Germany is a federal republic divided into 16 states. These states are called Bundesland(pl. Bundesländer) and each one of them has their fair share of places to visit and things to do. This series of posts titled “States of Germany” seeks to explore each state one by one and tell you a little bit about them. Feel free to post about things I have missed out on.
The western state of Lower Saxony – called Niedersachsen in German – is located just north of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Lower Saxony is one of the two German states which completely surround another state. In this case, the state is Bremen. The state of Lower Saxony is a place of great natural and geographical shifts. The state has plains, a heath, mountains and the sea. Additionally, there are some really interesting cities as well. The present state of Lower Saxony was formed as a result of a merger between the former state of Hanover and several other smaller states. The coat of arms features a jumping white horse on a field of red.
With almost 8 million inhabitants, Lower Saxony is much more sparsely populated than NRW and is Germany’s fourth largest state by population. The state’s capital and largest city is Hanover which is a vibrant and multicultural place. It is famous for hosting the World Expo in 2000. Laws passed in Hanover by the state parliament are applicable in the whole of Lower Saxony.
To the north of NRW lies the Teutoburger Forest region which becomes the Osnabrücker Land in southern Lower Saxony. This region is largely rural and wooded and somewhat hilly region. The population center here is the city of Osnabrück from which the region gets its name. To the west of this region is the Emsland. The Emsland is quite sparsely populated and consists of flat land punctuated by water ways of the river Ems from which the region’s name is derived. The Emsland is mostly made up of farming communities and is a very green area. To the east and south east of the
Osnabrücker Land is the Weser Land. This area is called so because of the Weser River which runs through it. The region is great for fishing and is also composed of lots of farmland. The city of Hamelin – famous for the legend of the Pied Piper – is in the Weser Land. From the south eastern tip of the Weser Land, a mountainous region starts. These mountains later become the Harz mountains which are in the Harz Region. The Harz Mountains are a place rich in natural beauty as well as wildlife.
The locals speak in a distinct Harz dialect. The highest peak in the mountain range is Brocken at 1,141 m, although it is not in Lower Saxony. The town of Bad Harzburg is a tourist destination in the area. To the north west of the Harz lies the Hanover region The Hanover region is dominated by the city of Hanover.The city is famous for its fairs, contemporary art scene and the stunningly beautiful Herrenhausen Castle. To the north east of the Harz region lies the Brunswick Land (Braunschweiger Land). The city of Brunswick is famous for its architecture – both old and new. The city of Wolfenbüttel is also located in this region and contains a distillery for that famous German “herbal drink” Jägermeister. To the north of both the Hanover and Brunswick Land regions is the Lüneburg Heath region. As the name suggests, the region is full of heaths and moors. Due to the unique geography of this region, it is home to the Lüneburg Heath National Park and the Lüneburg Heath National Reserve and is a major tourist attraction. The are is also home to the unique Heidschnucke sheep.
To the west of the Lüneburg Heath area is East Frisia. This region is on the North Sea and is home to seven islands, the most famous of which is Norderney. The area is also quite flat and thus is home to many dykes. The city of Cuxhaven is the major harbor in the area. The coastline is also dotted with many lighthouses. If you are a lighthouse enthusiast, this is where you need to be. Another interesting thing to see in this region besides the sea, islands and lighthouses are the mudflats and the wind bent trees called Windlooper in the local dialect. Walking on the mudflats is a very different experience and I suggest you give it a shot.
Time for some tips! Here are some things to do – both in nature and in cities – while there:
- Go hiking in the Lüneburg Heath.
- Take a tour and plop around in the Wattenmeer mudflats during low tide.
- Climb some mountains in the Harz range and treat yourself to amazing views from up top.
- Take a ferry from the mainland up to one of the seven East Frisian islands.
- Visit Hamelin and meet the local Pied Piper*.
- Into cars? Go visit the Autostadt in Wolfsburg, home to Volkswagen.
- Discover Hanover and visit the New City Hall. If you’re a tech junkie, check out the CeBIT and the Hanover Fair. Don’t forget to visit the Herrenhausen and Marienburg Castles while there.
- Enjoy traditional German architecture at the Market Square in Hildesheim.
- Still yearning to see some of them castles? Check out the Imperial Palace in Goslar and take a selfie with the replica of the Brunswick Lion.
There is so much to see in Lower Saxony besides all that I have mentioned in this post. The state is specially rich in natural beauty and has something for every kind of nature lover as well as quiet cities nestled between natural wonders.
*It’s an actor masquerading as him, so you can take your kids with too.