A Guide to Germany’s Historic Cities

by Jules on May 3, 2013

Germany has a rich history, from its roots in the Holy Roman Empire and traditional Prussian background, to the life-changing events of the first and second World Wars. Most of Germany was destroyed during the Allied invasion in World War II, and to this day some smaller towns have little evidence of their history. However, many of the larger cities still have some hidden historical gems around for tourists to enjoy.

Berlin

The capital of Germany has had a turbulent past, much like any other capital city. After World War II had ended the city was divided up between the Allies but in the 1960s at the height of the Cold War the fearful Soviet Union constructed the now notorious wall which divided the city into two. The wall eventually was pulled down in 1989, however parts still remain and it’s a popular tourist attraction within the city.

Other historical attractions include the Brandenburg Gate, and the Charlottenburg Palace, the only surviving royal residence within the city. Modern-day historical sights also include the UNESCO World Heritage site of Museum Island, the Fernsehturm 1960s television tower and the infamous Kempinski Adlon Hotel, which was rebuilt in the 1990s.

Frankfurt

Situated in south-west Germany, Frankfurt has long been the country’s financial centre. As such, many modern skyscrapers line the cityscape and there is a blend of old and new structures. The Romerberg Square is an example of this, with a distinctive series of brightly coloured medieval buildings that surround the square that had to be partially rebuilt after it suffered severe bomb damage.

Other landmarks within the city include the huge Frankfurt Cathedral, the 15th century Eschenheimer Turm city gate and the Hauptwache plaza, with distinct baroque guard house.

Cologne

With over 95 per cent of the city destroyed during the war, the result is that Cologne has an unusual landscape, with a mixture of modern buildings and rebuilt historical landmarks. Many of the buildings are heavily influenced by the architecture of the 1950s, including the controversial Opera House, however there are still some impressive historical buildings to visit.

The Cologne Cathedral overlooks the city, and Cologne City Hall is also another must-see landmark. Dating back to the 12th century, it’s the oldest town hall still in use today.

Bamberg

Mostly unaffected by the attacks on Germany, the city’s historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The distinctive buildings date back to medieval times, and the city is well known for the beer it produces at its eight breweries. In addition to this, the city has strong historical roots, with the imposing Michaelsberg Abbey overlooking the city, as well as the Altenberg, which was originally established in the 1100s.

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