Gewandhaus (Braunschweig)

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East gable of the Gewandhaus.
Detail of the east facade: The Brunswick Lion .

The Gewandhaus on the old town market in Braunschweig originally served as a warehouse, sales and guild house for the guild of dressmakers . The name Gewandhaus is derived from the merchandise used by wall tailors, who bought “turned” cloths that were kept folded and sold them in sections.

Two restaurants are located in the Gothic hall and the adjacent vaults of the building; the upper floor has been used by the Braunschweig Chamber of Commerce and Industry since 1910 .

History of construction and use

In the second half of the 13th century, the first heyday of Braunschweig's old town as a trading metropolis in the Middle Ages, the premises in the houses of the craftsmen and merchants as well as in the guilds' yards were no longer sufficient to store the goods manufactured in the city. This was particularly true of the cloth goods in Brunswick. For this reason, the citizens decided to build a new, spacious building that would also serve as the seat of the city's merchants and the most important guilds. It became a guild hall and stock exchange at the same time .

The Gewandhaus was already in existence before 1268 - it was only from this year that the city council began to record its "negotiations" in council books. It was first mentioned in a document in 1307. In 1329 it was given a wine cellar and in 1352 it was granted a bar privilege, which makes the vaulted cellar the oldest gastronomic cellar in Lower Saxony . In the Middle Ages people enjoyed beer, wine and Braunschweiger Mumme there .

Over the years the building has been given various names, including: a .: Kophus (department store), Klederhof (clothes yard ), Gildehaus , Tuchhaus , Klederhus , Wandhus and domus pannicidorum ; In the end, however, “Gewandhaus” remained the name that has survived to this day.

In 1368, when the city council did not yet have its own armory , the cannons of the city of Braunschweig were also housed here.

Renaissance portal by Wolter Hasemann , which used to be at the Hagenmarkt pharmacy .

The clothing tailors sold their cloth in sections or in bales in the so-called "wall stalls" in the Gewandhaus. In order to protect both buyers and sellers from fraudsters, a "standardized" length measure was introduced in Braunschweig as early as the 16th century: the " Braunschweiger Elle ". It measures 57.07 cm and has been firmly anchored to the second pillar of the old town hall opposite the Gewandhaus .

In addition to trading, the Gewandhaus was also used for representational purposes. It was a place for gatherings and celebrations. The power and wealth of the dressmakers, who made up the oldest and most distinguished guild in the city, are expressed in the construction of the Gewandhaus.

The first renovation of the building, which had become dilapidated over time, took place from 1588 to 1592 according to drafts and under the supervision of the general builder Hans Lampe . The redesign of the east gable as a display facade goes back to him.

The west gable, designed by the Hildesheim master builder Wolter in 1590, is characterized by Gothic elements and has a rather simple design, while the east gable, created in the years 1590–1591 by the sculptors Balthasar Kircher and Jürgen Röttger , is already in the Renaissance style. This east gable is one of the most important works of Renaissance architecture in Lower Saxony .

Gewandhaus with the former Rüninger customs house (right, behind the tree), seen from the north.
West facade

In the course of time, the Gewandhaus had various purposes. T. granary and finally storage for all kinds of things. In the 19th century the Gewandhaus was used as a warehouse and wine shop, and as a sales room during the Braunschweig trade fairs . With the Caspari Treaty from 1858, it became state property and was sold to the city of Braunschweig in 1907.

In 1905, the owners of the buildings that directly adjoined the south side of the Gewandhaus approached the city with the plan to demolish these mostly small, dilapidated half-timbered houses from the Middle Ages so that new buildings could be built there. This would have structurally u. U. can bring considerable disadvantages for the Gewandhaus and therefore after lengthy negotiations between the city, the ducal government and the IHK, the following solution was reached in 1906: The IHK Braunschweig acquired the old houses on the south side to become an office building there to be able to erect. The city of Braunschweig in turn acquired the Gewandhaus, which was the property of the so-called “chamber property” of the ducal government, with the obligation to permanently preserve the artistically and art-historically valuable parts of the building. Furthermore, the city grants the Chamber of Commerce and Industry a right of usufruct over the building for an indefinite period of time in return for the maintenance of the structural condition and the taxes to be paid .

Shortly afterwards, the stalls and half-timbered houses in the street food stall were demolished. Instead of this, a new building was built for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which was largely adapted to the architecture of the Gewandhaus. The new offices of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce were handed over to their destination in 1910.

As a result of numerous air raids in 1944, the Gewandhaus burned down completely, only the east facade remained. The row of houses originally built from quarry stone on the north side of the Gewandhaus, consisting of seven half-timbered houses built since 1470, was also completely destroyed in 1944. The upper part of the east gable finally collapsed on a stormy night in 1946. Then the security measures began on the sad remains of the building.

Between 1948 and 1950, the Gewandhaus was reconstructed by architects and sculptors Friedrich Wilhelm Kraemer , Jakob Hofmann , Kurt Edzard and Karl Paul Egon Schiffers , and some modern forms were added. One of the mask heads on the east gable of the Gewandhaus bears the facial features of Pablo Picasso and another is a self-portrait of one of the sculptors involved. Originally, stone reliefs depicting pendants made of fruit were placed under all stone heads. During the reconstruction, the fruit relief under the head attached in the gable triangle to the right of the lower arched window was replaced by a stone relief of a bundle of orders. In a brochure from 1953 about the reconstruction of the Gewandhaus, the intention of the sculptor in question in 1946 is explained as follows: “ ... what would have been sacrificed at the time was the idealism of young people and so he hung up as a victim of good faith Bundle of medals and decorations to the appropriate place. "

Friedrich Wilhelm Kraemer restored the north wall of the Gewandhaus, which gives the elongated north wall a striking and varied appearance thanks to the irregular arrangement of the windows both horizontally and vertically and their changing distances and different sizes.

The Krambuden on the north facade of the Gewandhaus, on the left in the picture.
Etching by Anton August Beck , 1776

The half-timbered house on the north-western part of the Gewandhaus front, which is diagonally opposite the choir of the Martini church , is the former Rüningen customs house from 1643. After it was dismantled in Rüningen , it was opened in 1948–1950 rebuilt at the old town market in order to partially close the gap left by the bombing war in 1944. The height and appearance of the customs house was subsequently adapted to the Krambuden, which had been on the north side of the Gewandhaus since 1470.

The renaissance portal of the former pharmacy on Hagenmarkt , built in 1590, is attached to this half-timbered house . This portal bears a crest cartouche with the Brunswick lion in which a small wheel with knives can be seen over the lion's shoulder. This wheel is one of the attributes of St. Catherine , who is the patron saint of the soft picture Hagen and the Brunswick Katharinenkirche .

In 1976 the facade of the Gewandhaus was renovated.

Construction of the east facade

East facade
Quod tibi hoc alteri

The east facade is formed from a square with an equilateral triangle on top. It is designed as a display wall and divided into four floors, which are divided into three axes by columns and present as low cornices.

The low floors inside the building had to be brought into harmony with the steep lines of a gable facade. The sculptors achieved this by emphasizing the central axis and cleverly combining vertical and horizontal elements.

The lowest storey is an open hall designed as an arcade supported by three basket arches . The three floors above are divided vertically by slender columns, which show rectangular windows arranged in pairs on the right and left and in the middle have windows with basket arches that emphasize the axis.

Above it is a four-storey gable adorned with ornamented pilasters and herms . Here, too, windows with basket arches are inserted in the middle, each flanked by two narrow rectangular windows. Above this, the city coat of arms with the Braunschweig lion is attached to a fixed point determined by triangulature in a cartridge . In addition to the coat of arms, the gable also bears two inscription panels : on the one hand, Anno 1590 , on the other hand, a panel with the inscription Quod tibi hoc alteri (“what for you, that for others too”).

On the ends of the cornices are the figures of two warriors with halberds in their hands, above - alternately with small obelisks - personifications of the virtues hope ( Spes ) and bravery ( Fortitudo ). The gable is crowned by a figure of Justice ( Justitia ) holding scales and a sword in her hands.

The Haus zum Ritter in Heidelberg , built in 1592, has a structure similar to that of the gable of the Gewandhaus, and in 1892 the gable structure served as a template for the modeled Renaissance elements of a bank at the Martini Church in Brunswick. The facades of the Viktoriahaus in Dresden, built in 1891/92 (destroyed in 1945), were also developed from the example of the Gewandhaus east gable.

The east gable was restored in 1857 and 1858.

In a brochure about the reconstruction of the Gewandhaus from 1953, the harmonious structure of the east gable of the Gewandhaus is described as follows: Rarely has wealth and splendor been presented so simply in a German Renaissance building, and strict formal design relaxed as in this piece of a specifically German one. Classic ' .


  • Elmar Arnhold: Gewandhaus In: Medieval metropolis Braunschweig. Architecture and urban architecture from the 11th to 15th centuries. Appelhans Verlag, Braunschweig 2018, ISBN 978-3-944939-36-0 , pp. 194-195.
  • Karl Birker: The geometric structure of the east side of the Gewandhaus in Braunschweig. Attempt at an interpretation. , Braunschweig 1984.
  • H. Funke: The gable of the Gewandhaus , In: Braunschweig. Reports from cultural life 1964. Issue 1, pages 20-25.
  • IHK Braunschweig (ed.): The Gewandhaus in Braunschweig. From "Kophus der Wandtsnidere der Altstadt" to the "Braunschweig Chamber of Commerce and Industry" , Braunschweig undated (around 1933)
  • Günter Jahn: The old town market in Braunschweig. History and stories , (= Braunschweig City Archives and City Library. Small writings; Volume 18), Braunschweig 1988
  • Erich Walter Lotz : The reconstruction of the Gewandhaus in Braunschweig. Special print from “Baumeister”, issue 11, November 1953, Munich.
  • Norman-Mathias Pingel: Gewandhaus. In: Luitgard Camerer , Manfred Garzmann , Wolf-Dieter Schuegraf (eds.): Braunschweiger Stadtlexikon . Joh. Heinr. Meyer Verlag, Braunschweig 1992, ISBN 3-926701-14-5 , p. 88 .
  • Arnold Rabbow: Three lost lions. A magnificent portal with a puzzling coat of arms sculpture on the Gewandhaus in Braunschweig. In: Braunschweiger Zeitung of July 30, 1985.
  • KW Sack: The Gewandhaus on the old town market in Braunschweig and the conditions in the city itself in 1590. In: Braunschweigisches Magazin 1958, pages 407–422 and 451–486.

Web links

Commons : Gewandhaus  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 52 ° 15 ′ 45 ″  N , 10 ° 31 ′ 3 ″  E