Brunswick (Germany)

Old Rathaus and St Mary's fountain

Brunswick (German: Braunschweig) is a city of around 250,500 people, located in the federal-state of Lower Saxony, Germany. It is located north of the Harz mountains at the farthest navigable point of the Oker river, which connects to the North Sea via the rivers Aller and Weser.

The date and circumstances of the town's foundation are unknown. Tradition maintains that Braunschweig was created through the merger of two settlements, one founded by Bruno II, a Saxon count who died before 1017 on one side of the river Oker - the legend gives the year 861 for the foundation - and the other the settlement of a legendary Count Dankward, after whom Castle Dankwarderode (Dankward's clearing), which was reconstructed in the 19th century, is named. The town's original name of Brunswik is a combination of the name Bruno and Low German wik, a place where merchants rested and stored their goods. The town's name therefore indicates an ideal resting-place, as it lay by a ford across the Oker River. Another explanation of the city's name is that it comes from Brand, or burning, indicating a place which developed after the landscape was cleared through burning. The city was first mentioned in documents from the St. Magni Church from 1031, which give the city's name as Brunesguik.

Brunswick Cathedral /w Lion


Brunswick was a city of importance in medieval Germany. Economically, it was situated at the intersections of major trade routes; moreover, the river Oker was navigable from Brunswick, allowing access to the sea port of Bremen. It was among the last nine cities of the Hanseatic League.

Politically, Brunswick gained importance through one of its most important rulers, Henry the Lion, duke of Saxony and Bavaria. During his reign, Henry founded several German cities (among them Schwerin and Munich), defying his cousin German Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, and married Richard the Lionheart's sister Matilda of England, thus establishing familial ties to the royal family of England, which still exist to this day. His son, Otto of Brunswick, was crowned German emperor in 1209. To document his claim to power, Henry had the Lion monument erected in 1166, which also appears in the city's coat of arms. You can still find the red lion on the coat of arms of Scotland and the British Royal Family today.

Brunswick is considered having been one of the most tumultuous cities of Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (next to Paris and Ghent). Numerous constitutional conflicts ended in uprisings and civil unrest.

Despite its rich medieval tradition, Brunswick's appearance today owes much to its almost complete destruction during World War II. Allied bombing destroyed 90% of Brunswick's medieval city center (leaving only 80 of formerly over 800 timberframe houses). Only a small number of buildings have been re-erected; the majority of downtown buildings nowadays exhibit the somberness of 1950's post-war architecture.

An important industrial hub, the district of Brunswick is home to many companies, such as the steel industry in Salzgitter (Salzgitter AG) and Peine, or Volkswagen in Wolfsburg.

The region of Braunschweig is the most R&D-intensive area in the whole European Economic Area investing a remarkable 7.1% of its GDP in the research & technology sector (places two and three go to Varsinais-Suomi and East Anglia with 4.1% each). It is home to the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), the national institute for natural and engineering sciences and the highest technical authority for metrology and physical safety engineering in Germany. Part of its assignments is the accurate measurement of time. It is responsible for the German atomic clock CS2 and the longwave time signal DCF77. In addition, the PTB operates time servers for the distribution of time on the internet.

Brunswick is further known for its universities Technische Universität Carolo-Wilhelmina zu Braunschweig, Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig, Ostfalia Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaften, Welfenakademie Braunschweig, and 19 research institutes, among them the Johann Heinrich von Thuenen Institute (until the end of 2007 named Federal Agricultural Research Center), and the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research.

Braunschweig was declared Germany's City of Science 2007.

Get in

By plane

The nearest commercial airport is Hannover Airport (IATA: HAJ) (approximately 30–40 minutes by car, or around 1 hour by train). A number of shuttle services serve the Hannover–Braunschweig–Göttingen–Wolfsburg Metropolitan Region.

Braunschweig Airport (IATA: BWE) is mainly a research airport and is primarily used by the Technische Universität Braunschweig, as well as the German Federal Agency of Aviation (Luftfahrt-Bundesamt), and the German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Investigation (Bundesstelle für Flugunfalluntersuchung). It is, however, currently served by Air Berlin (offering flights to Moscow) and Volkswagen Air Services, Volkswagen 's coprporate airline, with select destinations in Europe (currently Prague, Poznań, or Ingolstadt). Tickets can be booked through the respective airlines, or directly at the airport.

By train

Braunschweig Hauptbahnhof

Due to its location in the center of Germany, Braunschweig Hauptbahnhof is well-served by German national railway company Deutsche Bahn. There are lots of high-speed trains ICE that stop in Brunswick.

Picturesque Goslar and the Harz Mountains, as well as the Luneburg Heath can be reached by local train. Travellers can purchase a Niedersachsen-Ticket, valid on local trains in the whole state of Niedersachsen for 21 Euros for a single ticket, or 29 Euros per ticket valid for up to 5 people. A Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket, which is valid for up to 5 people for all local routes of Deutsche Bahn in Germany on weekends (Saturday and Sunday).

Brunswick main station is not very close to the center, and the surrounding area does not offer a lot of sights worth seeing (Ringcenter commercial center and the clubbing area behind it Stereowerk/Cube 11. Take the bus or tram from here to reach your final destination in Brunswick.

By car

Combined station for buses and trams in front of Braunschweig Central Station

Brunswick is served and easily reached by the German Autobahn highway system. Autobahns include one of Europe's main traffic artery the A2 (sometimes jokingly referred to as Europe's biggest parking lot since traffic jams are not uncommon, especially on Fridays). In addtition, the A39 cuts through Brunswick, connecting the city with adjacent Wolfsburg and Salzgitter, and merging into A7 to Kassel and Frankfurt. City autobahns are the A391, A392 and A395.

Depending on the traffic, Berlin can be reached in two hours - Hamburg, Bremen and Kassel in one hour and a half, Frankfurt in three and a half hours, Hannover in 30–40 minutes, and Magdeburg in one hour using the autobahn. Goslar and the Harz mountains are approximately 30–40 minutes away by car.

By bus

Brunswick serves as a major stop for bus travel throughout the country and Europe, thanks in large part to its central location. Buses frequent cities in Eastern Europe, especially Poland. Tour operator Rainbow Tours offers low-cost (and often bumpy) trips to European metropolises.

For information on domestic bus routes see Long distance bus travel in Germany

The central bus station (Zentraler Omnibus-Bahnhof or ZOB) is located on Berliner Platz between the main station and the German Mail building (next to the Steam Locomotive monument).

Get around

The city center is easily explored on foot. Most places of interest can be reached walking. The downtown shopping district is a car-free pedestrian zone. In case you need to visit places further out, you can rely on the public transportation system .

By car

All major car rental companies have branches in Brunswick. But since Brunswick's highways tends to get gridlocked during rush hours (neighboring Peine is the county with the largest number of commuters in Germany, most of which commute into either Braunschweig or Hanover). Moreover, Brunswick is rumored to have the highest per-capita-density of traffic lights in Germany. Try to count your number of stops when moving around by car in Braunschweig.

Brunswick has many parking garages, which are organized through a pretty efficient parking guidance system. You can access information on spaces available, fees, and opening hours via your cell phone at

By public transportation

The Braunschweiger Verkehrs-AG serve the city and the district of Braunschweig. Places within city limits are easily reached by public transportation, either bus or tram. Ticket prices vary depending where you need to go. The various zones of the Brunswick district can be found here.

Prices are available here. Tickets can be purchased at the driver, at certain stores, or via cell phone. The current price for a one-way ticket within city limits is 1,90 Euros.

Information on schedules and connections can be found either at the BSVAG itself, or on the EFA site, where you can look up connections for all of Lower Saxony and Bremen.

By taxi

Taxis are comparatively expensive in Germany, and Brunswick is no exception. They are usually used by locals on weekends (after buses and trains stop running) for a ride home, or if you need to move lots of luggage to, e.g. the train station. The concept of sharing a cab with strangers is foreign to locals and drivers alike, although some people can be persuaded to share a cab, if your stop is on the same way (and when cabs are sparse e.g. in inclement weather).

Publicly registered taxicabs - those with yellow signs on top which say Taxi and are usually taxi-colored (creamy eggshell color) - can be phoned (0531-5 55 55 or 0531-6 66 66) or hailed. Private companies, such as MiniCar or CityCar , (which are usually a bit cheaper) only pick you up with a prior reservation.




Museum of Natural History






Floats at Schoduvel


Brunswick has a lot of options for shopping for a city its size, making it one of two major shopping locations in Lower Saxony (the other one being Hanover). Basically, shopping opportunities in Brunswick can more or less be broken down into three sections.

Schloss Arkaden shopping mall

Schloss-Arkaden is a large shopping mall located in the re-built façade of old Brunswick Palace. It is Brunswick's main shopping spot, boasting over 150 shops and stores, and attracting people from Lower Saxonay and neighboring Saxony-Anhalt. The mall's parking garage is conveniently located in the center of Brunswick's downtown area, making it a good spot to park, especially on weekends when the city is crowded.

The downtown shopping area is roughly delineated by Lange Strasse, Bohlweg, Bruchtorwall, and Güldenstrasse. Many shops and eateries can be found within, such as:

Nestled in the shadow of Schloss-Arkaden lies Magniviertel , the only Medieval neighborhood that survived WII more or less intact. The small timber-framed buildings house little art shops, wine stores, pawn shops, and stores selling health food. Great for a relaxed stroll on an otherwise busy Saturday. In summer, sit down on one of the bars or cafés and watch people play Boules in the yard of St.Magni church on a Saturday afternoon.

Souvenir shopping

The best general address for Brunswick-related articles is Braunschweig Stadtmarketing Touristinfo . Besides souvenirs, they sell Braunschweig Phantoms fan articles, tickets for various concerts and theater plays, etc. Moreover, you can book guided tours and rent audio guides (e.g. of Medieval Brunswick ).

To shop for everything about Brunswick's signature beverage Mumme, visit the Mumme Store , located in Welfenhof.

Brunswick chinaware, mugs, and steins can be bought at Karstadt am Gewandhaus(Poststr. 4-5).

Eintracht Braunschweig articles can be purchased at Galeria Kaufhof (Bohlweg 72). For a wider selection, pay the Eintracht Fan Shop a visit at Eintracht-Stadion (Hamburger Straße 210), or the recently opened one inside Schlosscarree .

Fan articles of American football club Braunschweig Lions can also be purchased at Galeria Kaufhof (Bohlweg 72).

The pharmacy Hagenmarkt-Apotheke (Hagenmarkt 20) carries Stadtrath, a herbal liquor, destilled in Brunswick.


Having been one of the most important cities of medieval Germany has left its traces in the Brunswick cuisine, be it the Mumme (Brunswick Mum) (apparently the oldest man-made nonperishable food) or its rich selection of sausages and cakes. Take the opportunity to shop for Mumme specialties at the Mumme store . A must-try are Eulen und Meerkatzen (owls and guenons - Ulen un Apen in Brunswick dialect), which, according to legend, were baked by Braunschweig trickster Till Eulenspiegel to play a prank on the people of Brunswick, and which are to this day sold by Braunschweig bakeries. Watch out for seasonal food; the asparagus grown in the Brunsick district is regarded as one of the best in the world, curly kale, served as Braunkohl, is a specialty of the Brunswick region, as well as the local chanterelles. A good opportunity to try Brunswick specialties is the Christmas market in December. Vendors have lots of local food to offer, and you can try and share various dishes without having to sit and order in a restaurant





Bars and pubs




Brunswick, as would be expected of a city of this size, has a large number of excellent hotels, many in or near the city centre.

Bed & Breakfast




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