarkt have more or less completely been rebuilt in post-war architecture. These streets once were the home of rich merchants who owned splendid renaissance houses. In Gördelinger Straße some portals of these houses have been saved from the rubble and put up among the new buildings.
The little church, formerly dedicated to St Bartholomew, was first built in the late 12th century, later rebuilt in gothic style. After the reformation it served as lecture hall, then as arsenal. In 1708 the Duke gave it to the small calvinist community, which still celebrate their services there. The calvinists were a minority in a mostly lutheran city, but in those times they were tolerated and got a church of their own.
In the air raid of October 1944 which flattened most of the city centre, the church was destroyed. In the 1950s it was rebuilt in its former shape but without the two spires.
Südsee, the "South Lake", is situated between the southern suburbs of Melverode, Stöckheim and Rüningen and next to the river Oker. The park and trails around the lake are popular among locals for walking, jogging, biking. The walk around the whole lake will take about 45 minutes. There is even a sailing club on the lake who will have the boats out as soon as the weather allows.
My parents' house is, in fact, within walking distance, so this is home!
The lake is artificial. When the dam for the nearby freeway was built in the 1960s the soil was taken from here. The hole filled with water from the nearby river and its surroundings were turned into a park for the inhabitants of the new suburbs in the south of the city. In the 1970s both the freeway network and the lake were extended once more, the lake almost doubled its size then.
The bike path along the river continues through the park of Richmond palace, Kennel and Bürgerpark into town. You can cycle along car-free bike trails through these parks all the way into the city centre (approx. 7 kms), which makes the ride very pleasant.
In the main pedestrian shopping street you'll come across this stone pillar with many bronze cats. The monument refers to the smaller side street with the funny name Kattreppeln, which in old dialect transtates to "cats' tussle". Cats used to like the once quiet side street, that's why it got the name.
Location: corner Hutfiltern - Damm - Kattreppeln
Germany’s most famous jester is a local from the Braunschweig region. In fact Till Eulenspiegel is no real historical personality. He is the hero of a novel that was written and published in the early 16th century. According to the book Eulenspiegel was born around 1300 in the village of Cremlingen in the Elm hills. A lot of his deeds took place in and around Braunschweig. He travelled, however, across the whole Northern half of Germany.
Till Eulenspiegel is a jester in the old sense of the word. The jester fools others by being dumb and witty at the same time. He needs a lot of brains and cleverness to pretend that he’s the fool. In the end, however, the other person will inevitably look and feel like a fool.
Till’s surname Eulenspiegel (“owl mirror”) contains both sides: the owl as symbol of wisdom, and the mirror which refers to the jester’s task of showing people their true faces. His favourite trick is taking literally what people say.
The city of Braunschweig refers to its famous inhabitant in many ways. The tourist office makes him come to life during festivals, a dressed-up Eulenspiegel does speeches, guided tours and activities for children.
On the other hand, observing municipal politics and public affairs one sometimes cannot help but think that Eulenspiegel’s spirit is still alive in this city…
The Eulenspiegel fountain in Bäckerklint shows him in the company of owls and monkeys. The fountain was donated by the Jewish banker Bernhard Meyerfeld and made by the sculptor Arnold Kramer from Wolfenbüttel in 1905. It survived the bombings of World War II which smashed all the surrounding houses. After the war it had to be removed for a short time but was reinstalled in the original spot in 1950. It refers to one of Till’s best-known pranks which is said to have taken place exactly here.
Till was, once more, looking for work and got a job with a baker, pretending to be a baker himself. After preparing the dough the baker told his new employee to finish the work. Till asked what he was supposed to do with the dough (make rolls and bread loafs, obviously). The baker got angry and shouted, “You’re a baker and don’t know what to do? Make owls and monkeys, what else!”
The baker went to bed. Till obediently did as he was told... When the baker awoke in the morning he found his workshop full of bread owls and monkeys. He fired Till immediately, even requested him to pay the dough. Till did, but said, “I have paid for it, so the bread is mine to take.”
It was the day before St Nicolaus day. Eulenspiegel took the owls and monkeys, displayed them outside the church of St Nicolaus and sold them all – and made far more money than he had paid the baker...
There used to be a bakery in the square next to the fountain that sold owls and monkeys made from sweet dough. Unfortunately it is gone. Other bakeries in town may still have them.
A house in Kohlmarkt bears an inscription that refers to another prank Eulenspiegel did to a shoemaker who tried to fool him.
For those who read German: All the Eulenspiegel stories
Location: Bäckerklint, in the Northwest of the city centre. Easiest to find from Altstadtmarkt, follow Gördelinger Straße North till you reach the little square.
Nearest tram stop: "Radeklint"
These days it is a suburb of Braunschweig, a 10-minute jaunt from the Hbf, but Wolfenbuttel's royal pedigree shines through with its ducal schloss, esteemed library and some 600 handsome half-timbered buildings.
For 3 euros each we toured the royal apartments of the schloss with the usual ornate plastwork and displays of frocks, porcelain, portraits and table settings. However, the period rooms spanning 320 years of aristocratic frippery went right up to the 1950s complete with kitsch touches.
Across the road is a famous library (once Europe's largest) full of maps and manuscripts, but as it was raining we made a beeline for the nearest coffee shop instead. Have a look at www.hab.de/index-e.htm and see what you make of the library.
The main church in town (Hauptkirche) has wonderful details inside including an enormous organ, decorated pulpit, interesting memorials and plenty of carvings.
We would have lingered longer if the weather had been better or the shops open, but after a couple of hours we felt we'd seen everything this lovely but small town has to offer.
About a 20min drive from Braunschweig, Elm-Lappwald nature park is a lovely day trip for some hiking. The trails are very easily negotiated and so therefore suitable for all ages.
Sprinkled on the edges of the park are various small towns (e.g. Reitisling, Konigslutter) which are perfect for a stop of coffee and cake after some walking through the park. Mmmmmm.