Germany off the beaten track

Outstanding and impossible to ignore: the Freiburger Münster (Freiburg Cathedral). © FWTM/ Raach

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Historic Highlights of Germany

A Treasure Trove of German History and Culture

The Historic Highlights of Germany offer a chance to embark on a fascinating journey of discovery through Germany´s past and present. All of the cities made major contribution to history, culture, economic development and science in Germany and Europe. They include old university towns with a long academic tradition, historic town centers and a dynamic present. Cathedrals and monasteries, patricians´ houses and palaces present a glorious pageant of history.
Trier, Porta Nigra ©Bjoern RudekNowhere else in Germany is the Roman past as impressively visible as in Trier, the former Capital of the Western Roman Empire. Today the monuments are inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Augsburg was founded in 15 B.C. and was home to the powerful dynasty of the Fugger and Welser, who made medieval Augsburg a nexus of the Holy Roman Empire. 13. B.C. the city of Mainz was founded. The romans brought the wine with them, that this area is famous for. Wiesbaden was also founded by roman legions. They discovered the healing effects of the hot springs that made this town a world famous spa and bathing resort. Koblenz, founded around 2000 years ago, is embraced by the Rhine and Moselle. The city is the northern gateway to the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Western Roman Empire fell and Christianity became established as the dominant religion, a feudal system emerged. The power of the Church found expression in the establishment of bishoprics and monasteries, as well as imposing cathedrals and religious art. There is ample evidence of this in these cities. The episcopal ‘Residenz’ of Würzburg, built by Balthasar Neumann, featuring a ceiling fresco by the Venetian painter Tiepolo is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Thanks in great part to the rich silver deposits in the Black Forest, Freiburg was a leading business center during the Middle Ages. Due to that, more than 500 years ago, the cathedral of Freiburg was built. The main eye-catcher in Münster is St. Paul´s Cathedral with one of the most lavishly decorated naves in Germany.

Erfurt: Merchants Bridge (Krämerbrücke) ©HHoG/ TakanoIn one of Germany´s best-preserved medieval towns, Erfurt, Martin Luther studied "liberal arts" at the University of Erfurt, then lived as a monk in the ‘Augustinerkloster’, was ordained in the cathedral and preached in several churches around Erfurt. During these days the Hanseatic League had their heyday. The cities of Osnabrück and Rostock were fortified by great walls, still bearing witness today. Be hard-pressed to find a place that has been as euphorically praised by musicians and enthusiastically described by poets as Germany´s oldest university town, Heidelberg. Potsdam is a city of castles, palaces and gardens, a place full of history and legends. The most famous of them all is the UNESCO World Heritage Site Sanssouci Palace and its gardens.

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