The library was founded by Duke August the Younger in 1643/44 and owned already 35,000 volumes at his death in 1666. His successors enlarged it further. A first library building was erected by court architect Hermann Korb in the early 18th century, which was substituted by the present building in 1882-1886.
The library owns manuscripts and books from the early middle ages to the present. It is a research library that can be used for scientific research. I have done research there myself about a church in a nearby village a couple of years ago and found all the construction plans, which enabled me to prove that it was designed by a different architect than assumed before. If you want to use it, write a letter to them, explain your project and make an appointment. The library also offers scholarships for research. Check the website for details.
More inetresting for the short-term visitor: the museum of medieval and early modern manuscripts. In addition to the permanent collection they are doing temporary exhibitions. Their greatest treasure is the most expensive book in the world: the 12th century Gospel of Henry the Lion, an amazing illustrated manuscript. This book, for conservation reasons, is on display for only some very short weeks per year (in 2008, it was in May). If you want to see it, check with the library when they are going to show it.
All detailed information about the use of the library, visits to the museum part, research projects and the online catalogue can be found on the library's website.
Website in German, English and Latin(!): www.hab.de
A first church in this location was finished in 1700 but burnt down five years later. Court architects Johann Balthasar Lauterbach and Hermann Korb planned the new protestant parish church for the southern and eastern suburbs of the town, which was erected in 1716-1722.
The baroque facade towards Holzmarkt square is framed by two strange short steeples. The magnificent baroque interior shows huge columns that carry two surrounding galleries. The wide and bright hall is all white with a little gold.
Opening hours: Tues 11-13, Wed 11-13 and 14-16, Thurs 15-17, Sat 11-16
The main church of the town is Beatae Mariae Virginis, St Mary the Blessed Virgin, usually abbreviated B. M. V. The huge building dominates the wide market street of Kornmarkt and Reichsstraße.
The church was begun in 1608 and could be finsished just before the 30 year war affected the region in the 1620s. Some repairs and changes were done in the late 17th century. The church is one of the most important examples of early protestant church architecture. The style mixes Italian renaissance ornaments with a late gothic, or better post-gothic structure.
The church served both as parish church for the citizens of the town and court church and burial place of the Dukes of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel. The magnificent interior is well preserved, including the galleries for the Dukes in the choir, altars and paintings and tombs.
Nowadays B.M.V. is the main church of the protestant Church of Braunschweig.
Opening hours: Weekdays 10-12 and 14-16
At the moment (December 2008) access to the church is limited due to restoration works.
Wolfenbüttel's old town is worth a stroll. Take your time. It's hard to tell where to begin. The streets of the whole town centre have preserved their nostalgic ambience with their half-timbered houses. Explore the narrow streets, and don't forget your camera.
This is what old Braunschweig also looked like, until the air raids of World War II reduced it to ashes. Wolfenbüttel, however, has survived. The small town was hardly affected by any bombings. If you are looking for old-town romantic, here is where to find it.
See my travelogue pages for more photos of old Wolfenbüttel.
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing is one of Germany's most famous authors and this house (the yellow hous in the library picture in the previous tip) is where he lived when he worked as the palace librarian in the mid 18th century. "Nathan der Weise" is perhaps Lessing's most famous work and today, the house is a museum dedicated to everything written within by a great man.
In the palace, Duke Julius in 1572 decided to found a library but it was not until the complete bibliophile Duke August the Peacemaker (rather with his nose in books than around wars I presume) took over in the mid 17th century that the library became really famous. It then held the largest collection of books in Europe and some people called it the Eighth Wonder of the World.
In the late 19th century, the library had outgrown the delapidating palace rotunda it was in and a new building was built where you find it today, in the park next to the palace. Here, there is today a modernised library inside but still with a great collection and in a great interior. It is thought that the library houses around 350 000 books from between the 15th to 18th century, not to mention later publications, and there are also lots of maps, a music library, manuscripts and more. The lecturing hall is sometimes used for concerts and there are exhibitions on all matters librarian.
The first mentioning of a castle here is in the 12th century, with a fortress in the river. The Wulferesbutle family had to give in to the Guelphic dukal family and in the 15th century, the town woke up a bit when they made the fortress their residence and the adjacent town was given market rights. In 1753, the court suddenly moved to nearby Braunschweig, leaving today's tourists to discover this fantastic Renaissance palace with its river surroundings. It is in fact the largest castle complex in Lower Saxony! The second floor is a museum showing local history, including the apartments of Duke Anton Ulrich (see my Braunschweig page).
The area outside the palace is today a parking lot and square but used to be full of medieval houses until the 17th century. In those days, the town was famous for its "German" theatre style, developed by an English theatre company which settled here.
This is a picteresque three-winged townhouse built in 1735 and is situated between the library and the schloss. The house was allocated in 1777 to Gotthold Ephraim Lessing who lived in the house until his death in 1781.
The literary museum was established here in honour of Lessing who wrote some of the foremost works of German literature between these walls including 'Nathan der Weise'.
Today the house is a museum which is home to a unique collection of original documents which serve as a permanent reminder to the greatness of this poet and philosopher.
Entry to the museum is included in the entry price to the library and its opening hours are Tuesday - Sunday 11 am to 5 pm.
This building was built in 1613-1617 and at this time served as both an arsenal for Germany's largest guns and as barracks and the style is typical of the late Renaissance period.
In 1974, the Armoury was incorporated into the Herzog-August Library compex and today houses a research library, the library's central catalogue, open access collections, and study areas for visiting scholars and librarians.
This is one of the true jewels of Wolfenbuettel. Founded in 1572, the library flourished under Duke August between the years 1634-1666. Under his guidance the library came to house the largest collection of books in all of Europe and was regarded as the eigth wonder of the world. The famous but increasingly derelict building was replaced in 1887 by a new structure in the style of a florentine palazzo.
Today the bibliothek holds a total of about 800 000 volumes with approximately 350 000 dating back to the fifteenth to eighteenth century. The most famous book of the collection is what is billed 'The World's Most Expensive Book' - the Welefen Evangelica which is a gospel book formerly owned by Heinrich der Lowe (Henry the Lion). You can only see this book in September however and at other times copies are on display.
Unfortunately I think the best way to get a feel for this amazing library is through a tour which are generally only held in German. However, if you can organise a group of people you can recieve a tour in English which I was lucky enough to be apart of and I assure it was quite amazing. Contact the library directly if wish you to organise a tour because the tourist information centre cannot help in this respect.
This is the main square of Wolfenbuettel and on Saturday mornings you will find it a hive of activity as people try to strike a bargain at the fresh food markets held here. Formerly, it was the housed the wealthy townsmen and courtiers in the seventeenth and eighteenth century.
It is a beautiful old square framed by beautifully restored half-timbered housing. You will find many restaurants and cafes in the vincinity and the Wolfenbuettel tourist information centre is also situated here.
I just wanted to share this coat of arms with you that appears on the entrance into the palace. You can see the carved intials of the royal patron, Duke August Wilhelm, and his family motto - 'Parta tueri' which means preserve what you have gained.
Another interesting fact about the Schloss is that when Michael Praetorious was master of music at the Ducal Court he wrote the Christmas Carol 'Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen' here. This carol is apparently as important to a German christmas as the christmas tree itself.
The schloss in Wolfenbuettel is really unique largely due to the colour of the exterior which is a very distinctive pink. It is the largest surviving castle complex in the state of Lower Saxony. The Baroque sculptures lining the bannisters and bridge are apparently meant to depict the virtues and dignities of a sovereign. The royal apartments inside are a beautiful example of the Baroque period and there is a permanent exhibition displaying the history, art and culture of Wolfenbuettel and its rural surrondings.
Opening hours to visit the Castle Museum are: Tues-Sun 10am-5pm
Admission is 3 Euro