The largest ensemble of half-timbered houses in the world, modernist Bauhaus architecture, the Welfenschloss (a former Welf palace) with its Palace Theatre, classic and modern museums, as well as a diverse mix of culture and gastronomy – Celle is a city of contrasts and a shopping destination with real charisma, thanks to its many independent shops.
Is this for real?
Celle isn’t a film set. Everything here is real. Around 500 elaborately restored and listed half-timbered houses make up one of the largest ensembles of such architecture in the world. The Old Town with its majestic palace and Hoppener Haus, one of the grandest half-timbered houses in the city, or the New Town Hall, an impressive brick building from the 19th century, testify to the town’s 700-year-old history.
Timber meets Bauhaus
But Celle is more than its Old Town with its late medieval half-timbered buildings and the charm of the Welf Palace. Celle is also home to modernist architecture with its new building philosophy. When it comes to Bauhaus, Celle is on a par with Weimar or Dessau. Otto Haesler, one of the world’s best known architects of housing estates, worked here, and his style still characterises the development and image of modern Celle today. Celle’s history and folklore are brought to life on guided tours through the historical Old Town or through characteristic Bauhaus residential areas such as the Italian Garden.
Committed to sustainability
Celle is northern Germany’s first sustainable city, receiving its certification in 2017. Many hotels, businesses, the Congress Union and the Celler Badeland have undertaken to protect the environment and resources. And more and more are signing up. Many independent shops don’t just talk about sustainability – they are committed to putting it into practice.
Half-timbered houses, Guelphs and flair
Celle Celle is one of the most significant historical ducal residences in Lower Saxony. For almost three centuries it served as the permanent residence of the dukes of Brunswick and Lüneburg.
has a history going back more than 700 years. European nobility resided here. For this reason Celle is still proud to be known as a "ducal town". Duke Otto the Strict founded Celle in 1292. The dukes of Brunswick and Lüneburg resided here. Duke Ernest the Confessor introduced the Reformation in 1526. His memorial can be found in the Stechbahn. The last duke, George William, invited Italian and French aristocrats to his court. His wife Eleonore d'Olbreuse and her fellow country men greatly influenced cultural life in the town. Around 1675 the Palace Theatre was established which is today the oldest baroque theatre in Germany still performing. The French Garden was laid out, while the Huguenots left their mark all over the town.
In 1711 Celle became the seat of the Supreme Court of Appeal, today the Regional Court of Appeal. In 1772 the exiled Danish queen Caroline Mathilde took residence in the town.
She became widely known through the infamous Struensee affair and died in Celle. The Caroline Mathilde chambers in the Palace still remind visitors of the "sad queen".
Until recently members of the British royal family have been guests in the town. Among them were the Queen Mother, Her Majesty the Queen herself, her son Charles and the late Princess Diana, the Queen’s daughter Anne and the Duke of Kent.
Celle's history is mirrored in many of its buildings. A true gem is the Ducal Palace with its chapel. The vault beneath the presbytery in the Town Church contains the tombs of the Guelphic princes and of Queen Caroline Mathilde.
In 1985 the Old Town Hall was painted using the diamond ashlar ornamental design as it was originally painted at the end of the 16th century. Its north gable depicts the Weser Renaissance. The most prominent building in the ensemble of more than 500 half-timbered houses is the Hoppener House in Poststraße which Duke Ernest the Confessor had built for his finance minister Simon Hoppener. Opposite the Palace stands the building for the Knighthood of the former Principality of Lüneburg constructed in baroque architecture and with an idyllic courtyard.
The Palace Park, the Trift Park and the French Garden reveal that Celle is a "green town".
The park in front of the New Town Hall complement the ensemble of green spaces.
Culture and economy
The Bomann Museum, founded in 1892, is one of the largest and most important museums in Lower Saxony. It not only exhibits folkloristic collections, but also informs about local and regional history. The extension building holds the Art Museum Celle with the Robert Simon Collection - it is also the world's first 24-hour art museum. The Residence Museum in Celle's Palace mirrors the varied history of the oldest surviving dynasty in Europe: the Guelphs. The town with its 70,000 inhabitants is situated in attractive surroundings. The town area comprises about 17,500 hectares of which about 6,500 hectares is for agricultural use and about 5,800 hectares is wooded. Celle is also characterised by its main river, the Aller. From here passenger boats run towards the River Weser.
The "black gold" once made the region famous all over the world. It was in Wietze, ca. 15 km from Celle, that the first successful drilling for oil was achieved. Celle is internationally renowned as a location for European companies in the oil, natural gas and recently also geothermal energy heat sector. With the corporate network, the GeoEnergy association, Celle is well positioned in the energy market. Its economy is dominated by oilfield service and equipment industry. In 1992 the Deutsche Management-Akademie (DMAN) was established to provide predominantly East European managers with knowledge of the basics and the mechanisms of western market economy. The Ost-Europa-Centrum (East European Centre) exists in Celle since 1998. Celle is also home to companies known all over the world: The Moeck company which produces woodwind instruments, the Swedish crispbread baker Wasa supplies the entire European market from Celle, and the Wichmann company is Germany’s leading orchid growing company. In addition Celle is the seat of several federal and regional agencies such as the Regional Court of Appeal, the Superior State Social Court, the Lower Saxon Institute of Apiculture, the State Fire Brigade Training School, the Lower Saxon State Stud with its famous stallion parades.
Opposite the Congress Union stands the memorial of Celle’s most famous figure, Albrecht Thaer who developed modern agronomy. In the Congress Union itself the emphasis lies on stylish celebrations in modern yet traditional surroundings. Eight halls seating from 40 up to 1,200 persons, separate foyers and exhibition areas offer the perfect venue for every type of event. And not to forget: the lively town centre, the Old Town, that offers a variety of shops, cafés, pubs, wine bars and restaurants.
Celle is well worth a visit - not just for one day!
Celle's gastronomy and its hotels are appealing. Almost 2 million visitors every year are a clear reflection of this.
A brief historical overview
- 993 First documented as "Kellu" (today Altencelle) in a boundary document issued by order of Emperor Otto III
- 1248 Celle (today Altencelle) is referred to as a town for the first time
- 1292 The Guelphic duke Otto the Strict of Brunswick-Luneburg relocates the town to its present site
- 1378 Celle becomes the residence of the dukes of Luneburg
- 1527-1530 The Reformation is adopted in the duchy by Duke Ernest the Confessor, Celle is extended
- 1570-1579 A Renaissance gable is added to the town hall
- 1670-1680 The ducal castle is converted into a baroque palace and a theatre is installed (1674)
- 1705 Death of the last duke of Celle. The town ceases to be a ducal residence
- 1710 A prison, workhouse and mental asylum is established (today a penal institution)
- 1711 Celle becomes the seat of the Supreme Court of Appeals, the highest court in the Electorate of Hanover (today the Regional Court of Appeals)
- 1735 The Hanoverian Stud Farm is established in Celle
- around 1740 Celle's Jewish community builds a synagogue in the suburb of Blumlage
- 1772-1775 The Danish queen Caroline Mathilde is exiled to the Celle Palace following the famous "Struensee Affair"
- 1845 The railway line from Lehrte to Celle Palace is opened by King Ernest Augustus of Hanover and Duke William of Brunswick
- 1866 Following the defeat at the battle of Langensalza, the Kingdom of Hanover is annexed by the Prussians. Celle becomes a Prussian provincial town
- 1869 The four surbubs of Blumlage, Hehlentor, Neuenhäusern and Neustadt are incorporatet into the town of Celle
- 1872 A large infantry barracks next to the former ducal game park is completed. It now houses the New Town Hall
- 1885 Celle becomes an urban district town
- 1909 The municipal hall "Union" is opened, nowadays a congress centre ("Congress Union")
- 1945 On 12 April the town surrenders peacefully to the Allied forces
- 1954 The State Social Welfare Tribunal is established in Celle
- 1957 The Mobil Oil company (now Exxon) erects Celle's first high-rise building
- 1973 Nine surrounding villages are incorporated into Celle. Celle loses its status as an urban district town
- 1977 Celle becomes a "large independent town"