Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Lower Saxony
Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

Once the historic Kingdom of Hanover, Lower Saxony, Neidersachsen in German, is the only German state that has both mountainous and maritime areas. From the North Sea, an area known as East Frisia, to the Central Uplands and the Harz Mountains in the south. The state’s four UNESCO World Heritage Sites reflect the diversity of this region. From the Romanesque churches in Hildesheim to the early 20th century Fagus Factory in Alfeld. From the intertidal mudflats of the Wadden Sea to the historic mining towns and water management systems in the Harz mountains. As with many other areas in Germany, and Europe, Lower Saxony has its fair share of forts and castles. But it is particularly known for quaint towns and villages with half-timbered houses.  Many towns are included on the ‘German Half-Timbered House Route’. And for the culinary minded traveller, Lower Saxony even has an ‘Asparagus Route’.

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Archaeology & History Sites in Lower Saxony

Bergen-Belsen Memorial

What started out as a Prisoner of War Camp developed into a Concentration Camp in the final years of WWII. From 1940 until the liberation of the camp on 15 April 1945 a total of 52,000 prisoners from all over Europe were killed in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. It was here that the young Anne Frank was sent to her death. The various features of the memorial site are spread over a vast area, not all accessible to the public. The Documentation Centre is a good place to start, and identify landmarks to see.

Bückeberg Reich Harvest Festival Grounds

On a hillside above the village of Hagenhosen is the 18 hectare site of the “Reichserntedankfest”. A festival organised by the National Socialists, and held between 1933 and 1937, to celebrate peasantry and the nation’s farmers. With hundreds of thousands of people, the event was one of the largest mass events held in Nazi Germany. In 2022 the site was adapted for visitors, providing a pre-set route across the site that includes the remains of the ‘Führerweg’, speaker’s rostrum and the VIP stand, part of which has a barrier-free walkway.

Manningaburg

In the centre of the East Frisian town of Pewsum is a small moated castle, the origins of which date back to 1458. Once the seat of the Manninga family, in 1565 the castle was sold to Count Edzard II, an East Frisian Lord. The castle was substantially rebuilt, but the ravages of time and repair costs took their toll. Today only the first floor of the castle remains with a small courtyard, a wide moat and the gatehouse. The castle houses a museum inside to the East Frisian lord and the history of the castle.

Museums & Art Galleries in Lower Saxony

Bad Zwischenahn Open-Air Museum

On the southern banks of the Zwischenahner Lake is an open air museum that is made up of 17 different historic buildings. Centred on the Ammerländer Bauernhaus, a traditional farmhouse, there is also a mill, a blacksmiths workshop, a grain storage barn and a set of semi detached houses. These buildings were relocated here to give the impression of a typical farm from the early 1700s in Lower Saxony.

Dat ole Huus - Heath Museum

Situated within the Luneburg Heath Nature Reserve, Dat ole Huus in the village of Wilsede is a traditional Low German house built in 1742. Here you can explore live as it was on the heathlands over 150 years ago. Included is an exhibit on sheep farming and the mid 19th century trade in wool. See a traditional sheep shed, and sheep of the Emhoff breed. It is not possible to drive to the village, it can only be reached on foot, by bicycle or horse drawn carriage from a parking space on the edge of the reserve.

Hitzacker Archaeological Centre

Devoted to bringing the Bronze Age to life, the Hitzacker Archaeological Centre in Lower Saxony launched in 1990. Located near to where archaeologists revealed an original Bronze Age settlement in 1969, it is home to a number of reconstructed Bronze Age buildings. These include both single-room houses and longhouses, evidence for which have been found through excavation. Visitors can try their hand at bread baking, spinning, weaving, and bronze casting to better appreciate life in later prehistory.

Hösseringen Museum Village

At the Hösseringen Museum Village a range of historic buildings have been preserved from across the region. These reflect the historic vernacular architecture of this part of northern Germany, including examples of the so-called ‘Low German House’. Over 25 buildings have thus far been brought here, which date from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The museum was established in 1975 and is surrounded by the beautiful Lüneburg Heath.

International Wind & Watermill Museum

Fans of windmills will not want to miss the International Wind and Watermill Museum in Gifhorn. At this lakeside open-air museum, which covers an area of 16 hectares, over 15 mills from around the world have been erected. Some are original structures transplanted here from their homelands, while others are authentic-looking reproductions built in traditional styles. While many are from Germany and the Netherlands, there are examples from much further afield, including South Africa, Russia, and Iran.

Museumsdorf Cloppenberg

Spread throughout the open-air museum’s 15 hectares are over 50 traditional buildings, relocated here from various sites in north-west Germany. The buildings range in date from the 16th century to the 20th century, and include large and medium sized farmhouses, tradesmen’s workshops, windmills, a manor, a church and even a school. Opened in 1936, the open-air museum is one of the most popular museums in Lower Saxony.

Rischmannshof Heath Museum

Based in the town of Walsrode, the Rischmannshof Heath Museum opened in 1912 with a smokehouse – making this one of the oldest open-air museums in Germany. Since then a number of architectural features, historic vernacular buildings from this area of Germany. These include a traditional Low German House, an apiary, barn, and bakehouse, all of which range in date from the 17th through to the 19th century. Many are decorated with period furniture to give a better idea of how they looked in past centuries.

Roemer und Pelizaeus Museum, Hildesheim

The current museum opened in 2000, with permanent exhibitions displaying ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Peruvian artefacts. The collections of Chinese ceramics (over 150 on display) and pre-Columbian art from the Andes are amongst the largest in Europe. The Egyptian collection of over 9,000 objects is particularly well-known for the artefacts from the time of the great Pyramids. There is also an impressive paleontological collection, fine arts and various objects relating to the history of Hildesheim.

Varusschlacht Park and Museum

The site of the Battle of Teutoberg Forest is thought to be near the village of Kalkriese in Lower Saxony. Said to be one of the most important defeats suffered by the Romans, it was here in 9 AD that local Germanic tribes ambushed the Romans so ending Augustus’s expansion of the Roman Empire. Visitors can see all aspects of the battle played out in state-of-the art exhibitions, view the battlefield from a tower and walk through an archaeological excavation and reconstruction of the landscape at the time of the battle.

Vechta Medieval Centre

Part of the Vechta Museum in Lower Saxony, Castrum Vechtense represents a fortified castle complex reconstructed to resemble examples that were typical in northern Germany during the 11th and 12th centuries. The recently completed timber castle was built using techniques and technologies that were available in the Middle Ages. The castle is based on a historic castle found during excavations during the construction of a underground car park for a local hospital. On open days, visitors can interact with re-enactors dressed in period costume.

Winsen Museum Farm

At the Winsen Museum Farm in Lower Saxony, a range of historic buildings from across the southern part of the Lüneburg Heath have been preserved for posterity. These range in origin from the mid-17th through to the 20th century and include a Lower German House, a farmhouse, and a coach house. Amid the grounds are an apiary, orchard, and herb garden. Various special events take place at the museum throughout the year.