Before I started researching German Christmas markets, I had never heard of Braunschweig.
With over 250,000 people, I guess “little” is not the appropriate word, but somehow this influential city (and one of the largest in Saxony) still maintains quite the charm.
After a guided tour around the city the night before, I was set to return and capture some of my favourite sights.
Well rested and ready to get down to it, Sophie and I headed off in the direction of the old town. Much of the area was destroyed in WWII, but a few timber homes still manage to remain.
I wandered through the cobblestone roads, admiring the peacefulness that comes with a Sunday morning.
Enjoying having the city to myself, I peered around corners and dreamed about the romance that may have found itself in the little alleyways.
And, headed around the back of the St. Magni into quite a picturesque setting.
Interestingly enough, these houses are not naturally arranged in this order. As the city began to expand, roads were built and old homes knocked down. But, as this happened, the city had the brilliant idea to save some of the oldest (and the most attractive) homes from demolition, and transported them to the centre of the old town for safety.
At the end of the old town, however, was one thing that didn’t seem to fit in with the rest.
Beside the old German buildings, and bordering the new, more modern part of town, is the Happy Rizzi house.
Named in honour of James Rizzi (its painter), the goal of this building was to create something unusual, while saving the old structure of the building inside. In collaboration with architect Konrad Kloster, the building is a combination of faces, pairs of eyes, and general wacky yet cheerful designs. With custom windows made to fit each shape, the entire thing was actually quite the expensive venture.
At first I didn’t know what to think of it, but after a few moments I began to admire everything about it. The Rizzy house is cheerful, fun, optimistic, and creative – all things we need right now.
The incorporation of old and new, and the combination of modern and traditional thinking, is what makes Braunschweig such an interesting place to visit.
For example, almost right around the corner from the Happy Rizzi house, is this.
From the outside, you would think it was a library, town hall, or parliament building. When in reality, the majority of this building houses a shopping mall.
The building was rebuilt a few years ago, using a combination of old and new stones. Back in 1960, a palace stood in this very place, before demolition. After demolition, the stones from the palace were divided into two piles. The first pile was destroyed, and which point one city councillor had the idea that perhaps the second set of stones should be saved, just in case. It was these some 600 stones that were infused into the new building when it was rebuilt according to original plans and photographs, and which give it an authentic appearance.
And sitting a top the residence palace, is a Quadriga, coated in silicon bronze, and over 9m in height. Reconstructed from a plaster model of the original Quadriga (destroyed in 1865), you can now head up top and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the city.
Before heading across the main boulevard and into the Altstadt portion of town, I decided to grab a snack. Determined to get at least one more piece of cake in before heading back home, I popped into Makery – upon recommendation.
The living room vibe and array of sweets on offer was exactly the kind of place I was hoping to find. And, the fact that it was dog friendly was the cherry on top. Rejuvenated by my hot chocolate & brownie, I was ready to make the most of the last few hours before my train.
I headed across the main boulevard, around the Christmas market, and into the main portion of town. Surrounding by tiny shopping streets, Christmas garland, and beautiful architecture, I let my camera determine the route.
And, in no time I found myself standing in front of the Altstadtrathaus (old town hall). One of the most significant medieval town halls in Germany, the oldest parts of this building originate from the 13th century.
Opposite of it, is an equally medieval cathedral, and the altstadt town square.
Braunschweig is full of meaningful buildings with interesting stories and folklore in history. I won’t spoil all of them for you (the history of Henry the Lion & the St. Blasii Cathedral is my favourite), so that they remain a surprise until your visit. For the best experience, I recommend a city tour with Stadt Braunschweig, who can ensure that you have the best (and most authentic) tourist experience. I seriously couldn’t have done it without them.
After my fill of treats at the Christmas market, and a thorough capture of the sights, it was back to the train station and home to Den Haag.
This post was in collaboration with Braunschweig tourism, who graciously sponsored my visit. All thoughts and opinions are my own, and I highly recommend a visit. The city was charming, historical, yet modern – making it the perfect place for a weekend visit. I can’t wait to visit again in the summer, as it looks absolutely magical. Plus, there were so many spots I didn’t manage to tick off my list!