Wolfenbüttel, city (1994 pop. 53,812), Lower Saxony, N central Germany, on the Oker River, near the former East German border. It is an agricultural market and an industrial center. Manufactures include agricultural machinery, chemicals, and musical equipment. Wolfenbüttel developed around an 11th-century castle that became (c.1280) a favorite Guelphic residence. It was the residence of the dukes of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (see Brunswick, state) from 1432 to 1753. The famous ducal library, founded in the 17th cent., contains about 350,000 volumes, some 3,000 incunabula, and more than 8,000 manuscripts. Its librarians included Leibniz (1690-1716) and G. E. Lessing (1770-81). Lessing's house, in which he wrote Nathan the Wise, still stands. The city's noteworthy buildings include the former ducal palace (15th-18th cent.; now a museum), a 17th-century church, and numerous 17th-century half-timber houses.

Wolfenbüttel is a town in Lower Saxony, Germany, located on the Oker river about 13 kilometres south of Brunswick. It is the seat of the District of (Landkreis) Wolfenbüttel and of the bishop of the Protestant Lutheran State Church of Brunswick. It is also the southernmost of the 172 towns in northern Germany whose names end in büttel, meaning "residence" or "settlement."


It is not known when Wolfenbüttel was founded, but it was first mentioned in 1118 as Wulferisbutle. The first settlement was probably restricted to a tiny islet in the Oker river.

Wolfenbüttel became the residence of the dukes of Brunswick in 1432. Over the following three centuries it grew to be a centre of the arts, and personages such as Michael Praetorius, Johann Rosenmüller, Gottfried Leibniz, and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing lived there. The ducal court eventually returned to Braunschweig in 1753 and Wolfenbüttel subsequently lost in importance.

The Battle of Wolfenbüttel, part of the Thirty Years' War, was fought here in June 1641, when the Swedes under Wrangel and the Count of Königsmark defeated the Austrians under Archduke Leopold of Habsburg.

Main sights

  • The baroque Schloss (castle). In 1866 the castle became the Anna-Vorwerk-School for girls. Today part of the building is used as a high school; it also houses a great example of Baroque state apartments, which are open to the public as a museum.
  • Herzog August Bibliothek (HAB), the ducal library, has one of the largest and best-known collections of ancient books in the world. It is especially rich in bibles, incunabula, and books of the Reformation period, with some 10,000 manuscripts. It was founded in 1572 and rehoused in an interpretation of the Pantheon in 1723, built facing the castle; the present library building was constructed in 1886. Leibniz and Lessing worked in this library, Lessing as librarian. The Codex Carolinus in the library is one of the few remaining texts in Gothic. The library also houses the bible of Henry the Lion, a book preserved in near mint condition from the year 1170.

The town is also the location of the former Northampton Barracks, which housed units of the B.A.O.R. until 1993 (postcode: BFPO 33).

Today Wolfenbüttel is smaller than the neighbouring cities of Braunschweig, Salzgitter, and Wolfsburg, but, because it was largely undamaged by the war, its downtown is rich in half-timber buildings, many dating several centuries back, and it still retains its historical character.


Wolfenbüttel is home of several departments of the University of Applied Sciences Brunswick/Wolfenbütteland the Lessing-Akademie, an organisation for the study of Lessing's works. It is also home to the Niedersächsische Staatsarchiv, the state archives of Lower Saxony.

The herb liqueur Jägermeister is distilled in Wolfenbüttel and the headquarters is still located there.

Twin cities

A bridge in Wolfenbüttel is named after each of these cities.


  • Grunow, Heinz and Wessel, Wolfgang. Wolfenbüttel: ein Bildband. Grenzland-Verlag Rock & Co., Wolfenbüttel. 1977

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