Germany is a country that could be considered existing on cultural and historic overload. It is a country that gave the world some of its greatest classical music computers, such as Bach, Brahms and Beethoven. Germany also gave the world some great writers, such as Goethe and Schiller. Let’s not even think about automotive industry, shall we? Or, beer.
Nonetheless, this Central European is well worth your time, aside from the brats or sausages. Wherever travelers go in Germany, they will find history, beginning with towns that started out as Roman outposts. Medieval squares and ancient churches beckon visitors, as do snowy mountains, gorgeous blue lakes and, of course, the Black Forest. Here are the best 15 cities to take a trip to!
Its location on the Baltic coast made Stralsund into a major trading center in the 14th and 15th centuries. It is famous for the Brick Gothic architecture, a style the city helped promote in the 17th and 18th centuries. Travelers can see these buildings, including the Rathaus, or town hall, at the Old Market Place.
Schwerin, the capital of Mecklenburg, is a thousand-year-old city best known for Schwerin Palace that sits on an island in Lake Schwerin. The picturesque palace is now home to the state parliamen0t, while the State Art Museum has an outstanding collection of works by 16th century Dutch painters as well as works by German artists.
Located on the Baltic Sea coast, Wismar was established in the 13th Century during a period of Germanic colonization of Slavic lands. It was part of the Hanseatic League, a trade network of about 200 ports and inland towns. Wismar’s old town contains traces of history going back to the middle ages, including several outstanding brick Gothic churches and old houses.
Lübeck accumulated considerable wealth as the capital of the Hanseatic League from the 11th to the 17th century. Many merchants made a fortune on shipping salt to other Baltic port cities in exchange for valuable goods needed in Germany. Its medieval skyline, mainly composed of seven Gothic-style church towers, is still intact today.
Leipzig is located in Saxony at the confluence of three rivers. Once one of Europe’s educational and cultural centers, where Bach and Mendelssohn worked, Leipzig is filled with Renaissance and Baroque buildings.
Located on the Elbe River, Dresden is the capital of Saxony, and once home to the kings and electors of Saxony. It was once known as Florence on the Elbe because of its rococo and baroque city center, which was destroyed during World War II. After many years however, the city has restored much of its former glory.
Located on the River Spree in northeastern Germany, the city is a vast, unified city diverse in ethnic groups and abundant in sightseeing attractions, museums, culture and nightlife. The Reichstag, where Parliament meets, offers impressive art and architecture. Greek mythology fans will want to visit the Pergamon Museum, home to the Altar of Zeus.
Potsdam was the capital of Brandeburg and later Prussia, until it was replaced by nearby Berlin. It was still used as a residence for the kings of Prussia when they wanted to get away from the big-city trouble in Berlin. Today a large network of interconnected lakes and palaces are the main attraction in this city.
Aerial view of Cologne, Germany
Cologne, also known as Koln, dates back to the first century as a Roman outpost. Today, it is Germany’s fourth largest city. Located on both sides of the Rhine River, Cologne is a leading culture center in the Rhineland area. Top sights include the Cologne Cathedral, St. Gereon church and the University of Cologne, one of Europe’s oldest universities.
Düsseldorf, the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia, is a cosmopolitan city, popular for hosting trade shows. Düsseldorf is known for its rich art, home to composers Robert Schumann and Mendelssohn, and Altbier, a crisp beer made with lots of hops. How about a cold one?
A popular student hangout since the University of Marburg was founded in 1527, public life in this town still centers around the university today. Marburg is famous for the castle Marburger Schloss and for its medieval Gothic churches; it’s a green city with one of Germany’s first pedestrian zones.
Germany’s most international city is also Europe’s largest financial center. For centuries, German kings and emperors were elected here, first crowned at Aachen and later in Frankfurt. Top attractions are the Frankfurt Book Fair, which began in 1478, St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral, St. Paul’s Church and the Archaeological Garden that was uncovered by World War II bombs.
The old city of Heidelberg is located in scenic southwest Germany. Considered one of Germany’s most romantic cities, it is home to the famous Heidelberg University, founded in 1386. Heidelberg Castle dominates the old town on the Neckar River. Philosopher’s Walk is a good place to look across the Neckar to see the old town and the castle.
Founded in the 10th century, Würzburg served as the home of powerful prince-bishops for many centuries. It is renowned for the Würzburger Residence, regarded as one of the finest palaces in Europe and a high point of Baroque art, The city is also home to one of the oldest churches in Germany, built in the 8th century on top of a former pagan shrine.
The capital of Bavaria’s name is derived from Benedictine monks who once ran a monastery here; a monk is depicted on the city’s coat of arms. Munich is filled with museums, including the BMW auto museum. A top attraction is Asam’s Church, as well as its annual Oktoberfest.