Helmstedt (German pronunciation: [ˈhɛlmˌʃtɛt]) is a town on the eastern edge of the German state of Lower Saxony. It is the capital of the District of Helmstedt. The historic university and Hanseatic city conserves an important monumental heritage of Romanesque and Renaissance buildings, as well as numerous timber framed houses. During the German partition the nearby Bundesautobahn 2 was the site of the Helmstedt–Marienborn border crossing, the most important on the former inner German border as starting point of the shortest land route between West Germany and West Berlin.

Juleum Novum, building of the former University of Helmstedt

Coat of arms
Location of Helmstedt within Helmstedt district
Coordinates: 52°13′41″N 11°00′38″E
StateLower Saxony
First mentioned952
Subdivisions8 Boroughs
  MayorWittich Schobert (CDU)
  Total66.54 km2 (25.69 sq mi)
123 m (404 ft)
  Density390/km2 (1,000/sq mi)
Time zoneCET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes
Dialling codes05351
Vehicle registrationHE


Helmstedt is situated in a basin between the Elm and Lappwald hill ranges, at the transition area between the northern foothills of the Harz mountains and the North German Plain. It is surrounded by the Elm-Lappwald Nature Park. The town centre is located about 36 kilometres (22 mi) east of Braunschweig, 45 kilometres (28 mi) west of Magdeburg, and 90 kilometres (56 mi) east of the state capital Hanover.

The municipal area includes the localities of Barmke and Emmerstedt, both incorporated by a 1974 administrative reform, and Büddenstedt, incorporated in 2017, as well as the resort town of Bad Helmstedt, about 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) east of the town centre. Helmstedt currently has about 25,000 inhabitants (2015).


The settlement in the Duchy of Saxony was first mentioned as Helmonstede in a 952 deed issued by the German king Otto I. In former times also called Helmstädt, the town developed in the vicinity of the Benedictine St. Ludger's Abbey that was founded around 800 by Saint Liudger as a mission station. Helmstedt's town privileges were documented in 1247. It belonged to the Abbacy of Werden until 1490, when it was bought by the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg. From 1576 to 1810, the University of Helmstedt was located here.

From the late 1940s to 1990, the town was the site of a major border crossing between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic. The main rail and autobahn route between West Germany and Berlin, across the GDR, began at the Helmstedt–Marienborn border crossing, also known as Checkpoint Alpha. Official military traffic from NATO countries to West Berlin was only allowed to use this route.


The town lies on the Brunswick-Magdeburg railway.

Famous citizens

In addition, see the list of famous students and professors of the University of Helmstedt.

Twin towns - sister cities

Helmstedt is twinned:[2]


  • Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Helmstedt" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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