I thought long and hard about what to tell you about the Weser Renaissance Route, or Strasse der Weserrenaissance in German. I thought about comparing it to the Romanesque Route (the Strasse der Romanik), but that’s like comparing apples to french fries.
Then I thought, maybe they weren’t so different after all. They’re both routes that highlight the very best of art and architecture from their respective time periods. And the Weser Renaissance Route just about picks up where the Romanesque Route leaves off (OK, give or take a few centuries) centering around the 16th and 17th centuries.
Start of the Weser Renaissance Route
It’s supposed to start in Hann. Münden (short for Hannoversch Münden), ending in Bremen, but I’m not always one to follow the rules; so I’m going around my way (all the better to see the countryside, wouldn’t you say?).
OK, maybe we’ll follow the rules a tad bit and START in Hann. Münden. The town itself earns its place on the Weser Renaissance Route because of its Weser Renaissance style Rathaus (Town Hall), but it’s also on the German Fairy Tale Road, the German Framework Road, and the E6 European Walking Way.
Hann. Münden is also known as the “Three River City” with more than 700 framework houes in its Altstadt (Old Town). And its St. Blasius Church (14th/15th century) is the final resting place of a Duke Eric I of Brunswick. Oh forget the duke, Hann. Münden has botanical gardens, an Urban History Museum, and a castle. The Schloss was actually built by that duke laying in the church — so maybe we can’t forget about him, after all. ;-)
Next around is Bad Hersfeld, a historical city that has more than 200 buildings protected as historic. Places like the monastery ruins, which just so happen to be the largest Romanesque church (in ruins) in Europe. It’s Town Hall is why you’re on this route, though it was originally Gothic in design.
So many visitors to Bad Hersfeld come for the Lullusfest, the oldest Folk Festival in Germany, which is held on/around October 16th in the town’s Pedestrian Zone (any other time of year there are little shops & cafes to catch your attention).
Wolfhagen is where the Weser Renaissance Route meets up with the Framework Road (again). Which means that there are loads of timber framed houses for you to see, including those in the Weser Renaissance style (otherwise Wolfhagen wouldn’t be on this route).
Oh, there’s also a 13th century Evangelical Gothic Church, it’s 14th century Hospital Chapel, Castle Wolfhagen, and its Old Brewery; which dates back to 1491, using a beer recipe from 1799 today.
Welcome to Höxter with its medieval Town Hall, its half-timbered houses, and a monastery nearby with a Carolingian crypt. There’s also plenty to do in terms of sports with rowing, sky diving, hiking, and water sports. Ouch, I think I over did it here in Höxter…
The city of Paderborn is your next town on the Weser Renaissance Route (and its Town Hall is the reason). There are also twelve museums in this city, one’s in the Imperial Palace; another is dedicated to computers.
The Warsteiner Brewery is here; and you’ll also find fresh water springs (large parks & even a forest), the Paderborn Cathedral (where St. Liborius is buried), and all summer long there are celebrations at the castle. Yeah, life is nice here in Paderborn, isn’t it?
When you arrive in Detmold it’ll be hard to choose what to do first. Do you go meander around the Teutoburg Forest, or do you see the Westphalian Outdoor Museum (with over 100 historic buildings)? Choices. Choices.
Well, whatever you choose to do first it doesn’t matter as long as you throw in a visit to the 16th century Church of the Redeemer, the 18th century Palace, and the Altstadt with lots of framework houses along the Marktplatz. Oh, the German-Russian Cultural History Museum is a good stop, too.
You also have a choice in what to eat in Detmold. Liver Sausage or a Potato Pie concoction made with flour, milk, raisins, and eggs. Yummy isn’t the word and both are famous for being a regional dish.
Then there are choices for entertainment. The Andrew Fair is held annually in the Pedestrian Zone, and it always seems like there’s a Jazz Night going on. However, it’s only every two years that the Street Theater Festival is held at Pentecost (about 50 days AFTER Easter).
Right in the middle of the Teutoburg Forest (where the North & South part of the forest meet) is Bielefeld. There’s an Art Museum, an oberservation tower (imagine the view of the forest from this vantage point), and two 13th century churches.
If you visit New York City, there are two pieces from Bielefeld’s Marienkirche in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I know, if they’re in NYC you can’t see them here, but I like passing along little pieces of trivia. ;-)
Lemgo is the quintessential Renaissance town. While it might have moorlands, half-timbered buildings, and a historic synagogue; it’s more known for Schloss Brake that acts as a Renaissance Museum. Its Hexenbürgermeisterhaus (don’t we love long names?) is also built in the Weser Renaissance style and houses a museum about the town’s witch hunting days.
What can I say about our next (spa) town of Bad Salzuflen? Everything good, actually. Sure there are salt springs and thermal baths to soak away your aches & pains (which all of us over the age of 35 can appreciate), but I like listening to the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonic play, too.
Bad Salzuflen’s pedestrian zone is pretty awesome; and is dotted with many framework houes. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures of the Katzenturm (Cat Tower), the 18th century Castle Stietencron, it’s Weser Renaissance style Rathaus, and St. Kilian’s Church that’s been the center of life in this “Bad” town for more than 1200 years.
1200 years is about how old the next town of Minden is, a town with lots of Weser Renaissance buildings. There’s an entire set of museums housed within these type of buildings in its Altstadt, including a Heimatmuseum (Local History Museum). Even Minden’s Schloss Haddenhausen is built in the Weser architecture, too.
Crossing back into Lower Saxony, Rinteln offers its visitors more timber-framed houses along its Marktplatz, an Industrial Museum, and a Monastery Church. On Ostertorstrasse there’s a Jewish cemetery; and the 12th century Castle Schaumburg gets its Middle Ages going on at its medieval fair every September.
But, if you rather head out to an amusement park, Rinteln can accommodate: Erlebniswelt steinzeichen. Wow, Old World charm and New World recreation all rolled up in one small town. GREAT!
How many of you out there are old enough to remember the 1988 movie The Adventures of Baron Münchhausen? The good baron was more than just a comedic character (played by John Neville) in some Hollywood feature film.
He was a real life guy of the 18th century; and in the town of Hessisch Oldendorf the Münchhausen Court is built in the Weser Renaissance style. Which is why I mentioned his name AND why the town is on the Weser Renaissance Route in the first place.
This part of Lower Saxony is within the grand Weserbergland, which has some caves to explore. If you’d rather be out in the daylight then visit its 14th century St. Marien Church, the Jewish Memorial at the Jewish cemetery, and look around some of its half-timbered houses.
Because I’m a big lover of trivia, I like to play the “six degrees of separation” game. So, the question is: how do you get from Johann Sebastian Bach to Italy’s Leonardo Da Vinci?
Are you thinking about it? Stumped? OK, I’ll tell you. The answer is Bückeburg. And yes, I’m serious.
In the town of Bückeburg Johann Sebastian Bach’s son worked here; and in the town’s Hubschraubermuseum (Helicopter Museum) are drawings of Da Vinci’s “flying machine.” See, I wasn’t fooling around.
Also in Bückeburg is a 700 year old palace, that’s now open to the publc. Good thing because it’s filled with precious artwork and an awesome library. There’s also one of the oldest Lutheran churches in Lower Saxony.
Now it’s time to visit the old mining town of Stadthagen. The entire Marktplatz (with many a timber framed house) is a pedestrian zone, so there’s no worrying about traffic while you drink your Schaumburger beer and wine. This is also where you’ll find a Weser Renaissance Town Hall and a Local History Museum.
Stadthagen has some grand churches to see. The St. Martini Church is not only a still functioning church, but also the final resting place of area Counts. You also have an Abbey Church to see and the Chapel of St. John was built in 1312.
You might only want to see Schloss Stadthagen from the outside. Why? Isn’t it a beautiful 16th century castle? Yes, but inside it’s a modern day tax office; and no one actually LIKES to pay taxes. ;-)
Our next town is Nienburg (Weser). While the town’s landmark is its St. Martin Church the reason you’re here on this scenic route is its Town Hall.
Look around carefully, you’ll find lots of sculpture art throughout the town; and an Asparagus Museum (hence why it’s also on the Lower Saxon Asparagus Route). There must be something about this little respected veggie even though it was once known as the “King’s Vegetable.”
Nienburg has a stunning Monastic Church and a Jewish cemetery that was used for more than 250 years (1694–1950). You can’t leave before you see the Globe Faslem House, though, built in a Classicist style with charming gardens, or shop at the town’s Spring Market.
Oh, Bremen. How I love, thee. Let me count the ways. Oh, I’m in Germany, I guess I should be paraphrasing a German writer instead of an English one. But, since I’m writing this in English it’s all good and hats off to Elizabeth Barrett Browning!
Bremen is a Roland town (his statue dates to 1404) and the opulent facade of its Rathaus is why you’re here. It is, right? It’s not just the Beck’s Brewery, right? OK, maybe it’s a little mix of both.
You’ll find Bremen to be a town of little crooked lanes with framework houses and an 11th century church (the Liebfrauenkirche). It’s also a modern town with a Science Center, a Techno (that loud, pumping, beat music) Parade, and a two-week Freimarkt (in October) that’s been taking place since 1036 (yup, that’s almost 1,000 years! — see, we Germans love tradition).
I’m hard-pressed to say which town I love more Bremen or Celle, which is where you’re headed to next. Celle is the gateway to the Lüneburg Heath. It’s also a place on the Framework Road with 400 half-timbered buildings — its Hoppener Haus is one of the most famous in town (and one of the prettiest).
There are French Gardens to see, a Cathedral Church; and Celle has a Christmas Market every year in the Old Town Center. Celle also lies quite close to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, which can be visited by anyone interested in 20th century German history.
You’re just about come to the end of the Weser Renaissance Route, only two more towns left; and Gifhorn is a proud one of ’em. This town has seen its fair share of hardship, with fires burning the town in 1529, 1669, 1725, 1876, and 1891. Each time Gifhorn has rebuilt itself in a better, grander fashion. Like in the Weser Renaissance style — as in the case of Schloss Gifhorn and the Altes Rathaus.
Gifhorn’s other sights include the Internationale Wind- und Wassermühlen-Museum (International Wind & Watermill Museum), a Cultural Institute (lots of art!), and a few artifical lakes for swimming, fishing, and anything else you can do in & around water.
Welcome to Einbeck, your last stop on the Weser Renaissance Route! Meeting up again with the Framework Road, it has its own 600 year old brewery. Amongst the half-timbered houses, you’ll find a pedestrian zone and a tourist information center (of course).
Einbeck might be a Weser Renaissance town, but it’s also a place that changed the practice of medicine forever. A pharmacist by the name of Frederich Serturner discovered the drug morphine here back in the early 19th century. For those of us who’ve had surgery, we salute you. :-)
We’ve traveled so far together on this route of the Weser Renaissance; and you’ve made an excellent traveling companion. Together we’ve seen the very best of 16th/17th century architecture, castles, and have gone from the medieval to modern day.
I wonder where we can travel off together next? Since we’re in the area of Lower Saxony, how ’bout the Lower Saxon Mills Route?