Travel around German cities. History and sights

Travel around German cities. History and sights

Germany is one of the largest states in the EU. The country has an area of 357 thousand km2 and borders with Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Germany has a rich history from the Holy Roman Empire to the present. For this reason there are many different historical sites throughout the country, concentrated in interesting cities. Here are a few of them.

Flossenbürg

Flossenburg, a village in Bavaria near the border with the Czech Republic, where a concentration camp was established in 1938. The concentration camp Flossenbürg was founded in May 1938 for so-called anti-social and criminal elements. It was deliberately located close to the granite quarries where prison labor was used. The camp belonged to the second generation of Nazi camps, where the Vernichtung durch Arbeit (Extermination by Exhausting Work) method was used, i.e. liquidation by hard labor conditions. Prisoners had to do hard work without normal food and medical care. They were severely punished for any violations. Their workday lasted fifteen hours and was only interrupted once by a short break when they received liquid soup.

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Flossenbürg

German and Austrian prisoners from Dachau were the first to be brought here. The capacity of the camp at the time was planned for one thousand six hundred, but a year after its founding there were almost twice as many prisoners, and by the end of the war the number had reached fifteen thousand. Gradually, several branches of the camp were also established in Bavaria, Saxony, and in West and East Bohemia. From 1938 to 1944, twenty-two thousand men and women passed through the camp. In the last year of the war 76,000 more prisoners of war of almost fifty nationalities arrived here, more than half of whom were of Polish and Soviet origin. The Nazis brought them here from places where the liberating troops were advancing.

As American troops approached in April 1945, the camp was forcibly evacuated. Gradually 22,000 prisoners were sent from there to Dachau, 7,000 of whom died on the journey. The Americans still found sixteen hundred people in such horrific condition that most of them died in the following weeks. On June 12, 1946, the trial of the Flossenburg criminals began and lasted until January 22, 1947. During this time, 46 Nazis were charged with murder, torture, and starvation. Forty of them were convicted, fifteen of them sentenced to death.

The camp was razed to the ground after the war, but a memorial was erected on it in 1946. The cemetery was added in the 1950s, and thirty years later, a small exhibition was organized. On April 22, 2007, a permanent exhibit opened reminding of the horrors that took place here.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, often referred to simply as GA-PA, is a winter sports and tourist resort on the border with Austria in the German state of Bavaria. Near the town is Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze. The history of one of Europe’s top winter sports destinations dates back to Roman times. At that time, in 15 AD, at an important trading crossroads between Venice and Augsburg a settlement was founded, which was later named Partenkirchen.

The first mention of the second part of today’s city, called Garmisch, did not appear until 803. In the 19th century the two completely independent cities began to focus on tourism and grew so much that in 1935 they merged under the name Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The twin towns are situated in the valley of the Loisach, at the foot of the Wetterstein massif, and today they are home to around 30,000 permanent residents.

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Garmisch-Partenkirchen

One of the busiest winter resorts in the Bavarian Alps, called the “German Gateway to the Alps” . It offers its visitors a number of cable cars and elevators, with slopes on glacial and mountain plains of varying degrees of difficulty. The cable car takes you to the summit of Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze, which rises to a height of 2962 meters above sea level. In 1978 and 2011 the world ski championships were held here.

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In addition to the breathtaking mountains, the town also offers a pleasant center with houses with traditional paintings on the facades, from which you can read not only the name of the owner, but also his craft. One of the oldest buildings is the old parish church from the 13th century, but its present form was restored two hundred years later. Its interior is decorated with Gothic frescoes and a beautiful grid vault. The new parish church from 1733 with its Baroque interior is also worth a visit. For those who want to learn more about the life of the people in this region, the Verdenfels Museum is open with ancient rooms and a collection of wooden furniture.

Hexentanzplatz

Hexentanplatz plateau and at the same time one of the most famous and popular places in the Harz Mountains in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. Hexentanzplatz, literally the place of witches’ dances, is situated 454 m above sea level above the Baudetal valley. It is known as a traditional place of worship of the ancient Saxons, who held festivities in honor of the goddesses of the forest and the mountains Hagedisen in the night from April 30 to May 1. Later, however, the Franks forbade them, and their soldiers guarded the platform. However, the locals did not give up and provoked the guards disguised as witches on broomsticks. This served as the occasion for today’s big celebration. On the last day of April, devils , witches and other masks gather here, accompanied by live music, laser shows and fireworks. Every year on the first day of May up to ten thousand people spend the night here.

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Hexentanzplatz

The Baudetal-Seilbahn cable car has been running from the Thale since 1970, which in good weather offers a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside. You can also see the Baudetal Valley through a glass floor. Lovers of history, culture, and flora and fauna will love it here. There are also granite stone walls 150 meters long and up to two meters high. They were built between 750 and 450 B.C. and are considered part of an extensive fortification.

It is also home to one of the oldest open theaters in Germany. The Burgtheater was founded in 1903 by Heinrich Ernst Wachler, and to this day 1,350 spectators can watch many unique performances every day from May to September. Their scope is really wide: both Shakespeare and Pipi’s Longstocking were staged in the mountains of the Harz.

The entire platform is dotted with statues of strange creatures, which were installed here in 1996 by Jochen Müller. Among them is the devil himself, with a homunculus sitting on a stone at his feet. Visitors can also see the Walpurgisalle Museum, which tells about the legends associated with this plateau, children will enjoy the zoo with more than seventy species of local animals, and the brave will definitely not resist the bobsled run.

Hohenschwangau

Hohenschwangau, a castle in the village of Schwangau, located directly opposite Neuschwanstein Castle. It was the site of a castle in the 12th century, which was later destroyed and dilapidated; its ruins were purchased in 1832 by King Maximilian II, who restored it.

Neo-Gothic Hohenschwangau Castle is located near the lakes Schwansee and Alpsee, less than five kilometers from the town of Füssen in the southern German state of Bavaria. The Schwangau family built Schwanstein Castle on a wooded hill on the site of today’s castle, in the 12th century. When the family died in the 16th century, the entire area became the property of the Wittelsbachs. They let the castle fall into decay, so when the heir to the throne, and later King Maximilian II, arrived here in 1832, he found only ruins covered with ivy.

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Hohenschwangau

Despite this, he fell in love with the place and decided to build his summer residence here. The plans for the castle, inspired by Tudor Gothic and medieval foundations, were drawn up by the Italian artist and architect Domenico Cavallo. He died, however, before its completion. The Munich architect Josef Daniel Olmüller took charge of the construction. The result was a simple four-story building with cylindrical towers at the corners.

The interior has been preserved in the Biedermeier style, typical of the German-speaking countries of the 19th century. The wall paintings are based on sketches by the artist Moritz von Schwind, who recalls the history of the castle. Probably the most famous is the decoration of the so-called Schwanrittersaal (Swan Knights’ Hall), which served as the castle dining room. There is a legend of Lohengrin who, according to legend, lived on this hill and from there went on his famous expedition to the Rhine to free Elsa Brabant. It was this story that inspired Richard Wagner, who came to the castle in 1865 at the invitation of King Louis II of Bavaria. Today the castle is owned and operated by the so-called Wittelsbach Settlement Foundation.

Germany’s 30 Best Cities

Germany is often chosen as a destination for a trip to Europe. Many cities in this country have an ancient and rich history, they are literally strewn with sights. Powerful castles, grand cathedrals, elegant palaces adorn the streets and squares of Munich, Cologne and Dresden. In many places old traditions are still relevant, people dress up in folk costumes and celebrate merry holidays. Today Germany is one of the safest, most interesting and visited countries in Europe.

The most interesting cities in Germany

List of the main by popular tourist cities in the country.

Berlin

The capital of the country and the largest city of Germany, founded on the banks of the rivers Spree and Hafel in the XII-XIII centuries. The fate of the city is rather tragic, almost all the historical sites were destroyed during World War II. Today tourists come to see the restored Reichstag building, the cathedral, the famous Berlin Wall and the Brandenburg Gate.

Population – 3,644,826 (2018)

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Hamburg

One of the largest ports in Europe, located at the confluence of the Elbe into the North Sea. Hamburg was unlucky from the beginning, constantly burning and being destroyed. By the 16th century it had become the main maritime gateway of the Old World. Hamburg is a very beautiful and atmospheric city with a 19th century town hall, the Old Harbor and a large lake in the center where white swans live.

Population 1,841,179 (2018)

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Munich

The main city of Bavaria, which has a well-established reputation as the beer capital of the world thanks to the legendary Oktoberfest festival. The local tradition of brewing beer dates back to the Early Middle Ages. In addition, Munich is famous for its Gothic and Baroque architecture, valuable museum collections and a large number of cultural and scientific centers.

Population 1,456,039 (2017)

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Cologne

The history of the city began during the Roman Empire, and even earlier on the site of Cologne there was a settlement of Celts. The fiefdom of the Merovingians and the Dukes of Lorraine flourished in the Middle Ages. This was the time of construction of the University of Cologne, Ulrefort, Eigelstein Gate, Bayerturm, City Hall, and the grand Cologne Cathedral – the largest in the country. Many of the sights are copies of historic originals, restored after the war.

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Population 1,080,394 (2017)

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Frankfurt am Main

One of the centers of culture, tourism and business, as well as an important transportation hub of Germany and Europe. The modern architecture of the business districts here is in harmony with the traditional appearance of the houses of the German bourgeoisie. The historical quarter Alt-Sachsenhausen with its Saxon villas and the Museum Embankment is well worth a visit. It is also worth visiting the Alstadt district to see the half-timbered buildings.

Population – 746,878 (2017)

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Stuttgart

It is this green and beautiful city that is the home of the Porsche and Mercedes car brands. Stuttgart is also famous as the music capital of Germany thanks to the International Bach Academy, where students from all over the world come to study. There are an incredible number of gardens and parks where locals love to spend time. Some of the most picturesque are the botanical garden with 5,000 species of plants and Wilhelm Park.

Population – 632,743 (2017)

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Dusseldorf

A modern metropolis, the economic and political center of the country, where the offices of many global corporations are located. It is famous for first-class hotels, restaurants, and plenty of boutiques of world brands, giving you the opportunity to dive into shopping. Visitors are also attracted by the breweries that brew the beverage according to traditional recipes. Architecture buffs will find the center of Alstadt interesting with its historical buildings.

Population 617,280 (2017)

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Essen

Its reputation as Germany’s main industrial center does not prevent Essen from acting as an attractive tourist destination and attracting travelers from all over the world. Here you’ll find the Zollverein mine, a masterpiece of industrial architecture, the Falkwang Museum, the old Romanesque Verdun Abbey and Guggenpot Castle. While strolling through the Kettwig neighborhood, you can admire the half-timbered facades of the houses.

Population 590,194 (2017)

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Dortmund

Another industrial center of the Ruhr area that has blossomed on coal mining and manufacturing. Dortmund can be called risen from the ruins, because during the war it was destroyed almost to the ground. Almost all the sights of the city were created anew in the 1950s, but they are very difficult to distinguish from the original buildings – the restorers have tried their best.

Population 587,010 (2018)

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Leipzig

A city in Saxony, which is rightly nicknamed a fair city because of the large number of street markets, where they sell everything in the world. The most famous ones are the Christmas market Weinachtsmarkt, the weekend gastronomic market on Bonaische Strasse and the antiques market Antik-Trüdelmarkt. Moreover, the famous Leipzig Trade Fair has been held here since the twelfth century. In the church of St. Forma the boys’ choir, which was directed for 27 years by Johann Sebastian Bach, performs.

Population – 582,285 (2018)

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Bremen

Everyone associates the city with the well-known fairy tale “The Bremen Musicians.” In honor of the characters of this famous work in the 1950s, a monument was erected on Marktplatz. Bremen once played an important role in the acceptance of Christianity by the population of northern Europe. In the 14th century it became the most influential city of the Hanseatic League. Unfortunately, during the war most of the historical buildings were destroyed.

Population – 569,814 (2019)

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Dresden

A city on the Elbe, famous for its baroque architecture, grand bridges, and museums, among which the Dresden Art Gallery should be highlighted. This art collection is considered one of the largest and most outstanding in the world. No less interesting are the castles in and around the city: the Albrechtsberg, Eckberg, Lignerschloss, Moritzburg and Pilnitz.

Population 554,434 (2019)

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Hannover

The city’s popularity has been brought by the numerous industrial fairs that have been held annually since 1947. For tourists in Hannover, the Red Thread route, which runs through the main architectural monuments and the most beautiful places, has been specially developed. Many visitors to the city go to Hanover Zoo, where there are more than 3,000 animals, or for a walk in the beautiful Herrenhausen Gardens, created in imitation of Versailles.

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Population – 535,061 (2017)

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Nuremberg

The second most populous city in Bavaria, with the popular nickname “the treasury of the German Empire.” In past centuries it was the residence of German monarchs, in the 19th century it became the center of the industrial revolution. In the 1940s bombing raids turned the city into ruins. The famous Nuremberg Trials of former leaders of the Third Reich were held here. As a result of a long and careful reconstruction many buildings have been restored.

Population – 515,201 (2017)

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Munster

The city on the border with the Netherlands, founded back in the VIII century. On its territory there are sights of the Middle Ages: the bishopric of Münster, the Gothic town hall, the Church of St. Lambert. Also, tourists will be interested in visiting the Westphalian State Museum of Art and Culture, the local brewery Pinkus Müller and the city zoo.

Population 313,559 (2019)

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Augsburg

An ancient Swabian city in the foothills of the Alps, originating from a Roman settlement. Its appearance harmoniously complements the pastoral landscapes of Bavaria. Start your walk in Augsburg with a stroll along Maximilianstrasse, then continue to the main square to admire the Perlachturm tower and the town hall. Another landmark is the cathedral of the Virgin Mary, built in the 14th century.

Population 292,851 (2018)

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Freiburg

The supposed birthplace of the humanist Erasmus of Rotterdam and the place where the recipe for Black Forest cherry cake was invented. Students from all over the world study in Freiburg, thanks to them the city has a special atmosphere of eternal youth, enthusiasm and pursuit of knowledge. If you look at Freiburg as a prosperous city with well-to-do Germans, you cannot imagine that it has been through many bloody wars in the past.

Population – 230,241 (2019)

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Lübeck

A port on the Baltic Sea that arose in the 12th century on the site of a destroyed Slavic settlement. The oldest part of the city was destroyed during the war, but later rebuilt in detail. Today it looks as it did in the Middle Ages. The most striking sights of Lübeck are the cathedral of the 14th century, the town hall built in the 13th century and the Budenbroek House.

Population 217,198 (2018)

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Erfurt

In the Middle Ages the city was an important center of trade. Today it harmoniously combines ancient architecture, picturesque parks, cozy streets and modern buildings. In the city center at Domplatz square stands the old cathedral, built in the style of German Gothic, nearby the Petersberg fortress and the observation platform, where you can admire the panorama of Erfurt.

Population 212,988 (2017)

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Rostock

In the past Rostock was a member of the Hanseatic League, today it is a center of shipbuilding and industry. The Old Town area with its Nicolausirche, Petrikirche and Market Square, as well as the Middle Town with its 14th-century town hall, are of tourist interest. Many sights, restaurants and stores can be found along the pedestrianized Kröpeliner Straße.

Population 208,886 (2018)

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Potsdam

In the 18th century, Potsdam became the residence of the Prussian kings. The most significant architectural monuments of the city belong to this period. It is home to the grandiose Sans-Souci ensemble, laid out under Frederick the Great. Another famous attraction is the Heiliger See with the Cecilienhof palace. There are Baroque mansions and houses built for Dutch artisans in the old quarters of the city.

Population 178,347 (2018)

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Heidelberg

The city is first mentioned in sources from the 13th century. Unlike many other places, Heidelberg was not damaged during World War II, and its historical heritage remains intact. Today, tourists can enjoy strolling through the ancient Hauptstrasse, admire the architecture of Heidelberg Castle and visit the university, whose Baroque facades adorn the Alstadt.

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Population – 160,601 (2017)

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Regensburg

An ancient city located at the confluence of the rivers Regen and Danube, once the residence of the dukes of Bavaria. Regensburg’s main attraction is the Gothic cathedral. The arched stone bridge of the XII century in the Roman style and the town hall built in the XIII-XV centuries are also of great interest. Nowadays there is a museum of torture. The small sausage shop next to the bridge where they’ve been making meat sausages for over 800 years is not to be missed either.

Population 150,894 (2017)

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In 1986, UNESCO listed Trier as a World Heritage Site, protecting numerous architectural monuments from the Roman period and the Middle Ages. The city is a mix of several cultures, as it is close to the border with France and very close to Luxembourg. Another interesting fact – Trier was the birthplace and spent the first 17 years of life of Karl Marx.

Population – 110,013 (2017)

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Schwerin

In the XII-XVII centuries, Schwerin was the residence of the dukes of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and the capital of the lands belonging to them. Perhaps the most prominent attraction of the city is the grand castle, built in the 19th century in a mix of Gothic, Baroque, Byzantine and Classicist styles. Schwerin has many parks and gardens, museums with ancient and modern collections, beautiful churches.

Population 95,818 (2018)

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Bamberg

Due to the fact that Bamberg is located on seven hills, it has been nicknamed the German Rome. This city has a rich historical and architectural heritage. It was not destroyed during World War II, so today it can delight travelers with interesting hiking trails. The cathedral was built in the XI century, the old town hall appeared in the XIV century, the Castle of the Bishops is a masterpiece of the brilliant Baroque era.

Population 77,179 (2017)

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Baden-Baden

Thanks to its thermal springs, Baden-Baden has long been famous throughout Europe. Their healing properties were already known to the ancient Romans, today tourists come to the city for recreation and treatment. Thanks to this there is a resort atmosphere: people walk through well-groomed parks, visit concerts and theaters, go to the casino and luxury stores. Baden-Baden has two famous thermal baths: the Caracalla and the Friedrichsbad.

Population 54,718 (2017)

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Passau

A small old town in the territory of Lower Bavaria. A fifth of Passau’s inhabitants are students of the local religious university, whose history goes back to the 17th century. The settlement was founded by Celtic tribes and was part of the Holy Roman Empire for over a thousand years. Passau is compared to Venice, as it is located at the confluence of three rivers. The streets of the city are lined with picturesque baroque mansions of the XVIII century.

Population – 51,781 (2017)

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Quedlinburg

In the 10th century an abbey was erected on Schlossberg Mountain, which subsequently began the history of the city. The monastery survives to this day. The historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it has been perfectly preserved since the Middle Ages. Some of the buildings in Quedlinburg, built in the traditional manner of half-timbering, are over 600 years old – and there are dozens of them.

Population 24,216 (2017)

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Rothenburg am Tauber

A colorful Bavarian city, almost entirely preserved in its original appearance. There are almost no modern buildings, high-rise buildings and neon signs – the authorities take great care to preserve the medieval appearance and atmosphere. Rothenburg am Tauber consists of picturesque half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets, small squares and red tile roofs.

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