Neuschwanstein is known all over the world as a symbol of idealized romantic architecture and for the tragic story of its owner. After losing sovereignty in his own kingdom, Ludwig II withdrew into his own world of myths, legend and fairytales.
Neuschwanstein Castle in southern Bavaria is without doubt one of the most frequently photographed sights in Germany. Ludwig II's ambitious project, begun in 1869, united aspects of Wartburg Castle with those attributed to the Castle of the Holy Grail from Wagner's 'Parsifal'. For Ludwig, Neuschwanstein was primarily a retreat. After ascending the Bavarian throne in 1864, he was forced to cede power to the Prussians just two years later, which left him with a hatred of the royal seat of Munich. To compensate, he devoted more and more of his time to the fine arts. After his sovereignty was taken away, he withdrew into his own world of myths, legend and fairytales.
Today Neuschwanstein is one of the most popular of all the palaces and castles in Europe. Every year more than a million people visit "the castle of the fairy-tale king". In the summer huge numbers of visitors visit per day stream through rooms that were intended for a single inhabitant.
There have been churches on the site of Cologne Cathedral since the 4th century. However, it was not until 1248 that this city on the Rhine became home to one of the foremost cathedrals in the Christian world a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. When it was completed in 1880, it was the tallest building in the world.
Attracting more than six million visitors every year, Cologne Cathedral is one of Germany's most popular tourist attractions. The two mighty towers are the tallest dual spires in the world and offer fantastic views of Cologne and the surrounding region.
The cathedral is dedicated to St. Peter and St. Mary rather than the Three Kings, whose relics were transferred to Cologne from Milan in the 12th century and have since been kept in a golden shrine that made the cathedral an important pilgrimage site. The cathedral treasury also contains priceless artefacts including St. Peter's reliquary and chain, and the Gero Cross, the oldest intact life-size crucifix in the western world.
One of Europe's most famous landmarks, the romantic ruins of Heidelberg Castle have been attracting visitors since the 19th century.
It is the paradox of seeing something so magnificent in a state of such beautiful ruin that gives Heidelberg Castle and its park such a captivating aura. The epitome of German romanticism, it's like something from another world. Even the majestic ruins, overgrown with ivy, still reflect the power and magnificence of the castle's former residents, the Wittelsbach dynasty.
Built as a fortress with towers, casemates and moats in around 1300, this castle perched high above the town developed over four hundred years into a symbol of the feudal power of the Palatinate Electors of the time. The oldest still discernibly residential building is the Ruprecht wing with its magnificent Renaissance fireplace.
The Otto-Heinrich wing was the first castle building in Germany to have elaborate exterior decoration. The best-preserved building is the Friedrich wing whose facade with statues of the electors is like an ancestral portrait gallery.
This monument in Berlin is as famous around the world as Brandenburg Gate, built between 1789 and 1791 to plans by C. G. Langhans on Pariser Platz in the heart of the city. After the Berlin Wall was built in 1961, Brandenburg Gate became impassable for 28 years.
As a signature attraction and symbol of German reunification, it now represents the past and present of the German capital in exemplary fashion. The gate is supported by six Doric columns, forming five passageways with pedestrian-only access. The famous Quadriga depicting the goddess of victory, Victoria, riding a four-horse chariot was added in 1794.
The only remaining city gate of Berlin formerly used to represent the separation of the city between East and West Berlin, since the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 the Brandenburg Gate has now come to symbolise German unity. The Gate’s neoclassical design was modelled on the entrance to the Athens’ Acropolis and was intended to be a symbol of peace. Within two years it was topped with the Quadriga, a striking sculpture representing the Roman Goddess of Victory.
The Lake Constance region, where Germany borders Austria and Switzerland, is a holiday paradise set around Europe's third largest inland lake. The most popular excursion is to the Flower Island of Mainau, famous for its magnificent park and gardens surrounding the baroque family residence of Count Bernadotte. Discover an oasis of natural beauty, harmony and relaxation.
Also on Lake Constance is the Monastic Island of Reichenau, which documents the religious and cultural role played by the large Benedictine abbey in the Middle Ages and has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2000. The three well-preserved Romanesque churches on the island are notable examples of monastic architecture.
Mainau ‘The Flower Island’ Island lies just off the shores of Lake Constance in Baden-Württemberg in the far south-west of Germany, close to Switzerland and Austria. With more than a million visitors every year, it has become a major attraction in this trilateral border region. The flower season begins in spring with an orchid show in the Palm House and a million tulips that bloom from March until May. Rhododendrons follow the tulips, and in summer another 350,000 flowers are on display. Dahlias bloom in September, pleasing visitors until the gardens wrap up their season in late October.
In spring and summer, Mainau looks like a giant flower carpet. By the end of March to mid-May bloom tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, pansies, forget-me-not and primroses. Due to its location, Mainau is a perfect place for couples, who want to spend a romantic stay. Enjoy the mild climate of the Lake Constance – irrespective of the season.
The Zugspitze is one of the most famous mountain peaks in the Alps. Measuring 2,962m, it is not only Germany's highest mountain, but also one of the most popular destinations for visitors from all over the world.
An additional highlight in Garmisch-Partenkirchen is the remarkable Partnach Gorge, which is 2.305 ft. in length, with its walls rising up to 263 ft. The Gorge is the point of departure for many walking tours and can be passed by an iron bridge. The gorge offers remarkable views all year round; in winter, bizarre ice sculptures give this natural beauty its unique charm.
Today, the house at Checkpoint Charlie shows an almost incomprehensible number of original means and tools that people used in their escape out of the "DDR": from the hot-air balloon to the Trebant up to the chairlift.
One must see the tiny car, whose trunk was not checked on the border because no border patrol could imagine that a person could be hiding in it. Or both of the cut open and placed together suitcases, in which someone also escaped. One of the most nightmarish exhibits is surely the spring gun machine, with which the "DDR" lined its West German borders.
Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin
Black Forest's nature parks one of the two largest nature reserves in Germany, and there are so many different ways to discover the scenery and landscape.
They border the fertile Rhine valley to the west, and hilly meadows and farmland to the east. In between there are swathes of woodland, Germany's highest hills medieval towns and cultural centres such as Baden-Baden and Freiburg.
Furtwangen in the Black Forest is 20 miles east of Freiburg and a lovely quiet area relatively free of visitors. In the summer high season the Black Forest can feel a bit overrun. Best choose a time in early spring or late autumn to see it as its best. The region is not that big either, and so can easily be explored in a few days by car.
The Black Forest region is blessed with a particularly rich mythological landscape. It is said to be haunted by werewolves, sorcerers, witches and the devil in differing guises. Helpful dwarves try to balance the scales.
Visit one of the cleanest lakes in Germany - the Königssee. Most parts of the lake are located in the Berchtesgaden National Park. For many visitors this is the most beautiful lake in Germany. With its crystal clear, emerald green water the Königssee creates a unique enchanted fairytale atmosphere.
Lake Königssee is a unique experience at any time of the year, in spring see mighty waterfalls thunder down over the steep rocks into the lake. Summer brings a rich, green contrast to the barren rock. Autumn is a colourful as compared to other seasons and incomparable splendour. And in ice conditions , winter presents an unforgettable snow landscape. In winter the region is a paradise for cross-country skiers, winter hikers and luge athletes.
Visitors can glide along the length of the lake in an quiet electric boat, right past vertical mountain walls to the much photographed baroque church of Sankt Bartholomä, and further on to the dock at Salet at the southern end. If you can reach early you can easily get the boat rather standing in a queue.
Sankt Bartholomä- Lake Konigssee
Nuremberg Castle, where every emperor of the Holy Roman Empire lived, at least for a time, between 1050 and 1571, is one of the most important medieval imperial palaces. Friedrich Barbarossa and his successors added large extensions to the Salian royal castle which had been in existence since around the mid 11th century. The double chapel, which has survived intact to this day, dates back to this time. The imperial apartments and state rooms in the main building, whose original panelling has largely been preserved, contain 16th and 17th century paintings, tapestries and furniture.
Nuremberg's castle was built on the site of earlier buildings from the time of the Salian emperors, the Hohenzollern castellans of Nuremberg and the Holy Roman emperors. The permanent exhibition at the Kaiserburg Museum explores the castle's construction, its historical significance and the history of arms in the Middle Ages.
Kaiserburg Castle was built on and made out of sandstone. The underground were used for centuries for fermenting and storing beer. Legend has it that the robber baron jumped over the walls of Kaiserburg Castle on his horse in the 14th century to escape execution.
Rügen in the Baltic Sea is Germany's largest island and offers a variety of landscape features and things to see and do – from buzzing seaside resorts to sleepy fishing villages, from parks, gardens and tree-lined avenues to palaces and stately homes. A highlight is Jasmund National Park, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the famous Königsstuhl chalk cliffs.
Rügen is splendid in summer, with its magnificent chalk cliffs, long avenues of horse chestnut trees and beech woods. Chalk cliffs in Jasmund National Park they are famous landmarks and belong to the most popular tourist attractions of the Rugen Island in Northern Germany. Cape Arkona is another splendid location for visitors as East Germany’s northernmost tip where they can look into light house and Slavic castle.
Jagdschloss Granitz- South of Binz, amid venerable houses, is one of the most famous monuments in northern Germany, the hunting lodge Granitz . It was built at the highest point in the southeast of the island of Rügen, on the 109 m high Temple Mount. The inner wall of the tower-round, performs intricately crafted cast iron, openwork ornaments with spiral staircase 154 steps up to the viewing platform.
The beautiful city of Potsdam is part of an extraordinarily rich and attractive landscape: expansive parks, majestic tree-lined avenues and some 150 buildings from the 18th to the 20th century all combine to make an outstanding cultural treasure. Extended to include architectural monuments in neighbouring Berlin, they have been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1990.
Today's World Heritage site dates back to 1745, when Frederick the Great commissioned Sanssouci Palace to be built as his summer residence. That makes Sanssouci the oldest feature of the palaces and parks of Potsdam and Berlin.
Park Sanssouci is the largest park in Brandenburg. Almost every monarch has left his mark on the park in one way or another. Its uniqueness attracts over a million tourists each year. Having ascended the hill opposite Palace Sansssouci, visitors experience the Ruinenberg or leisurely stroll through the Sicilian and the Nordic garden. The Marly Garden, awash with flowers, blossoming shrubs and statues is contrasted by the more sober atmosphere of the Friedensgarten.
Eltz Castle is one of the few castles in Europe that has remained in the hands of the same family since it was built almost 900 years ago. Let yourself be enchanted by these ancient halls with their exquisite historical furnishings and family atmosphere, as you learn about life in days of old. Eltz Castle also offers relaxed and friendly restaurants, beautiful walking trails all around and a world-class treasury.
Burg Eltz sits in a forested green valley alongside the babbling Elzbach Creek in the Mosel Valley, hidden away from the traffic of the main roads. Walking up to this magnificent castle provides for a really knockout view, as it looks today much as it did in 1540 when the last major part of the castle was built.
Unlike the vast majority of castles along the Mosel and Rhine Rivers, this was one of the few that was not destroyed or badly damaged. Its history is quite fascinating as it has been owned within the same family since at least the 12th century and continues to be privately owned by the Eltz family.
Eltz Castle inside few things you must see
Würzburg Residenz Palace is generally considered the purest and most remarkable of all baroque palaces in Germany. Built between 1720 and 1744 and enhanced by the magnificent gardens between 1765 and 1780, it exemplifies a glittering era and is one of the most spectacular royal palaces in Europe.
Würzburg Residence Palace (Würzburg Residenz) is a magnum opus of the south german baroque architecture, and reasonably must be mentioned in the same breath with another baroque buildings like Versaille Castle in Paris or Schönbrunn Castle in Vienna.
One of the highlights is the cantilevered staircase which was planned and built by Balthasar Neumann as well. It shows the world's largest coherent ceiling fresco which was created between 1750 and 1753 by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. The truly incomparable Imperial Hall is considered one of the most beautiful ballrooms in the world and has hosted a variety of special events from wedding receptions to Mozart concerts.
Anyone who admires or studies architecture or interior decoration must visit Wurzburg Residenz. As a setting for a special social gathering, there are so many stunning spaces it is difficult to choose from. In addition to the ornately-decorated salons on the main floor, the exquisite, vaulted-stone "Vestibule", beneath the Grand Staircase, provides an equally desirable, alternate atmosphere.
Fortified with a multitude of towers and turrets, Hohenzollern Castle sits in splendour almost 900 metres above the Swabian Alb. This is a storybook fortress from the heyday of the neo-Gothic. From 1454 the second Hohenzollern Castle was constructed bigger and even more fortified than before. Later, during the Thirty Years War, the Castle was converted into a fortress with repeatedly changing owners. Since the maintenance of the building was neglected, it dilapidated and turned into ruins at the beginning of the 19th century.
As with many European fortresses, by the end of the 18th century Hohenzollern Castle had largely lost its strategic importance and gradually fell into disrepair, and today only the medieval chapel remains from this second life.
Today visitors to Hohenzollern Castle can not only enjoy the impressive fortress itself but also the museum, which contains a fascinating collection of artefacts linked to the history of Prussia and its royal family including the royal crown worn and a uniform worn by Frederick the Great.
Hohenzollern Castle Inside view