Getting Oriented

These three states cover the southeastern part of the former East Germany, and the area holds Germany’s most historical and beautiful cities. It is increasingly difficult to find the dirty, depressing towns of the Communist past. Over 25 years of reconstruction programs and almost €3 trillion transformed the area, restoring its former glory. Dresden revels in its reputation as "the Florence on the Elbe," and just downstream Meissen has undergone an impressive face-lift. Weimar, one of the continent's old cultural centers, and Leipzig, in particular, are thriving cultural magnets, bustling with sparkling historic city centers. Görlitz, Germany's easternmost city, benefited from an infusion of cash and is consistently lauded as one of the country's 10 most beautiful cities.

  • Saxony. The pearl of eastern Germany, Saxony's countryside is dotted with beautifully renovated castles and fortresses, and the people are charming and full of energy. (They also speak in an almost incomprehensible local dialect.) Dresden and Leipzig are cosmopolitan centers that combine the energy of the avant-garde with a distinct respect for tradition.
  • Saxony-Anhalt. Although long ignored by travelers, Saxony-Anhalt has more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any other region in Europe. The city of Naumburg is famed for its cathedral and for the wines produced in the surrounding vineyards.
  • Thuringia. Of all the eastern German states, Thuringia has the best travel infrastructure. Visitors to the classical jewel of Weimar and those interested in outdoor sports in the lush Thuringian Forest flock to the area, much as they have for centuries. Thuringia offers unparalleled natural sights as well as classical culture at reasonable prices.

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