Braunschweig’s origins as a market town remain embedded in the city’s architecture and street names. The road “Eiermarkt” (Egg Market) leads onto the square where coal was traded, which is on the other side of the Martini church to the Altstadtmarkt (Old Town Market or Square). The fountain at the centre of the market square is fed by natural spring water and was the town’s drinking water source for many years.
The south side of the square consists of a long, single building, quite boring looking and covered in scaffolding, which is why I did not take any pictures of it. I did of its west and east facades, without realising the importance of the building they flank. It is the Gewandhaus, “Garment House”, the home and store for the textiles sold in the market. To ensure fair trading, the official “Braunschweiger Elle” was embedded in a pillar of the Town Hall on the north side of the market. The standard ell by which anything sold by length in the market was to be measured with. It is now the home to the local Chamber of Commerce.
A half-timbered customs house, originally built in 1643 was reconstructed on the corner of the Gewandhaus from 1948 – 50. Much of central Braunschweig suffered bomb damage in the Second World War, so rebuilding bomb damage with preservation-worthy buildings was attractive.
The ongoing trade in wool and textiles is also apparent in the old Newtown (alte Neustadt) district to the east of the old town. This is the home to the old city scales building, which fell out of use in 1671. It also suffered bomb damage in 1944 and the reconstruction to its old form was completed in 1994. It is now the local adult education centre, home to the Volkshochschule.