Universitätstadt Göttingen

The city Coat of Arms, in a cellar restaurant

The city Coat of Arms, in a cellar restaurant

In contrast to Kassel, Göttingen’s relatively small nature allowed it to avoid bombing. Because of this you can still see many half-timbered and pre-Baroque houses in the city core. Today people know Göttingen more for its university than anything else: indeed, one of Whitney’s German profs had even studied there.

A half-timbered old house. History, I think they call this?

A half-timbered old house. History, I think they call this?

Like most German cities, Göttingen has a long and recognized* history. From Wikipedia:

The origins of Göttingen can be traced back to a village named Gutingi to the immediate south-east of the eventual city. The name of the village probably derives from a small stream, called the Gote, that once flowed through it. Since the ending -ing denoted “living by”, the name can be understood as “along the Gote”. Archaeological evidence points towards a settlement as early as the 7th century. It is first historically mentioned in a document by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto I in 953 AD, in which the emperor gives some of his belongings in the village to the Moritz monastery in Magdeburg. Archaeological findings point to extensive commercial relations with other regions and a developed craftsmanship in this early period.

The University of Göttingen was founded in 1737 by George II August, who was King of Great Britain and Ireland, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg and prince-elector of Hanover. During the Napoleonic period, the city was briefly in the hands of Prussia in 1806, turned over in 1807 to the newly created Napoleonic Kingdom of Westphalia, and returned to the State of Hanover in 1813 after Napoleon’s defeat. In 1814 the prince-electors of Hanover were elevated to kings of Hanover and the Kingdom of Hanover was established. During the Austro-Prussian War (1866), the Kingdom of Hanover had attempted to maintain a neutral position. After Hanover voted in favour of mobilising confederation troops against Prussia on 14 June 1866, Prussia saw this as a just cause for declaring war. In 1868, the Kingdom of Hanover was dissolved and Göttingen became part of the Prussian Province of Hanover. The Province of Hanover was eventually disestablished in 1946.

[During the War] Göttingen suffered comparatively little damage. Only about 2.1% of the city was destroyed. Beginning in July 1944, the air raids were sometimes heavier, but these mainly hit the area of the main railway station. The historic old town of Göttingen remained practically undamaged.

We drove around the city until finding an empty and abandoned-looking parking garage tucked away behind the university of all places, and at least I was surprised that the garage was managed by an employee rather than an Automat.

We wandered around the Altstadt, doing our best to dodge cyclists, and took refuge first in a British goods shop, then in an empty and uncomfortably quiet underground restaurant. We saw the Gänseliesel, a statue of a young girl with a goose that, according at least to tradition, all PhD recipients from the university are supposed to kiss. After a bit more bumbling about Heather bought a vacuum cleaner, Beth drove on the wrong side of the road to get into an underground garage at the grocery store, and we headed back to Kassel to make Tacos.

The Gänseliesel statue in the main square

The Gänseliesel statue in the main square

We weren’t really sad to leave Göttingen. It was actually kinda boring, though I’m sure that had we met some German students there they might have changed our minds. I guess it just goes to show that pretty buildings aren’t everything!

*”Recognized” being the key word here, for while the places we built our cities have long histories, we choose to ignore them, celebrating only the foundations laid by settlers.


About supertylor

British Columbian 20-something spending a(nother) year in Trier, Germany.
This entry was posted in Germany, travel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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