Where the Dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg once resided and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing wrote world literature, culture still has top priority today. But the small town located between the Harz Mountains and the Heath also scores with colorful half-timbered houses and lots of nature.

Granted: The little town of 50,000 inhabitants on the Oker River is a bit off the beaten track. And that's a good thing! This allows Wolfenbüttel, which is hidden twelve kilometers south of Braunschweig, to unfold its full potential as a place of peace and power. Short distances between sights, beautiful facades and green spots characterize the former residential town. Even the train station from 1838 is a little feast for the eyes. And Bahnhofstrasse in the direction of the old town is also quite charming: you walk through a closed row of magnificent houses from the Wilhelminian period. On the way to the nearby Schlossplatz, you'll pass Seeliger Park with its old trees.

The most striking are the many - The town has around 1,000 well-kept half-timbered houses, which are unique in their diversity and with their enchanted backyards: Renaissance and Baroque buildings stand wall to wall with examples of the 19th century and modernity. Sometimes they appear simple in black and white, sometimes colorful and lavishly decorated with carvings and ornaments. A sight that not only makes the architect's heart leap.

Walk through Wolfenbüttel
Wolfenbüttel - colorful specialist workshop between the Harz Mountains and the Heath © Christian Bierwagen

Thanks to is the present old town character to the Guelphs. For more than four centuries (until 1754), Wolfenbüttel was the center of intellectual life and the fine arts. Insight into courtly life is provided by the Palace Museum, housed in the magnificent Residenz, Wolfenbüttel's landmark. With every step you take through the originally preserved representative rooms, you get a whiff of historical air. But there's no resting on one's laurels here - in addition to the permanent exhibition "Experience the Baroque!" the museum also shows contemporary works, such as the show "Points of View" by the British star sculptor Tony Cragg (until September 13, 2020).

Only a stone's throw from here it is about a VIP of the 18th century: Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. Germany's famous poet of the Enlightenment spent eleven years running the famous library and putting one of his most important works to paper, the drama "Nathan the Wise." The main figure stands as a sculpture in front of Lessinghaus, once the poet's home and now a museum dedicated to his life and work and part of the Herzog August Library. The latter was considered the eighth wonder of the world in the 17th century because of its huge collection. Anyone who takes a look behind the mighty walls and at the bibliophile gems will understand this. Treasure of treasures: the Gospels of Henry the Lion from 1188, one of the most valuable works of all.

Nathan and Nathan in Wolfenbüttel
Lessing's drama "Nathan the Wise" was written in Wolfenbüttel. A statue commemorates the great poet © Dagmar Steffenhagen, Stadt Wolfenbüttel

With so much literature it makes you want to read for yourself. Tip: get a Reclam classic in the Lessinghaus museum store and then head out into the countryside! There are plenty of them in Wolfenbüttel, for example around the moat. In the shade of a giant gingko tree or a helmetlock fir, between water and meadows, you can brush up on your schooling - or just relax, accompanied by the rustling of leaves and the chatter of ducks.

Prefer some exercise? No problem, along the Oker there are rental stations for paddle boats or SUP boards. You glide casually over the river, which winds romantically between tall trees - all the way to the source in the nearby Harz Mountains, another paradise for outdoor activities in unspoiled nature.

Cover photo: Green Wolfenbüttel © Achim Meurer