Monday, 28 November 2016

Braunschweig Old-Town/Bürgerpark Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 12.7 km (7.9 miles) or 6km if you turn around after Bürgerpark, terrain: flat

Braunschweig (Brunswick in English) offers a lot to see, with a lot of beautiful corners in the old-town and a string of parks following the Oker River southwards. This route will connect those together into a run you're not likely to soon forget. You can either run the short version of the route, through the old town and the Bürgerpark, or double the distance by adding on the further parklands down past Südsee (South Lake).
Half-timbered house in Braunschweig
Braunschweig is a modern industrial center, one of the top research magnets in Europe. But it has a rich history, and was home to the Saxon dukes, who built a castle and, later, a palace in town. Those same dukes later became the kings of Hanover, who then founded the current Windsor dynasty in Britain. Much of the old beauty was destroyed by bombing in the war (90% was lost), but enough survives to give the town character and charm.

So let's start the run right in the heart of this history, at Burgplatz, the square between Dankwarderode castle, the cathedral and the Lower Saxony State Museum. The square is dominated by the lion statue, symbol of the most famous Saxon duke, Henry the Lion.
The Braunschweig Lion in Burgplatz
Stand there at the base of the medieval lion, and quickly take-in this amazing ensemble of buildings. They're all fairly typical for this part of Germany: the half-timbered houses with lots of carved and painted woodwork, and the stone cathedral with its massive defensive tower-base, sending asymmetrical steeples skyward.

Through the arched arcades bridging the castle and cathedral you can see the neogothic tower of the town hall to the east.

So, if you can tear yourself away from this inspiring scene, turn your back to the castle and face westwards. Start running down Vor der Burg, past half-timbered houses.
Old-town wrestlers
In a block, you'll come to a statue of two wrestlers, where you turn left and continue running down Schuhstraße (earlier home to many shoemakers).

You'll come to another big square, Kohlmarkt, with a round fountain and lined with old houses. Now turn left to exit the square along Hutfiltern.
Kohlmarkt fountain
At the first right-hand side-street (Kattreppeln: the "stretching cat"), turn right, and run past the entertaining cat-statue.

In a block you'll come to a street with a tram-line down the middle, Waisenhausdamm. Cross the street and continue straight on, along Hinter Liebfrauen.
Ägidien Churchyard
In two blocks, you will come out to a busy street with the tram lines running here, too. Turn right here and run the few steps to the driveway to the big gothic church there, the Ägidienkirche.

Now keep right and pass the church along its west side, past more beautiful half-timbered houses and the peaceful churchyard, running southwards. This is the one-kilometer mark.
Lessing, with a beer in his hand
After the church, you'll find yourself in a little green square around a statue of the philosopher Ephraim Lessing. Just past Lessingplatz is another busy street with a tram line. Keep to the right to get to the pedestrian crossing.

Now cross the street and run south along Nimes-Straße, passing the Steigenberger Hotel. After the hotel, you'll find yourself entering Bürgerpark. The park lines the Oker River and contains a string of ponds.
In Bürgerpark
Run by that first pond on the right side, then you'll pass the tennis club on the left. Just when you come to the next big pond, on the left side, the path will curve off to the right. Follow it, and it will exit the park onto Eisenbüttler Straße.

Turn right here, at the 3-kilometer mark, and pass the watermill on the Oker River. The street curves to the right just past the mill.  
At the watermill
NOTE: Now you have the choice of either following the road to the right to run the 6-km version of the route, or turn left to run under that big train overpass and follow the Oker past South Lake for an additional 6.7-km.

To do the long version of the run, follow the small street, Kennelweg, southwards under the two train bridges. The Oker River and swampy marshes will be to your left.
Railway bridge over Kennelweg
After the second train bridge, continue southwards on the pedestrian/bike trail. We'll run this path for almost three kilometers, until we come to the southern tip of Südsee (South Lake), and then circle the lake to return.
The riverside trail
You'll see a nice little palace up on a hill to the left, then the trail continues southwards under the A39 autobahn overpass.

You'll soon come to Südsee, where we'll keep the water to the right side and run the 1.5-km to the south tip of the lake. You can either run on the main paved path or take the dirt path closer to the water.
Südsee on a frosty day
It's a nice spot, lots of nature, no cars anywhere, there is even a swimming spot and a sailing club at the north end of the lake.

So when you come to the southern tip, with its reeds and waterbirds, keep the water to your right side and now head back northwards for the return half of the run, running up the west side of the lake.

At the north end of the lake, the trail will merge back to the same trail that we first ran along earlier.

Now follow the same way back to the watermill. But once there, to see more of the area, keep running along Eisenbüttler Straße for a few blocks, until it makes a sharp turn to the left. At that spot turn right and follow the bike/pedestrian path into Bürgerpark again, over the footbridge across the Oker.
The footbridge over the Oker
Once you cross the bridge, turn left to follow the same way out of the park that we ran earlier.

Run through Lessingplatz and past the Ägidienkirche again to Auguststraße.

Now let's discover another cool old-town neighborhood, the Magniviertel, maybe the nicest old-town neighborhood. So cross Auguststraße, and run up Mandelnstraße for its one short block. Then turn right then left to run along Ritterstraße. When you hit the square with the Magnikirche (church), you've come to the heart of the neighborhood, with beautiful half-timbered houses, full of shops and restaurants. This is a great neighborhood to return to in the evenings.
Strange buildings along Ackerhof
Circle the old stone church and come back to where you were on Ölschlägern. Now run west for a block and then turn right to run past the strange, colorful houses along Ackerhof. These modern, cartoony buildings are unlike anything I've ever seen, designed by New Yorker, James Rizzi.

Just past the weird houses, you'll be at a busy street, Georg-Eckert-Straße. The big ducal palace is right across the street, so let's get over there. Run around to the left to the front side.
The palace at night
The palace now houses a shopping mall, but that doesn't make the front facade any less impressive, with a couple of statues of the dukes riding their horses. The building was bombed-out in the war, then the ruins were torn down. Ten years ago, the reconstruction was built on the same site, and visitors would never guess that it is all new.

Now leave the big palace square to run westwards, past the neo-gothic town hall with its tall tower.
Re-enter Burgplatz under the arcade
You'll now be at the back end of the cathedral and the castle, so just run beneath the overhead arcade and you'll be back at the lion, in one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. Hope you enjoyed this great run!

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