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|Bundesland: Niedersachsen||Lower Saxony|
Braunschweig is situated at an elevation of 75 m at the river Oker in southeastern Lower Saxony. The city has a population of about 245,000 and is Lower Saxony's second-largest city (following the state's capital, Hannover). Braunschweig is part of the metropolitan region Hannover-Braunschweig-Göttingen which is formed by the region Hannover and the cities of Braunschweig, Celle, Gifhorn, Goslar, Göttingen, Hameln, Hildesheim, Salzgitter, Wolfenbüttel and Wolfsburg).
Historically, Braunschweig was not founded as a single community but goes back to five separate communities (Altewiek, Altstadt, Hagen, Neustadt and Sack) that were founded separately and over time grew together into what we know today as Braunschweig. The 'Braunschweiger Reimchronik', a chronicle of about 1279–1292, tells the legendary origin of the city. According to this legend, duke Bruno founded the oldest settlement at this place in AD 861. According to the 'Braunschweiger Weltchronik' of around 1500, the brothers, dukes Bruno and Dankward, founded the settlement and the castle Dankwarderode, and also tells that it was Bruno who named the settlement Bruneswiek. The first written mention of the modern version of the name, Braunschweig, is found in a document of 1573, and apparently is the attempt of a translation of the Middle Saxon name Brunswiek into the High German language. Today, the seriosity of the aforementioned sources for dating the foundation of the city is disputed. The first serious source that mentions Brunesguik dates from 1031.
Under Duke Heinrich 'the Lion' (b.1129/30, d.1195), Brunschweig became an important residence town. The cast bronze lion that Heinrich had ordered in 1166 (today exhibited in the castle museum) became the heraldic animal and symbol of the town. The duchy of Braunschweig-Lüneburg that was given to Heinrich's grandson Duke Otto 'the Child'. The duchy later was partitioned several times. The duchy Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel emerged in the 14th century. When the city of Braunschweig obtained its independence, the dukes moved their residence to Wolfenbüttel in 1430. Besides Paris and Ghent, Braunschweig was one of the most unruly cities in the late medieval and early modern times. It was only in 1671 that the city again came under the rule of the dukes; in 1753 the residence was finally moved back to Braunschweig.
Following the Treaty of Tilsit (1807), Braunschweig was occupied by French troops and until 1813 was the capital of the département Oker, formed out of the duchy of Braunschweig, most of the bishopric of Hildesheim, the city of Goslar and smaller parts of the districts Magdeburg and Halberstadt. The Congress of Vienna (1814/1815) re-establised the duchy of Braunschweig. During the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Braunschweig only joined Prussia towards the end of the conflict, and thus unlike Hannover could avoid being annexed by Prussia. When the last duke of Braunschweig, Wilhelm, died without heir in 1884, the duchy until 1913 was ruled by a regency commission because the Hannover line of the Welf dynasty, which in theory would have had the right of succession, faced the opposition of Prussia. Only when Prince Ernst-August of Braunschweig-Lüneburg in 1913 married Princess Viktoria Luise of Prussia, daughter of German Emperor Wilhelm II, Ernst August could inherit the throne of Braunschweig.
On 8 November 1918 Ernst August was forced to abdicate and Braunschweig was proclaimed a Republic. During World War II almost 90% of the historic old town were destoyed. In 1946, the former duchy of Braunschweig was incorporated into the Germany's state of Lower Saxony. Until the dissolution in 1974 of the district Braunschweig, the city was the seat of the district administration although itself it was not part of the district but was administered as a district in its own right. Until 2004, when the administrative regions of Lower Saxony were dissolved, Braunschweig was the seat of the government of the administrative region Braunschweig.
The church of St. Martin (Martinikirche) [top picture, background left] was built in the 12th century as the parish church of Altstadt. Its construction began in 1190/95 and most likely was initiated by Heinrich the Lion. St. Martin's is the only church of Braunschweig with two towers and complete westwork. The original, Romanesque, church was enlarged by the addition of two Gothic aisles between 1250 and 1400. The choir was added in 1400, the chapel of St. Anne was built in 1434. The roof of the church and the westwork were destroyed by fire in World War II, but the interior of he church luckily was spared the destruction. The 'Eagle Bell' ('Adlerglocke', 5.000 kg) is the largest bell in the Braunschweig region.
The equestrian monument for Duke Wilhelm (Herzog-Wilhelm-Denkmal) [bottom left] was created in 1904 in memory of Duke Wilhelm of Braunschweig (b.1806, acc.1830, d.1884). The monument was erected in Ruhfäutchenplatz in front of the eastern side of Dankwarederode castle. The bronze scultpture was melted down during World War II.
The Victory monument (Sieges-Denkmal) [bottom right]
was created in 1881 as a memorial to the German vitory in the French-German war of 1870/1871. The monument was
erected in Siegesplatz (today named Lessingplatz). During World War II it was melted down.