Masterpieces of Medieval, neo-Gothic and Modernist architecture in Germany
While at first before we even came here I was not planning in creating a travel guide for those places wrongly thinking there would be not much else to see apart from the World Heritage Sites, we were quite wrong! In fact, we found ourselves actually struggling for time. Hildesheim has by far much more than both UNESCO World Heritage Sites listed and it is an extremely beautiful city worth to enjoy for longer than what we did. Alfeld in the other hand, while our original plan was to only visit the Fagus Factory, it is then that we discovered an incredible nice historical centre full of timber frame houses.
All of this was a nice surprise, on the same way it happened to us the following day with Hoxter and Goslar, yet stressed us a little bit because we did not have the time at all to enjoy all these places as we would have liked, with more time. We simply did not expect it as we only had in mind and planned visiting the World Heritage sites, and we had to even scrap the city of Quedlinburg all together for a future time.
All these cities are very small but because of so much to see, literally every building, it takes a while to explore, and so it takes a long time to drive there. With no motorways, the only choice are small roads passing never ending little villages, curves and forests in between. It might sound like a beautiful trip, but it’s plain, nothing really out of the blue bearing fields.
For more information about these places click on their respective Wikipedia sites. Germany’s currency is the Euro. Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do
- Marienburg Castle Just 30km south of Hanover, it is considered one of the most important neo-Gothic buildings in Germany, built in the 19th century. Open daily from 10.00AM to 18.00PM, 7 Euros for a guided tour. Although there is no need to get inside if you are planning to visit more sites. From the outside you can get great views.
- Hildesheim At just 16 kilometres east from the Marienburg Castle, it became one of the highlights for today’s tour. Not only for its UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but because of an incredible large amount of historical buildings all over the old town.
-Benedictine Abbey Church of St Michael Is one of the key monuments of Medieval art in Germany, built between 1010 and 1022 by Bernward, Bishop of Hildesheim. Located to the north of the city. Listed an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
-St Mary’s Cathedral In the heart of the old town, although rebuilt after the fire of 1046 it still retains its original crypt. It is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
-Old Town With its Town Hall, many churches and squares, and many timber framed houses. Although not big, it is easy to walk through since everywhere there is something to see.
- Alfeld The next city, 30km south of Hildesheim, turned out to be another surprise in having and amazing historic old town full of timber framed houses. Because we did found so little information before travelling here we though there would be not much to see, but we were overwhelmed once there.
-Fagus Factory Designed by Walter Gropius at the beginning of 20th century, it is one of the most important examples of early modernist architecture applied to a factory in the world, hence its importance and inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. For the first time, a complete facade is conceived in glass in a building with the corners left without any support, yielding an unprecedented sense of openness and continuity between inside and out.
-Old Town Very small and easy to visit, through its main square, city hall and the many timber framed houses everywhere.
Reaching Marienburg is only possible either on an organised tour, or by your own transport. There are no buses nor trains here, although buses serve the nearby village of Pattesen. Hildesheim and Alfeld both lie on the railway line south of Hanover, with frequent trains and buses, and so a good transportation between them both. Still, if you can only opt for public transportation then bear in mind this is time consuming. The best you can do is having a rental car and be independent. Not only will save you time, it will save you a long walk when going to visit the Fagus Factory in Alfeld since it is not by the city centre but outside. For further information about Hanover and a full description on its transports check the relevant guide here.
We made our base in Hanover from where we drove to all these places, hence I can only comment here about our experience there. Being one of the largest cities in Germany and due to its importance with regards to industry and economy, it is heavily visited by people on business. This is a good side since the city boasts many hotels from every kind and every chain. However it is necessary to say here that the city is not an importance tourism pole, and getting a good deal was actually difficult. As usual, a good point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred hotel search engine websites such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms or Ebookers.
Since we knew we were going to be on a much wider tour through other places south of the city and we rented a car, we did not have any preference in where to get a hotel, as such we chose to stay near the airport where a great deal popped! We stayed at the back then ACHAT Premium Airport, nowadays Dormero Langenhagen Airport. It was simple yet nice, with friendly staff and all we needed for just 2 nights, a good and comfortable rest. Bear in mind when searching for hotels in Hanover that majority of them do not include breakfast in their “basic”rate, but for a hefty higher fare you can have it. Indefinitely we decided to have it by ourselves, something easy considering the many nice bakeries everywhere and even inside the supermarkets. Just across the road from the hotel there is a shopping centre with a large supermarket and great bakery within!