Eight questions for…

Lothar Meyer-Mertel, Hildesheim municipal tourism manager

When I visit the World Heritage Site of Hildesheim, what should I definitely not miss?

The World Heritage Site in Hildesheim is divided between St. Mary's cathedral and St. Michael's Church and is related mainly to the ceiling painting in St. Michael's and the bronze and metal treasures of St. Mary's cathedral. If you want to tell people about them, of course you have to have seen them. Sadly, because of refurbishment work the cathedral exhibits are currently scattered across Hildesheim. But that is a good excuse to get to know the town a little better.

What do you particularly like here?

The Bernwardsäule, a bronze pillar, and the Bernwardstür, a bronze door, which can be seen in St. Michael's Church - as well as the Roemer- and Pelizaeus-Museum. These give you the chance to admire the craftsmanship of the old bronze founders of Hildesheim. At that time the art of creating three dimensional figures was a method that had been brought all the way from the orient and was a heavily guarded secret for many years. Even today the method is surprising, if you can figure out how it works.

Do you have an insider tip?

My tip would be to take time for the secret of St. Michael's Church. The ground plan for this 1,000-year-old church follows a geometrical pattern. Experts believe that the number system is based on theories of harmony and musical intervals of antiquity. It is exciting to count pillars or rows of windows, or measure intermediary spaces and spatial proportions, and find a logical sequence of numbers every time. You feel as though you are in a very harmonious place.

What impressed you most during your first visit here?

I often came to Hildesheim as a student many years ago. Back then I was very impressed by the ancient Egyptian collection at the Roemer- and Pelizaeus-Museum. It is one of the biggest such collections in Germany.

Which time of the year is the most attractive here?

The Thousand-Year Rosebush that grows in the inner court wall of the eastern apse of St. Mary's cathedral is very special to the Hildesheim World Heritage Site. According to legend, in 815, Emperor Louis the Pious founded the diocese, and with it the town, at this spot. Even if the rosebush is biologically not the same one as it was 1,200 years ago, most people from Hildesheim to this day are convinced that their town will only exist as long as the rose grows. It blooms only once a year for a short time - usually end of May or beginning of June.

What else should I see here?

You should see the historical market square. Following widespread destruction after the Second World War, it was restored according to historical plans. You can see some stunning original buildings in the Godehardi quarter, which is in the new town around the church of the same name - in Hildesheim, this "new town" is still part of the old town. There are some very attractive corners to be discovered there.

Visiting World Heritage sites means working up an appetite. What regional specialty should I try?

Lower Saxony's famous hard cured sausages have their admirers in Hildesheim too. Many rustic eateries will offer them as part of a traditional butcher's platter, like the Butcher's guildhall on the market square. Those who prefer finer dining will find an extensive range of good quality regionally produced meats at the Nile restaurant in the Roemer- and Pelizaeus-Museum.

And which World Heritage Site would you like to see one day?

As my work involves World Heritage Sites, I've managed to visit most of them in Germany already. The only one in Germany I have yet to see is the prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps. This site goes beyond Germany's borders and encompasses pile dwellings in France, Italy, Austria and Slovenia. There is so much to discover there.

Lothar Meyer-Mertel

was born in the World Heritage city of Lübeck.

His work as a cultural scholar often takes him, among other places, to Weimar - another World Heritage Site. Today the communications expert is tourism manager for the World Heritage city of Hildesheim. One of his many tasks is to make more people interested in Hildesheim's World Heritage Sites.