If you let a few “not so nice” pieces of history stop you from coming to Celle, you’d be making one of the biggest tourist no-no’s imaginable.
Celle today is a vibrant and fantastic city on the German Framework Road — quite the transformation from the dark days of the Second World War.
Speaking of World War II, the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp was located nearby. It was originally opened as POW Stalag XI-C and soon grew to house thousands of prisoners, including a young girl by the name of Anne Frank.
Celle is much (much, much) older than its 20th century history; and it has over 400 (!) fairytale half-timbered houses (many from the 16th century) to prove it. Along all the framework houses in the Altstadt (Old City) is a pedestrian only area with cafes and shops.
Also from the 16th century is Schloss Celle. No, I’m sorry, it’s really from the 10th century — it’s just that today’s castle was built over its predecessor. Within the castle is the Bormann Museum which is part art, part local history, and part folklore museum.
A famous resident of Schloss Celle (in the 18th century) was the banished Queen Caroline Mathilda of Denmark & Norway. She lived here after her husband (Christian VII) divorced her after an affair — because this area was controlled by her brother, the King of England.
She died here in 1775 and is buried in Celle’s St. Marien Stadtkirche, which was built in 1308.
Celle also has an 18th century synagogue, which survived the Kristallnacht pogrom of 1938 because it was feared that the nearby buildings would be destroyed. Today the synagogue doubles as Jewish History Museum and culture center.
Shopping in Celle could be your last stop, and you have your choice! The Craft Market comes at the end of May, the Wine Market is at the end of July, and the Christmas Market is a month long affair starting at end of November.
Oh, wait! Don’t leave yet, I almost forgot! Have you seen the surrounding Lüneburg Heath yet? Speaking of hiking or bicycling around the countryside… it’s so beautiful, just like Celle itself!