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Spring in Oldenburg – The Kale Capital – Germany

Spring in Oldenburg – The Kale Capital – Germany

  • In the northern German university town of Oldenburg, you will learn all about kale, but also about the city's Danish heritage. A perfect day trip from Bremen for a guided kale tour or a sparkling Christmas market.

Kale may not have been the main thing on our minds when we stopped in the town of Oldenburg on a cold day in early March, but in Oldenburg you will learn a lot about the vitamin-packed green leaves – whether you want to or not!

Oldenburg is a bubbling university town west of Bremen with just under 200.000 inhabitants. Actually, maybe I should rather say it's a German town on the border with the Netherlands, considering how many signs with Dutch specialties and Dutch names are here. Also, the city's tourist office only has information on its website in German and Dutch, so it's probably not too wild a guess that most of the tourists are from the Netherlands.

Although Oldenburg is 4 km from the sea, neither sailboats nor container ships are an unusual sight in the city. Oldenburg has one of Lower Saxony's busiest ports and the Hunte and Weser canals feed the large ships into the port area. However, the canal is not a nice place for a dip, so if you want to cool off on a hot summer day, you need to aim for a nearby lake or the sea.

Oldenburg is a green city with parks and green areas around every corner and with a large car-free inner city where you as a visitor can easily discover all the sights on foot. If it's a chilly day, it's tempting to sit down at one of the many restaurants and cafes and order a hearty and warming lunch. It's often said that the best part of winter in northern Germany is that it's kale season, so if you want to blend in, order some local kale dish.

Kale (Grünkohl) has been cultivated in the area around Oldenburg since at least the 14th century and is mainly served well cooked in broth together with sausage, but you'll also find kale in smoothies, chips and soups. For those who want to learn more about this healthy cabbage, there are all the possibilities in Oldenburg – from guided kale tours to courses at the Grünkohl Academy Oldenburg and cooking courses dedicated solely to kale.

Kale is affectionately known in the area as the "Oldenburg palm" and in autumn the fields around the city are full of the large palm-like vegetables. Cabbage should ideally be harvested after the first frost, then it will be at its crispest and tastiest.

Although kale cannot be completely ignored in Oldenburg (even the souvenir socks have kale designs!), the town has an interesting history and many cozy streets and an abundance of cafes. When the temperature permits, the outdoor dining areas at Rathausplatz and at the Lappan are filled to the brim with visitors and the ice-cream making is going hot in every corner.

By the way, did you know that the town of Oldenburg belonged to Denmark during the 18th century? Or that today's Danish royal family is directly descended from the German family Oldenburg? Oldenburg has a lot in its history that has influenced us Nordics throughout the ages.

My five favorites in Oldenburg

Oldenburg is perfect for a day trip from Bremen or Hamburg and you can easily see the city's main sights in one day. If we had visited Oldenburg during the summer months, we could easily have spent a few more hours at outdoor dining or strolling through the floral splendor of the castle gardens and botanical gardens.

Oldenburg Castle

One of Oldenburg's biggest attractions is the yellow castle on the edge of the city centre. The first stone for the current castle was laid in 1583 and over the years the castle has both changed its appearance and been expanded. For more than a hundred years, the castle has been home to a museum - Landesmuseum Art & Culture.

Close to the castle is the castle garden, where the rhododendron bloom during the month of May should be a highlight. On a cold day in March, we were not treated to so much floral splendor, but during the summer months a visit here is a must.

Church of St. Lamberti

One of the grandest buildings in the city is the church of St. Lamberti. The church is located in the middle of the town hall square and, with its 86 meters, is the tallest building in the city. The five towers rise above the rooftops and the square outside is always full of life.

During Christmas you will find classic Christmas atmosphere here at the Lamberti market, a Christmas market with over 100 market stalls and with the guaranteed aroma of mulled wine and roasted almonds.

Degodehaus

At the end of the summer of 1676, Oldenburg was hit by a devastating fire, but some houses survived the flames. One of these houses is the Degodehaus, a medieval half-timbered house from 1502. The house's name comes from the merchant Degode, who once had a trading booth in the house and roasted coffee.

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The note

The Lappan is a stately brick tower that rises in the northern city center of Oldenburg. Lappan was actually founded as a nursing home for the needy in the 14th century, but during the 15th century the home received a lavish refurbishment and thus the impressive tower that still stands there today was built. Today, the Lappan is a symbol of the city and a landmark that welcomes visitors to explore Oldenburg.

Today you will find Oldenburg's tourist information in the building behind the tower.

Graf-Anton-Günther-Haus

On the facade of a building that is nowadays a hotel, you will find a well-preserved painting of Count Anton Günter who, in the 17th century, helped the town of Oldenburg keep the peace through the 30 Years War and increase both trade and the production of goods and crafts.

How do I get to Oldenburg?

Oldenburg is about an hour's drive west of Bremen and it is easy and quick to travel here by train from both Bremen and Hamburg. The city is perfect for a day trip and has just the right amount of attractions within the reasonably sized city centre.

For those with a car, there is plenty of parking around the train station.

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