Celle is a quaint historic town just north from Hanover in Lower Saxony and despite its rather smaller size it is simply one of the most beautiful cities in terms of traditional architecture in Germany and therefore definitely deserves its own blog post. Besides its incredible old town with over 400 timber-framed houses, there is also a castle, a couple of museums, a nice larger green area which serves as a city park, many lovely streets and squares, churches and shops. We finally took the opportunity to visit it back in Spring 2020, just after the first lockdown due to the current pandemics. Read this post to see what there is to see and do and why Celle should be on your list of places to visit in Germany.
CELLE “ALTSTADT” OLD CITY CENTRE
I have to say that after almost 10 years of living in this, more northern part of Germany, I am quite used to seeing such wonderful timber-framed houses and I´m not fainting over their beauty every time I find myself in the old town of some of the cities around here. And yet, I was really pleasantly surprised by Celle´s old centre. It is very beautiful and walking around was pure joy even for someone like me who is now well used to such similar sceneries and architecture.
From HANOVER you get to Celle in 45min by car and from HAMBURG in 1,5hrs. This makes Celle also an interesting stop on the way if you are travelling between the two cities. Also near by is the beautiful area called LÜNEBURGER HEIDE and the town of Lüneburg. I confess I would have probably never heard of Celle and probably also never visited it, had I not been living in this area. CELLE is also one of the exclusive towns that can be found on the famous GERMAN TIMBER-FRAME ROAD or as it is called in German, the DEUTSCHE FACHWERKSTRAßE.
We started our day in the OLD PEDESTRIAN ZONE OF CELLE, which you find if you follow the signs tor “ALTSTADT”. This is a great area full of lovely shops and restaurants, of course all located inside the fairytale-like timber-frame houses from the 16th Century. Celle also has a RICH DINASTY HISTORY with many dukes and other important family residences from the old times.
One of the most known and beautiful houses in the old city centre of Celle is the HOPPENER HAUS house, decorated with luxurious ornaments resembling sceneries for fable, distinguished by its extraordinary facade depicting figures of creatures, gods, animals and humans.
CELLE CASTLE, built in 1292, is one of the top attractions in the city and one must definitely check it out. You can take GUIDED TOUR of its BAROQUE STYLE ROOMS and admire the RENAISSANCE ARCHITECTURE of this quadrangular building, but unfortunately during our time of visit this was not possible due to Covid restrictions. Therefore the bar in the courtyard was opened and we had a beer while admiring the castle walls.
Today this castle houses ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES, THE OLDEST BAROQUE THEATER IN EUROPE, a nice RENAISSANCE CHAPEL and a RESIDENZ MUSEUM, where you can check out old clothes, weapons and other artefacts besides the old chambers. You can also buy COMBINED TICKETS for the castle and a few other MUSEUMS in Celle town as well.
THE FRENCH GARDENS
If you walk through the SCHLOSSPARK gardens at CELLE CASTLE along a smaller water channel you soon come to the LARGEST BEAUTIFUL PARK IN CELLE TOWN. Designed in the 17th Century by the French landscapers, hence the name, it today looks more like an English garden actually. Anyhow it is a wonderful place to relax and enjoy a nice sunny day while walking around the pond and different parts of the park. There is also a CHILDREN´S PLAYGROUND, if you are visiting with kids and make sure to check the SUMMER EVENT CALENDER since there are lots of open air happenings.
BOMANN MUSEUM CELLE
Another TOP ATTRACTION besides the city castle is the BOMANN MUSEUM, which is also one of the most important museums in Lower Saxony German state. Conveniently located between the castle and at the start of the old town´s pedestrian zone it is definitely a place not to be missed while visiting Celle. In the museum you can learn more about the HISTORY OF LOWER SAXONY, CELLE AND HANOVER, there are numerous interesting collections including A REPLICA OF A TRADITIONAL LOWER AXONY FARMHOUSE.
KUNSTMUSEUM ART MUSEUM
Another special museum in Celle worth visiting is the art museum called KUNSTMUSEUM, which is advertised as the FIRST 24 HOURS MUSEUM IN THE WORLD. This means, that even though it is closed during the night, there is still something to see every hour of the day (there are changing exhibitions in the mornings, afternoon, evenings and night), including the light illuminations of the building´s facade. Unfortunately it was closed during the time of our visit. This museum is located opposite Celle´s castle and next to the Bomann Musuem.
MAIN CHURCH AND CITY HALL
Also close by the above mentioned museums and castle you can stop by at the main church, STADTKIRCHE ST. MARIEN, which is about 700 years old and has a pretty stunning interior. Right next to the church there is the RATHAUS city hall building and the square in front seems to be a nice place for get-togethers as there are quite some lovely cafes and restaurants around.
There are a few more sights to visit like the THEATRE or the SYNAGOGUE for example, but fr us the best thing was just to aimlessly wander the streets of the old town and checking out really nice shops and cafes. If you happen to be travelling around here, make sure to INCLUDE A STOP IN CELLE, even if just for a couple of hours, you will not be disappointed.