The heart of the ancient imperial city is the cathedral which was the first German building to be declared a World Heritage Site of the UNESCO. The oldest part is the octagonal central building, which was built around 800 under Charlemagne. In the palace chapel more than 30 German kings were crowned. Under the dome there is the marble throne of Charlemagne and a chandelier, which was donated by Frederick Barbarossa. Because of the rich tradition and the close border to Belgium and the Netherlands, Aachen is known as an European city in which many cross-border initiatives were started.
The Altmühl, a tributary of the Danube, rises in Franconia and then flows through the Franconian Jura into the Danube. Especially in the lower section it forms a magical valley, where nature and the medieval villages belong to a natural park. Eichstätt, which is one of the most picturesque old towns in Germany with its Romanesque cathedral and Residenzplatz (royal seat), needs special mention.
The second oldest German city after Trier is named after the Emperor Augustus. Because of its strategic location on the main route to Italy, it quickly rose to a free imperial city and an important commercial center in the Middle Ages. The Romanesque cathedral dates from this time and on the south side are the “prophet-windows” from this period, - the only ones world-wide. Also worth seeing are the “Fuggerei”, the oldest social housing development in the world that has been inhabited since 1523, as well as the house of the Mozart family and the birthplace of Bertold Brecht.
The town at the northern end of the Black Forest is famous for its thermal baths and its mild climate. Although the Romans already made use of the natural hot springs and built a settlement on the site to take advantage of them, Baden-Baden didn't become a popular spa until the late 18th century, when the rich and famous began using it as their summer residence to escape the heat in their winter residence, Paris. Luxury hotels soon sprang up around the Casino (1810-1811) and the Kurhaus (1821-1824). Today Baden-Baden maintains its reputation as an international spa and has benefited from modern wellness trends. We suggest you visit the Friedrichsbad (1877): a classical steam bath with 16 stations.
Bamberg was one of the few historical cities in Germany that were not destroyed by Allied bombers in WW II and therefore has an exceptionally well-preserved medieval core and the entire old town was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. During the early Middle Ages Bamberg was one of the most important cities in the Holy Roman Empire. Both Henry II (Holy Roman Emperor from 1014 to 1024) and his wife Kunigunde are buried in the Bamberg Cathedral. The Romanesque cathedral completed in 1012 is one of the architectural gems of the Middle Ages in Germany. The "Bamberger Reiter", a sculpture by Tilman Riemenschneider depicting St. Stephen, King of Hungary, is found here too. Today Bamberg is also known for its unique smoked beer called "Rauchbier". Nowhere does it taste as good as in a Schlenkerla, a traditional brewery with its own beer garden.
The 900 year old city in the wide valley of the Red Main River lies between the Fichtelgebirge in the north and the Franconian Switzerland. Even to date the 70,000-populated city is shaped by the ideas of Princess Wilhelmine, sister of Frederick the Great, who left her mark here with many rococo buildings. The most famous citizen of the city is still Richard Wagner who, with his wife Cosima, moved into the Villa Wahnfried in 1874. At this time, the opera house was built under Wagner's supervision, and even today only the works of this controversial German opera composer are performed. His music dramas are staged annually in July and August and are internationally renowned cultural events.
Unlike other European capitals, Berlin is a young city that only grew in importance with the rise of Prussia to a European power in 1815. Yet there is hardly a city that affected - and was affected by - 20th century history more than Berlin. After the peaceful reunification Berlin became a world city of culture, politics, media and science. In the 21st century the city has become a magnet for entrepreneurs, creative people and immigrants. Berlin’s architecture, festivals, nightlife and creative alternative scenes attract millions of visitors to the city.
This city on the Rhine can look back, as can Cologne located 30 kilometers to the north, on a 2000-year history. In its heyday, between 1597 and 1794, the Roman Castra Bonnensia was the residence of the Electorate of Cologne. By the end of this period (1770) Ludwig van Beethoven was born here. After the Second World War, the Parliamentary Council met in Bonn and drew up the constitutional law - of which one of the prerequisites was that Germany renounces Nazism in the post war period. From 1949 to 1991 Bonn was the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany. On the market square lies the Old Rococo Hall, built in1737 and one of the landmarks of the city. Located directly next to the Hall is the “Kurkölnische” (Electorate of Cologne) Castle, now the main building of the University of Bonn.
In 787 Charles the Great founded the first German bishop town on the coast on the Weser estuary. Half a millennium later Bremen was in full bloom: it joined the Hanseatic League and became one of its most important trading centers. From this time stems the marketplace with Roland, a ten-meter-high statue which symbolizes the freedom of the city. Behind this statue is the Town Hall, a Renaissance building with a magnificent facade. Today the beautiful old town - the Schnoor quarter with houses from the 15th to 18th century - is a trendy bohemian district.
Like many German cities, Konstanz (or Constance) looks back on a long and glorious past dating back to the Roman Empire. The town on the Swiss border rose to international prominence in the early 15th century, when the Council of Constance convened there to elect a single Pope, thus uniting the Catholic Church and healing the Great Schism. One of the most infamous events during those proceedings was the burning at the stake of Czech priest and reformer Jan Hus in 1415. Later in the same century Konstanz attempted to join the Swiss Confederacy, but was refused admission and entered the Swabian League instead, thus laying the foundation for its future as a part of Germany rather than Switzerland. The end of the city's golden era came in 1821, when the Bishopric of Constance, once the largest Bishopric north of the Alps, was moved to Freiburg in the Black Forest. The founding of the University of Konstanz in 1966 has led to the revitelization of the ancient city, which today is one of the most vibrant communities on the lake that bears its name.
The third-largest lake in Germany is often referred to somewhat tongue-in-cheek as the "Bavarian Sea". The main attractions are the his and hers islands, called the Fraueninsel (Women's Island) and the Herreninsel (Men's Island). The former is home to a Benedictine convent, while the latter features a palace built by Ludwig II of Neuschwanstein fame intended to be a replica of the Palace of Versailles. The shores of Chiemsee are dotted with medieval villages, of which Seeon is the most charming.
The political and cultural capital of Saxony has an eventful history. Although already mentioned in 1206, it was largely insignificant until the 15th century. After it survived the 30-year war, it burned to the ground in 1685. The city of the Saxon Elector was then rebuilt in glorious fashion and given a uniform baroque townscape which earned her the name "Florence of the North". In February 1945 the hitherto scarcely damaged city was razed to the ground in one night by a devastating bomb attack. For decades the ruins of the Frauenkirche were a memorial to the horrors of war. The glorious restoration of the Frauenkirche in 2005 unleashed the ambition of the city to reconnect with its former splendor and beauty before the 2nd World War. The old town between the Zwinger (palace) and Kreuzkirche (Church of the Holy Cross) has been restored to its former glory and many other sites in the city are being rebuilt.
Since the Middle Ages Frankfurt has been one of the major urban centers of Germany. First documented in 794, it has been a free city since the High Middle Ages and later the coronation city of the Holy Roman Emperor. In 1816 Frankfurt became an independent town and in 1848 it was the birthplace of the German democracy, when the meeting of the German Confederation (Deutscher Bund) took place in the St. Paul's Church. Today the city on the Main is an international financial center and seat of the European Central Bank, the Bundesbank, the stock market and many large banks. Frankfurt is the only German city with a skyline that forms a strange contrast behind the medieval cityscape to the “Römer” - medieval buildings in the old town.
The city in southwestern Germany which lies in the Upper Rhine Valley between the French Vosges and the Black Forest to the east, enjoys a pleasant warm climate. Its story begins with a castle (Freiburg - “free castle”) of the Zähringer Duke in 1008. Today the vibrant university city with over 30,000 students is a stronghold in the world for solar energy research and one of the few German cities with a “green” mayor. The picturesque, traffic-free old town with its magnificent cathedral lends itself to a leisurely stroll, to shop or to dine. South of the city the Schauinsland rises, - one of the most beautiful mountains in the southern Black Forest. And a few kilometers north the Kaiserstuhl (Emperor’s Chair), a range of hills where rare plants and excellent wines grow, emerge from the Rhine plains.
This town on the northern shore of Lake Constance named after the first King of Württemberg was only established in 1811. Because of free trade privileges with Switzerland the city grew rapidly and attracted industrialists and tourists, including the Russian Tsar Alexander II. In the early 20th century the Graf von Zeppelin from Constance set up his airship factory in Friedrichshafen. This was converted into arms factories in the Third Reich, but today they belong to Airbus.
Leipzig is one of the most interesting cities in Germany. Located on several important trade routes, it prospered in the Middle Ages and became an important commercial city. After the Reformation had created an atmosphere of intellectual freedom, Leipzig became an important cultural center in the 18th century. For about 27 years, Johann Sebastian Bach worked at the St. Thomas Church. Today, his choir, the St. Thomas Boys, is the oldest and most famous choir in Germany. Later, Mendelssohn and Schumann worked here as well. Goethe and major publishers made Leipzig Germany's book city number 1. Given the free-spirited climate, it is no wonder that the peaceful revolution that led to the demise of the Soviet bloc in 1989 began with the Monday prayers in the Nicolai Church.
The town dates back to the Roman route station "Partanum" on the Via Claudia. In 1361 it gained in importance when it became the resting station on the trade route from Augsburg to Italy. Quaint farmhouses are found especially in Garmisch. Southwest is the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany at 2,964 meters - and the top can be reached by cable car! The famous Benedictine Abbey from 1330 is located 15 kilometers north in Ettal.
Those who visit the city on the Neiße embark on a journey through five hundred years of European architecture. With structures of late Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Art Nouveau Görlitz is now considered an urban Gesamtkunstwerk. The city benefited from remaining completely intact during World War II and also from being spared from the West German postwar architectural eyesores. The old town impresses with richly decorated facades, ornate vaults and intricate painted ceilings from the various eras. Nowhere else in Germany is there such a density of masterfully restored monuments. Among the most striking buildings is the town hall from the mid-14th century.
After Berlin, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg is the second largest city of Germany. Their importance is owed to the port on the Elbe estuary, which has become one of the largest trading centers in Europe since the beginning of steam navigation. Founded in the 9th century Hammaburg rose to a merchant metropolis. In the free spiritual and religious environment Hamburg could make major contributions to the German Enlightenment in the 18th century. The Alster, a tributary of the Elbe, dominates the cityscape. The Inner Alster lake was expanded in the 17th century to become part of the beautiful and prominent urban landscape.
A private tour can be booked by Umfulana for EUR 120.00.
The capital of the Palatinate (Kurpfalz) is at the point where the Neckar from the Odenwald enters the Rhine valley. It is considered the cradle of German Romanticism and has inspired poets such as Brentano, Arnim or Eichendorff. The city is mentioned for the first time at the end of the 12th century. 200 years later the university was established and the castle under Palatine Count Rupert was built. In 1693 the town and castle were destroyed and rebuilt in the 18th century in baroque style. Rising majestically above the roofs of the old town maze are the ruins of the Heidelberg Castle - the most spectacular in the location, size and beauty in Germany. The classical-romantic view of Old Heidelberg and the castle can be enjoyed from the Philosphengärtchen (Philosophers' Garden) and along the Philosophers’ Way on the north bank of the River Neckar.
The town on the Neckar River was a "Free Imperial City" during the Holy Roman Empire, a status which put it in a league with many of Germany's most powerful cities, including Frankfurt, Cologne, Hamburg and Nuremberg. The city was a major base for the Teutonic Knights from the Middle Ages all the way up to 1805. The famous knight Götz von Berlichingen was held prisoner in the Bollwerksturm (Tower of the Bastion) from 1519 to 1522. While that tower still stands today, much of the city's historical architecture was destroyed when Heilbronn was carpet bombed by allied bombers in 1944. The town's nickname "Käthchenstadt" derives from a famous play called "Das Käthchen von Heilbronn" (Kate of Heilbronn) by Heinrich von Kleist.
Iphofen lies at the foot of the Schwanberg surrounded by vineyards and ancient villages. The first Silvaner vine was planted in the area in 1692. Founded in 751, the enchanting town still features narrow cobbled streets and timber-frame houses (Fachwerkhäuser) enclosed by a mighty town wall. The numerous wine festivals are held in front of the baroque city hall. Although almost as well-preserved as Rothenburg, Iphofen is less well known and thus less touristy. Many hiking trails lead into the nearby Steigerwald.
The capital of the state Schleswig Holstein is Germany's most northern city. It is known for the Kiel Week, the biggest sailing event in the world. The area was probably first settled by Normans or Vikings who wanted to colonize the land which they had raided, and for many years they settled in German villages. The oldest building in the city is the 13th century Nikolaikirche (St Nicholas' Church), which has a sculpture of Ernst Barlach in front of it called Geistkämpfer. Kiel's Holstenstraße (Holsten Street) is one of the longest shopping miles in Germany.
Founded by the Romans in 30 BC, Cologne is one of Germany's oldest cities. The city marked the northern boundary of the Roman Empire and was therefore of great strategic and military importance to the Romans. For many centuries now it has been a leading trading and transportation hub due to its location along the Rhine River. Cologne University, established in 1388, is the second oldest and the largest university in Germany. Cologne became one of the focal points of Western culture during the Middle Ages when the bones of the Three Wise Men were brought to Cologne in 1164 after being captured from Milan. Cologne Cathedral, one of the most magnificent structures north of the Alps, was built to house these relics, although construction wasn't completed until 600 years later. The landmark was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. Pope Benedict XVI visited the cathedral in 2005. The city boasts 12 Romanesque churches among its numerous other historical sites. Cologne is also known as the centre of the German Mardi Gras celebrations that peak during the carnival period.
The romantic town in Oberfranken with less than 20,000 inhabitants is surrounded by the Franconian Forest with many beautiful hiking trails. It is the birth place of Lucas Cranach, who was a famous Renaissance painter and a close friend of Martin Luther. The town is equipped with a nearly complete city-wall and Germany's biggest medieval fortress. The rivers Haßlach, Kronach and Rodach unite in Kronach.
The state capital of Mecklenburg, which has less than 100,000 inhabitants, is known both for its striking setting surrounded by lakes and its medieval architecture. The most famous landmarks are Schwerin Castle, dating back to 1160, and the Gothic cathedral with its soaring brick steeple. Schwerin is considered the gate to the Mecklenburg Lake District, a flat, sparsely populated area mainly covered by forests, lakes and moors that extends across the midsection the state. The scenic region was a popular vacation destination for Eastern Germans during the Cold War era and is only slowly being discovered by Western Germans more than 20 years after reunification.
The capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg is idyllically situated in a lush valley ringed by forests, orchards and vineyards. The city is "only" 1,000 years old and started out as a horse farm (German "Stute" = mare). The Swabian town didn't become the capital of Württemburg until the region was conquered by Napoleon in the early 19th century. After World War II Stuttgart gradually became one of Germany's leading cities, famous for its economic might (Mercedes, Porsche) and its cultural life (state opera house, chamber orchestra).
Known as the "Land of Thousand Lakes", the Mecklenburg Lake District is one of Germany's most scenic regions. Foreign travellers are pleasantly surprised to discover a massive area of pristine national parks and undisturbed wilderness virtually unknown outside of the country. The immense Müritz National Park contains one of Germany's largest bodies of water, Lake Müritz. The protected areas are home to many endangered species, including red deer, cranes, white-tailed eagles and ospreys. Once a part of East Germany and thus virtually inaccessible to Westerners, the region has become one of Germany's most popular destinations for outdoor enthusiasts since reunification.
One of the longest rivers in Europe, the Rhine flows 1,320 km from Switzerland to Holland. The Middle Rhine Valley, a World Heritage Site, stretches from Koblenz to Mainz in central Germany. Because of the river's importance as a trade route during the Middle Ages, numerous castles were built on top of the high cliffs along its banks. The towering ruins of many of these fortresses can still be seen today. Below the cliffs the Rhine is lined with picturesque villages and sloping vineyards, making this one of the most scenic stretches in Germany.
One particular cliff soars high above the water line near St. Goarshausen at the narrowest part of the river: the Loreley. According to legend, Loreley was the name of a beautiful maiden who lured navigators to their death on the rocky shores of the Rhine by the enchanting sound of her singing. The best way to experience this section of the river is by taking a steam boat from St. Goar to Kaub.
The longest tributary of the Rhine River starts in the Vosges Mountains in France, forms the border between Luxembourg and Germany for a brief stretch and then meanders through a deep valley between thickly wooded hills to Koblenz, where it joins the Rhine. Besides its beautiful scenery, the Moselle is also known as an excellent wine-producing region. Vineyards cultivated by generations of wine growers blanket the river's slanted banks. Along the most scenic stretches picture-book villages, where time seems to have stood still, huddle beneath romantic castle ruins. Excellent hiking paths marked by an "M" lead through forests, vineyards and medieval villages along the river. Travellers should take the time to walk up to Burg Eltz, a picturesque castle crowning a hill between Koblenz and Trier.
Like many cities, Munich started out as a small town enclosed by a wall and then expanded beyond it. The 'inner city' occupies such a small area that most sites are close together and easy to visit. The closeness gives a sense of the original wall - in fact, the gates still remain. The River Isar flows through the city, which is very green for its size. The enormous English Garden is a park with a lake and beer garden (of course) and is well worth a visit. Munich has true continental weather, meaning very warm in the summer and very cold in the winter. The splendid Prealpine lakes are less than an hour's drive away to the south. Munich is much more than the venue for the Oktoberfest - it is the high-tech capital of Germany, where many international companies have their European headquarters. There is too much to see in just a few days: the German National Museum is only the most famous of the countless museums and galleries. Beautiful baroque churches and beer gardens abound.##ENDE##
The first thing most people notice in Münster is the large number of bicycles. The quaint university town is famous for its vast network of bike paths, and visitors are well advised to watch for approaching cyclers when crossing the designated lanes. Münster is home to Germany's fourth largest university, and the proportionally large number of students gives the city a liberal atmosphere and vibrant flair. Things were not always this way in Münster. During the Protestant Reformation the Westphalian town was the centre of the radical Antibaptist movement, which controlled the local government from 1532 to 1535. After the defeat of the Antibaptists, their three main leaders were tortured to death and their bodies exhibited in cages hung from the steeple of St. Lambert's Church. The - now empty - cages have remained on the church steeple ever since.
Three miles south of Füssen at the edge of the Alps is the fairy tale castle built by King Ludwig II. One of the most popular tourist destinations in Germany, its design was inspired by stage decorations used for two Wagner operas, Tannhäuser and Parzival. The King known as "Ludwig the Mad" was officially declared insane before the castle's completion in 1896, and he drowned under mysterious circumstances in Lake Starnberg in southern Bavaria shortly after being removed from power. Consequently, no one has ever lived in the castle. Tours can be taken through several rooms, including the Throne Room and the Singers' Hall. The best views of the castle can be had from the Marienbrücke (Mary's Bridge).
If you want to visit the interior of the castle, be prepared of sharing this experience with many other tourists . To avoid long queues at the ticket office, you should book in advance on www.hohenschwangau.de
The community on the River Pegnitz is the 2nd largest city in Bavaria and the cultural centre of northern Bavaria. The settlement grew up around the castle, which played a major role in the administration of the Holy Roman Empire: The Imperial Diets were held there every year, the assembly that governed the empire. By the 14th century Nuremberg had become one of the most important cities in Europe alongside Cologne and Prague. The city also owed its prosperity to its location at the crossroads of major trading routes in central Europe and to the renown of its craftsmen. The artist Albrecht Dürer spent the last 20 years of his life in Nuremberg. His 15th century home has been rebuilt and is open to the public. Because of its key role in Germany history, the Nazis chose the city as the site of huge propaganda events called the Nuremberg Rallies during the Third Reich. The Allies held the Nuremberg Trials there after the war for the same reason. The main sites are the castle, the Frauenkirche (Our Lady's Church). The church is bested visited around noon, when the 500-year-old clock plays and figures re-enact a scene involving Emperor Karl IV.
The picturesque city on the border between Germany and Austria is situated at the confluence of the Danube and Inn rivers. Those two waterways, together with the smaller River Ilz, have given Passau its trademark moniker "City of Three Rivers." Founded by the Romans, Passau gradually rose to become the largest diocese in the Holy Roman Empire. The most famous remnant of the city's glorious past is St. Stephen's Cathedral, known for its unique combination of Gothic and Baroque elements. On a hill above the city stands the medieval castle which for centuries was the heavily fortified residence of the Bishop of Passau. The local university, which accounts for 25% of its population, remains a leading centre of theology in Germany.
With the likes of Rothenburg just a 2 hours' drive away, Regensburg may be stretching it a bit when it refers to itself as "Germany's best-preserved medieval city." Still, the 2,000-year-old town on the Danube is certainly one of Germany's best-preserved cities, and it's just far enough off the beaten path to avoid the tourist throngs that plague Rothenburg. The unspoiled medieval skyline of the UNESCO-protected Old Town has been carefully mintained, and the view from the Stone Bridge dating back to the 12th century is, indeed, without parallel. Everything down to the colours of the buildings is authentic. After admiring this view, visitors should enjoy a real Bavarian sausage at the "Historische Wurstkuchl" (Historical Sausage Kitchen), which has stood next to the bridge for over 500 years. As proud as the city that contains it, the little restaurant bills itself as the "Oldest sausage kitchen in the world." Maybe it is.
Time seems to have stood still in this quaint little city huddled in a bend of the Tauber River. The cobble-stoned streets of the old town are lined with medieval buildings still protected by the old city wall. The two main streets, Herrngasse and Schmiedgasse, form an "L" that meets at the central market square dominated by the Renaissance town hall. Visitors can climb to the top of the tower for a good view of the town or walk along the top of the city wall. A popular attraction in addition to the architecture is the torture museum featuring medieval tools of torment.
Rüdesheim is the capital of the Rheingau, one of Germany's premier wine-producing regions. This area with its progressively steep slopes is rich in tradition. Early aristocratic wine-growers associated with the Riesling grape are credited with discovering the value of harvesting the crop at various stages of ripeness, thus producing wines of various quality. The attributes that denote superior wines evolved from this system. The main varieties of wine produced in the region today are Riesling and Spätburgunder. Rüdesheim's reputation as a wine-tasting Mecca has made it one of the most popular stops along the Rhine. A wide variety of restaurants and taverns occupy the half-timbered houses that line the main street, the Drosselgasse.
The city built on the legendary seven hills, was ruler of the western world for 1500 years and the stage for many events of historical significance, for the entire world. After the end of the Roman Empire, Rome became the seat of the Catholic Church. During the zenith of its power, (the second century A.D.), the population of the city numbered more than a million, which made it the first metropolis in the world. At the close of the Roman Empire, only 25 000 people lived among its ruins. The city only began its re-growth in the fifteenth century, with the return of the pope from Avignon. Today, the Italian capital belongs amongst the best cities of Europe, with regard to art, culture and fast-paced living. Millions of tourists visit Rome annually, not only for the sights, but also to shop and enjoy the cuisine.
Located deep in the Black Forest 30 km from Freiburg, Triberg, considered the birthplace of the cuckoo clock, is known for two superlatives: the world's largest cuckoo clock and Germany's highest waterfall. The fact that the biggest cuckoo clock is actually in the nearby town of Schonach, and Triberg Waterfalls are really only the second highest in Germany, makes little difference. The little Black Forest town is worth seeing all the same. Other local sites include the Black Forest Museum and the Baroque pilgrimage church, Maria in der Tanne. The original chapel was built after water from the nearby spring allegedly cured a local villager of leprosy.
The beautiful city on the banks of the River Moselle is believed to be the oldest city in Germany. Founded by the Romans in 15 BC, the settlement called Augusta Treverorum had risen to become the capital of the Western Roman Empire by the 3rd century AD. The city reached its height in the 14th century when it was home to the powerful Archbishop of Trier, but its fortunes declined when the seat of the archbishop was moved to Koblenz in the 17th century. The main sites include the Cathedral of Trier and the Porta Nigra, the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps.
The pride of Ulm and its most popular attraction is the Cathedral, called Ulm Minster. The fact that the Luthern church is referred to as a "minster" (German: Münster) points to the fact that it is not actually a cathedral, which by definition is the seat of a bishop. This technicality makes little difference to anyone who has had a chance to marvel at this towering Gothic masterpiece. And tower it does: The 530 ft. high steeple is the tallest in the world, beating the twin spires of the famous Cologne Cathedral by about 3 feet. Both churches were begun in the Middle Ages, and both were only completed in the late 19th century (Cologne in 1880, Ulm in 1890). A further - regrettable - similarity to Cologne: Ulm's medieval Old Town was thoroughly destroyed during WW II, leaving few historical buildings standing other than the Cathedral.
It is impossible to think of Eisenach without thinking of Wartburg Castle, and impossible to think of Wartburg Castle without thinking of Martin Luther. After refusing to recant at the Diet of Worms, the reformer sought refuge in the castle in 1521 to avoid persecution by Pope Leo X. During his year-long stay in the castle Luther completed what remains the definitive translation of the New Testament for many Christians. The room where he lived and worked has been carefully restored to its original condition. It was here that he allegedly dashed an inkwell against the wall to chase away Satan, thus "driving out the devil with ink," as he described the legendary occurrence (perhaps a touch metaphorically).
Founded in 1067, the castle served as the seat of the Thuringian landgraves for 400 years. Long before Luther's time it was home to St. Elisabeth of Hungary, who built a charitable hospital at the foot of the hill in 1226. Long after Luther it was none other than Wolfgang von Goethe who came up with the idea of turning the castle into a museum after a visit there in 1815. Other important features of the museum include the Wartburg Collection of early and medieval art and the Bailiff's Lodge.
Thr city in southwest Thuringia was the centre of German classicism. After such luminaries as Martin Luther, Lukas Cranach and Johann Sebastian Bach had lived and worked here, the city cemented its image as Germany's intellectual centre when Goethe, Herder and Schiller took up residence in Weimar towards the end of the 18th century. The composer Franz Liszt joined the list of prominent residents in the 19th century - a list that also includes Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer, Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner. In the 20th century the Bauhaus school of architecture originated in Weimar before spreading around the world. Many statues of famous citizens dot the city and the pleasant park - designed by Goethe himself - on the Ilm River. Recommended stops are the Goethe-Haus, the Lukas-Cranach-Haus and the Goethe-Schiller monument.
Wittenberg was a remote enclave when Martin Luther became a professor of theology at the university there in 1508. Nine years later, in 1517, he nailed his 95 theses against the selling of indulgences on the door of the All Saints' Church. That was the beginning of the Reformation, which changed Germany and the world forever. Wittenberg became the centre of the new movement and the "Protestant Rome". It was there that the Old Testament was translated into German, which is considered the beginning of modern German language. Luther died in Wittenberg in 1546 and was buried in the the All Saints' Church (also known as the Castle Church).
Unlike many other historical German cities, Wittenberg was spared destruction in World War II. The Allies agreed not to bomb Wittenberg, although there was fighting in the city which left visible bullet holes on the statues of Luther and Melanchthon on the market square.