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Germany - the cities filled with beauty
November 19, 2017, 2:48 pm
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Few countries have had as much impact on the world as Germany, which has given us not only the Hanseatic League, the Reformation, Hitler and the Holocaust, but also the printing press, the automobile, aspirin and MP3 technology. It is the birthplace of Martin Luther, Albert Einstein and Karl Marx, of Goethe, Beethoven, the Brothers Grimm and other heavyweights who, each in their own way, have left their mark on human history.

You can stand in a Roman amphitheater, sleep in a medieval castle and walk along remnants of the Berlin Wall – in Germany the past is very much present wherever you go. The artistic scenery that varies from the corrugated, dune-fringed coasts, moody forests, romantic river valleys and vast vineyards to the splendor of the Alps and local food that includes, besides sausages and pretzels, a cornucopia of regional and seasonal palate-teasers, all come together and form a roller coaster of feasts, treats and temptations that leave you truly spell bound and makes Germany a transcending holiday destination. 

Berlin

Bismarck and Marx, Einstein and Hitler, JFK and Bowie, have shaped, and been shaped by, Berlin, whose richly textured history stares you in the face at every turn. This is a city that staged a revolution, was headquartered by Nazis, bombed to bits, was divided in two and finally reunited — and all that just in the 20th century — proves that Berlin is a city of immense history that transformed from the town built on a swamp in the 12th century to the focal point and powerhouse of Europe it is today.

To be here is an overwhelming historical privilege that can be explored through walks along remnants of the Berlin Wall, a visit to the haunting Holocaust Memorial, marveling the splendor of a Prussian palace, visiting Checkpoint Charlie or standing in the very room where the Holocaust was planned.

The UNESCO Heritage Museum Island comprising five conveniently adjacent museums, all located on an accessible ‘island’ along the River Spree, each of which is a destination of its own that displays vast treasures, from Ancient Near East and Islamic art, Egyptian, prehistoric and classic treats to outstanding sculptor collections.

Berlin is a big multicultural metropolis but deep down it maintains the unpretentious charm of an international village. Locals follow the credo 'live and let live' and put greater emphasis on personal freedom and a creative lifestyle than on material wealth and status symbols. Cafes are jammed at all hours, drinking is a religious rite and clubs keep going until the wee hours or beyond. Despite the enormity of its size, Berlin’s key areas are wonderfully compact and easily navigated on foot, by bike or by using public transport.

Munich

The Nazi party rose to power in Munich, so you can see a lot about its history – and how such a dark time in history came about – in this city. There are walking tours that take in the Nazi headquarters and the site of the Beer Hall Putsch. In nearby Dauchau, there is a chilling museum built on the site of the former Nazi concentration camp, where more than 40,000 tragically died. In terms of historic architectural splendor, there are two must-visit palaces in Munich city: La Residenz, which is the official home of Bavaria’s kings and dukes; and the summer palace, Schloss Nymphenburg. The former’s Antiquarium is a real sight to behold with endless classical statues and frescoes covering its large Renaissance structure. The latter’s charm is all about the gardens — a canal runs up to its imposing Baroque façade and its Italianate garden runs to nearly 500 acres.

Hamburg

Hamburg's historic label, ‘The gateway to the world’, might be a bold claim, but Germany’s second-largest city and biggest port has never been shy. Hamburg has engaged in business with the world ever since it joined the Hanseatic League back in the Middle Ages. Its role as a centre of international trade in the late 19th and early 20th centuries brought it great wealth (and UNESCO World Heritage recognition in 2015), a legacy that continues today — it remains one of Germany's wealthiest cities.

Hamburg’s maritime spirit infuses the entire city; from architecture to menus to the cry of gulls, you always know you are near the water. The city has given rise to vibrant neighborhoods awash with multicultural eateries and the bustle of the local and tourist crowds is one that cannot be escaped. Hamburg nurtured the early promise of the Beatles, and today its distinctive live- and electronic-music scene thrives in unique harbor side venues.

A visit to Hamburg is incomplete without a trip to the Miniature Wunderland, the largest model railway system in the world and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Germany. Visitors can admire different countries and even an airport in miniature size. Besides this, the impressive miniature versions of Hamburg, the mountainous German region of the Harz, the Austrian Alps, France, Italy, North-America and Scandinavia, as well as several construction sites are open for curious visitors as well. Hamburg’s miniature replica comprises no less than 200 square meters and is home to over 50,000 'Wunderländer' (as its inhabitants are called) and includes the Hamburg's main attractions such as Michel and Hagenbecks Tierpark zoo, as well as Hamburg Hauptbahnhof, at which 1,500 trains arrive on a daily basis.

Frankfurt

Glinting with glass, steel and concrete skyscrapers, Frankfurt-on-the-Main (pronounced ‘mine’) is unlike any other German city. The focal point of a conurbation of 5.5 million inhabitants, ‘Mainhattan’ is a high-powered finance and business hub, home to one of the world’s largest stock exchanges as well as the gleaming new headquarters of the European Central Bank.

Frankfurt famously hosts some of the world's most important trade fairs, attracting thousands of business travellers. Its airport, the region’s biggest employer, is the third-largest in Europe, handling over 57 million passengers per year. Yet at its heart, Frankfurt is an unexpectedly traditional and charming city, with half-timbered buildings huddled in its quaint medieval Altstadt (old city), cozy apple wine taverns serving hearty regional food, village-like neighborhoods filled with outdoor cafes, boutiques and street art, and beautiful parks, gardens and riverside paths.

The city's cache of museums is second in Germany only to Berlin’s, and its nightlife and entertainment scenes are bolstered by a spirited student population. The Römerberg is Frankfurt’s old central square is especially lovely as a backdrop for the Christmas market in December. Ornately gabled half-timbered buildings, reconstructed after WWII, give an idea of how beautiful the city’s medieval core once was.

 

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