After nearly a millennium of habit BRAUNSCHWEIG routinely tags itself “Die Löwenstadt”. The lion refers to Saxon duke Henry the Lion (Heinrich der Löwe), a giant of twelfth-century Europe who commanded the last great independent duchy of fledgling Germany. His territory comprised a great swathe north to Kiel – he founded Lübeck and Lüneburg among other towns – and much of present-day Bavaria; Munich is another of his creations. His capital, however, was Braunschweig, and the high points of the state’s second largest city after Hannover are intrinsically bound up with its founder despite an illustrious history that again flared into brilliance in the mid-1700s as a ducal Residenzstadt. However, Braunschweig is not the most instantly appealing destination in the state – as the epicentre of Lower Saxony’s industry, it was badly damaged in 1944. But as a major transport junction it is one you’re sure to pass through and there are a couple of appealing day-trips to Wolfenbüttel and Wolfsburg within half an hour.