Planning a trip to Germany and need some destination inspiration?
Here’s my guide to 30+ of the best landmarks in Germany, for your bucket list or itinerary. From the glitter and glitz of Germany’s lavish palaces to its craggy medieval castles, you can travel through Germany soaking up culture along the way.
Germany is a gorgeous country, blessed with scores of high powered monuments. Germany boasts a heady mix of towering castles, historic landmarks, massive cathedrals, and iconic museums.
Germany is a land steeped in history, with the earth shattering events of WWII defining the country. Germany has magnificent architecture, dazzling art, and culture. The country attracts over 40 million visitors a year.
Why? Because there are so many amazing things to see and do in Germany.
Many of these must see landmarks in Germany are UNESCO World Heritages sites or designated historic monuments. They’re located in destinations that could be weekend getaways or mini-vacations in and of themselves. These German landmarks can also be combined to create a customized road trip or itinerary for Germany.
30+ Must See Historic Landmarks and Monuments in Germany
Here’s my picks for the top must visit landmarks in Germany, in alphabetical order for ease.
1. Bamburg Town Hall, Bamburg
The most iconic attraction in Bamberg is the gorgeously sited Old Town Hall. Dating from 1462, it’s built on an island in the middle of the Regnitz River and appears to hover above the water.
The Town Hall is connected to the town by two stone bridges. You’ve probably seen iconic shots of it before, especially from the Geyerworthsteg Bridge.
The building itself is adorable. It has arresting yellow timbers, trompe d’oeil frescos, and a cute cherub’s leg sticking out of the wall for a 3D effect. Not surprisingly, the town hall made an appearance in the 2011 movie The Three Musketeers.
How was the location of the Town Hall chosen? By some irate citizens.
Legend holds that the reigning bishop-prince refused to grant land for a new town hall to the emerging bourgeoise. Infuriated, the citizens hulked out and began throwing sticks and stakes into the river. Eventually, they created an artificial island and built their own floating town hall — a symbol of rebellion.
Address: Obere Brücke, 96047 Bamberg
2. Beethoven Monument, Bonn
Ludwig von Beethoven was a German pianist and composer. He’s one of the world’s greatest musical geniuses.
Through sheer force of will and emotion, Beethoven catapulted the music world from Classicism to Romanticism. His tormented life was like a Wagnerian soap opera. The often irascible Beethoven suffered from debilitating deafness, unrequited love, and abject poverty.
Beethoven waas born in Bonn Germany in 1770. He had a musically inclined grandfather and a helicopter father, who was a drunk and yearned for Ludwig to be the next Mozart.
In 1845, in Beethoven’s memory, a bronze monument was erected in Munsterplatz Square. Musician Franz Liszt contributed to the project and composed a cantata for its unveiling. At the statue’s base are four symbols representing the different types of music.
Address: Munsterplatz 5311 Bonn
3. Berlin Cathedral
Berlin Cathedral is the largest and most impressive church in Berlin. It was built at the start of the 20th century as a symbol imperial power of Germany. It’s dubbed the “gateway” to Museum Island.
The cathedral is a four story edifice with a massive central dome in green and matching domed twin towers. In style, it’s Neo-Renaissance with some Neo-Baroque elements.
This iteration of the cathedral dates from 1893-1905. The cathedral was damaged in WWII, but reconstructed and restored.
The cathedral is filled with Corinthian columns, marble, gilding, and sculptures. The beautiful dome has colorful mosaics showing Christ’ beatification.
The church is a venue for concerts. Its enormous organ, the Sauer-Organ, is a highlight of the cathedral. On a visit, you can climb to the top of the 225 feet dome and enjoy beautiful views.
Address: Am Lustgarten 10178 Berkine
4. Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall is a historic wall, which once divided East Berlin and West Berlin. Finally falling in 1989, it’s a symbol of Cold War oppression. There are many different ways to see what remains of the Berlin Wall. Throughout Berlin, cobblestones mark where the wall once stood.
One of the best known crossing points of the Berlin Wall was Checkpoint Charlie. Controlled by the Western Allies, the border crossing bore an ominous sign stating “You are leaving the American Sector.” This was the single crossing point for members of the Allied forces and foreigners.
If Checkpoint Charlie is too touristy for you, head to the Berlin Wall Memorial, known in German as the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer. It’s a memorial to the countless men, women and children who died while trying to get across the wall.
The Berlin Wall’s East Side Gallery is the longest and best preserved section of the wall. It’s now a free outdoor art gallery with 105 murals, which were created in 1990 after the borders started to open.
The graffiti style works, painted in 1990, were created as a monument to the fall of the divide. The most striking and renowned mural is Dmitri Vrubel’s Fraternal Kiss. The mural shows Leonard Brezhnev and Erich Honecker kissing, based on a real photograph.
Address: Niederkirchnerstrasse 1, 10117 Berlin
5. Brandenburg Gate, Berlin
Located at the end of the Pariser Platz, the Brandenburg Gate is one of Berlin’s most iconic landmarks. It was originally built as one of 18 similar fortifications in the early 18th century under Prussian King and Berlin Elector Friedrich Wilhelm II.
The gate was designed in a Neo-Classical style on the place that marked the dividing line between East and West Germany, symbolizing the schism. Affixed to the top is a gilded statue of the Greek goddess of peace, Eirene.
But the Brandenburg Gate hasn’t always been associated with peace. The gate infamously played host to infamous military processions, from Napoleon to the Nazis.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, however, that has changed. Now, the gate is a symbol of unification between Berlin and surrounding regions of the country. In 2000, it was fully restored. Today it serves as one Berlin’s most prominent tourist attractions.
Address: Pariser Platz 10117 Berlin
6. Cochem Castle, Cochem
Cochem is a little gem on the Moselle River in Rhineland Germany. It’s an idyllic riverside town with fairytale architecture.
Cochem is famous for its doughty romantic castle built in the 11th century, officially called Reichsburg Castle. The entire setting looks like something straight out of a movie set.You can either hike or take the shuttle up.
The castle was built in 1130. But its current iteration dates from the 1870s. The castle’s most distinctive feature is its striking four story octagonal tower with mini turrets.
There are 40 minute guided tours. You can inspect the beautiful furnishings inside, courtesy of the Ravene family. The castle also offers killer views of the surrounding countryside.
Address: Schlossstraße 36, 56812 Cochem
7. Cologne Cathedral, Cologne
A hallmark of the Rhine River, the UNESCO-listed Cologne Cathedral is one of Germany’s most stunning sites and its most visited attraction. Finished in 1880, the stone mass is almost 160 meters high.
The cathedral was constructed in a Flamboyant Gothic style, which reflected the Romantic Movement prevalent at the time. The cathedral has a Latin cross shape with side aisles supporting the highest Gothic vault ever built.
Inside, the High Altar is black marble, faced with white marble niches and relief sculptures. The most valuable piece of art is the Shrine of the Three Kings, a reliquary that reputedly contains the relics of the three wise men. The relics make the cathedral an important place of pilgrimage.
There’s also gorgeous stained glass, including a newer piece by famed German artist Gerard Richter. It’s a bit of a miracle that the cathedral escaped WWII with only some damage.
Address: Domkloster 4 50667 Cologne
8. Dachau Concentration Camp, Dachau
The notorious Dachau Concentration Camp is on the outskirts of Munich. It’s about 25 minutes by train from Central Station. Be sure to pick up an audio guide to orient yourself. It’s a vast space.
Dachau played a significant role in having Hilter’s history in Germany. It was one of the first camps set up to hold political prisoners, subversives, Jews, and other “undesirables” during WWII.
There are chilling and disturbing memorials — prisoners cells, death chambers with chemical induction pipes, barbed wire fencing, and a crematorium. You can see bullet marks on the walls. The onsite museums details atrocities the prisoners suffered in this satanic world.
Dachau was liberated in 1945 by the US Army. After liberation, the camp was used by the US Army as an internment camp. It was also the site of the Dachau Trials for German war criminals, a site chosen for its symbolism.
Address: Alte Romerstrasse 75 85221 Dachau
9. Dresden Cathedral, Dresden
Dresden is a delightfully Baroque city, reborn from the ashes of World War II. Dresden Cathedral, known simply as Frauenkirche (the Church of Our Lady), is the star attraction.
The Baroque church was completed in 1743, by architect George Bähr. The famous domed church dominated Dresden’s cityscape for 200 years, before being incinerated in WWII.
For decades the church was a collapsed and blackened ruin, a grim testament to the destruction of war. Over time, and after long debates about its future, money was raised to rebuilt a replica church. It was unveiled in 2005.
The blackened stones from the bombing are set into the cathedral along with new sandstone. Visible imperfections were intentional. Like the Brandenburg Gate, Frauenkirche now stands as a symbol of peace and reunification.
Address: Schlosstrasse 24 01067 Dresden
10. Dresden Opera, Dresden
Dresden Opera House, now called the Semper Opera was also gutted in air attacks on Dresden. The famous opera house reflected Dresden’s former fame as a musical center. it was once directed by Richard Wagner, who called the acoustically perfect venue a “wonder harp.”
The building was designed by German Romantic architect Gottfried Semper in an Italian Neo-Renaissance style. Forty years after the air raid, the opera house was carefully restored over 7 years to the tune of $83 million. It reopened in 1985.
The restoration recreated the pastel wall colors, faux marble columns, decorative motifs, and filigreed ceiling and wall frescos. Atop the opera house is a bronze statue of a quadriga, or chariot drawn by four horses.
Address: Theaterplatz 2, 01067 Dresden
10. Eagle’s Nest, Berchtesgaden National Park
Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest is perched in the clouds on the Kehlstein peak of Berchtesgaden National Park. The mountain aerie was once a private meeting place for the Nazi Party. It’s one of the few remaining monuments that still stands as a legacy of Hitler’s reign of terror.
Historians believe the retreat wasn’t just a scenic getaway. Rather, it was a symbol of absolute power, the crown jewel of the Nazi empire. Set atop one of Germany’s steeped roads, it took 18 months to build.
When the Eagle’s Nest fell to the Allies near the end of WWII, it was viewed as a highly symbolic and important capture. The Allies uncovered a bunker full of hundreds of thousands of bottles of expensive wine and liquors – Hitler’s private stash.
In theory, the Eagle’s Nest was built for Hitler to host and entertain VIP guests of state. But legend holds that Hitler didn’t go there much due to vertigo. Other Nazi officials, however, used the home as a private party pad.
Today, the Eagle’s Nest is a scenic beer garden, as well as a buzzing tourist site open from mid-May to mid-October.
Address: Obersalzberg Berchtesgaden, 83471
11. Eltz Castle, Wierschem
Burg Eltz is one of my favorite castles in Germany, likely for its medieval good looks. The fanciful rural castle sits on a rocky outcrop above the sinuous River Eltz. Eight towers soar, with quaint turrets and oriels.
The fairytale castle escaped damage by wars. Inside, it has has original period furniture. There’s a huge collection of armory, jewelry and artifacts.
The Knight’s Hall, or meeting hall, is the castle’s most important room. The Rodendorf Kitchen gives you a revealing peak of what medieval life was like. The most important work of art is by German Renaissance painter Lucas Cranach the Elder, Madonna with Child and Grapes.
You can hike from the town, 2. 5 kilometers. From the woods, the castle appears like a mirage. Or, take the shuttle bus from the towns of Münstermaifeld and Wierschem. You visit via a 45 minute guided tour.
Address: 56294 Wierschem
12. Harburg Castle, Harburg
The town of Harburg is famous for one thing, its 11th century Harburg Castle. Harburg Castle is my kind of castle. It’s one of the most impressive medieval castles in Germany and a mandatory stop on the Romantic Road.
A visit to the complex, which looms over the Wornitz River, will transport you back to the Middle Ages. I mean just look at those pointy towers and criss cross shutters. *swoons*
Harburg Castle was built by Hohenstaufen emperors of Germany.
Tours of the castle include the church, dungeon, granary, and state rooms. You can explore on your own, but it’s best to take the guided tour where you’ll see more rooms and hear about the castle’s ghosts. Be sure to peak through the arrow slits.
If you fancy a castle stay, you can also book a room for the night. And take time to stroll through the pretty Altstadt. You’ll have great views from the Stone Bridge spanning the river.
Address: Burgstraße 1, 86655 Harburg
13. Heidelberg Castle, Heidelberg
Perched on the Neckar River, the pink sandstone of Schloss Heidelberg glistens in the sun. It’s the crown jewel of the university town of Heidelberg. The fastest way to get there is via the funicular tram.
The Gothic castle was once the palace of the Palatine prince electors. It was built, rebuilt, and expanded over 700 years. The castle has been plundered by the French, struck by lightening, and its stones stolen for other buildings.
Heidelberg Castle never regained its former glory, unlike other German castles. Only the Friedrich Building was fully restored.
The castle is practically defunct. The furniture is long gone. But the romantic ruins are nonetheless charming.
One million visitors visit annually. The castle is home to the world’s largest keg, Heidelberger Tun, located in the royal wine cellar.
You can also see model of what the castle once looked like. From the Great Terrace, you have a fine view of the old town and the Neckar River.
Address: Schlosshof 1, 69117 Heidelberg
14. Herrenchiemsee Palace
Ludwig literally built the palace on an island in Lake Chiemsee. Not terribly convenient for builders. But Ludwig only cared for a stunning vista, not convenience.
In 1878, construction began. Herrenchiemsee isn’t an exact replica of Versailles. It has Ludwig’s personal stamp. Though it doesn’t seem like he ever intended to finish it.
Ludwig built two side wings that were to left as shells and only designated 18 of the 70 rooms to be finished. The side wings were actually demolished in 1907.
The guided tour starts at the stunning Ambassadors Staircase, outfitted with colorful frescos and a stroke-of-genius glass roof. After the staircase, the highlights are the State Bedroom and the Hall of Mirrors.
Both are grander and more opulent than Versailles. Sadly, Ludwig only stayed at his Versailles-Herrenchiemsee for 9 nights in September 1885.
Ludwig spent more than 16.5 million marks on Herrenschiemsee Palace. That was double the cost of Ludwig’s Linderhof Palace and triple that of Neuschwanstein Castle. The building basically spiraled out of control. With his apparent motto of “build or die,” it may have cost Ludwig his life.
Address: 83209 Herrenchiemsee
15. Hohenzollern Castle, Badem-Wurttemberg
Located near Stuttgart in southern Germany, Hohenzollern Castle was once the province of the imperial Hohenzollern kaisers, who ruled Germany from the Middle Ages to WWI. Wilhelm I and II were once German emperors.
The family rebuilt a castle that was in ruins in the early 19th century. The resulting Neo-Gothic fantasy, realized in golden stone and picturesquely set on Mount Hohenzollern, became their ancestral seat. It’s still privately owned by the family.
Hohenzollern is a military structure that was given a civic facelift. It delights the eye with pointy turrets, crenelated walls, and gothic windows.
Inside, you’ll find artifacts of the Hohenzollern dynasty, including statues, busts, portraits, armor, the crown of Wilhem II, and ceremonial swords. A two story chapel has a Neo-Gothic tabernacle. The Hall of Ancestors is painted with the Hohenzollern family tree.
You can hoof it up a very steep hill or take the shuttle bus.
Address: 72379 Burg Hohenzollern
16. Linderhof Palace, Ettal
Mad King Ludwig II’s primary residence was Linderhof Palace. Linderhof is a must see site in Bavaria and a popular day trip from Munich. The beautiful palace was build as an homage to Ludwig’s trifecta of obsessions — Louis XIV, Marie Antoinette, and Richard Wagner.
Linderhof’s glamorous interior reflects Ludwig’s imaginary, dreamlike world.
You enter a world of riotous rococo, flashing mirrors, and glittering gold. There was apparently no such thing as too much gold leaf.
Because the rooms are fairly small (by palace standards), you might feel a little claustrophobic from the gold pressing in on you. The highlight is the Hall of Mirrors.
In the resplendent red and gold dining room, servants were rendered invisible. The room sports an ingenious trap door — a disappearing dumb waiter that lowered and raised the dining room table to and from the kitchen below. This way, the king could eat solo with his imaginary medieval friends, conveniently eliminating the need to talk to an actual living person.
The palace gardens are perhaps the most luscious part. Ludwig built huge ornamental gardens in five geometric sections, dotted with architectural follies. Be sure to check out the Moorish Kiosk, the Greek Temple, and the Venus Grotto.
The Venus Grotto is a man-made cave, complete with a lake, waterfall, and faux stalactites. Dressed as a knight, Ludwig rowed langorously across the lake in a golden clam-shaped boat listening to opera performances. Perhaps the ultimate escapism.
Address: Linderhof 12, 82488 Ettal
17. Lubeck Town Hall, Lubeck
Lubeck is a pretty city with a dreamlike panoply of architecture — medieval gates, ancient gabled houses, and soaring spires. A majority of the city is a UNESCO site.
Lubeck’s Rathaus, or town hall, is described as a “fairytale in stone.” It’s one of the finest examples of Gothic brick architecture in Germany and, indeed, all of Europe.
The town was built from 1126 to 1308. Outside there’s an ornate stairway.
In the 15th century, a Renaissance sandstone arcade and staircase was added. Inside is a yellow Gothic ribbed vault.
The magnificent Audience Hall glows in plush red velvet Rococo. It formerly served as a conference room for the Council until the beginning of the 20th century. The walls are decorated with ten paintings by the Italian artist Stefano Torelli, which embody the virtues of a good government.
To visit the interior, you’ve got to take a guided tour. Unfortunately, it’s only in German. Still, it’s definitely worth doing, just to see the 13th century frescos and ornate staircases.
Address: Breite Str. 62, 23552 Lübeck
18. Marienplatz, Munich
Marienplatz has been a popular meeting place and hub for Munich since the 12th century. The centerpiece of the grand square is the majestic city hall, named the Neues Rathaus.
Its gaudy Gothic facade is festooned with gargoyles, statues, and, most often, bright red flowers. You can take an elevator 85 meters to the top for views. Just stop in at the Tourist Office in the building and purchase your 4 euro ticket.
The Glockenspiel sounds at 11am, noon, and 5 pm. If you’re hungry and want to watch the performance, settle in at Cafe Glockenspiel. For 12 minutes, motorized figures dance, joust, and twirl around the inside of the tower.
If you want an amazing view of the Rathaus and Marienplatz, you’ve got to hike up the tower in St. Peters Church, the oldest church in town. The church itself is nothing special, but the 360 views at the top can’t be beat.
But, be forewarned, it’s a cramped and steep experience and there’s no room to move at the top. You’ll shuffle inch by inch along the narrow terrace.
Address: Marienplatz, 80331 Munich
19. Munich Residence
The Munich Residence is Munich’s #1 attraction. The Residence was the luxe city palace and seat of government of the Wittelsbach dynasty. The clan ruled Bavaria for over 700 years, for better or worse.
Their Versailles-like palace is awash in tapestries, swirly Rococo gilt, quirky reliquaries, and grottos. In fact, the palace has so many tapestries, you might give up admiring them out of sheer visual overstimulation.
The Residence is now a museum. But it’s really just a lavishly decorated palace, for the most part. The Residence is a hodgepodge mix of architectural styles — Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, and Neo-Classicism. But that’s befitting a palace that lorded over Bavaria for over 700 years.
Inside, the Residence has of over 120 rooms. Highlights include the Shell Grotto, the Anitquarium, the Ancestral Gallery, the Green Gallery, and the Ornate Room.
The Antiquarium, the Hall of Antiquities, is the largest and finest secular Renaissance hall in northern Europe. Built in the 16th century, the room stretches 220 feet end to end and was a festival banquet hall.
Address: Residenzstraße 1, 80333 Munich
20. Museum Island, Berlin
Berlin’s Museum Island is a veritable treasure trove, dubbed Berlin’s Acropolis. The island houses a unique complex of buildings above the Spree River.
There are five beautifully restored museums — the Pergamon Museum, the Bode Museum, the Neues Museum (new museum), the Alte National Gallery (old picture gallery), and the Altes Museum (old museum).
The art work and artifacts on Museum Island span 6,000 years. They include Greek, Etruscan, Roman, and medieval antiquities.
The Altes Museum displays ancient Greek and Roman artifacts amid a massive rotunda full of statuary. The Alte National Gallery looks like a raised Roman temple. It houses the largest collection of 19th century paintings and sculptures in Germany.
The Neues Museum houses prehistoric pieces and Egyptian art, including the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti.
The Bode Museum was built in a Neo-Baroque style, with a beautiful domed hall. The Bode houses sculptures from the Italian Renaissance and Mannerist periods, including ones by Canova and Donatello. It also has a first rate collection of Byzantine art.
Perhaps the star attraction of Museum Island is the beautiful Pergamon Museum. It’s a monumental building, built between 1907-30. It was designed to be a quintessentially German museum, housing classical antiquities from Central Europe.
The star is the stunning Pergamon Altar, which the Nazis used as inspiration for their Zeppelin field in Nuremberg. You can also admire the Market Gate from Miletus, the Ishtar Gate from Babylon (which you reach via the stunning Processional Way decorated with lion mosaics), and a wooden dome from Spain’s Alhambra.
Address: Breite Street 13089 Berlin
21. Neuschwanstein Castle, Schwangau
Clad in glistening limestone and strategically perched in the Alps, Neuschwanstein Castle is the most visited castle in Germany and one of Europe’s most popular sites.
Neuschwanstein is an incredibly romantic castle with its majestic turrets, a decadent interior, and adramatic historical backstory. Neuschwanstein is essentially the embodiment of a fairy tale, a fairy tale spun by a daydreaming king, Mad King Ludwig, whom I spoke of above.
It took Ludwig 24 years to build Neuschwanstein. It’s a prime example of 19th century Romantic style architecture, sprinkled with numerous tower, gables, turrets, and balconies. Inside, it’s full of vibrant color and depicts scenes from Richard Wagner’s operas. The highlights are the Throne Room, Singer’s Hall, and Ludwig’s fancy bedroom.
You’ll have to reserve a spot ahead to ensure admission. Here’s my guide to Neuschwanstein Castle with tips for visiting. Be forewarned, the tour is a bit slap dash, disappointing, and short on information. You’ll want to linger longer inside the castle, but can’t.
When you’re done visiting the castle, make the short 10-15 minute hike to Marienbrucke, a bridge where you can clap eyes on the iconic postcard view of the castle. Legend holds that Ludwig enjoyed coming here after dark, on his nocturnal sleigh rides, to watch the candlelight radiating from the Singer’s Hall.
Address: Neuschwansteinstraße 20, 87645 Schwangau
22. Nuremberg Castle, Nuremberg
There’s no escaping the imposing Nuremberg Castle, perched atop a sandstone hill. The medieval castle not only dominates Nuremberg’s cityscape, it’s also the #1 tourist attraction. Construction (probably) started around 1,000 AD, though most of what you see today dates back to the 15th century or later.
Archaeological investigations date the castle to approximately 1050. For 500 years (from 1050 to 1571), Nuremburg Castle hosted the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. Back then, there were no capital cities and the emperors just castle hopped.
The Double Chapel dates from the 11th century. And the imperial staterooms and spaces you’ll tour date from the 16th and 17th centuries. The castle also houses the Imperial Castle Museum. Military buffs will be regaled with medieval armor and a thousand swords.
Nuremberg Castle was heavily damaged during World War II. Only the imperial chapel survived the bombings, quite a miracle. The rest was faithfully restored after the war.
Address: Auf der Burg 13, D-90403 Nürnberg
23. Nazi Party Rally Grounds, Nuremberg
If you’re a WWII nerd or history buff in general, you should definitely book a half day tour to see Nuremberg’s Third Reich sites, constructed by Hitler’s favorite architect Albert Speer.
The rally ground is 12 football fields in length, with a “Zeppelin” grandstand, where the demagogue Hitler gave racist stump speeches. Congress Hall (shown above) was where the Nazis held choreographed party rallies.
Opened in 2001, the Documentation Center in Congress Hall is a modern museum that shines a harrowing light on the insane megalomania of the Nazi party. With unflinching eye-opening detail, the permanent exhibit “Fascination and Terror” describes the rise of the Nazi party and its atrocities.
At the end of your visit, there’s a viewing point, suspended in mid air. You can step out and, chillingly, stand where the Führer addressed the rabid masses, a little insight into the collective madness of that era.
Nuremberg is currently working on preserving the site from now until 2025. Though the city won’t recreate things that were demolished after WWII.
Address: Bayernstraße 110, 90478 Nuremberg
24. Nymphenburg Palace, Munich
The 17th century Schloss Nymphenburg is one of Europe’s largest palaces. The palace consists of a large villa and two long wings. It has intricate parquet floors, colorfully painted ceilings, paintings galore, and sumptuously decorated period rooms.
The two key highlights of the central villa are the glittering Stone Hall, with its nymph-filled frescos, and the Gallery of Beauties, which displays King Ludwig I’s (Mad King Ludwig II’s grandfather) portraits of beautiful women.
There are quite a few lovely mini-schlosses sprinkled throughout Nymphenburg Palace Park. These tiny follies were where the Wittelsbachs escaped when courtly life proved too annoying. The most famous folly is the glittering Amalienburg, the best example of Rococo Architecture in Germany.
Address: Schloß Nymphenburg 1, 80638 München
25. Odeonsplatz, Munich
Dating from the 19th century, Munich’s Odeonplatz is still largely unchanged. The focal point of the square is the Feldherrnhalle, or Field Marshall’s Hall.
It’s also known as the Hall of the Bavarian Generals. The hall was built by King Ludwig I in 1841-44 to honor the Bavarian army. The hall is a covered exterior gallery, copied from the famous Loggia dei Lanzi in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence.
Historically, Field Marshall’s Hall is important. It was the site of the famous 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler’s failed coup d’etat. Hitler wound up imprisoned and wrote Mein Kampf in jail.
Later, the loggia was the site of Nazi rallies. There, SS recruits took an oath of allegiance to Hitler. Nowadays, it’s the site of festivals and beer drinking.
Address: Odeonspl. 1, 80539 Munich
26. Regensburg Cathedral, Regensburg
Regensburg is nicknamed the “northernmost Italy.” The lovely town is filled with pointy towers and cute beer gardens. Regensburg’s crowning glory is its 13th century Gothic cathedral that can be seen from anywhere in town.
The towering Regensburg Cathedral, also known as St. Peters Cathedral, dominates the old town. Originally, the cathedral was envisioned to look like Notre Dame in Paris. But King Ludwig I decided to add two massive spires.
The cathedral was built in the High Gothic style in the 13th to 16th centuries. The cathedral received a bit of a Baroque makeover in the early 17th century. But King Ludwig I replaced the Baroque dome with a Gothic ribbed vault.
Inside, to the left and right are sculptures of the Devil and the Devil’s Grandmother. Another notable sculpture is the Smiling Angel, part of an annunciation scene. There’s also some beautiful stained glass from the 14th century.
Address: Domplatz 1, 93047 Regensburg
27. Reichstag, Berlin
Like so much in Germany, the Reichstag has a dramatic history. It’s been burned, bombed, and rebuilt. Now, it’s the modern home of the German parliament.
Inaugurated in the 1890s, the parliament building was initially dismissed as a “chatting house for monkeys.” When World War I ended, the German Republic was proclaimed from the Reichstag.
In 1933, the building was gutted by fire. Hitler blamed the communists to consolidate his power. As World War II drew to a close, the Nazis made their final stand here. The bombed out building stood like a ruined ghost through the Cold War.
Built by by Norman Foster, the Reichstag is one of Berlin’s most iconic buildings. Its most distinctive feature is a glittering glass dome (used instead of the old stone dome). It’s a futuristic construction of mirrors and glass.
The dome also serves as an important symbol — that the people are keeping a watchful eye on the legislators. You can walk up via a long sloping ramp, which spirals up to the dome. Or, take a lift for beautiful panoramic city views.
Address: Platz der Republik 1, 11011 Berlin
28. Romer Building, Frankfurt
Situated on the Romerplatz, the Romer Building is Frankfurt’s most important landmark. Originally built in the 15th century, it served as Frankfurt’s town hall for 600 years. Today, the Romer is mostly used as a venue for weddings and official functions.
Frankfurt’s Gothic timber framed old town was bombed during WWII, destroying most of the old quarter. What you see today is a recreation of the historical blueprints, called the “new old town.” Construction began in the 1950s. Now, the area is Disney-pretty.
The Romer is in the heart of the new old town. It consists of nine interconnected buildings and six courtyards. The most famous part is the three peaked Neo-Gothic eastern facade.
Inside, Emperor Hall is where emperors were coronated in the middle ages. The hall comes complete with 52 portraits of the Roman emperors.
Address: Römerberg 23, 60311 Frankfurt am Main
29. Sanssouci Palace, Potsdam
This 18th century palace is synonymous with Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. Sanssouci is a French word that means “without concern.” That’s how Frederick envisioned his palace — as a private retreat where he could escape the pomp and circumstance of court life and the burdens of royal duty.
Like the Wurzburg Residence, Sanssouci is sometimes considered the Versailles of Berlin. However, it’s much smaller than Versailles and built in a French-influenced Rococo style.
Inside, you know you’re in a king’s residence. It’s elegant and refined. Scarcely a patch of wall is undecorated. The mastermind behind Sanssouci was Georg Wenzelaus von Knobelsdorff.
The palace gardens are also exquisite with fountains, vineyards, and Baroque terraces. The park also contains the grand Neues Palace and the exotic Chinese House.
Address: Maulbeerallee, 14469 Potsdam
30. Ulm Minster, Ulm
Who can resist a superlative? Ulm Minster is the largest Protestant church in Germany and boasts the tallest church tower in the world (not counting the unfinished Sagrada Familia in beautiful Barcelona). The church attracts devotees from all over Germany.
Construction began in 1377 and didn’t finish until 1890 — insane dimensions aren’t conducive to quick church building. But it was worth the wait for its beautiful Gothic architecture and interior artwork.
If you’re extremely ambitious, hike up the 768 steps (gulp!) of the Ulm tower for uninterrupted views over the town. It might take you a day to recover. You’ll at least need bratwurst and beer.
Address: Münsterplatz 21, 89073 Ulm
31. Wieskirche Church, Wies
Wieskirche is an UNESCO-listed Rococo pilgrimage church in the village of Wies. Outside, it seems like a simple church picturesquely set in an unassuming verdant meadow. Belying its modest exterior, however, inside it’s a light-filled Bavarian Rococo extravaganza.
The Wieskirche dates from 1738. Back then, a farmer witnessed a supposed miracle — tears trickling down from a wooden Christ statue. People came in droves to see the weepy work, more than 1 million each year nowadays.
In 1745, the brothers Johann Baptist and Dominikus Zimmermann were commissioned to build a massive pilgrimage church on the site. The cost almost led to the bankruptcy of the Steingaden Abbey.
Once you step inside, you’ll see why Wieskirche is a UNESCO site. Eight snow white pillars support an impressive cupola.
A pastel oval fresco is framed by stucco decorations and gilded sculptures. The altar has a statue of the Scourged Savior, the very statue that began the pilgrimage.
Address: Wies 12, 86989 Steingaden
32. Wurzburg Residence, Wurzburg
Wurzburg is a delightful UNESCO town in northern Bavaria. Aside from its adorable medieval streets, it’s main claim to fame is the famous Wurzburg Residence. This ornate palace was home to the Wurzburg bishop-kings, who aimed to build an eye popping spectacle akin to Versailles.
The palace is so glamorous that it’s been dubbed the “German Versailles.” It’s the former home of the Wurzburg bishop-princes, the elected rulers of the Holy Roman Empire. These princes had both secular and religious authority.
In 1720, prince-bishop Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn commissioned the residence. The palace took 60 years to build.
The highlights are the intricate stucco work, the magnificent frescos by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (a famed Italian Rococo artist), and the magnificent White Hall.
Address: Residenzplatz 2, 97070 Würzburg
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