Like many German towns proud of their heritage, Northeim definitely has visitors looking up. The towers at the Castle of Imbshausen are impressive, as is the view out over the 1300 square meters of castle garden. It’s a neo-gothic masterpiece and certainly worth a visit.
However, another attraction in the town can only be found by looking down. In 2007 Northeim had 16 pitfalls installed into the streets of the town. The small brass squares are part of a nation-wide art project designed to stimulate thought and reflection from tourists and locals alike.
While you can get online and find out where they all are, it is more interesting if you just stumble over them (figuratively, of course ;-).
Each plaque represents the last freely chosen home of a Jew prior to extermination in a Nazi camp. Highly controversial, the project is run by artist Gunter Demnig. Known as both “Stumbling Blocks” and “Pitfalls” several cities campaigned to have them blocked, but Northeim locals instead pushed the project through rapidly.
Since many of the streets in the Old Town are still cobblestone (don’t even THINK of wearing heels here!), you have to look sharp to spot the small brass plaques with the names and address of former local Jews.
For your reflections on the contradictions of German history, you can choose to park yourself on a bench in one of the many parks in downtown Northeim. Construction over the years has created a number of small lakes in the city, and a larger North Lakeland “Bucket” where you can rent a boat or trying your hand at windsurfing. Waldbühne, a famous local outdoor theater, is near the larger lake and also provides both relaxation and more food for thought.
After all the reflecting and walking around, head back to the central square. Local farmers markets keep the restauranteurs there well-supplied with regional goodies. Be sure to have some of the local lake fish roasted along with a rich slice of apple tart.