Braunschweig Travel Guide

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Braunschweig Overview

Braunschweig - Brunswick to the English speaking world - is a city in 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.

Medieval Braunschweig actually consisted of five separate and independent cities, called "Weichbilde", which were surrounded and united by a common fortification. Each of the five had its own administration and its own centre with a market square, town hall, and parish church. It took a while until they formed a common magistrate and learned to cooperate as one city.

Braunschweig once was a proud, almost independent city. Unfortunately they never managed to gain the status of a free imperial city in the Holy Roman Empire. The Dukes of Braunschweig, whom the citizens had kicked out, fought their way back. Several sieges were unsuccessful until they finally reconquered the city in 1670.

Afterwards Braunschweig became the residence of a duchy of the same name (Herzogtum Braunschweig) which was a state within the German Reich since 1871. After World War I it received a republican constitution (Freistaat Braunschweig) being a state within the Weimar Republic. After World War II the state of Braunschweig was dissolved and integrated in the newly formed state of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen).

In World War II, Braunschweig was hit by 40 air raids. 90% of the city centre were destroyed. The beautiful old town with its large number of half-timbered houses burnt down. Some important buildings were rebuilt after the war, others even moved. City planners followed the concept of "tradition islands" - certain spots where historical architecture was preserved and rebuilt while the rest of the city centre was redesigned in modern, post-war style.

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