Celle lies on the Aller river, just 37 kilometers away from Hanover. You can easily get here by train for a chilled out day trip. There are direct trains from the main railway station of Hanover every 20 minutes. The ride takes 30 minutes and the tickets cost 10 euro. It comes in handy to buy it in the train station, using the automatic machines or online.
Celle is proud to be one of the most significant historical ducal towns in Lower Saxony with a history going back more than 700 years. From the 14th century until 1705 it served as the permanent residence of the dukes of Brunswick and Lüneburg.
Here lived the father of King George I of Great Britain and Elector of Hanover. In 1714 George I became the King of Great Britain, and the Guelfs became sovereigns in Great Britain, being today the oldest Monarchy in Europe. Between 1772 and 1775, the Danish Queen Caroline Mathilde was exiled in Celle Palace. For more insights, you can also watch a movie about history episode, A Royal Affair with Alicia Vikander and Mads Mikkelson. In the 19th century, the Hanover kings lived here.
The palace chapel, consecrated in 1485 and rebuilt after the Reformation, is today the only intact early protestant court chapel in Germany and an important indication of the North German renaissance. The Palace gardens are wonderful. Unfortunately, the castle was under massive renovations when I visited Celle and covered by huge sheets.
The Old City Center
Most of the magic of Celle is given by
Europe’s largest ensemble of half-timbered houses
. The beauty of the over 450 half-timbered houses in the old city center makes you feel trapped in time. I did not have this feeling of surprise and pure joy since visiting Nin. It is a photographer’s heaven. Even as a non-photographer, I could not escape the urge to photograph the corners of this small town. Adding it to the beautiful baroque palace with courtly intrigues, you get a perfect place for a day-trip.
The most beautiful house in the Old Town is considered to be
the Hoppener house
, which dates from 1532. It is located on the Postraße, on the corner of Rundestraße. The building has six floors, and the lower floors are decorated with garlands, claws, gods, diabolical figures, creatures and mythical reptiles.
stands in the heart of the Old Town, being as old as the city itself. Here are the remains of the dukes from the 16th and 17th centuries and of Caroline Mathilda, Queen of Denmark. You can go up to the tower for 1€ entrance fee (something I will do next time) and get a nice view of the city from above. From the same tower, a Trompeter plays every day.
As you pass by
the old city hall
, go close enough and you will see that what looks like stone bricks is in fact just paint on the facade to create an illusion of single stones. It deceived me, too.
Before you leave, stop for some treats and enjoy the cozy atmosphere just a little more. There are plenty of small cafés and dining options in the town. I recommend Zur Glocke with a clear conscience because I have tried it myself. Café-Bar Kiess has a beautiful view and good cakes and coffee.
Celle is also a great shopping destination, with many fine boutiques hidden in the half-timbered houses and international chains along a large pedestrian zone: coffee, tea, spirits, knits & wools, condiments, handmade clothing, toys, exotic accessories, ceramics and anything else you could wish for.
I quickly fell in love with the charm of this town and I hope you will too. For more information check out the website of the Celle Tourism board.