Bergen is a town in the north of Celle district on the Lüneburg Heath in Lower Saxony, Germany. The infamous Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was located not far from Belsen, one of several farming villages in the borough.
Bergen is a former agricultural town, but today is economically heavily dependent on the surrounding military bases and the Bergen-Hohne Training Area to the west, which is the largest military training area in Western Europe.
Bergen was first mentioned in 1197 and was a centre of local government, the seat of the sheriff (Amtsvogtei) and, later, the Royal Hanoverian Office. After the Kingdom of Hanover was annexed by Prussia in 1866, Bergen was absorbed into Fallingbostel district. In the reorganisation of 1885, however, Bergen was transferred into the newly formed Celle district.
Bergen's development as a market town was rather slow during the Middle Ages and the early part of the Modern Age, hampered by serious fires in 1354, 1585 and 1796, but the agricultural reform in the 19th century and the town's connection to the Celle–Soltau railway led to far-reaching changes. The biggest change, however, was the creation of Bergen-Hohne Training Area in 1935 by the Nazis, which led to Bergen's transformation from an agriculturally-based village into the small town it is today, characterised by trade and commerce with agriculture having largely lost its significance. Until 2015, it was home to a British base, the Bergen-Hohne Garrison, which hosted up to 5,000 soldiers.
Today Bergen is a local borough town in the northern part of Celle district and is, after Celle, the only political entity in the district, having been granted town status in 1957. During the community reorganisation of 1971, Bergen was given responsibility for the parishes of Becklingen, Belsen, Bleckmar, Diesten, Dohnsen, Eversen, Hagen, Hassel, Nindorf, Offen, Sülze and Wardböhmen. That significantly increased the size of its population and area. Today around 13,000 people live in the town of Bergen (2019).
- 1 Tourist-Information Bergen, Deichend 3-7, ☏ +49 50 51 47 90. M-F 10:00-13:00, Tu & Th also 15:00-17:00, Sa (Jul-Sep only) 10:00-12:00.
Bergen is located on the main B3 route which runs from north to south between Soltau and Celle. Access from Hanover centre (the nearest city) is via the A37 which connects to the B3 in a north-easterly direction. The journey is approximately 70 km and take around 50 minutes.
Driving from Bremen will take you on the A27 autobahn which connects to the A7 to the south-east of Walsrode. The A7 runs south for a further 14 km and the junction for the Celle route is Buchholz. The B214 from Buchholz to Celle centre is a direct route with a distance of 28 km and an average driving time of 30 minutes.
Travelling from the north (Hamburg) is also via the A7 and the junction to the south-east of Soltau leads directly onto the B3. The B3 route to Bergen is a journey of approximately 100 km taking 1 hour through very pleasant undulating countryside.
Bergen predominantly has street parking. However there is additional off-street parking behind the main shopping area, accessible by taking the turning opposite the Sparkasse bank and then turning right opposite the bakery. All parking in Bergen is free.
CeBus operates local buses from Celle to Bergen (line 100) with hourly departures on weekdays and a couple of departures on Saturday, Sunday and holidays. There is also the Entdecker Bus for tourists, which runs through the villages in the region and goes as far as Celle railway station.
Bergen's railway stations are exclusively for freight. The nearest passenger train station is located in Celle and there you can connect to the main rail system with trains to the major cities of Hamburg and Hanover which is where you will also find the nearest international airports. Celle Bahnhof runs a variety of localised trains and is also a stop for the ICE trains running on the Hamburg to Hanover route. Trains to Hanover and Hamburg stop hourly at the station as do individual ICE trains during busy periods. Metronom trains link Celle to Uelzen, Hanover and Göttingen as part of the regional transport network. Celle is also the terminus for routes S6 and S7 of the Hanover S-Bahn network. Links to the east and west are not part of the structured Bahnhof system so Hanover is the better option for travelling more extensively around the area.
The nearest airport to Bergen is Hanover (HAJ IATA) which is a main international airport with regular flights from most European capitals and major cities. The airport is situated in Langenhagen which is 11 km to the north of Hanover centre and has easy access to the autobahn. To Bergen is a further 55 km from Hanover airport with an estimated driving time of 55 minutes. Hanover airport is also accessible by a combination of trains, buses and taxis.
Also in the region is Bremen (BRE IATA) which has many of the budget airlines operating regular flights from most European countries. The airport is located close to the city centre and there is a tram which departs every 5 to 10 minutes (on Sunday evenings up to 30 min) to Bremen city centre and the journey takes 11 min and costs €2.30. This airport is also close to the autobahn, but is 114 km and a 75-minute journey to Celle centre.
Hamburg Airport (HAM IATA) is the nearest major airport even serving long-haul flights. From there, you can take the S-Bahn to Hamburg Hauptbahnhof, a train to Celle and a bus to Bergen like described in the sections above.
Bergen is not a large town and one can walk to most places quite easily. There is no local public transport but there are plenty of taxis available. The nearest railway station is at Celle. For information on events and things going on in town, you can pick up information at the town hall (Rathaus) or go to Bergen Online; most parts of the site are in English and give details of most local events.
There is also the Entdecker Bus, a tourist bus running through the villages in the region going as far as Celle railway station. This is a subsidised route for the holiday season and normally runs from the end of June until mid-October, costing around €3 per person per day with children under 14 travelling free. For this, you can board/alight throughout the day at any of the predetermined stops. You may also take your bicycle as there is space allocated for them.
- 1 Africa Museum (Afrikamuseum), Buhrnstraße 9, Bergen-Sülze (near Bergen, in the village of Sülze), ☏ +49 5054 1209. by appointment through Eva and Stefan in der Beek. Founded about a century ago by a school teacher, now maintained by a couple who has lived for long periods in Africa, this museum presents the nature and culture of sub-Saharan Africa. Exhibits include stuffed animals and animal parts, photos, paintings and other artwork. Free.
- 2 Forestry Museum (Waldarbeitmuseum), Becklingen 7 (In the village of Becklingen, north of Bergen), ☏ +49 5051 8260. Apr-Sep: daily 14:00-17:00. Learn about the local forests and the forestry, from logging to planting new trees. There are tools, photos, and documents on display.
- 3 Römstedthaus Local History Museum (Heimatmuseum Römstedthaus), Am Friedensplatz 7, ☏ +49 5051 6612, +49 5051 479-47. Apr-Jun+Oct: Tu-F 09:30-12:00, Tu-Th 15:00-17:00; Jul-Sep: Tu-F 09:30-12: 00 and 15:00-17:00; Sa/Su 10:00-12:00 and 14:30-16:30. Discover local and regional history at this museum housed in a 350-year old farmhouse.
- 4 Siddernhausen Dolmen (Großsteingrab bei Siddernhausen). The dolmen or megalithic (large stone) gravesite dates to the Late Funnelbeaker culture (3,000-2,700 BC.)
- 5 Sieben Steinhäuser (Großsteingrabanlage) (in the middle of the Bergen-Hohne Training Area, signed from Ostenholz and the tank ring road near Fallingbostel). The "Sieben Steinhäusern" is a megalithic gravesite consisting of five massive stone tombs on the Bergen-Hohne military Training Area near Ostenholz. At normal circumstances, the site is only accessible at weekends due to military presence during the weekdays.
- 6 Wohlde Bronze Age Barrows (Bronzezeitliches Hügelgrab bei Wohlde). In the woods and pastures around Wohlde there are around 45 barrows (prehistoric burial mounds) from the Early Bronze Age (ca. 1,500-1,200 BC.)
- 7 Bergen-Belsen concentration camp (Gedenkstätte Bergen-Belsen), Anne-Frank-Platz,29303 Lohheide (10 minutes from Bergen, just south of the village of Belsen), ☏ +49 5051 47 59-0, fax: +49 5051 47 59-118, Bergen-Belsen@stiftung-ng.de. Apr-Sep: 10:00-18:00, Oct-Mar: 10:00-17:00. The infamous Belsen concentration camp, liberated by British forces in 1945, is now a memorial site with a comprehensive visitor centre. Today, only the sombre mounds of mass graves remain along with various monuments to those who died; the original camp was razed by the British after its survivors had been rescued and, in most cases, temporarily housed in the nearby barracks of Lager Hohne. The suffering of Anne Frank and her diary are associated worldwide with the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen, and at the site there's a memorial gravestone of Anne and her sister Margot. See also Holocaust remembrance.
- 8 Schutzenplatz (off Lange Str, set back away from the road, near the junction of the Stadthaus). The Schutzenplatz is a large building surrounded by a small woodland park. It is used for festivals and open area events throughout the year.
- 9 BurgerPlatz (Located behind the white church on Bergen main street.). Surrounded by trees and bushes, this grassy area is a safe and peaceful space, with a playground for the children and a pond where you can feed the ducks. Easily accessible by bike.
- 10 St Lambertus, Am Friedensplatz 1, ☏ +49 5051 2025. The Church of St Lambertus is the Lutheran town church in Bergen. Built in 1826, it is a three-naved building with low ceilings over the galleries. It was extended eastwards in 1900. The separately standing clock tower dates from 1728.
- Historic Bergen Trail (Historischer Rundgang durch Bergen). Follow this historic trail around Bergen with 11 stops where information boards tell the story behind each of the historic houses en route. Or just enjoy the circular walk around the town!
- The stops are:
- . St. Lambertus Church (St.Lambertikirche), Am Friedensplatz 2;
- . Dairy Farm (Müller-Meierhof), Lukenstraße 5;
- . Gasthaus Kohlmann, Lukenstraße 6;
- . Town Community Centre (Stadthaus), Lange Straße 1;
- . Town Archives (Stadtarchiv), Am Museum 2;
- . Preceptor's House (Präzeptorhaus), Schulstraße 10-12;
- . Römstedthaus Local History Museum (Heimatmuseum Römstedthaus), Am Friedensplatz 7;
- . Four-poster farmhouse (Vierständerhaus), Deichend 14;
- . French Barracks (Franzosenkaserne), Deichend 16;
- . Town Hall (Rathaus) Deichend 5-7;
- . Registry Office (Standesamt), Deichend 3.
- 1 2Rad, Am Falksmoor 3, ☏ +49 5051 8367. Bicycles can be rented by the day or week from the local bicycle shop.
Many of the villages in the region (accessed in summer by the Entdecker Bus mentioned above) have nature walks detailed on their tourist information boards, which also advises you of length of time taken.
- 2 Stadtbad Bergen, Lange Straße 52 (from the main street direction Celle, B3, at the traffic lights next to Viva's bar turn left, continue for 250 m and take Lang Straße on your right hand side). M-F 06:30-08:45, 14:00-20:00; Sa Su & holidays 08:00-13:00. A really nice indoor heated pool, ideal for all ages. Adult €3, child €1.50.
- 3 Sportpark Bergen, Hohner Kirchweg 19 (from the main street direction Celle, B3, at the traffic lights next to Viva's bar turn left, continue for 250 m and take Lang Straße on your right hand side), ☏ +49 5051 7790. Tennis, squash, various other sport, sauna, restaurant.
- 4 Stadthaus, Lange Straße 1 (Opposite Market Square, next to Rathaus; parking just off B3), ☏ +49 5051 47924. The town hall is used for numerous events including theatrical productions, live music, art & cultural exhibitions. It can also be hired out for private functions, e.g. weddings.
Celler Strasse, leading southeast towards Celle, is lined by shops. Next to that street, at the edge of town, you will find some grocery chain stores.
- 1 Edeka - E Center Bergen, Harburger Str. 30 (Directly off the B3 on the outskirts of the town.), ☏ +49 5051 470 030. Just one of the "one stop" shops in Bergen, the store contains a shoe shop, clothing shop, Bakery and of course a super market with food, Electrical and kitchen goods. The store stocks a good selection of International foods, including British for those that can't do without English tea etc.
- 2 Kaufland, Celler Straße 55 (off the B3 direction Celle, at the first set of traffic lights turn right), ☏ +49 5051 9151280. Monday to Saturday 06:00 – 22:00. Supermarket, bakery and flowers.
- 3 Netto, Bahnhofstraße 47 (from the traffic lights next to the Sparkasse Bank, take Bahnhofstraße, you will come to the store on your Left hand side before the level crossing). Monday to Saturday 07:00 – 20:00. Supermarket and bakery.
- 4 Weekly Market (opposite the Rathaus (town hall)). W 08:00-13:00, F 14:00-18:00. Farmers' market selling local produce.
- 1 Eiscafe Miriam, Celler Straße 15 (on the B3 main road opposite the opticians), ☏ +49 5051 - 6667. Bergen's main ice cream parlour. Not large or particularly cosy, but good selection of ice creams.
- 2 Desperados Mexican Steakhouse & Hotel, Lukenstraße 6, ☏ +49 5051 915180. M-Sa 17:00-23:30. No frills Mexican steakhouse. Good food at reasonable prices and they speak English, very good steaks but if you don't mind getting messy try the BBQ ribs Sunday brunches: €11.90, 12 and under: €6.
- 3 Pizzeria da Peppe, Am Friedensplatz 9, ☏ +49 5051 4475. Very pleasant and with good selection of Italian meals. Staff speaks English, German and Italian and are very helpful. Closed on Tuesdays.
- 4 Restaurant Delphi, Celler Straße 36, ☏ +49 5051 910193. A good selection of Greek dishes at a reasonable cost.
- 1 O'Reilly's, Lange Strasse 3. Irish pub.
- 2 Café am Museum, Am Friedensplatz 8. Café serving breakfast, cakes and Flammküchen (a pizza-like flatbread from the French-German border region).
- 3 Heide-Bäckerei Meyer Café Magie Bergen, Bahnhofstrasse 7. Bakery and café.
- 1 Wohnmobil-Stellplatz, Parkplatz Ziegeleiweg 9 (from the B3 direction Celle turn right at the lights just after the church onto Deichend, continue for approx 150 m then take the first street on your left (camper signed)). A small park for 6-8 campers with water and waste point. A 5-min walk into town centre, plenty of places to eat and drink.
- 2 Desperados Hotel, Lukenstr. 6 (from the B3 follow the street around the side of the church, you will see the entrance to the Hotel after approx. 150 m), ☏ +49 5051 915180. A family run hotel and restaurant with nice rooms and good value. The staff are very friendly and speak English.
- 3 Seminar Hotel Schulz, Ziegeleiweg 10 (B3 from direction Celle; from the B3 direction Celle turn right at the lights just after the church onto Deichend; continue for approx 150 m then take the first street on your left), ☏ +49 5051-98 820. Medium-priced 3-star hotel a 5-min walk from the town centre. Some staff speak English. number of rooms: 21. conference rooms
- 4 Landhotel Michaelishof, Hauptstraße 5, Often (coming from Hanover, A7 or A2, leave the A7 and follow the A37/B3 towards Burgdorf and Celle or leave the A2 and follow the B214 towards Celle; pass through Celle, always staying on the main road B3 towards Hamburg/Soltau; the Michaelishof is 20 km beyond Celle in Often; coming from Hamburg follow the A7 towards Hannover; leave the A7 at the exit Soltau-Süd, turn right onto the B3 towards Celle/Bergen; you will pass through Bergen and after 3 km you will find the Landhotel Michelishof at the entrance of Offen on your left), ☏ +49 5051 8870. A very nice 3-star hotel serving excellent food in its restaurant. Medium-priced.
- 5 C'est La Vie, Celle Straße (on the main street of Bergen near the Ice Cafe). Post office and gift store.
- 6 Apotheke (Chemist) Hirch, Celler Straße 4 (on the main street next to the Sparkasse Bank). Chemist stocking the normal range of medicines and remedies including prescription drugs. English spoken and very helpful staff.
- 7 Rossmann, Celler Straße 55 (in Kaufland), ☏ +49 5051 6064590. Drugstore/chemist.
- 2 Evangelische Freikirche, Horstweg 6, ☏ +49 5051 2268. founded in 1959, this is a modern lively church led by Pastor Eduard Neufield. Services are translated into English; you need to ask for headphones to hear the translation.
- 3 Atonement Church of the Precious Blood (Sühnekirche vom Kostbaren Blut), Hubertusstraße 2, ☏ +49 5051 3446. This is a Roman Catholic Church. The primary language is English.
Bergen is an ideal place to stay if you enjoy cycling or walking, there are numerous small roads and tracks that give you access to the largely unspoilt countryside. From most places within Bergen it will only take you a 10-min walk before you are away from the main roads and out into the woods and fields.
- Uelzen - some interesting architecture including a colourful railway station and a castle
- Hermannsburg - small town famous for its watermill
- Munster - hosting military facilities dating from the late 19th century and a tank museum
- Lüneburg - a beautiful medieval town whose buildings largely survived WWII
- Soltau - best known for Heide Park, one of Germany's largest theme parks
- Celle - another medieval city with timber-framed houses and a royal history
- Hanover - the capital of Lower Saxony with a range of things to see and do