Thursday, 27 March 2014

Exploring Ancient Osnabruck, Germany

Many students list their most cherished memories as the time they spent studying abroad. For example, entrepreneur Mark Pieloch studied in Osnabruck, Germany, for a year while he was in high school. The experience gives students a chance to experience living and learning in a different country. Cities like Osnabruck appeal to more than just students, of course. Avid travelers and history buffs are lured to the ancient German city to explore its rich history and modern culture.

A Time of Wizards and Witches

Originally established in 780 as a marketplace near the bishop’s see founded by King Charlemagne, Osnabruck was first mentioned as a city in historical records in 1147. Granted fortification privileges in 1157, towers were built that are still visible today. Sadly, between 1561 and 1639, the most active witch-hunting period, 276 women and two men were executed for wizardry. Osnabruck is arguably most famous for being one of two locations where a series of peace treaties were signed ending the Thirty Years’ War.

Osnabruck sits in a scenic valley between the Wiehen Hills and the northern part of the Teutoburg Forest. Today, approximately 165,000 call Osnabruck home. With its cobbled streets filled with cafes, wine bars, pubs, museums and galleries, Osnabruck is a mix of old world charm and modern nuance.

A Wealth of Historic Sites

Students like Pieloch and inquisitive tourists find a wide range of educational and historical sites to explore in Osnabruck:

● Buckstrum is the oldest tower in the city and was used as the prison for those accused of witchcraft.

● The Felix Nussbaum Haus is a gallery and museum dedicated to Jewish artist Felix Nussbaum. Nussbaum, who was born in Osnabruck, was a surrealist painter, heavily influenced by van Gogh and Rousseau. While Nussbaum was in Rome studying, the Nazis gained control of Germany. Nussbaum continued painting until he was arrested and later murdered.

● Hegor Tor stands as a monument to the Osnabruck soldiers who died during the battle of Waterloo.

● Katharinenkirche, St. Catherine’s Church, was built in 1248, and is the tallest medieval building in Lower Saxony and one of the 150 tallest churches in the world.

● Osnabruck Castle is now the main University of Osnabruck building.

● The Kalkriese Museum houses artifacts from the battlefield of the Teutoburger Wald.

● St. Peter’s Cathedral was founded in the 11th century and has two dramatic façade towers.

After all that traveling back through time, travelers can enjoy exploring Old Town, with its tiny streets and medieval buildings. For a history break, tourists can explore the city’s zoo and botanical gardens.

Modern Amenities and Thriving Nightlife

Older students and adults who visit find a thriving nightlife in Osnabruck. Hyde Park is a music hall that features plenty of youth culture and popular live music. Alando is a nightclub and hot weekend spot near the train station.

A haven for chocolate lovers, Osnabruck is home to Leysieffer, a traditional German chocolate producer. Founded in Osnabruck, Leysieffer makes chocolate and café treats to please the most sophisticated palate.

Mark Pieloch credits his time in Osnabruck with giving him a sense of history and expanding his ideas about people of different cultures. Getting to know the people of Osnabruck, discovering the city’s rich and storied past and stepping out of their comfort zone give visitors a confidence and expanded world view that remains long after they return home.