Top Attractions in Germany
Berlin, Capital City
Berlin was the capital of Prussia, the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, and the Third Reich before being divided after World War II. The famed Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate), built in the late 1700s, became a symbol of both the country's division and reunification. The nearby Reichstag (parliament building) was rebuilt with a special glass dome that offers sweeping views of the city and looks directly into the parliament chambers below in a nod to government transparency. In former East Berlin, the soaring TV tower at Alexanderplatz is a reminder of the GDR's political power.
The blue waters of Bodensee (Lake Constance) lap the shores of Switzerland and Austria, framed by a stunning view of the Alps. The beach offers space for sunbathers and lakeside paths are available for cyclists. On the island of Mainau you can stroll through peaceful gardens on the grounds of a baroque palace.
Thousands of miles of hiking and cycling trails guide you through pine and fir trees in these woodlands. The area's many thermal baths provide an opportunity to treat yourself after a long day outdoors.
Dresden's Church of Our Lady is a masterpiece of baroque architecture. Completed in 1743, the magnificent church was destroyed by an Allied bombing raid in February 1945. The church was finally rebuilt in its original style 60 years later, using much of the rubble.
Heidelberg’s immense ruined fortress is a prime example of Renaissance and Gothic styles. It inspired 19th-century writers, especially the poet Goethe, who admired its decay amidst the beauty of the Neckar Valley.
This breathtaking cathedral in Köln (Cologne) is the first sight that greets you when you step out of the train station. The Gothic marvel took more than 600 years to build and was the tallest structure in the world when it was finished in 1880.
For 15 days spanning the end of September and early October, Munich hosts the world's largest beer festival with tents from traditional German breweries.
Walt Disney modeled the castle in Sleeping Beauty and later the Disneyland castle itself on Neuschwanstein. "Mad" King Ludwig II's creation is best admired from the heights of the Marienbrücke, an iron bridge over the deep Pöllat Gorge.
The Berlin Wall
When the wall fell in 1989, Berliners couldn’t wait to get rid of it. The longest stretch left standing is the East Side Gallery. In 1990, the city invited artists to paint one side of the nearly mile-long wall in a tribute to peace, resulting in famous works such as the socialistic fraternal kiss. The Berlin Wall Memorial, located along another remaining segment, has a museum and open-air exhibition dedicated to the years of division. At the best-known border crossing, the Checkpoint Charlie Museum highlights ways people tried to escape the GDR.
Weimar: Goethe, Schiller, Bauhaus
Weimar was once home to German luminaries such as Goethe and Schiller, whose homes are now museums. The Bauhaus movement, which gave rise to much of modern architecture and design, was also born here—as you'll learn on a visit to the Bauhaus Museum Weimar.
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