Helmstedt played a pivotal role as a gateway between East and West when the country was divided after World War Two. Its infamous CheckPoint Alpha was one of the few crossings between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic throughout the Cold War era.
Its history traces back to the founding of St. Ludger’s Abbey a dozen centuries ago, and remains of 11th- and 18th-century chapels can still be viewed in the abbey courtyard.
The oldest surviving building in the town can be seen along the central marketplace at address “Markt 7.” Constructed in 1491, this three-story timbered house was built upon the basement of an even older building, with ceiling beams dating back to 1250.
You must also pass by the inspiring campus of the University of Helmstedt, founded in 1576. The academic buildings closed in 1810, but you will still want to admire its magnificent auditorium, the Juleum Novum, built in 1592.
A number of sporting and cultural facilities are available for your use. Swimming in the heated waters of Birkerteich or in the town pool overlooking the ramparts, fishing and shooting, tennis, bowling, horseback riding, skateboarding and sailing — these are but a few of the activities on offer. You will especially enjoy the beauty of the Elm-Lappwald Nature Park, where walking and cycling are highly popular.
A modern library for residents of all ages, museums, cinemas, nightclubs and an active theater scene have earned Helmstedt a reputation of cultural leadership. Music is especially popular here, too, with a variety of classical concerts taking place, including open-air events at the Waldbad Birkerteich.
Ongoing exhibitions, lectures and author readings also attract broad interest, as do a variety of now-traditional festivals held throughout the calendar year.