The colourful flair of today is thanks to the juxtaposition of modern buildings like the Felix Nussbaum Haus and the narrow and lovely streets in the old city in the Heger Tor quarter. The partly surviving storage houses from the Middle Ages, so-called “Steinwerke” are evidence of the wealth of the merchants back then. Today, they house galleries, cafes and bistros.
The „heart of the city“ is the Marketplace: A place for weddings, festivals, wine and Christmas markets. The Cafes and restaurants put their wicker chairs outside in front of the red and yellow gable houses of the hanseatic merchants and with a view of the City Hall and the St Mary’s Church, you can enjoy superb cakes and savoury dishes. A few steps further, the 13th century St Peter’s Cathedral impresses with its different towers, silent cloister and a treasure chamber in the diocesan museum.
From Missionary Post to Hanse City
In around 780 Karl the Great established the Bishopric of Osnabrück at the junction of the old trading streets. In the Middle Ages, the city developed into a pulsating place of trade. As early as the 14th century, Osnabrück acceded to become the leading member of Hanse – the most important trade association of the time. Before this, the city built with the “Legge” a special testing centre for the quality of Osnabrück cloth. The “Legge seal” with the Osnabrücker wheel became a seal of quality for the world-famous linen known as „Osnaburgh“ linen. Back then, the city laid the foundations for its current position as a centre of providing services and as an industrial location. As a member of the Hanse cities, Osnabrück staged the 2006 Hanse-day. The symbol of the Hanse-day, a stable wooden Hanse cog, was, in the end, placed on a playground in the city centre and has become a popular meeting-place for families.
The previous trade routes have meanwhile transformed into attractive shopping streets. „Osnabrück – here, you can find everything“ is therefore the motto oft he 21st century Osnabrück traders. As a shopping metropolis, Osnabrück is a treasure chest for shopping fans and treasure hunters.
Art and Culture
„Art against forgetting“ is the motto of the striking house, designed by Daniel Libeskind, which houses the largest collection of works worldwide of the Osnabrück painter Felix Nussbaum. The unusual architecture of this „museum without a way out“ with an extension from 2011, leaves no-one unfazed. The Osnabrück painter Felix Nussbaum is valid as an important Jewish painter of the last century. Like no other painter from his time, he recorded the stations of his life in spectacular images: from the shelter of a bourgeois merchants family in Osnabrück, through the short-lived artistic success in the metropolis of Berlin, to the difficult years as an emigrated artist and persecuted Jew in occupied Belgium. Nussbaum died at Auschwitz in 1944.
A further famous son of the city of Osnabrück is Erich Maria Remarque, author of the most well-known anti-war novel in the world – „All Quiet on the Western Front“. The Erich Maria Remarque Peace Centre (Erich Maria Remarque-Friedenszentrum) presents a permanent exhibition to the life and works of Remarque, the archive contains the world’s largest collection of material concerning the best-selling author and his surroundings.
For contemporary art, the Dominican Church Art Hall (Kunsthalle Dominikanerkirche) offers one of the most beautiful exhibition spaces in Lower Saxony. The Museum of History and Culture (Kulturhistorisches Museum) gives an overview of the city’s history and the Museum am Schölerberg – Nature and Environment invites you to take a look under the earth’s surface at Osnabrück. In the Cathedral’s Diocesan museum (Diözesanmuseum am Dom), the treasury with precious liturgical instruments on stilts can be found. On the Piesberg mountain, with a wide view over the city, the Museum of Industry Culture (Museum Industriekultur) in the buildings of the previous coal mine offers an insight into the industrialization of the city. Moreover, in summer you can search for fossils here and you are guaranteed to make a find.
Since 2008, Osnabrück has been a member of the city community “Historic Highlights of Germany”. The 13 member cities are among the oldes in the country and are living reflections of a history dating back over 2,000 years. In doing so, Germany’s historical cities put in place decisive impetus, which has not only moulded and changed the face of their own country, but also that of Europe and the world. As a travel offer, „Dream Routes“ combines individual member cities and their historical themes, making history tangible. Through the Dream Route “Cities of the Hanseatic League”, the cites of peace - Osnabrück and Münster - are also connected with Rostock.