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The traveler on a first or second trip to Germany who wants to hit the country's main attractions - Munich, Berlin, Bavaria, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the Black Forest, etc. - should probably give the small university town of Göttingen a pass. But for more experienced Germanophiles seeking pleasant, relatively tourist-free, off-the-beaten track towns, Göttingen, in lower Saxony about 75 miles south of Hannover, is very much worth a day or two.

One of Germany's four principal university towns - the others being Heidelberg, Tübingen and Marburg - Göttingen has more going for it than most cities of its size. The university boasts 40 Nobel prize winners and the Brothers Grimm once taught here. And, as with most college towns, Göttingen comes with an extra dose of interesting cafés, galleries, nightlife and cultural offerings.

Handy for rail travelers, the train station is on the edge of the old town and several good hotels are within easy walking distance. There is a nice network of narrow streets and alleys in the Alt Stadt which, when combined with a little window shopping, will take about half a day to explore.

Major sights include the 13th century Altes Rathaus (which also houses the town's first-rate tourist office); Gänseliesel, a bronze statue of a girl with a goose which, tradition requires, must be kissed by university students when they pass their exams; the Gothic Johanniskirche; and the Städtisches Museum, which offers a collection of religious art and locally produced glass and porcelain.