Germany off the beaten track

Schloss Sanssouci (Sanssouci Palace) in Potsdam belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites © TMB/ Boldt

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The Gothic Period

The Gothic period is another turning point in the history of architecture. Based on the experiences of Romanesque buildings with round arches and supporting pillars that made building in monumental heights possible, the appearance of churches and secular buildings changed in the Gothic period. The walls of the churches were disbanded and replaced by glass windows that looked like glass walls from the inside. The rays of the sun, the light of God, were meant to grasp the whole church and even today they do not miss their effect.

The beginnings of the Gothic period can be traced back to France and therefore it is not surprising that German cities in close proximity also show unique examples of Gothic architecture. The Liebfrauenkirche (Church of Our Beloved Lady) in Trier (start of construction around 1230) is considered the first Gothic church in French Gothic style on German soil and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. The Freiburger Münster (Freiburg Cathedral) illustrates the aspiration of the builders to reach the limits of what is technically impossible: the cathedral with its 116m-high tower has one of the few "single-tower-facades" that were completed during the Gothic period and gave the go-ahead for a real competition amongst the cities.

Incredible Astronomical Clocks

The primary purpose of astronomical clocks was to calculate Easter, a complicated business since the date is related to the phase of the moon and must be known six weeks in advance in order to begin Lent on time.

St. Mary’s ChurchinRostock includes an astronomical clock dating from 1472 which is the only one of its kind still in working condition with its original clockworks. The most famous feature of Münster Cathedral’s interior is the magnificent astronomical clock (1540-43). Impressively, the years listed on the calendar are 1540 to 2071!

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