No other federal state offers mountains and sea at the same time, in no other can you scramble on peaks in the morning and hike in the mudflats in the afternoon, and that's just the beginning. Lower Saxony, that's the sun setting over the Lüneburg Heath and the North Sea wind blowing over the long sandy beach of Langeoog. The Hundertwasser train station in Uelzen, Walpurgis Night in Bad Grund and the old town of Celle with its four hundred half-timbered houses. Lower Saxony, that's the deer in the Weserbergland and the steep paths in the Harz National Park. The Science museum phaeno in Wolfsburg and the Botanical Gardens of the University Göttingen with its over ten thousand plant species. The Beach promenade of Norderney and the old town of Hamelin. The Gustav Adolf Staff Church in Goslar-Hahnenklee. The marketplace of Rinteln and the Herrenhäuser Gardens in Hanover.
Lower Saxony is a varied federal state. A destination for active vacationers who want to be out and about in nature from morning to night. For culture fans who prefer to spend their vacation days in museums or theaters. For families who only need a beach and maybe four bicycles and a few seal eyes to be happy. For the curious who want to experience 27 new things every day: In Lower Saxony, you can do it all. You can go mudflat hiking and forest bathing, visit historic mills and marvel at science fiction architecture, you can walk above things on treetop trails and get to the bottom of them in many museums. And whether you prefer to hike quietly in the eastern valley or explore the hustle and bustle of the cities: Lower Saxony can do it. It is a land of many small contrasts. Above all, however, it is a land of great choice.
With around 46,600 square kilometers, Lower Saxony is the second largest federal state after Bavaria. Almost eight million people live here. The state capital is Hanover (approx. 540,000 inhabitants), with Braunschweig, Oldenburg, Osnabrück, Wolfsburg, GöttingenHildesheim & Co, there are many other charming cities. Lower Saxony stretches from the North Sea in the west to the Harz Mountains in the east; three quarters of the state's area belong to the North German Plain. The highest point in the state is the Wurmberg in the Harz Mountains, which at 971 meters just scrapes the 1,000-meter mark.
Some Regions in Lower Saxony are better known than Lower Saxony itself: the Lüneburg Heath for example, the North Sea of course, or even the East Frisian Islands: Borkum, Juist, Norderney, Baltrum, Langeoog and Spiekeroog and Wangerooge everyone knows, and if not all seven, then certainly one or the other (there are six more, but they are uninhabited). What many do not know: Even away from the North Sea beaches, Lower Saxony is good terrain for water fans and athletes. Many rivers like the Oker and Hunte are great canoeing and kayaking spots. The Lake Steinhude, the Zwischenahner Sea and the Great Sea in East Frisia may fib a little with their names, but they are all quite fantastic local recreation areas with great swimming spots. In total, there are 280 destinations for swimming fun in Lower Saxony. There's even one in the middle of Hanover: the Maschsee is a popular maritime meeting place for the capital's inhabitants.
Four UNESCO World Heritage Sites there are officially in Lower Saxony, actually there are significantly more, because in the listing several buildings were combined. So: In Hildesheim, the St. Mariae Cathedral and St. Michael's Church are on the exclusive list, in the Western Harz they are the Rammelsberg minethe old town of Goslar, the Oberharzer Wasserregal, the Samson mine and the Walkenried Monastery. In Alfeld, the Fagus-Werk, a factory designed by Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, is a World Heritage Site. The Wadden Sea in Lower Saxony, on the other hand, is not a World Cultural Heritage site but a World Natural Heritage site.
Lower Saxony fish and meat cuisine is typically northern German: Most dishes make you really full, many meals are also "good against the north wind" and evoke a pleasantly warm feeling that one associates with comfort or perhaps also with what one calls home. Heidschnuckenbraten, for example, which is a traditional dish in and around the Lüneburg Heath is served. Smelt, once a poor man's fish, now a beloved specialty of the region. In Ammerland people like to eat smoked eel and on the North Sea coast crabs.
Vegetables in general! Asparagus is grown on a large scale in Lower Saxony, and in spring the Germans' favorite vegetable is available in every conceivable variation. At least as popular is kale, which is served after the first frost in the fall (and which in Lower Saxony is often called the Oldenburg palm tree because its shape is reminiscent of ... well, bonsai palms, at least with a lot of good will). In some regions, there is a real cult of kale; on weekends, friends, clubs or entire company workforces go on a kale ride in a handcart. One wanders by the beautiful landscape and makes on the way amusing plays, tea bag throwing for example. Later, cabbage is eaten, the cabbage king is determined, dancing takes place and local schnapps is drunk, for example from local producers from the Emsland. This, in turn, goes very well with the most popular kale dish, Kohl und Pinkel, which is kale with Grützwurst and Kassler. Potatoes are part of every main meal in Lower Saxony. They are often prepared as fried potatoes, fried until crispy and refined with spicy pieces of bacon or ham.
Throughout Lower Saxony, more coffee is drunk than tea (although the East Frisians are out of line here, with 300 liters of tea per year per capita they even beat the British and Irish) and more beer than wine - some of Germany's best-known beer brands come from here. A stronger drink is made in Wolfenbüttel: The dark herbal liqueur with the deer in the company logo is the most successful German spirit worldwide and is exported to 130 countries.
As early as the end of the 18th century, the writer and language teacher Karl Philipp Moritz recommended to the ladies of Berlin (whom he was supposed to teach the fine art of conversation) that they should take the Hanoverians and Brunswickers as a model: They spoke perfect High German there back then, and that hasn't changed to this day. But Lower Saxony is large, and therefore, in addition to the quasi dialect-free capital, there are regions where people speak differently - namely Lower Saxon. This originated around the year 800 and was the language of the Hanseatic League, the medieval trade association in northeastern Europe (recently it has even been recognized as an official dialect in the Netherlands). There are many regional variants and a never-ending debate among linguists about where the differences from Low German lie, whether there are any at all, or whether Low German is not simply another name for Lower Saxony.
Here is a small basic vocabulary from northern Lower Saxony:
Moin! (or also Moin, moin!) - good morning/day/evening!
Wo geiht'? - How are you?
Dat geiht mi goot - I'm fine
Ik heff Döst/Smacht - I am thirsty/hungry
Sik verpusten - relax
Doing sports - doing sports
Neeschierig - curious
Grööntüüg - fruit and vegetables
Ut'n Aven - Bakery products
Plünnenladen - clothing store
Kroog - inn
Tanksteed - Gas station
Pinging - phone call
Gode Reis! - Have a good trip!
You can find even more Plattdeutsch here.
Cover photo: Wild North Sea beauty - on the East Frisian island of Langeoog, nature and man come very close again © Doris Oberfrank-List - shutterstock.com
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