Cities & Culture

Göttingen: great minds, genius scholars and the Goose Girl

Göttingen: The old town with the St.Johannis market church in the evening ©DZT (Francesco Carovillano)

Göttingen seems to pulsate with a thirst for knowledge. This is a city shaped by students and academic life more than anywhere else in Germany. A total of 44 Nobel laureates are associated with Göttingen. Some were born in the city, while others came here to study, teach or conduct research.

The university, with its Classicist main building in the city centre, dominates the cityscape and is a source of local pride. Throughout the former merchant city there are memorial plaques in white marble to commemorate more than 300 of Göttingen's famous scholars – a journey through Europe's intellectual history. The Old Town, surrounded by Medieval ramparts, contains a number of historical buildings. It also features the city's emblem in the form of the Goose Girl, an Art Nouveau figure located in front of the Old Town Hall and also known as the darling of the just-graduated doctoral students, it is customary for them to kiss the statue on the cheek upon receiving their degree.

Besides a rich intellectual life, Göttingen also offers culture of the highest degree. The absolute highlight on the cultural calendar is the International Handel Festival, held every year in early summer. Elsewhere in the city, local bands raise the roof nearly every night at Nörgelbuff, Göttingen's most popular live music venue. Those looking for something a bit quieter can view the Ethnological Collection or attend any of the exhibitions at the city's other major museums. They could even go to the Old Botanical Garden. Established in 1736, it is one of the university's oldest treasures and is home to several must-see historical greenhouses. All this goes to show: Göttingen is the place to be with or without a PhD.

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