Top 5 things to see in Germany
Germany is a fascinating country, steeped in folklore and tradition. It also has a troubled history, with the nation being forced to persevere throughout the obstacles outlined by fascist, and later, communist governments. It is inevitable that during your visit to Germany, some interaction with the darker periods of German past will occur. However, it is not all doom and gloom. Far from it. Germany holds some sites of exquisite beauty and if your visit is timed accordingly, you may just find yourself amidst one of the world’s biggest festivals.
Running from late September to the first week of October, Oktoberfest is touted as being the world’s largest fair, boasting over 6 million visitors over the duration of the event. The city of Munich is flooded with people, celebrations and beer. Beer is the reason the majority of visitors come to the event, with over 5 and half million litres of it being consumed during the festivities, however Oktoberfest does offer more than this. If you fancy a break from the huge, brewery endorsed beer tents, then are ample fairground rides for your entertainment. It is generally advisable to book a table in the tents before your visit, due to the fact beer will only be served to you if you are with a tabled party. No beer is served outside of the tents. If you do not have a reservation, then heading down early in the day is your best bet.
This landmark is often cited as the embodiment of German history. Originally built to represent peace, it was constructed at the request of the king of Prussia in 1788. The gate has survived two world wars (although some restoration work has been completed) and has been the location of some of the most important political scenes in recent history. Ronald Reagan’s infamous ‘tear down this wall’ speech was conducted at the site, with imagery of the reunification of Germany being reliant on media coverage of the gate. Essential visit for anyone with an interest in the Cold War (it is still a contemporaneous subject, after all).
The decimation of Dresden during World War Two is one of the most hotly debated topics of the war. Was the complete destruction of the city necessary in order to be victorious, or was it an indiscriminate attack on a defenceless population? Regardless of the answer, the Frauenkirche is a significant figure in the history of the Second World War. Its destroyed remains were left, untouched for many years, to serve as a reminder of the horrors that war brings. After German reunification, the church was rebuilt to its former, pre-war grandeur, including its iconic dome.
Located in the Bavarian village of Hohenschwangau, lies perhaps the grandest castle in Germany. The Neuscwanstein castle (literally ‘New swan stone’ castle) is a real-life ‘fairtytale’ castle. It was envisioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria in the 19th Century, including all his desires and built to his specifications. The fairytale history of this landmark does not stop there, however. It is rumoured to have served as the inspiration for Walt Disney when he was creating Sleeping Beauty’s castle and the resemblences are striking. Any lover of Disney should feel right at home here.
The Black Forest
The Black Forest is the rural epicentre of German folklore, with it being the setting for many legendary Brothers Grimm tales. And with good reason. Undisturbed nature is shown at its most breathtakingly beutiful. Vast expanses of trees, hills and mountains dominate the landscape. The Black Forest contrasts with the lifestyles of many of the cities featured on this list, instead being home to many slow, relaxed towns. So if the hustle and bussle of the city is wearing thin, then the Black Forrest is a perfect retreat, which can even include a visit to one of the local health spas.
There’s no denying that Germany is one of the most intriguing countries in Europe and what your interests are will determine what aspects of the country you see. Partygoers regularly flock to Berlin, for its highly acclaimed nightclub scene, whereas history buffs may be more inclined to visit the Reichstag, or a more sombre affair, Dachau. Berlin also boasts a slew of highly rated museums. This list merely posts my personal pick of the bunch, and hopefully, will inspire you to visit this wonderful