We wander through the Old Town of Wolfenbüttel, zigzagging the pedestrianised areas with the countless timber-framed houses. It is remarkable that Wolfenbüttel seems to have lived through both World Wars without major damages.
This is why one can find many wonderful, old and lovingly restored timber-framed houses. In the Old Town alone some 600 of them from different stylistic periods can be seen. Houses from the late gothic period stand next to buildings of the modern period and shape the harmonious cityscape.
The oldest timber-framed house of Wolfenbüttel is close to the castle. It is a building from the late Gothic period which, according to the latest examinations, was built around 1535.
The City Market Square of Wolfenbüttel
The City Market Square of Wolfenbüttel is particularly pretty. Timber-framed houses from the Renaissance and Baroque are combined with historic buildings from the 19th century and buildings from the modern period. Despite the different styles of the many epochs the square is still very harmonious and appears like one well-arranged ensemble.
At the north- and west side of the square is the town hall. We were lucky enough to have access to the rooms of the town hall as part of a blogger event. Here, too, the timber-framed work is omnipresent: from the leaning beams to the wonky walls. I enjoyed the rathskeller a lot. Unfortunately, there was no gastronomic service there during our stay. But we were allowed to use the rooms for our lunch breaks to sit together and enjoy the ambience, the dimmed light of the vaults and the detailed caricatures on the walls. To be able to sit here for a good dinner and drinks with friends can be quite nice, I imagine.
Right at the heart of the market square is a monument. What else could it be other than a man and a horse. But in this case, the man is not on the horse but next to it. The monument from 1904 shows Duke August and the artist placed him on the ground to symbolise that citizens should not have to look up to their duke. A market takes place twice per week. A visit to the many stalls is well worth the time. Seasonal produce can be found here. Those in need of a rest afterwards will find just that in one of the many cafés and restaurants along the market square.
However, the secret stars of the market are the ducks. Heaven knows why the barnyard fowl fancies a walk away from the water. They happily waddle across the square or relax right in the middle of it. At night some of them prefer to sleep below the monument and are not the slightest bit alarmed by the night owls of Wolfenbüttel.
Do you know little Venice? We were quite surprised to see a signpost in the Old Town of Wolfenbüttel, pointing to little Venice. We spontaneously followed the sign and turned the next corner.
We arrive at a small bridge. Heart shaped padlocks are attached to it – certainly a spot for lovers. From the bridge, we see a little canal with picturesque timber-framed houses. Gorgeous! A sign tells us that Wolfenbüttel used to have many canals. The city is located on swamp land so construction work has always been difficult. In the 16th century, the Dutch Hans Vredeman de Vries came to Wolfenbüttel. He designed the canal layout for the city. His system of canals helped to drain the land. Today, almost all canals have been closed or built over. Those who would like to explore their former route can do so by following signs to various different stops.
Little Venice is certainly a great photo opportunity that should not be missed as part of a stroll through the Old Town.
What you should know about Wolfenbüttel
This is a little selection of interesting facts about Wolfenbüttel. And there is so much more to see…
Casanova lived here.
Yes, THE Casanova – allegedly the greatest lover of all times! After Casanova barely avoided the gallows in London he spent a whole 8 days in Wolfenbüttel in May 1764. It is completely unknown what brought the bon viveur to Wolfenbüttel or what happened during the long hours he spent in the library with Duke August. What is known though is that Casanova himself said that the 8 days in Wolfenbüttel were the 8 happiest days of his life.
Lessing lived and worked in Wolfenbüttel
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing is one of the most famous German writers and he lived and worked in Wolfenbüttel for many years. His traces can be found all over the city, for example at the Lessing House and in the Duke August Library. Lessing created Nathan the Wise in Wolfenbüttel.
Seeliger Park – the botanical highlight in the middle of the city
The banker family Seeliger (the Seelinger Bank is located in the pedestrianised area of the Old Town of Wolfenbüttel) used to own a fantastic mansion in a wonderful park right in the centre of Wolfenbüttel. It seems like the family – or maybe their gardener – was a true fan of all things botanic.Anyway, in the Seeliger Park visitors can find pump wood, tulip poplar, a 120 years old plane tree and a hemlock. The city bought the area in 1976 and opened it to the public. For us, it was the perfect spot to enjoy a little quiet time.
Jägermeister is produced in Wolfenbüttel
It is not for everyone, but it is sure part of Wolfenbüttel – Jägermeister. Unfortunately, we didn’t find the time to go on a tour of the factory, but we will be back, and then… But also without the tour, Jägermeister is very present in Wolfenbüttel. The company is the founder of many construction projects in the city and its logo is printed on merchandise articles in the tourist centre. The old company headquarters, the house of the Mast family, can be visited. It is jägermeistering.
Pinocchio – the smallest coffee roastery in Wolfenbüttel
We only passed the private roastery at Kornmarkt 14 by accident. Tables are dotted all over the backyard of the former customhouse and delicious coffee scent is in the air. We just had to open the door, step in and taste a Caffe’ del Eva Espresso. We enjoyed both the coffee and this little unplanned break.