Friday, July 22, 2011

Partial City in a Day: Lueneburg

Lueneburg is the city I'm currently living in. I've never heard of it being on the American tourist radar, but there is some stuff to do, as we discovered. Last Saturday, a group of us students had a day trip to Hannover planned. That was killed when this happened:
For reference, the bahnhof is about three times as crowded as it normally is. We have student passes that let us ride some of the trains within the state for free. These are what we were going to take, since train tickets can get expensive. The day before we planned to go, those trains went on strike. We showed up, only to have our train canceled. The next one and hour later? Also canceled. Faced with that, we decided to explore what we already had around us.

So, there's this tower that we kept seeing. It was visible from the walk to the bahnhof, and also from some of the bus routes.
Looks kinda cool, right? All I knew was that we called it the water tower. Well, we walk over, and it's a bit more impressive up close.
Much more impressive.

And yes, it basically looks like a rook from chess, or a tower without a castle. I don't remember the cost off the top of my head, but it wasn't too expensive--2 or 3 euro, I think, and we took an elevator to the top. On the floors immediately below the observation deck there were the remnants of some exhibits about water and ecology/nature, but they'd been mostly dismantled. The observation deck was wonderful, and I could have spent several hours up there.
Click to see bigger size in which details are actually visible.
You can see where the Altstadt stops and the rest of the city begins on the left. On the far right is Johanniskirche, St. John's Church, while behind it in the distance is Nicolaikirche. Middle-left in the distance you can just barely see Michaeliskirche (or just look below). The line of skinny buildings going diagonal across the center is Am Sande--yes, the city center is rectangular, rather than a square. The height also makes everything look much closer together than it is. I found it nigh impossible to pick out individual roads or squares, even big ones.

While you take an elevator up, you take stairs down when you leave the tower, and at one point you're walking (protected by railings) inside the giant metal basin that actually used to hold water. It's not very photogenic, but it is very cool. And slightly dizzying if you don't like heights.

After gathering, we remembered that it was Saturday and the farmer's market would be in front of the Rathouse (town hall), so that's where we went to lunch. Now despite great intentions, I haven't been to a U.S. farmer's market so I can't compare, but here a lot of produce is cheaper than the supermarket.

Michaelis (mee-ka-eh-lis) is the only one of the three big churches that I hadn't been to yet, so we made a pilgrimage. Being on the far side of the Altstadt, it's far away from the hustle and bustle of the shopping center; we wove through cobblestoned residential streets to reach it.
Also, please note that blue sky really does exist in Germany.
It's interesting to note that all three churches have different styles. Wikipedia calls Johanniskirche "Brick Gothic," which is shorthand for "Romanesque-esque and kinda ugly", Nicolaikirche is froo-froo Gothic, and Michaelis is between the two.

Inside is what you'd expect: ribbed vaults, tall pillars, etc. Interestingly, there is another sanctuary beneath the main one, much smaller.
There was a guide and an information desk at the back, but we didn't get time to poke around--they were setting up for an event or concert.
There's more to do, of course. There's a salt museum (salt was a big industry around here), more churches and historical buildings, a park, and undoubtedly more if I'd go to the tourist office and ask for info. The thing about living here, though, is that it feels like you've got it forever.

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