The Gänseliesel (The Goose Girl) is a fountain which is the most celebrated icon of the medieval city of Göttingen in Lower Saxony, Germany. The statue of the Goose Girl was erected after the old fountain, which was falling apart, was pulled down so the town held a contest to pick a replacement.
This statue of a young girl carrying three geese in her arms was designed by the architect Heinrich Stöckhardt and created by the sculptor Paul Nisse. Soon after the fountain was erected in 1901, a tradition developed. All newly enrolled students of the Georgia Augusta University began to climb up the fountain and to kiss the statue for good luck.
The tradition itself has changed over time, and only doctorates were allowed to do so. Every student who acquires a doctorate degree at the University of Göttingen is drawn in handcarts from the Great Hall to the Gänseliesel fountain, where they are required to climb the fountain and kiss the Goose Girl.
Sensing a decline in morals, because the climbing of the fountain was usually celebrated with excessive consumption of alcohol and loud cheers, Göttingen’s strict councillors introduced a kissing ban in 1926. Until recently, climbing and kissing of the monument remained officially forbidden although both the city of Göttingen and the university advertise themselves with pictures of PhD graduates kissing the girl.
With well over a hundred years of these kisses, the little Goose Girl has become known as the most kissed girl in the world. Since 1995, each year on a weekend in September the city of Göttingen stages the so-called “Gänselieselfest” in honor of the goose girl. The main event of these festivities is the election of a young woman from Göttingen as the Gänseliesel, representing the town and the statue for one year.
Unfortunately, due to vandalism, the original statue created by the sculptor Paul Nisse was removed and can today be seen in the Stadtmuseum while the fountain only carries a copy. After a severe assault during the winter of 2004 (malicious arson), the fountain needed to be disassembled and underwent a major restoration.