What you can't miss in the seaside city of Bremerhaven
Fancy Bremerhaven, but little time? Or not really know what is important? Sure, a city visit is always also a ...Learn more
The Roman-ancient Porta Nigra in Trier, the Gothic Holsten Gate in Lübeck and the Romanesque cathedral in Bamberg - sometimes a city walk turns into a veritable journey into the past. In Germany, there are many cities where just that is possible. We present the eleven most beautiful old towns here:
Table of contents:
2. Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Over ancient cobblestones, through alleyways and past half-timbered houses from six centuries, a city walk leads through the former royal palatinate and first capital of the East Franconian Empire. Today, the 10th-century collegiate church of St. Servatii in particular is a reminder of the glorious past of the city in the Harz Mountains, which was the political center of German kings and emperors for centuries.
Buried in the collegiate church are Henry I, the first German king to unite the German duchies, and his wife Mathilde, who founded the important women's monastery. And something else can be seen in the monumental Romanesque building: The famous cathedral treasure, which fascinates with goldsmith's work, fine ivory carvings and valuable manuscripts from the Middle Ages. Together with its old town and the Renaissance castle from the 16th century, Quedlinburg has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Quedlinburg: Plan arrival.
Towers, gables, gates, winding alleys and an ensemble of colorful half-timbered houses - this small Bavarian town is regarded throughout the world as a landmark of German (medieval) romanticism. Its most famous sight is the Plönlein, which translates as the "square by the fountain." What is actually meant, however, is a quaint half-timbered house with a pointed roof that juts crookedly into the old town alley. Right next to it is the Kobolzell Gate from 1360 and the Sieber Tower, which leads into the old hospital quarter.
If you don't want to miss any detail of the historical synthesis of the arts, you are well advised to take a guided tour of the city. The starting point is the market square, which is dominated by the massive Renaissance town hall. The oldest pictorial representation of Rothenburg's marketplace can then be seen in St. Jacob's Church from the 14th century. The church, which as the name suggests is located on the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela, houses another treasure: the valuable Altar of the Holy Blood by Tilman Riemenschneider, the famous Renaissance sculptor.
It can't be proven quite so precisely. But according to everything that archaeologists and historians have discovered, Trier is the oldest city in Germany. The oldest surviving buildings date back to Roman settlement in ancient times. At that time - the 4th century - the city on the Moselle experienced a real heyday as an imperial substitute residence for Rome and a bulwark against the Germanic tribes. Today, an amphitheater where gladiator fights used to be held, the imperial baths with underground passages and an impressively large throne room - the Basilica of Constantine - bear witness to Trier's rich past. And then, of course, there's the Porta Nigra, once a proud symbol of Roman emperors' monopoly on power, now the city's landmark. In 170 AD, the Romans began building the city gate, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Trier: Plan arrival.
Heidelberg dates back to the 12th century. And since the city on the Neckar has survived the wars of the last centuries almost unscathed, one quickly feels transported back to times long past. To be precise, to the 17th century, when the baroque cityscape of Heidelberg that is still preserved today was created. Even further back is the founding of the university, which opened in 1386, making it the oldest university in Germany. Where can you experience the student flair particularly well today? For example, on the Neckar meadow at the foot of the Heiligenberg. You can get there via the historic Old Bridge, which spans the Neckar in several arches. From the Neckar meadow, you also have a great view of the castle that rises above the old town on the other bank on the northern slope of the Königstuhl. The festivities at the castle, which once rivaled imperial residences in Vienna and Prague and hosted Frederick II, Elizabeth Stuart and other high-ranking monarchs, are said to have been frenetic. Those who wish to walk to Heidelberg Castle have the choice between the Burgweg and the stairs Kurzer Buckel. Or would you prefer to float to the top on the mountain railroad?
Take the train to Heidelberg comfortably and without traffic jams: Plan arrival.
It's off to a good start! Lübeck, the Hanseatic city on the Baltic Sea, welcomes its visitors as they walk in with its proudest landmark: the striking Holsten Gate with its red brick walls and twin towers. And behind it? Lübeck exudes the typical charm of a northern port city: winding alleys and streets lead into the heart of the Hanseatic city and allow city strollers to stumble upon the most beautiful sights as if by chance. There is the Holy Spirit Hospital with its Gothic frescoes. Since the Middle Ages, the shape of the monumental building has hardly changed; as one of the oldest social institutions in Europe, it embodies Lübeck's history as a rich Hanseatic city. On the market square, the town hall from 1225 stands out with its ornate facades. Hidden behind red walls are also the worth seeing gardens and courtyards of the monasteries and convents. Since the medieval town layout and the historic building fabric have been preserved to this day, UNESCO has declared the entire medieval old town center a World Heritage Site. The seven towers of the Gothic brick churches, which characterize the cityscape in their unmistakable way, are also part of it.
By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Lübeck: Plan arrival.
The pre-Pomeranian town of Wismar has prospered as a Hanseatic city, and several magnificent buildings and monuments bear witness to its glorious past. The lovingly restored gabled houses of the port city on the Baltic Sea were built as stately homes for the aspiring middle classes. The spires of the three mighty Gothic brick churches make visitors:inside look up in awe. And on the market square, the Renaissance town hall and the large fountain from the 17th century are fascinating. Perhaps the most valuable landmark, however, can be found on the east side of the market square: The Old Swede, one of the city's oldest town houses with an impressive brick facade dating from 1380. With all the Scandinavian flair wafting around one's nose in Wismar, one already suspects that the building's name was not chosen entirely by chance. Indeed, the restaurant inside, which was established in 1878, is also reminiscent of the time when Wismar belonged to the Swedish Kingdom.
By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Wismar: Plan arrival.
Medieval hall houses, walkable fortifications, houses with Wilhelminian and Art Nouveau facades, a Renaissance town hall and the cathedral-like parish church of St. Peter and Paul. Because Görlitz was lucky in World War II and was almost completely spared destruction, a stroll through the border town on the Neisse River quickly turns into a delightful journey through 500 years of European architectural history. Among the more than 4,000 historic monuments, one is particularly impressive: the Schönhof, a Renaissance building that was once one of the most distinguished houses in Görlitz. Anyone who enters the former princely guesthouse will find themselves in the Silesian Museum, which brings the thousand-year cultural history of the region to life.
By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Görlitz: Plan arrival.
In Celle's old town, quaint houses huddle close together to form an ensemble of half-timbered houses that is unique in the world. One of the most magnificent is the Hoppener Haus from 1532, a half-timbered building with a height of six stories and a façade decorated with elaborately carved mythical creatures, jester-like figures and other figurines. Also part of the old town is the 700-year-old, baroqueized town church of St. Marien with an altar from 1613. The special feature: From the 75-meter-high tower, the songs of the tower bell-ringer still resound today. Directly behind it is Celle Castle, which combines Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque stylistic elements and is surrounded by the green meadows and trees of the castle park.
By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Celle: Plan arrival.
The Petersberg citadel with mysterious listening passages. The monumental St. Marien Cathedral with Romanesque and Gothic influences and the largest free-swinging bell from the Middle Ages. The more than 1000-year-old Old Synagogue, in whose cellar the Erfurt treasure with jewelry and coins from the Middle Ages is kept: In Erfurt, historical sights are colorfully strung together.
The historic heart of Thuringia's capital, however, is the 12th-century Krämerbrücke, which crosses the Gera River and is the longest completely built bridge in Europe. Galleries, antiques, bookstores and other nice little stores have settled in the cozy half-timbered houses on the bridge, which is part of the historic Via Regia trade route.
By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Erfurt: Plan arrival.
Mulhousia turrita - Mühlhausen with its many towers - is what the Thuringian town was called in the Middle Ages. The reason for this are the thirteen Gothic churches and chapels, whose bell towers are visible from afar and characterize the townscape. The Gothic Church of St. Mary, the Kornmarktkirche, inside which a permanent exhibition tells of the Reformation, and the Divi Blasii Church with valuable stained glass and carved altar from the Middle Ages are just three of the houses of worship that bear witness to the 800-year history of the city. Other sights of the medieval imperial city are the historic fortifications and the Popperode fountain house from 1614, where the fountain festival has been celebrated every summer for many centuries.
By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Mühlhausen: Plan arrival.
As you would expect from a city with UNESCO World Heritage status, Bamberg in Upper Franconia is full of historical sights. First and foremost is the historic city layout from the early Middle Ages with its winding alleys, plus the Romanesque imperial cathedral of St. Peter and St. George, the richly decorated old town hall and the Benedictine monastery of St. Michael. But Bamberg is also a historic gardening town, where vegetable gardening has been practiced since the 17th century. And the former fishing village "Little Venice" with its colorful half-timbered houses also contributes to the historical color. Because gondolas glide over the canals in Bamberg, a little Venetian flair really blows here. The city is also known as "Franconian Rome. The reason: Like Rome, Bamberg was built on seven hills. If you want to see for miles, hike up to Altenburg Castle, which was built in the early 12th century on the highest of the seven hills.
By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Bamberg: Plan arrival.
Cover image: Like a fairy tale - Rothenburg ob der Tauber is regarded worldwide as a symbol of German (medieval) romance © Adobe stock/cge2010
Fancy Bremerhaven, but little time? Or not really know what is important? Sure, a city visit is always also a ...Learn more
In Berlin, a whole new cultural center has emerged in just four years. And it offers so much that is new, ...Learn more
Old towns with half-timbered houses and winding alleys are not only charming, but also promise a leisurely stroll far from the hustle and bustle of the big city. In ...Learn more
Would you like to take a virtual walk through Bremerhaven? Have you always wanted to look at Bremen through pink romantic glasses? ...Learn more
In the past, people worked hard in these places, but today they marvel, hike and swing: three industrial heritage sites in North Rhine-Westphalia. ...Learn more
Very slowly, the incredible panorama of Berlin passes by the large glass panes. Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, the boulevard "Unter den ...Learn more
Sure, Nuremberg is a medieval idyll with half-timbered houses, city walls and an ancient castle above the city. But besides all its ...Learn more
The beer bottle with the swing top has made the Flensburg brewery famous - and around Germany's northernmost city port there are ...Learn more
Brandenburg an der Havel is over 1000 years old - so it's not unusual to see three city centers at once....Learn more
"No WIFI - Talk to each other" is written on a sticker on a lantern at St. Johanner Markt. Here, in ...Learn more
Bet you didn't know that: Bremen is 3rd in the ranking of cycling cities in Europe! And in ...Learn more