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Published: June 25th 2015
View of the city from the tower of the church of St. Jacobi. The church you can see in the picture is St. Johannis, not far from town hall, where my walking tour had started.
I got back to work in early May after my six week holiday and, well, what can I say, there was not much time to settle back in. Of course there was a lot of stuff to catch up on, but there was also some travelling awaiting me. In my second week I went to a two day congress on work and organisational psychology in the city of Göttingen, a little more than two hours from Hamburg. It was a congress organised by the German Psychologists’ Association and I presented some of our research there. The congress was rather nice and what was even better was that I had a late Friday afternoon off, so I could go into town and look around.
Göttingen has a well-known university, and thus about 20 percent of its population are university students. But the fascinating thing about the city is in my opinion that it is very old. There are beautiful old houses and churches. Fortunately there was no major damage during World War II. I had a coffee on the square in front of town hall and then went on a self-guided walking tour. It started off at town hall. It was
Climbing the church tower
... of St. Jacobi. It was a little adventure with the steep stairs and ladders, but a lot of fun as well, and the view was absolutely worth it.
built in the 13th century and in its main hall there are murals depicting events from the city history, along with the coats of arms of the Hanseatic cities. On the square in front of town hall there is a fountain with the most likely most frequently kissed lady in the city: the Gänseliesel-Brunnen, built in 1901. “Die Gänseliesel” (“Goose Lizzy”) is a German fairy tale. Students who complete their PhD at the local university have to kiss the statue of the goose girl.
From there I passed different churches and houses. The one closest to town hall is St. Johannis, built in the 13th century. My favourite one, however, was St. Jacobi. One can go up its tower. But it is not simply stairs that you have to climb. It starts off with some rather steep wooden stairs, but then it is more or less only ladders, and it requires some concentration not to fall off. Moreover, from the tower one has a beautiful view of the city and the hills around it.
Göttingen also has a lot of old half-timber houses. Many of them are painted beautifully and the wooden parts are carved. Some of them
... on the square in front of town hall. PhD students have to kiss the goose girl when they complete their PhD.
are as old as 500 years. Amazing. What will today’s houses look like in 500 years’ time?
A lot of famous scientists were at the local university, for example the mathematician and physicist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg who was one of the first scientists to teach experimental physics. And of course the mathematician, physicist, geodesist, and astronomer Carl Friedrich Gauß, whose name is so famous amongst all those interested in statistics because of his work on normal distribution and least squares method. Or there is Otto Hahn, the chemist who discovered how atoms can be split – to name but a few. Altogether there are 45 Nobel Prize Winners who at least spent some time at the local university. The university was founded in 1737 and of course there are quite a few buildings in the city that belong to the university, such as the main auditorium or the library.
Finally, there are some nice parks and green areas (yes, as always, I love the areas that are green). One of them is the park on both sides of the city walls. Part of it is a botanic garden.
I would have loved to explore the city a
... with half-timber houses built between the 15th and 18th century.
bit more because I liked the atmosphere there and the weather was simply brilliant, but I only had three hours or so. In the evening I had to return to the conference hotel for a networking dinner. But at least I had had some time to explore the city and I really liked in there!
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