There is an earthy beauty, unassuming yet elegant, that makes up the mysterious land of Germany. The very feelings are different than the cold elegance of London or the rambling colors of Paris; Germany is a country for those who love to dance, to eat, and to converse merrily with strangers. Many of its cities may not be as well known as the European giants, but a trip to Germany will never leave you with anything less than fond memories.
Picture the soft birdsong of a German cuckoo clock chiming as you make your way through a narrow square. On either side of the street are the tall and skinny latticed chateaus that seem to predominate German architecture. Here and there you may spy a traditional costume or hear a rousing German polka. This is a friendly land, filled with history and custom. Contrary to popular belief, all Germans are not tall, fair and blue-eyed, but all Germans are part of a wonderful history that has unfolded in the midst of striking beauty.
Traveling in Germany will open a great many opportunities to see new and exciting things. Say you have time to visit three cities across the country … what would they be? Which places have intriguing history, unique and fun attractions, and wonderful photographic opportunities?
One of the first cities that come to mind when researching Germany will undoubtedly be Munich. You don’t have to go far to find the Renaissance architecture of stunning Nymphenburg Palace. This is the residence where one of Germany’s 19th century kings, Ludwig, was born, and the room in which the event occurred was refurnished to resemble the interior of 1845. Some facts about Nymphenburg:
– – Don’t come between the hours of 12:30 and 1:30, as this is when lunchtime is held and the interior will be closed off to the public
– – Bring your camera! Artwork, architecture and splendor reach as far as the eye can see. This was a royal retreat, so you’ll learn a lot about the former rulers of this great country
– – It is very hard to find places to park at the palace so it is recommended you take advantage of one of Munich’s transportation methods
– – There is some artwork that may be inappropriate for young children, so if you’re traveling with kids, simply monitor the palace experiences you wish them to have. Skipping this small section will in no way take away from your Nymphenburg experience
Is there more in Munich? There certainly is. Viktualienmarkt is an outdoor pleasure center for the senses. It is half like a flea market, half like an old European market, and definitely worth your time. Situated near Marienplatz, the city square, this place has something for everyone. Make sure to stop and take some photos of the maypole that seems to be out of place in this pleasant setting. This market has existed since the early 1800s.
St. Peter’s Church (Peterskirche) in Munich is the oldest in the city. This ancient church, used since the medieval age, is famous for the gilded splendor that bedecks the interior. One of the chapels houses the skull of a saint, “beautified” by gems and glitter. If this is a bit disturbing to you, don’t worry. There is more to see! Start climbing and wait for the wonderful view. Watch out for circles along the way; they let you know what you will be seeing when you reach the top. When the circle you see is white, it means the sky is clear enough to see the Alps at this day and time. This is the quintessential German view, and those who wish to make the climb should find it well worth the effort.
Our next stop in this tour of German cities is Rothenburg, nestled in romantic Bavaria. This is a medieval city and has achieved distinction as such – Disney’s EPCOT in Walt Disney World has a Germany pavilion, and Rothenburg is the city depicted. There is plenty to see here, but here are some of the highlights:
– – Galgengasse. Walking along this historic route is like stepping into a fairy tale. Watch out for old homes, romantic views and an adventure you won’t soon forget. Actually, this route is called the “Romantic Road.”
– – Medieval Crime Museum, or Mittelalterliches Kriminalmuseum. Ever wonder exactly what an Iron Maiden is? You will find out here, and will also learn lots of other interesting factoids about German crime and punishment in the Middle Ages. Older kids and teens should be fascinated with this place that makes it seem like Halloween every day, but you might want to consider a different attraction if such things frighten younger children
– – Rothenburg’s Town Hall is an architectural wonder. Foreboding and beautiful at the same time, its facade is filled with tiny windows, nooks and crannies, and striking detail. This building was worked on in various periods between the 1200s and 1600s
Berlin has achieved notice as one of the most historic and well-known cities in Deutschland. One of your best bets is to learn all you can about the Berlin Wall and think of this historic event when you’re standing at the site. Many people choose to have full itineraries before visiting huge cities like this, so here are a few ideas:
– – Berlin Cathedral, also known as Berliner Dom, is a Protestant church with history stretching back many centuries. The building that is currently standing is a newer addition, but a cathedral has been associated with this spot since medieval times. Although the exterior may not be as gilded and romantic as other cathedrals, it is striking in its own way
– – One can’t mention Berlin without thinking of the Holocaust that threw Germany into chaos before and during the years of World War II. Now the Jewish Museum in Berlin offers the chance to learn about this huge ethnic group that helped to shape Germany’s history. This place will acquaint you with Jewish history, beginning with the origins of the faith in Judea and continuing throughout time
– – Hop on over to Schoneberg Rathaus, West Berlin’s old city hall, for some great vacation pictures. A huge clock tower accents the architecture. If you’re from the Philadelphia area or have visited Independence Hall, you might notice something familiar; the Rathaus houses an exact twin of the Liberty Bell, which was given to the city by America in the mid 19th century
– – Do you enjoy the works of Bach or Beethoven? If so, the Berlin Philharmonic will satisfy your love of the classical. Well-renowned for its performances, see if you can find tickets available well in advance, and settle in for a night of music