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German States In A Nutshell, Part 2

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Here it is, the much anticipated part two of my “German Federal States In A Nutshell.” There’s a lot of history, culture, and economics in each of Germany’s states. Isn’t it much easier to break it all down?

OK, OK, maybe I didn’t add every little nuance into all of them, they are snippets after all. ;-)

As a reminder, here’s Part 1 of German States.

Where did I leave off? Oh yeah…

Lower Saxony

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times — Lower Saxony is best enjoyed by bicycle. All the better to see all this agricultural landscape. Whatever mode of transportation you’re using to see this state that includes Hanover, Göttingen, and Wolfsburg, will work all the same.

You’ll certainly eat good, there’s everything from potatoes to sugar beets, and wheat that are grown around here.

Take that, Schleswig-Holstein, MeckPomm, Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, Hesse, and North Rhine-Westphalia. Wow, would you believe that all those places border Lower Saxony? Yeah, me either.

North Rhine-Westphalia

Eighteen million people live within this most populated state, if you’d believe it. Not so hard to understand when you’ve got cities like Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Aachen, and Cologne — as well as lots of medieval architecture, half-timbered houses, and UNESCO World Heritage sites scattered throughout its many villages and towns.

Cologne is a big favorite. It’s got an annual film festival, a huge Carnival season (November to February), and the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe. If you want a picture — stand far back, its towers are 157 meters high (oh, and it took over 600 years to complete!).

Rhineland-Palatinate

This is a predominantly Catholic state that borders Baden-Württemberg, Saarland, Luxembourg, Belgium, and France. No wonder they appreciate the great wines that come straight from this region.

Viticulture might be big business here, but visiting charming cities like Trier, Speyer, Mainz, and Worms are also a must-see.

Saarland

The Saarland is Germany’s smallest state, which also borders France (as well as Luxembourg and the Rhineland-Palatinate). French is widely spoken here; and you’ll find cities like Saarlouis, Neunkirchen, Saarbrücken, and Sankt Wendel.

Saxony

No, this isn’t the land of the Saxons of the Germanic Tribes, but where you’ll be when you’re visiting Leipzig, Dresden, Zwickau, and Chemnitz. It’s also a wine region, has mountains, and castles. Sadly it isn’t known for being a top spot for tourists to Germany, though you’d miss out big time not to spend some time here too!

Besides, did you know that recent excavations have found 29 million year old fossils?

Hmm, maybe more people will come to visit from now on? :-)

Saxony-Anhalt

Saxony-Anhalt is proud of its rustic Harz Mountains, Martin Luther, and the Romanesque Route that winds its way through this state.

Consequently, you’ll want to pay a visit to Magdeburg, Wittenberg, and Halle.

Schleswig-Holstein

Bordering the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, this state is home to one of the most famous nude beaches in the country — on the Island of Sylt, if you’re wondering.

It’s also where you’ll find the annual Cabbage Festival (September), hear Low German, North Frisian, and Danish all spoken in the same place. Try a delightful dish known as Rote Grütze made with custard and berries (take your pick — strawberries, raspberries, currants, whatever, it’s yummy).

Thuringia

This is the last of Germany’s federal states — but certainly not the least. Known as Thüringen in German, Thuringia was once home to Martin Luther, since he went to school in Erfurt. Erfurt’s also where you find the country’s oldest synagogue (11th century), the Rennsteig (a gorgeous hiking trail), and great cities like Eisenach and Weimar.

Wouldn’t be the ultimate dream trip to visit all of Germany’s states? Don’t you wish you had that kind of time? Maybe I should get out from behind the computer — and travel more, huh? ;-)

German States In A Nutshell, Part 1

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

The fact that Germany has sixteen federal states it might be hard to keep track of what’s what, and where’s where. Sure it would be nice to visit the Bavarian Alps then shoot over to chill out on the North Sea coast, but considering they’re nowhere near each other — you’ve got a lot of ground to cover between them.

Ya get what I’m talking about? Good thing I’m here to help you understand each of Germany’s states, and their unique culture.

Oh wait, this is only Part 1 — so here are the first eight.

Baden-Württemberg

Some of Germany’s most famous cities are located within this state; Stuttgart, Heidelberg, and Freiburg to name a few. This is also a famous wine producing region, as well as where you’ll find the Black Forest and the Bertha Benz Memorial Route, Lake Constance, and a huge Oktoberfest that’s second only to Munich’s.

Bavaria

Yeah, speaking of Munich, Bavaria is where you’ll find this beer partying town that attracts millions of visitors for this September festival. But, beer isn’t its only attraction (shocked, considering this is where the German Purity Laws for beer started).

The Bavarian Alps dramatic landscape is extraordinary. No wonder some 12 million people live in this state that borders not only Lake Constance, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Thuringia, and Saxony — but also the Czech Republic, Austria, and Switzerland.

Geography aside, Bavaria’s home to the Franconian Wine Region, has delicious Weisswurst to eat, and your chance to see folks dressed in lederhosen and the traditional dirndl.

Berlin

Yes, I’m fully aware that Berlin is Germany’s capital city, though it’s also a federal state (totally surrounded by Brandenburg). I’m still not sure how the city has managed to have over 700 hotels, 135 million visitors a year, over 150 museums, and some of the liveliest nightlife — when over a third of it is covered by parks, gardens, lakes, and forests. What a unique mix!

Brandenburg

This state doesn’t include Berlin, mind you (wait, didn’t I just say that in the paragraph above). Brandenburg’s capital is Potsdam, but with countless parks, lakes, national parks (including the Spree Forest) you’ll have a heckava excellent time hiking or bicycling around this part of the country.

Bremen

Yet another state that’s also a city — and Bremen also includes Bremerhaven. The city of Bremen has been a free city for centuries (its Roland statue from 1404 proves it), and its Marktplatz is one of the most beautiful in the country.

Bremerhaven is a port town that’s a perfect setting for the German Maritime Museum. The weather’s great during the summer — where temperatures rarely (if ever) get above 30° C or 85° F. Quite cool if you’ve ever spent the summer in the European South. ;-)

Hamburg

Germay’s second largest city seems to have an even better climate than Bremerhaven (average summer highs are only in the 20s/70s); and has a cityscape that’s got to be seen to be believed. It’s a gay-friendly city with an opera house, almost 4 dozen theaters, and 60 museums.

While you’re here try the local Birnen, Bohnen und Speck — a dish made from pears, beans, and bacon. After a day of mudflat hiking at the Wadden Sea National Park, you’re bound to be starving.

Hesse

Inasmuch as Brandenburg is a nature lovers dream destination, Hesse could rival it in a heartbeat. Yeah, this might be where you’ll find cities like the cosmopolitan Frankfurt am Main, academic Darmstadt, and medieval Kassel — I’d pretty much say the Westerwald, Taunus Mountains, and the Vogelsberg are the real showstoppers.

Just one thing: you better behave yourself while your here; Hesse is the only state in Germany that still has the death penalty — YIKES!

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Bordering Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is Germany’s least populated federal state. Doesn’t that sound great when you want to get away from the masses? Hey, with over 280 nature reserves and 14 national parks — there ain’t no room for people, I guess. ;-)

Just kidding, but this state that’s got Chalk Cliffs, borders the Baltic Sea, and over a thousand megalithic monuments is often not given the respect it truly deserves.

Don’t worry, MeckPomm, as you’re lovely called… I’ll be right here on this blog to sing your praises — just as soon as I can tear myself away from your chalky cliffs, OK?

Stay tuned for Part 2 (next week). There’s so much more in store. :-)

On Green Living And Ecotourism

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

As I’m sitting here at the computer my attention is a bit distracted. I keep looking out the window to a veggie garden—grown totally organic. Yup, they didn’t use any chemicals or anything harsh to come between us and the corn, radish, lettuce, and tomatoes.

They’re just like a lot of folks in Germany who have taken to organic and “gone green.” And it’s not just amateur farmers.

Tell me that that yummy food bought at a local Farmers Market or picked right from a local orchard doesn’t taste delicious? Yeah, I thought so. ;-)

It’s more than just eating Bioprodukte (organic food) that makes Germany a leader in the green movement. Eco-tourism is big business here—in a totally environmentally friendly way.

Ever heard of a climate neutral hotel? No? Me either. That was, until recently. They’re popping up all over these days. So if you’re hell bent on saving the Earth one vacation at a time, consider staying at accommodations that strive for ZERO emissions and no carbon footprint whatsoever.

A night or two at a German farm or eco-friendly campsite would work just as good, I would think? You’d tell me if I was wrong, wouldn’t you?

I’m torn on the next part of being environmentally friendly. We Germans have a love of the automobile not seen by the likes of many others around the globe (I say it’s a healthy obsession). So, before hopping into your sleek, sexy, gas-guzzling ride, think about the impact of all the gasoline and emissions.

Yikes, did I just say that? OK, you can always ask for a hybrid instead.

I just hope they’ll bring out energy and/or hydrogen powered cars sooner rather than later.

For you diehard Greenies, don’t worry about the car; take public transportation, the train, or your own two feet for that matter (like I often do myself). There are hundreds of nature parks in Germany, not to mention over a dozen National Parks—all meant to be enjoyed on foot or bicycle.

Yeah, I guess I need some more of those organic veggies to keep me going.

Teaching your kids to be nice to our planet is another adventure. Good thing Germany’s got museums like the Klimahaus, an interactive museum in Bremerhaven that’s all about the weather and climate.

Munich has got an exhibit at the Deutsche Museum that details the horrid effects of our non-green ways. Even the car maker Volkswagen has jumped on the green bandwagon (or, should I say green Volkswagon?) with its Level Green exhibit in the city of Wolfsburg.

Do you think it would be bad form me to drive to the Level Green exhibit by car?

On second thought, maybe I’ll walk…

A Magical Mystery Tour Through Germany

Monday, January 16th, 2012

No, I don’t think the Beatles had Germany in mind when they penned their Magical Mystery Tour album in 1967. But, they could have.

Germany (or the land that IS Germany) has been around a very long time, and many places have seen the likes of Stone, Bronze, and Iron Age man (and woman), Celts, and Romans — each bringing their own aura of mystery to the land.

So, in honor of the Beatles — welcome to my Magical Mystery Tour.

Barbarossahöhle (Barbarossa Cave)
This vast network of caves northwest of Bad Frankenhausen in Thuringia has seen all sorts of ancient rituals and offerings from salt to hair, including human dating to around 3,000 years ago.

ISIS Temple & Mater Magna
Only discovered in 2000 (quite by accident) in Mainz, this Egyptian Goddess’ temple and one to the Great Mother was favored by Roman soldiers as late as the 3rd century A.D. Artifacts found have included everything from lamps to fruit (wow, talk about preservation).

Ohlsdorf Cemetery
While not a Roman or Celtic site, the Ohlsdorf Cemetery in the Ohlsdorf district of Hamburg is the final resting place for more than a million people (mostly the who’s who of Hamburg). It has 12 chapels, six memorials, museums, an area for World War I soldiers, and 17km of roads.

Mt. Untersdorf
Close to Berchtesgaden, there are more then 400 caves within the area of Mt. Untersdorf. One legend tells of the end of the world from here. It’s said to have haunted spirits, and even the Dalai Lama himself noticed the magical aura of the place.

Mühlhausen
In the town of Mühlhausen in Thuringia you’ll see a reconstructed Germanic Tribe village on the site of pagan sacrifices dating to the 6th century B.C. Want to learn more? Check out their website at www.opfermoor.de.

Witches Dancing Ground (Hexentanzplatz)
Yes, the Hexentanzplatz is a real place in the rustic Harz Mountains, near the town of Thale. The legend says that witches left from the spot before heading to Mt. Brocken to wed the Devil. Today you’ll find plenty of men, women, and children just having a good time.

Exernsteine
Found in Horn-Bad Meinberg in the Teutoburg Forest are the so-called Exernsteine — 13 pillars made from rock standing over 37-meters tall. It’s also where artifacts dating to 10,000 B.C. have been found.

I’m pretty sure I’ve missed about a gazillion other mystical places in Germany — so feel free to add any you know to the list. Then it’ll be OUR Magical Mystery Tour. ;-)

A New Jewish Germany

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

When touring our German History pages, you’ll notice that a few of them have to do with, shall I say, some of the darkest events of the 20th century.

Throughout the reigning years of the Third Reich, Germany’s Jewish population suffered and many of their buildings were destroyed.

But, I’m here to tell you that Germany’s Jewish population is again on the rise (just over a hundred-thousand people)—and many of the country’s big cities have enough to see if you’re looking for a Jewish Germany.

Let’s start at the capital, shall we?

Berlin

In what was once part of East Berlin you can see the Old Jewish Quarter and the New Synagogue Museum (the synagogue is thought to be one of the most beautiful in the country). Also in Berlin is the German History Museum with an entire Hitler exhibit—and the city is home to the Berggruen Museum, an art museum filled with works donated by a Jewish art collector.

Frankfurt

Frankfurt’s Jewish community lived in a ghetto-like area known as Judengasse from around the mid-15th century. Its West End Synagogue is one of the very few to have survived the anti-Jewish Kristallnacht in November 1938. At the Old Jewish Cemetery you’ll find the names of every Jewish Frankfurter deported; and the Jüdisches Museum highlights the history of the Jewish community from medieval times right up to the 20th century.

Heidelberg

Yes, Heidelberg was once a hotbed of Nazi activity. However, the city was home to a Jewish community since medieval times. 13th century scholar, Rabbi Meir came to live here. Today you can see one of the best preserved Jewish Quarters on the European Continent.

Worms

Ah, the city of Worms—this is home to Germany’s oldest synagogue (which is also known as Rashi’s Chapel), built in 1034. It did have to be rebuilt a few times over the last millennia—the last being after it was destroyed on November 10, 1938.

Dresden

Dresden’s New Synagogue was built using parts of the original 19th century Semper Synagogue—that was left in ruins after the infamous Night of the Broken Glass.

Augsburg

The Swabian town of Augsburg has a beautiful Art Nouveau Synagogue and its own Jewish Museum.

Munich

There’s a whole lot of Jewish history in the big city chic of Munich, and part of a visit to it means heading towards the city of Dachau, and the infamous Dachau Concentration Camp. Guided tours are available of the camp 9am-5pm, Tuesdays through Sundays.

Within Munich itself, its synagogue finally reopened sixty-eight years to the day after the original was destroyed by the Nazis. You’ll even find Jewish manuscripts in the State Library—and a place that serves a kosher Weisswurst.

Hey, after all this touring around a new Jewish Germany—you’ve got to be hungry, right?

Greet Uta In The Naumburg Cathedral

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

This isn’t so much about Naumburg Cathedral inasmuch as it is about its most famous patron, Uta von Naumburg. Or, Uta von Ballenstedt as she was known before marrying Eckhard II, the Margrave of Meissen.

I first learned about the elegant Duchess and her story touched my heart.

Who would have guessed that a lady born over a thousand years ago (in what’s now the Harz Region) would have been considered “the most beautiful woman of the German Middle Ages”? There must have been something about her; and if she looks familiar, it’s because Disney used her as a “model” for the Evil Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Only her likeness, Uta wasn’t considered to be an evil duchess. She is, however, thought to be the epitome of the Teutonic Woman. ;-)

Don’t take my word for it, you go scour the globe looking at all the medieval art you can find (huge exhibits can be found in major cities like New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and London); and let me know if you find a more marvelous medieval matron than the life-size limestone sculpture of her that sits in what is now Naumburg Cathedral.

It wasn’t always a cathedral, it started as a little chapel with funds bequeathed to the church after Uta’s death (Eckhard died only months earlier) and dying childless in 1046.

To be fair, Uta wasn’t the only patron—sculptures of 11 others (including Uta’s husband) were also done at the chapel.

Naumburg (Saale) has rightfully earned its place on the Romanesque Route, receiving more than a hundred-thousand visitors a year to the Romanesque Cathedral that was built in the 13th century. You’re welcome anytime since the cathedral is open year round (less hours from November to March).

If you want more information on Uta’s life, I would suggest taking a guided tour—although it’ll cost you more than just the 4 Euro entrance fee, I think for an audience with Uta that’s money well spent. Don’t you?

Enjoy Halloween In A Haunted Germany

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

What’s a medieval castle or two without a ghost or two? What’s a creepy graveyard without a few ectoplasmic ghouls to be seen?

So, in honor of All Hallow’s Eve (or Halloween)—although barely celebrated in Germany—I’m about to give you skinny on the creepiest, scariest, hair-raising sites in all of Germany.

If you’re faint of heart you might choose to change to another page on The Germany Blog. If not, then don’t say I didn’t warn you. ;-)

In case you’re wondering, yes Frankenstein Castle has made the list. And, this is only a fraction of the haunted places found throughout the country.

Berlin’s Pfauen Insel Park has been said to be haunted by a black ghost with glowing red eyes. Yikes, I’m scared already.

Over at the old Nazi Hospital (at the Conn Barracks in Schweinfurt) it’s been said that the ghost of a Nazi soldier has haunted the area for years.

Heidelberg’s Amphitheater and Hexenturm also said to be visited by strange noises and ghostly apparitions, especially on moonless nights.

Yeah, I know none of these places is a haunted castle — don’t worry, I’m getting to them right now.

One of the biggest haunted sites in Germany is Eltz Castle, where the spirits of medieval Knights have been known to roam. The castle closes for the winter season on November 1st, but at least it’s open for the scariest of all the holidays.

Hmm, it’s time for the most famous name in scary stories — Frankenstein Castle. No, there isn’t some large guy with bolts sticking out his neck here; it’s said to be the ghost of Johann Dippel.

The ghost at Friedland Castle is thought to be the daughter of a former resident, who was “cursed” by her own dad. Wow, that’s a scary thought.

I think Reichenstein Castle would be scarier than Burg Frankenstein or Friedland Castle. Why? Because it is said to be haunted by the ghosts of not one, not two, not even five ghosts — but ten! Just so you know, they’re believed to be the spirits of robber baron Dietrich von Hohenfels and his nine sons.

If you’ve come across any super creepy sites within Germany, let me know so I can come back to visit them next Halloween.

Methodical Germany Makes For Memorable Museums

Monday, August 29th, 2011

In some ways it is stereotypical German behavior to be punctual and methodical. Kind of like, if you have to work late, there’s got to be something WRONG with you. Right?

Maybe this is why we love museums so much; where everything is categorized, labeled, and methodically documented. “Sniff-sniff,” it’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it?

Germany’s got a museum for just about everything and anything under the stars. Don’t want to be stuck indoors on a fine weather afternoon? No big deal, there are outdoor museum scattered all over the country, including the Winsen Museum Farm and the Hagen Westphalian Open-Air Museum.

Got a penchant for following military and war history? Check out the German Tank Museum, Königstein Fortress, and the Luftwaffenmuseum der Bundeswehr.

It might seem a bit odd to come all the way to Germany go see mummies. Both the cities of Bonn and Berlin house fantastic mummy exhibits at their respective museums.

Yeah, I’d think that the religious museums like the Lorsch Abbey and Michaelstein Abbey, and the Maulbronn Monastery seem a more likely choice to be found within the country.

But, I did say we like museums — so never mind.

Honestly, the land that IS modern day Germany has been around a lot longer than people, so no wonder we got all sorts of natural history museums. The State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart is fantastic, as is the Lower Saxony State Museum.

Oh, I didn’t even add in our two volcano museums which can be found in the Eifel Region — the German Volcano Museum Mendig a.k.a. Lava-Dome in Mendig and the Eifel Volcano Museum Daun in Daun. That counts as natural history, does it not?

And speaking of people, OF COURSE we’ve got museums dedicated to the best of the best of our homegrown sons and daughters. The Goethe House in Frankfurt am Main and the Karl Marx House in Trier are only two of the many museums that are all about famous Germans.

The Protestant Reformation And The Luther Trail

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his paper, 95 Theses, to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church and unknowingly, began a revolution. This was the spark of the Protestant Revolution which quickly spread throughout Europe.

During his life, Luther spent much time researching, translating and moving about while trying to avoid the wrath of the Catholic Church. You can easily find Martin Luther-themed tours online that will take you to some of these most historic and significant places.

Begin your journey here with us today as we discover the highlights of the Martin Luther Trail. :-)

Eisleben, 1483

We begin in the Saxon-Anhalt city of Eisleben, which is Luther’s birthplace, as well as the site of his death in 1546. You can visit the reformer’s childhood home and learn about what life was like in those old times. Or, for those who prefer a more macabre tour, take a look at where he drew his final breath and where his death mask is on display.

While in Eisleben, you can also view the churches connected to Luther. Peter and Paul Church was the site of his baptism and Andreas Church was where he delivered his last sermon. And finally, snap a picture of the Lutherdenkmal (Luther Monument) in Old Town.

Erfurt, 1501

Our next stop brings us to Erfurt in Thuringia. Much of Luther’s religious beginnings can be traced to this city. Erfurt is where he entered an Augustinian monastery and also where he became an ordained priest at the famed Cathedral in 1507.

Wittenberg, 1512

If you can only visit one Lutheran city during your time here, then Wittenberg should be at the top of the list. The town is officially named Lutherstadt Wittenberg because of its strong ties with Luther. This is the birthplace of the Reformation, where Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Church, as you know.

When you’ve finished your tour of the Castle Church and its famous door, you can check out the Luther Museum and take your picture with one of the several statues of Luther.

Augsburg, 1518

Augsburg is important in the life of Luther because it is where he was confronted by the Cardinal who demanded that he submit to the Catholic Pope and recant his new theories. Luther’s famous refusal set the stage for his life as a religious outlaw.

Worms, 1521

Luther further refuted the will of the Catholic Church here during the Imperial Diet of Worms. He spoke those immortal words, “Here I stand, I can do no other.” After this, he was officially proclaimed a heretic and an outlaw. His immediate arrest and/or assassination was ordered. It became a crime to offer him any food, shelter or other assistance.

Wartburg Castle, 1522

Wartburg Castle defied the Catholic Church by providing sanctuary for Luther for about one year. He spent his time in solitude, translating the Bible into German for the first time, and living under the assumed identity of “Knight George.”

The castle still showcases its Luther Room with its large hole behind the stove. This is, according to legend, where Luther threw an ink pot at the devil.

Veste Coburg, 1530

Luther remained here under the protection of Elector John the Steadfast while his emissary Melanchthon attended the Diet of Augsburg. The document he brought with him, known as the Augsburg Confession, was denied by the Catholic diet, but has become the statement of faith for Lutheran Christians all over the world.

—Marcus

A (Virtual) Tour Of Ten Magnificent German Cathedrals

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Germany is home to many amazingly spectacular cathedrals. If you don’t have time to see them all during your visit here, you can take a virtual trip to ten of the most famous ones right now.

Aachen Cathedral

This ancient place was patronized by none other than Charlemagne himself, the first Holy Roman Emperor. The highlights of the Aachen Cathedral include relics that Charlemagne gathered, including the cloak of the Virgin Mary and the swaddling clothes of a baby Jesus Christ, among others. Pilgrims have flocked here for centuries to view these artifacts, which can still be found within.

Augsburg Cathedral

The Augsburg Cathedral is the High Cathedral of the Virgin Mary and can be dated back to the year 823 A.D.! From its soaring spires to the depths of its underground crypts, this is one destination you won’t want to miss.

Berliner Dom

The Berlin Cathedral was built for the Prussian Royal family. It was intended to be the Protestant version of the Roman Catholic St. Peter’s Basilica. Although heavily damaged during the war, it was reconstructed to its present condition in the 1970s.

Cologne Cathedral

The Gothic Cologne Cathedral was built in 1248 and not completed until over six-hundred years later, in 1880. This is a local joke, as renovations are still underway and residents joke that the end of the world will arrive before it is ever completed. Nevertheless, this UNESCO World Heritage Site (once the world’s tallest building) has plenty to see. A true highlight is the Shrine of the Three Magi, which is said to contain relics from these ancient pilgrims.

Erfurt Cathedral

This 14th century Gothic cathedral (with Romanesque towers that date back to 742) is where Martin Luther was ordained as a priest. Erfurt’s highlights include its stucco altar with a depiction of the Madonna and saints, as well as its superb stained glass window designs.

Hildesheim Cathedral

The Hildesheim Cathedral is a medieval masterpiece, allegedly constructed on the divine will of the Virgin Mary through Charlemagne’s son, Ludwig the Pious. Bernward’s Door, a set of beautifully decorated bronze doors, is one of the amazing treasures on display.

Magdeburg Cathedral

Magdeburg Cathedral’s official name is the Cathedral of Saints Catherine and Maurice. It is the resting place of Holy Roman Emperor Otto the Great and took over 300 years to construct.

Mainz Cathedral

Saint Martin’s Cathedral, or Mainz Cathedral, was constructed in 975 and is considered one of the finest examples of the Romanesque in Germany. This is where Frederick Barbarossa took up the call of Crusade, as Pope Gregory VIII proclaimed.

Münster Cathedral

This Münster sight is a 13th century Gothic and Romanesque-style cathedral. On the exterior of St. Paul’s, there is an astronomical clock with hand-painted zodiac signs. There’s a performance each day at noon as the clock plays a Glockenspiel song.

Like so many other ancient architectural marvels in Germany, it sustained heavy damage during the Second World War. It has since been restored, but the destruction is still documented in pictures found inside the Cathedral.

Worms Cathedral

This spectacular cathedral is known by many names: Worms Cathedral, Kaiserdom or Dom St. Peter, to name just a few. In its thousand year history, it has been a strong presence in the town with its soaring towers and spires. There are many highlights housed within these ancient walls. Be sure not to miss the Baroque altar created by Balthasar Neumann, the dark and spooky crypt or the Chapel of Saint Nicholas.

—Marcus

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