For car lovers, the town of Wolfsburg in Germany is synonymous with one brand: Volkswagen. The history of the automotive brand is intertwined with that of the town, which was known as Stadt des Kdf-Wagens until May 1945.
The location, near Fallersleben in Lower Saxony, was specifically chosen as the site of a new car plant in the 1930s. The four chimneys of the factory’s original power station remain one of the town’s distinctive landmarks and still provide power for the area.
Now, adjacent to the Volkswagen production facility and the Mittelcanal upon which bargeloads of VW products were transported to markets before a bespoke rail track was built, is the massive Autostadt visitor attraction.
Autostadt is a celebration of the Volkswagen Group, housing pavilions that showcase all of the main brands. Its open spaces, lakes, exhibitions, art and architecture offer a contrast to the starkly industrial ambience that otherwise pervades Wolfsburg.
Outside, near the lakes rendered solid by the bracing sub-zero Arctic wind, enormous glass car silos house freshly made Volkswagens of all shapes, sizes and colours. European VW buyers can choose to collect their car from the Autostadt if they wish, making a day of it by combining key collection of their new vehicle with a visit to the exhibits.
In the restaurant shop you can buy Volkswagen-branded tomato ketchup or, if the mood takes you, wurst sausage that has its own serial number in Volkswagen’s parts catalogue.
For car nuts, the main attraction is the ZeitHaus. Now, you might be convinced to give Volkswagen’s automobile museum a swerve through concern that you’ll be presented by endless iterations of Golfs, Polos and Passats.
Not a bit of it: those cars are represented, but the ZeitHaus is a fascinating celebration of the history of the automobile with an emphasis of the design and technological perspectives, and disparate brands both current and dormant are represented.
See our picture gallery above this story for a taste of what the ZeitHaus has to offer.