The Guelf grave in the Romanesque lower church

Coming from the west aisle one reaches the Romanesque lower church from the side. Originally the entrance lay at the side of the cross altar in the nave, but was transferred to the actual place in 1687. The lower church is the oldest part of the cathedral. It's a crypt with three naves at the same height and extends underneath from the crossing to the presbytery. This crypt is rather bright for a lower church, since it does not lie under ground level as usual for a crypt and so can be lit from outside. It consists of two different rooms with apse. Something particularly remarkable in the nine bay room are the four columns under the crossing which serve as supports. Three of the sandstone columns' extensions are said to be from the predecessor building of the cathedral, the collegiate church of the Brunons.

Steinerne Gedenkplatte

In the crypt we find the coffins of the Guelf rulers until the 19th century. Worth mentioning are the following coffins: Duke Karl Ist (died in 1780), and at his side his wife Philippine Charlotte, a sister of the Prussian King Frederik the Great, who lies beside him. Duke Karl Ist, a ruler of the Time of Enlightenment, who with the Collegium Carolinum, in 1745 had founded the first « Technische Hochschule » (technical highschool) in Europe. Important for Brunswick's history and therefore worth mentioning is Duke Friedrich Wilhelm (1771-1815), the « Black Duke », a popular hero, whose coffin stands in the apex of the crypt. It was Friedrich Wilhelm who assembled a free corps against Napoleon, which was called the « black horde » because of the black uniforms of its members and who brought about the defeat of Napoleon in the decisive battle of Waterloo.

Welfengruft mit den Sarkophagen Heinrichs des Löwen und Mathildes

Going west from the Romanesque lower church stairs lead to a room with the sarcophagi of Henry and Matilda.