Regensburg stands on the banks of the Bavarian Danube for about 2000 years. Although obscure for many foreign tourists, its rich history left very well-preserved fingerprints of different historical and architectural era. The main Gothic buildings are the grandiose Stone Bridge (in service since 1146) and the medieval Dom, the main piece of the Bavarian Gothic architecture. The visitor can also admire Romanesque churches from 11th-13th centuries, great towers and castles (St. Emmeram's Abbey).
The German capital holds a world cultural record with three opera houses, two concert halls and eight symphony orchestras. This is the heart of Germany, with a stoic beat that echoes through grand public buildings, glorious museums and theatres, urbane restaurants, bustling pubs and raucous nightclubs. Today, structures of steel and glass tower over streets and parks and gardens are again lush. With its field of new skyscrapers and hip clubs and fashion boutiques, post millennium Berlin has recast itself as the Continent's capital of cool.
Big-city style and rural charm, Alpine character and Mediterranean verve, art treasures and the Oktoberfest, traditional customs and high technology, beer gardens and haute cuisine, operas and in bars; these are all ingredients that makes Bavaria's state capital so endlessly fascinating, and so popular with visitors from all over the world. Sprawling Munich is one of Germany's major cultural centers, second only to Berlin in terms of museums and theaters. It's also one of Germany's most festive cities, and its location, at the foot of the Alps, is idyllic. Munich's self-imposed image is that of a fun-loving and festival-addicted city - typified by its Oktoberfest.
For many, Frankfurt is primarily "Manhattan", city of finance and skyscrapers or only as a transit hub, but a closer look reveals a city of many charms: picturesque houses of the beautifully restored Römerberg in the city center, the unique "Museum Mile" along the banks of the Main river, traditional cider pubs in Sachsenhausen, shops galore in the elegant Goethestrasse and the "Fressgass", and a truly world-class cultural and arts scene. It boasts Germany's most spectacular skyline and Europe's tallest office building. Frankfurt throws more money at the arts than any other European city so you'll most likely catch a groundbreaking exhibition at one of its museums.
Hamburg is Germany's second-largest metropolis, one of Europe's biggest ports, and the greenest city in Europe, lush with vegetation, parks, gardens, canals, and lakes. Elegant and cosmopolitan, Hamburg is now a city of palatial office buildings, magnificent promenades, international musicals, extravagant shopping malls and the famous Reeperbahn and St. Pauli. A ride around Alster Lake will reveal the elegance of its finest parks and buildings and a stroll along one of its many canals explains why this city has been called the "Venice of the North".
The world feels at home in Cologne, where people meet to enjoy a Kölsch. (Kölsch is a language, a philosophy of life and also the popular local beer.) The largest city in the Rhineland, Cologne is rich in antiquity. There is much to see from every period of the city's two millennia history: from the old Roman towers to the modern opera house. Cologne is also a bustling modern city with a decent shot at becoming the fine-art capital of Germany. The city of Cologne also hosts an annual Carnival.
The twin villages of Garmisch and Partenkirchen make up Germany's top alpine resort. In spite of their urban flair, the towns maintain the charm of an ancient village, especially Partenkirchen. Even today, you occasionally see country folk in traditional dress, and you may be held up in traffic while the cattle are led from their mountain-grazing grounds down through the streets of town. In 1936 it was the site of the Winter Olympic Games. Traditionally, a ski jumping contest is held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on New Year's Day, as a part of the Four Hills Tournament (Vierschanzen-Tournee). A variety of Ski World Cup Races are also held here, usually on the Kandahar Track outside town. The 1978 Alpine World Skiing Championships were organized in Garmisch and the Alpine World Ski Championships 2011 is to be held there as well.
On the Romantic Road going through the south of Germany, Rothenburg is the best-preserved medieval city in Europe. Inside undamaged 13th-century city walls is a medieval town seemingly untouched by the passage of time. The stately towers, massive fortifications and patrician houses and also the historical festivals will bring you closer to the spirit of the middle ages. If you have the chance, come to visit Rothenburg during Christmas time, when there is a Christmas market in town.
The highest Bavarian town stands in the foothills of the Alps, marking the end of the "Romantic Road". Füssen's landmark is the 15th century Hohes Schloss (High Castle), an impressive gothic complex; very well preserved, it hosts nowadays an art gallery focused on Renaissance and late gothic masterpieces. It is also the starting point in visiting the romantically situated castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. Füssen is best reachable by railway (100 km from Münich).
Dresden, founded in 1206, is a metropolis of unique art treasures and lively culture. Center of the German Baroque par excellence, its highlights include the magnificent palatial buildings around the Theaterplatz and the Brühl Terraces, and the many art treasures in the state museums. No history book on architecture can leave out the Dresden Zwinger, The Frauenkirche Church, Semper Opera House and Royal Palace as well as many other historical monuments and ensembles that determine the image of the city.
This town is especially famous for its oldest German University of Heidelberg (1386). As students always made up the majority of population, it escapes from the war air raids and managed to preserve the ancient buildings from Middle Ages and Renaissance. Beside the University decorated with towers and turrets, you can admire the Heidelpberg Castle, with its charming color changing with the sunlight. You can get excellent photos from the Karl-Theodor Bridge or walk along the famous Philosophenweg.
Leipzig has one of the most dynamic and complex life in Germany, combining culture, economy and nightlife. The city is tightly associated with classical music: Bach worked as a cantor at Thomaskirche, Mozart performed here, Wagner was born in Leipzig in 1813 and the famous Gewandhaus Orchestra is hosted here. In this traditional university center, Nietzche and Goethe were learning once. You can admire here the old and new Rathaus (City Hall) and the Europe's largest train station (Hauptbahnhof).
Situated in a beautiful area of Swabian Mountains, Stuttgart has an important cultural tradition, reflected in the famous Staatstheater - with the worldwide known Opera and Ballet - and also the Phillharmonic and musical theaters. Badly destroyed during the war, Stuttgart imposes itself more like a modern city, home of the Mercedes Benz factory and museum. You may enjoy the silence of the extensive parks and the Black Forrest woodland, take a City Circuit walk or taste the famous local wines.
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