Excursions to Germany’s World Heritage Sites
Since 1972 UNESCO has been selecting historically important places to join the ranks of the world’s most important sites and preserve them for the future. Although Germany was largely destroyed during the Second World War, some historical sites were spared. Today, Germany’s world heritage sites number in the dozens. Come along and explore the culture and history of Germany.
You’ll find world heritage sites in every region of Germany. Whether you’d like to see deserted industrial complexes or old, romantic castles from the Middle Ages, your options are plenty in beautiful Germany!
The Aachen Cathedral
In the middle of the beautiful old town of Aachen lies the imperial cathedral. The “Kaiserdom” was declared the first of Germany’s World Heritage sites in 1978.
Kings and emperors were once crowned in this city known as the “Rome north of the Alps.”
Today, a mixture of tourists and pilgrims stroll along the historic site. Most impressive is the majestic dome of the 1,200-year-old church.
But you can also learn a lot about history at Aachen Cathedral. The church tells the story of the old Rome and empire in which Aachen was of great importance. Have you ever heard of the name Charlemagne? maybe in your history lessons at school? A tour through the halls of the cathedral will tell you everything you need to know about the history of this impressive building.
Roman Castle Trier
There are several buildings which form the World Heritage Roman monuments in Trier. The most famous monument is probably the former city gate of Trier, the Porta Nigra. Apart from the city gate, you can discover further impressive buildings around the city centre. Over the old Roman bridge, which leads over the Moselle, you will reach the “Südallee”, the famous street.
You’ll find the remnants of the two Roman thermal baths of the city, the Barbara Baths and the Imperial Baths, on the Südallee. From here it is only a stone’s throw to the historic amphitheatre, which lies at the foot of the Petrisberg. After a short walk through the palace gardens, you will arrive at the Constantine Basilica, where Emperor Constantine established his Roman throne. Just so you know: Trier is the oldest city in Germany.
City of Lübeck
The entire town of Lübeck has been declared one of Germany’s world heritage sites, and the picturesque old town of Lübeck certainly deserves it. The entrance of the old town of Lübeck already looks impressive. Through the Gothic Holstein Gate, you find yourself directly in the historic centre of the city.
The former capital of European trade impresses its visitors with beautiful house façades and prominent church towers. Highlights of the old town, which is located on an island in the middle of the river Trave, include the Holy Spirit Hospital and the town’s well-preserved old salt storage facility.
There is a lot to discover here in the industrial harbour district “Speicherstadt”. It was declared one of Germany’s world heritage sites by UNESCO in 2015 and was originally built in 1883. The district consists of a large number of brick department stores vital to the ship trade. Over small steel bridges you reach the Speicherstadt, where you can stroll along the high, rusty red façades. Particularly worth seeing are the beautiful harbour town hall and the water castle. After the sun goes down, the lights in the harbour district are switched on, creating a unique flair. Why not round off your day in Hamburg at the harbour? If you do indeed make it to this great city, be sure to check out our full article on things to do in Hamburg.
Bamberg Old Town
Picturesque half-timbered houses with small, docked boats sit on the banks of the Regnitz. Tourists stroll across the bridges of the old town while the sun bathes the four towers of Bamberg Cathedral in a warm yellow. Especially in the morning, when the old town awakes, Bamberg offers a special atmosphere. Due to the Roman presence, there are monumental residences in and around the old town. With about 2000 historic buildings, every corner of Bamberg’s old town offers a new experience. The Bamberg town hall, which stands between two bridges in the middle of the Regnitz river, is particularly impressive.
The Cologne Cathedral
The pride of Cologne and the city’s landmark was completed in the 19th century and was the largest building in the world at that time. Even during the war, the Gothic church was largely spared, and today it enjoys the popularity of tourists from all over the world. The towers of the Gothic masterpiece rise up to 156 meters into the air and offer you an absolutely breath-taking view. From the opposite bank of the Rhine, you have the best view of the cathedral, but you should not miss a visit within the walls of the cathedral. In addition to historical treasures, such as the bones of the Three Kings, you can also climb the south tower with its 533 steps and enjoy a wonderful view over the cathedral city.
Weimar: City of Poets and Thinkers
A trip to the historical city of Weimar is always worthwhile and you can learn something new every time. In addition to being the birthplace of the Bauhaus architecture style, Weimar is home to a large number of memorials that are contemporary witnesses to a particularly important lyrical epoch revolving around Herder, Goethe and Schiller, and the Weimar Classicism.
The Wartburg near Eisenach tells many stories. Luther translated the Bible in the castle, which was declared one of Germany’s world heritage sites in 1999. In the 13th century, St. Elisabeth lived in Wartburg Castle and at about the same time the most talented minstrels came to Wartburg Castle to take part in the Wartburg War. Nowadays, the Wartburg is primarily used for tourism, and you can explore it more closely on an educational tour. Don’t forget to check out the view from the castle tower!
Essen Coal Mine
The most beautiful coal mine in the world, as the Zollverein in Essen likes to call itself, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. During an exciting guided tour through the coal mine, you will immerse yourself in a time when the Ruhr area was the industrial centre of Germany. From former coke ovens to the largest coking plant in the world, you can follow the path of coal. In the Ruhr Museum, you can learn more about the industrial Ruhr area. In addition, interesting events take place every year in and around the Zollverein coal mine. On your next trip, check out the Zollverein website first.
In Bad Muskau on the German-Polish border, you will find the Muskau Park. The English landscape park with rivers and romantic lakes will leave you enchanted, while the meadows invite you to a perfect picnic spot invitation to picnic. The reconstructed Muskau Castle is in the centre of the romantic park. Opposite the registry office, lucky travellers can watch the occasional wedding party against the backdrop of the castle on hot summer days. No wonder the park is known as one of the most beautiful places in the area!
Wilhelmshöhe Mountain Park
Another eye-catchy park is located in Kassel. At the foot of the park in kassel lies the Wilhelmshöhe Palace. Your journey through the mountain park begins here. The Bergpark-Wilhelmshöhe is characterised by countless international trees and plant species that grow throughout the park. It will amaze you to find, fascinating fauna, lakes, rivers, and small waterfalls running through the park.
Once again, you will come across water fountains shooting out of the ground and mysterious grottos. The Löwenburg is situated in the middle of the park, a medieval castle, which almost looks like a spooky ghost castle from the outside. Hercules sits enthroned at the very top of the mountain park. From the statue, which marks the highest point of the park, you have a phenomenal view over the park and the adjacent city of Kassel. You should not miss taking a picture of the impressive water feature below the statue.
Museum Island Berlin
The historic Museum Island is situated between hipster quarters and concrete buildings originating from the times of the GDR. The island on the river Spree was declared one of Germany’s world heritage sites in 1999. The magnificent buildings house five different museums, which exhibit art collections from prehistory to antiquity and art of the 19th century. A must for all art and history lovers among you!
You can marvel at the Würzburg Residence on the edge of the old town. The beautiful baroque Palace charms its visitors with its interior. You wander through magnificent bedrooms, past halls of mirrors, and climb monumental staircases. You should take time to glance at the ceilings of the rooms because this is where the true art of the palace comes alive. Outside, a huge park is waiting for you to explore. You could even confuse it with Versailles when you look at the castle from a distance. In terms of its architecture, the late baroque residence has many similarities to the magnificent Parisian castle.
The Völklingen Ironworks are a monument of the golden age of industry. The once extremely modern industrial plant tells the story of steel production in an adventurous way. Your path through the ironworks takes you deep into the dark corridors of the burden hall and high up to the former blast furnaces. A multimedia tour takes you on a journey through time from the beginnings of the Völklingen Ironworks until their closure. In addition to viewing platforms, you can find plenty of small picnic areas that invite you to enjoy a snack with a view of the industrial plant.
From the 240-meter-long accessible platform, you can descend to the halls where you will find huge engines that produced the wind for the blast furnaces. In addition to the fascinating tours, the Völklingen Ironworks regularly host cultural events such as readings or art exhibitions. Incidentally, the ironworks appear in bright colours at night due to the multitude of spotlights. As you can see, a day trip to the Völklingen Ironworks is an incredible adventure!