About the open-air museum

Founded 33 years ago, discovered 50 years ago, populated 4,000 years ago.
In 1969, earthworks were carried out on the banks of the Jeetzel (a tributary of the Elbe) for the first time. No one could have guessed what surprises would gradually emerge – until the first ceramic shards and soil-discolourations came to light. They left no room for doubt: people had already lived here thousands of years ago.
With spade and trowel

From the excavation...

The first archaeological excavations confirmed the suspicions. The floor plan of a typical longhouse that was more than 3,000 years old had been discovered – a discovery that caused a sensation in northern Germany at the time. However, the large-scale investigation had to wait for a while. In 1987, a total of 16 hectares south of the town of Hitzacker (Elbe) were placed under excavation protection. In this way, the threatened destruction of the site due to the expansion of the federal highway and the establishment of the Hitzacker Lake could just about be prevented. At the same time, this paved the way for large-scale archaeological excavations to be carried out.

… to the museum

The discovery of several floor plans of longhouses and numerous additional archaeological finds over the next few years confirmed that the site had been used by people for 4,000 years. This result was surprising and inspired us to come up with an unusual idea. In 1990 the starting signal was given for the Hitzacker Archaeological Centre, the first open-air museum in Germany dedicated exclusively to the Bronze Age.

From the settlement…

The first traces of settlement can be dated to the end of the Neolithic period (approx. 2,200 BC). But the main period of occupation lies in the following period, the Bronze Age (approx. 2,000 – 700 BC). The settlement history on this site came to an end at the beginning of the Iron Age. It was only during the Slavic occupation, dating around the 9th century AD, when this area was visited again. During the late Middle Ages the main settlement area shifted towards the island where today’s city centre is located.

Into the Bronze Age

The results of the archaeological excavations show that the main focus of the settlement history lies in the Bronze Age. Bronze, an entirely new material began to conquer the civilized world at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. Bronze: heatable, malleable and reusable. The special thing about it is that bronze cannot be mined naturally, it has to be created by fusion (alloy) of two raw materials – copper and tin.

This groundbreaking invention was made in ancient Mesopotamia. Around 2,000 BC it found its way to what is today Lower Saxony. In Hitzacker (Elbe), the settlers who have lived here since the Neolithic period quickly learned to appreciate the new material. The settlement boomed and life flourished along the Elbe – an important long-distance trade route throughout the ages – for over 1,300 years.

Celebrations and conferences in our cozy longhouses

Anniversary, birthday party or company function With us your celebration will happen in a stylish setting! A festive table, an individual program, beautiful grounds to relax in – we offer space for up to 100 guests in our longhouses.


Touching the Bronze Age

In order to tangibly explain the house plans of the prehistoric settlement, which are hard to recognize even for experts, we have built three different longhouses as walk-in, life-size models. The construction was made possible with the help of experimental archeologists, craftsmen, structural engineers and architects. The entire museum grounds were landscaped with trees and plants that have been proven to be from the Bronze Age.

Mission statement

The Hitzacker Archaeological Centre is a central cultural institution in the county of Lüchow-Dannenberg with super-regional appeal and is held in trust by the city of Hitzacker (Elbe). The focus of our work is communicating the cultural and historical development of humans and their environment from the end of the Neolithic to the beginning of the Iron Age, based on the archaeological excavations “Hitzacker Lake” and in context of research results form both South-East and North-West Europe. We see ourselves as a cross-generational place of education and an “extracurricular learning place”.

We are service providers and partners of current and future cultural, scientific, social and economic projects. We work cooperatively and are networked through Germany and Europe. The maxims of our work are based in professionalism and cost-effectiveness in the following areas of activity:

Do you have any Questions?

April 1st – October 31st
daily 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m