Göttingen in February: Things to do, culture, events

Hello and welcome back.

I hope you all enjoyed a good start to the new year.

I have to admit that I had a lovely January, seeing as I escaped some of the cold weather by taking two weeks off to spend in the sun. Which brings me to my first point – take your vacation days! I know that as PhD students we often feel pressured to work more hours and finish our experiments as early as humanly possible. However, you’re probably already working over-hours and all the while being underpaid for the hours that you are doing, so at least take all the vacation days that you’re given. And if you receive a stipend, take as many days as you could with a contract. You don’t have to use all of the vacation days to travel somewhere fancy, even a staycation can do wonders for your wellbeing. So go ahead and check how many vacation days you still have from last year and when they expire, and go out to enjoy some days outside the lab, you have earned it!

Now, as for what you can actually do with your holidays (and other free evenings and weekends) in the city. This month we will concentrate on things to do within our beloved University.

First off, the botanical gardens. The old botanical gardens, established in 1736 by Albrecht von Haller, is one of the oldest attractions our University has to offer. It is open daily between 08:00-16:00, and entrance is free of charge. You can find the old botanical garden at Untere Karspüle 2. After visiting the gardens, I would recommend a visit to the Café Botanik, right next to the entrance.

And If you’ve already frequented the old gardens so many times that you can practically name all of the 17.000 different plants there, you could always visit the new experimental botanical garden at the north campus. The outside areas are always open, and you can visit the Alpinehouse between 9:00-15:00 (unfortunately, though, the experimental greenhouses are not open to the public).

Datei:Alter Botanischer Garten der Universität Göttingen 019.jpg

Another attraction our University has to offer is the historical observatory “Sternwarte”, where Carl Friedrich Gauß worked and lived between 1816 to 1855, serving as its first director. You can find the observatory at Geismar Landstraße 11. It was recently renovated according to the old plans from 1886. The observatory now hosts the Lichtenberg College and can be visited with booked tours .

And last bit not least, the University of Göttingen also has quite a few impressive collections you could roam through. For example, the Blechschmidt collection of human embryos, which is (moderately) famous worldwide. It is located in the Anatomy building at Kreuzbergring 36, and is open Monday through Friday from 8:00-18:00. You can visit this collection free of charge. If you’re already there, you might also consider checking out the Blumenbach collection of skulls, with more than 800 skulls and replicas to see.

If human remnants isn’t really your thing, you might want to take a look at the collection of mathematical models and instruments at the mathematical Institute Bunsenstraße 3-5, open Monday through Friday from 8:00-19:00. Here you can see over 500 exhibits including geometrical models, calculators, drawing tools and mechanical models dating all the way back to 1780, with most exhibits dating from 1870-1920. And lastly ,the Institute for Astrophysics offers tours once a month through a collection of astrophysical tools, both historical and modern.


On Sunday the 9th of February at 11:00 you can join a tour through the assembly hall and the old detention center of the University at Wilhelmsplatz, to get a glance at where they used to detain misbehaving students. The tour lasts one hour, and the meeting point is the stairs to the building (Wilhelmsplatz1). No registration is required.

For something a bit more lively, on the 13th of February Göttingen will hold this year’s three-minute-thesis competition, where PhD students present their work in only three minutes. The presentations start at 17:00 and are expected to go until 19:00 at ZHG001, just show up and support your peers. Last year’s winner in Göttingen went on to win the 2019 CG 3MT competition in Krakow.

Image result for three minute thesis coimbra group

And if you’re already out enjoying the presentations at the central campus, you can continue the social spree and go hang out at APEX (Burgstraße 46) for a Postdoc Social (PhD students are welcome too), which starts at 18:00. There will even be some finger food and a free drink for the early birds.

With this, I hope I have given you some inspiration to use what the University has to offer and enjoy some of your vacation days exploring the city.

Ronja Markworth

PhD candidate, Neuroscience, University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG)

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