The Romantic Road

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  • 1. Hohes Schloss

    One of the best-preserved late-Gothic castles in Germany, Hohes Schloss (High Castle) was built on the site of the Roman fortress that once guarded this...

    One of the best-preserved late-Gothic castles in Germany, Hohes Schloss (High Castle) was built on the site of the Roman fortress that once guarded this Alpine section of the Via Claudia, the trade route from Rome to the Danube. Evidence of Roman occupation of the area has been uncovered at the foot of the nearby Tegelberg Mountain, and the excavations next to the Tegelberg cable-car station are open for visits daily. The Hohes Schloss was the seat of Bavarian rulers before Emperor Heinrich VII mortgaged it and the rest of the town to the bishop of Augsburg for 400 pieces of silver. The mortgage was never redeemed, and Füssen remained the property of the Augsburg episcopate until secularization in the early 19th century. The bishops of Augsburg used the castle as their summer Alpine residence. It has a spectacular 16th-century Rittersaal (Knights' Hall) with a carved ceiling, and a princes' chamber with a Gothic tile stove.

    Magnuspl. 10
    - 08362 - 903–143

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €6, Closed Mon. Apr.–Oct., and Mon.–Thurs. Nov.–Mar.
  • 2. Münster

    Ulm's Minster, built by the citizens of their own initiative, is the largest evangelical church in Germany and one of the most elaborately decorated. Its...

    Ulm's Minster, built by the citizens of their own initiative, is the largest evangelical church in Germany and one of the most elaborately decorated. Its church tower, just 13 feet higher than that of the Cologne Cathedral, is the world's highest, at 536 feet. It stands over the huddled medieval gables of Old Ulm with a single, filigree tower that challenges the physically fit to plod up the 768 steps of a spiral stone staircase to a spectacular observation point below the spire. On clear days, the steeple will reward you with views of the Swiss and Bavarian Alps, 100 miles to the south. Construction on the cathedral began in the late-Gothic age (1377) and took five centuries; it gave rise to the legend of the sparrow, which was said to have helped the townspeople in their building by inspiring them to pile the wood used in construction lengthwise instead of width-wise on wagons in order to pass through the city gates. Completed in the neo-Gothic years of the late 19th century, the church contains some notable treasures, including late-Gothic choir stalls and a Renaissance altar as well as images of the inspirational sparrow. Ulm itself was heavily bombed during World War II, but the church was spared. Its mighty organ can be heard in special recitals every Sunday at noon from Easter until November.

    Münsterpl. 21

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free; tower €4
  • 3. Rathaus

    Augsburg's town hall was Germany's largest when it was built in the early 1600s; it's now regarded as the finest secular Renaissance structure north of...

    Augsburg's town hall was Germany's largest when it was built in the early 1600s; it's now regarded as the finest secular Renaissance structure north of the Alps. Its huge and opulent 14-meter (45-feet) tall Goldener Saal (Golden Hall) was finished in 1643. Open to the public (except during official city functions), the tower was given its name because of its rich decoration: 8 pounds of 23k gold is spread over its wall frescoes, carved pillars, and coffered ceiling.

    Rathauspl. 2

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €2.50, Closed Sun.
  • 4. Residenz und Hofgarten Würzburg

    Würzburg's prince-bishops lived in this glorious baroque palace after moving down from the hilltop Festung Marienberg. Construction started in 1719 under the brilliant direction of...

    Würzburg's prince-bishops lived in this glorious baroque palace after moving down from the hilltop Festung Marienberg. Construction started in 1719 under the brilliant direction of Balthasar Neumann. Most of the interior decoration was entrusted to the Italian stuccoist Antonio Bossi and the Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. It's the spirit of the pleasure-loving Prince-Bishop Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn, however, that infuses the Residenz. Now considered one of Europe's most sumptuous palaces, this dazzling structure is a 10-minute walk from the train station, along pedestrian-only Kaiserstrasse and then Theaterstrasse. Tours start in the Vestibule, which was built to accommodate carriages drawn by six horses. The king's guests were swept directly up the Treppenhaus, the largest baroque staircase in the country. Halfway up, the stairway splits and peels away 180 degrees to the left and to the right. Soaring above on the vaulting is Tiepolo's giant fresco The Four Continents, a gorgeous exercise in blue and pink that's larger than the Sistine Chapel's ceiling. Each quarter of the massive fresco depicts the European outlook on the world in 1750—the savage Americas; Africa and its many unusual creatures; cultured Asia, where learning and knowledge originated; and finally the perfection of Europe, with Würzburg as the center of the universe. Take a careful look at the Asian elephant's trunk and find the ostrich in Africa. Tiepolo had never seen these creatures but painted on reports of them; he could only assume that the fastest and largest bird in the world would have big muscular legs. He immortalized himself and Balthasar Neumann as two of the figures—they're not too difficult to spot. Next, make your way to the Weissersaal (White Room) and then beyond to the grandest of the state rooms, the Kaisersaal (Throne Room). Tiepolo's frescoes show the 12th-century visit of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, when he came to Würzburg to claim his bride. If you take part in the guided tour, you'll also see private chambers of the various former residents (guided tours in English are given daily at 11 and 3). The Spiegelkabinett (Mirror Cabinet) was completely destroyed by Allied bombing but then reconstructed using the techniques of the original rococo artisans. Finally, visit the expansive formal Hofgarten (Court Gardens), to see its stately gushing fountains and trim ankle-high shrubs that outline geometric flowerbeds and gravel walks. On weekends, the Hofkeller wine cellar, below the Residenz, runs tours that include wine tasting. Ask at the ticket counter.

    Residenzpl. 2
    - 0931 - 355–170

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €9; gardens free
  • 5. Schloss Harburg

    At the point where the little Wörnitz River breaks through the Franconian Jura Mountains, 20 km (12 miles) southeast of Nördlingen, you'll find one of...

    At the point where the little Wörnitz River breaks through the Franconian Jura Mountains, 20 km (12 miles) southeast of Nördlingen, you'll find one of southern Germany's best-preserved medieval castles. Schloss Harburg was already old when it passed into the possession of the count of Oettingen-Wallerstein in 1295; before that time it belonged to the Hohenstaufen emperors. The same family still owns the castle. The castle is on B-25, which runs under it through a tunnel in the rock.

    Burg Str. 1
    - 09080 - 96860

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Castle €5 (includes guided tour); garden from €3, Closed mid-Nov.--mid-Mar.
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  • 6. Schloss Hohenschwangau

    Built by the knights of Schwangau in the 12th century, this castle was later updated by the Bavarian crown prince Maximilian, father of King Ludwig...

    Built by the knights of Schwangau in the 12th century, this castle was later updated by the Bavarian crown prince Maximilian, father of King Ludwig II, between 1832 and 1836. Unlike Ludwig's more famous castle across the valley, Neuschwanstein, the mustard-yellow Schloss Hohenschwangau actually feels like a noble home, where comforts would be valued as much as outward splendor. Ludwig spent his childhood summers surrounded by the castle's murals, depicting ancient Germanic legends, including those that inspired the composer Richard Wagner in his Ring cycle of operas. The paintings remain untouched in the dining room, as does the Women's Floor, which looks just as it did at the death of Ludwig's mother, Marie, in 1889. You can walk up either of two clearly marked paths to the castle or the trip can be done in a small horse-drawn carriage (€4.50 uphill, €2 downhill).

    Alpseestr. 12
    - 08362 - 930–830

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €23.50, Purchase timed entry tickets online at www.ticket-center-hohenschwangau.de
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  • 7. Schloss Miltenberg

    You won't want to miss the walk up to medieval Schloss Miltenberg (c. 1200), if only for stunning views of the town, ramparts, and river....

    You won't want to miss the walk up to medieval Schloss Miltenberg (c. 1200), if only for stunning views of the town, ramparts, and river. The emblematic castle and grounds benefitted from a total restoration in 2011 and now house the icons museum and a gallery of contemporary art. The gardens are charming, a tranquil spot to rest and take in the scenery.

    Schlossgasse
  • 8. Schloss Neuschwanstein

    Bavaria's Fairy-Tale King, Ludwig II, commissioned a stage designer in 1868 to create this over-the-top architectural masterpiece high atop Swan's Rock and overlooking the peaceful...

    Bavaria's Fairy-Tale King, Ludwig II, commissioned a stage designer in 1868 to create this over-the-top architectural masterpiece high atop Swan's Rock and overlooking the peaceful waters of the Alpsee lake. Just a stone's throw from his childhood summer home of Hohenschwangau, the five-story castle was to pay tribute to the operas of Richard Wagner, for whom Ludwig was a great patron. While the exterior was constructed in Romanesque style and modeled on the Wartburg castle, the interior contains numerous murals alluding to sagas and legends, such as that of Siegfried forging the mighty sword in the entrance to the Royal Apartments and the so-called "Swan's Corner," a living room dedicated to the Swan Knight Lohengrin. King Ludwig's untimely death at the age of 40 under suspicious circumstances put an end to the 17-year-long process of construction of the castle. Despite being incomplete—the extravagant Throne Room, for example, contains no throne—the castle became—and remains—one of Germany's top tourist destinations after Walt Disney used it as inspiration for his castle in the movie Sleeping Beauty and later for the Disneyland castle itself. The castle is not easy to reach as it requires a 45-minute steep uphill walk of 1½ km (1 mile) to its entrance. Alternatively, to reach Neuschwanstein from the ticket center, take one of the horse-drawn carriages that leave from Hotel Müller next door (uphill €7, downhill €3.50). A shuttle bus leaves from the center of town (uphill €2.50, downhill €1.50) and takes you halfway up the hill past an outlook called Aussichtspunkt Jugend to a spot just above the castle. Even with these added means of transportation, there is a steep walk the last 500 yards; strollers and wheelchairs cannot be used due to stairs inside the castle itself. Tickets need to be purchased at the ticket center in the village of Hohenschwangau, so be sure to stop there first, and reserve an entry time online in advance at  www.hohenschwangau.de. You'll still have to arrive at least one hour early to pick up your tickets but without a reservation you might wait for hours to get a tour spot. There are also some spectacular walks around the castle. The delicate Marienbrücke (Mary's Bridge) is spun like a medieval maiden's hair across a deep, narrow gorge. From this vantage point there are giddy views of the castle and the great Upper Bavarian Plain beyond. Tours almost always sell out, so booking in advance is strongly recommended. Room-by-room renovations, which continued in 2022, will make some unviewable; check ahead if you want to see a particular room. Pöllatschlucht gorge hiking trails are also closed.

    Neuschwansteinstr. 20
    - 08362 - 930–830

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €15, plus €2.50 online booking fee, Purchase timed admission tickets online at www.ticket-center-hohenschwangau.de
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  • 9. Stadtmauer

    Rothenburg's city walls are more than 4 km (2½ miles) long and dotted with 42 red-roofed watchtowers. Due to its age, only about half of...

    Rothenburg's city walls are more than 4 km (2½ miles) long and dotted with 42 red-roofed watchtowers. Due to its age, only about half of the wall can be accessed on foot, but it provides an excellent way of circumnavigating the town from above. Let your imagination take you back 600 years as you explore the low, covered sentries' walkways, which are punctuated by cannons, turrets, and areas where the town guards met. Stairs every 200 or 300 yards provide ready access or departure. Called the Tower Trail, there are superb views of the tangle of pointed and tiled red roofs and of the rolling country beyond through viewpoints, many of which are narrow slits, since this was a protection against invaders.

    Stolleng. 8

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 10. Alte Mainbrücke

    A stone bridge—Germany's first—built in 1120 once stood on this site, over the Main River, but that ancient structure was replaced beginning in 1476. Twin...

    A stone bridge—Germany's first—built in 1120 once stood on this site, over the Main River, but that ancient structure was replaced beginning in 1476. Twin rows of graceful statues of saints now line the bridge, placed here in 1730, at the height of Würzburg's baroque period. They were largely destroyed in 1945, but have been lovingly restored since then. Note the Patronna Franconiae (commonly known as the Weeping Madonna). There's a beautiful view of the Marienberg Fortress from the bridge.

  • 11. Augsburg Puppenkiste

    This children's puppet theater next to Rotes Tor has been an institution in Germany from its inception in 1948, and it's still loved by kids...

    This children's puppet theater next to Rotes Tor has been an institution in Germany from its inception in 1948, and it's still loved by kids and parents alike. The museum features puppets in historic or fairy-tale settings. Check the website for puppet-show times (held near-daily, though only in German).

    Spitalg. 15
    - 0821 - 450–3450

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €5, Closed Mon.
  • 12. Bavarian Railway Museum

    This open-air museum features more than 100 vintage railroad engines and coaches, including steam engines from 1917 to the diesels and electrics of the mid-1900s,...

    This open-air museum features more than 100 vintage railroad engines and coaches, including steam engines from 1917 to the diesels and electrics of the mid-1900s, behind the old Nordlingen train station. This is a branch of the main Bavarian Railway Museum in Munich.

    Am Hohen Weg 6a

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €7, Closed Jan. and Feb. Closed weekdays Mar.--Dec.
  • 13. Brechthaus

    This modest artisan's house was the birthplace of the renowned playwright Bertolt Brecht (1898–1956), author of Mother Courage and The Threepenny Opera. It's now a...

    This modest artisan's house was the birthplace of the renowned playwright Bertolt Brecht (1898–1956), author of Mother Courage and The Threepenny Opera. It's now a museum documenting his life and work.

    Auf dem Rain 7
    - 0821 - 324–2779

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €2, Closed Mon.
  • 14. Deutsches Weihnachtsmuseum

    It's Christmas year-round at the German Christmas Museum, a hit among visitors even in the summer heat, as it provides an in-depth history of the...

    It's Christmas year-round at the German Christmas Museum, a hit among visitors even in the summer heat, as it provides an in-depth history of the holiday and many of its symbols, including Christmas trees. There's a unique collection of 150 historical Santa Claus figurines, mostly from the 1870s to the 1950s, and other holiday items, including hand-carved and hand-painted figures.

    Herrng. 1
    - 09861 - 409–365

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €5, Closed Sun.
  • 15. Dom St. Kilian

    Construction on Würzburg's Romanesque cathedral, the fourth-largest of its kind in Germany, began in 1045. Centuries of design are contained under one roof; the side...

    Construction on Würzburg's Romanesque cathedral, the fourth-largest of its kind in Germany, began in 1045. Centuries of design are contained under one roof; the side wings were designed in a late-Gothic style in the 16th century, followed by extensive baroque stuccowork 200 years later. The majority of the building collapsed in the winter following the bombing of the city near the end of World War II. Reconstruction, completed in 1967, brought a combination of modern design influences alongside a faithful restoration of the past thousand years of the church's history. Visit the side chapel designed by the baroque architect Balthasar Neumann, and a series of tombs of the bishops of Würzburg, designed by Tilman Riemenschneider. Tours (in German only) are offered daily at 12:30 from mid-April through October.

    Domerpfarrg. 10
    - 0931 - 3866–2900

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Church free; tours € 5 per person
  • 16. Dom St. Maria

    Augsburg's imposing cathedral contains the oldest cycle of stained glass in central Europe and important paintings by local resident Hans Holbein the Elder, which adorn...

    Augsburg's imposing cathedral contains the oldest cycle of stained glass in central Europe and important paintings by local resident Hans Holbein the Elder, which adorn the altar. The celebrated stained-glass windows from the 11th century are on the south side of the nave and depict the prophets Jonah, Daniel, Hosea, Moses, and David. Originally built in the 9th century, the cathedral stands out because of its square Gothic towers, products of a 14th-century update. A 10th-century Romanesque crypt also remains from the cathedral's early years. Those celebrated stained-glass windows, from the 11th century, are on the south side of the nave and depict prophets Jonah, Daniel, Hosea, Moses, and David. A short walk from the cathedral takes you to the quiet courtyards and small raised garden of the former episcopal residence, a series of 18th-century baroque and rococo buildings that now serve as the Swabian regional government offices. To the back of the cathedral at Kornhausg. 3–5 is the Diocese Museum of St. Afra, where the cathedral's treasures are on display.

    Dompl., Johannisg. 8
    - 0281 - 3166 0

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Cathedral free; museum €4, Museum closed Mon.
  • 17. Festung Marienberg

    Visible from just about anywhere in town, this hilltop complex was the original home of the prince-bishops, beginning in the 13th century. The oldest buildings,...

    Visible from just about anywhere in town, this hilltop complex was the original home of the prince-bishops, beginning in the 13th century. The oldest buildings, including the Marienkirche (Church of the Virgin Mary) date from around AD 700, although excavations have disclosed evidence there was a settlement here in the Iron Age, approximately 1200 BC. In addition to the rough-hewn medieval fortifications, there are a number of Renaissance and baroque apartments. Tours in English, normally held on weekends, meet at the Museum Shop. To reach the Marienberg, make the fairly steep climb on foot through vineyards or take Bus 9, starting at the Residenz, with several stops in the city. It runs about every 40 minutes from April to October. The fortress is undergoing renovations through 2030, with a rolling schedule of closed sections. The fortress also houses two additional museums.

    Residenzplatz 2
    - 0931 - 335–750

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tours €4, Closed Mon. and Oct.–mid-Mar.
  • 18. Fugger und Welser Erlebnismuseum

    This museum, housed in a fine restored Renaissance building, is dedicated to two of the city's most influential benefactors, the Fugger and Welser families, whose...

    This museum, housed in a fine restored Renaissance building, is dedicated to two of the city's most influential benefactors, the Fugger and Welser families, whose banking and merchant empire brought Italian art and world artifacts along with wealth to Augsburg in the 15th to 18th centuries. Providing insight into how the families contributed to the city, the museum offers both a glimpse into life in the 15th century through the Industrial Revolution, and a hands-on lesson in Augsburg history.

    Ausser Pfaffengässchen 23
    - 0821 - 502–070

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: €6, Closed weekdays mid-Oct.--Feb. Closed Mon. Mar.--mid-Oct.
  • 19. Fuggerei and Fuggerhäuser

    The world's oldest social housing project, this settlement was established by the wealthy Fugger family in 1516 to accommodate employees of the family's textile mills...

    The world's oldest social housing project, this settlement was established by the wealthy Fugger family in 1516 to accommodate employees of the family's textile mills and Augsburg's deserving poor. The 67 homes with 140 apartments still serve the same purpose and house about 150 people today. It's financed almost exclusively from the assets of the Fugger family foundation, because the annual rent of "one Rhenish guilder" (€1) hasn't changed, either. Residents must be Augsburg citizens, Catholic, and destitute through no fault of their own—and must pray three times daily for their original benefactors, the Fugger family. The most famous resident was Mozart's great-grandfather. You can view model apartments at Ochsengasse 51 for a fee, or view the settlement from the exterior from the outside free of charge. The Fuggerei was mostly destroyed during World War II, but it was rebuilt according to original plans, although with such modern conveniences as heating and electricity. Many residents survived Allied bombings by escaping to the little underground shelter the Fugger family had the foresight to build; today, it is a small wartime museum worth making part of your visit.

    Jakoberstr.
    - 0821 - 3198–8110

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Guided tour €6.50
  • 20. Fuggerhäuser

    Historic Home

    The 16th-century house and business quarters of the Fugger family now has a restaurant in its cellar and offices on the upper floors. Only the...

    The 16th-century house and business quarters of the Fugger family now has a restaurant in its cellar and offices on the upper floors. Only the three courtyards here are open to the public, but you can peek into the ground-floor entrance to see busts of two of Augsburg's most industrious Fuggers, Raymund and Anton. Beyond a modern glass door is the Damenhof (Ladies' Courtyard), originally reserved for the Fugger women.

    Maximilianstr. 36–38, Augsburg, Bavaria, 86150, Germany

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Courtyards 11–3 and 6–midnight (summer only)

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