If visiting a moated castle is on your to-do list, then Vischering Castle is the place for you. This German castle takes you on a trip back to medieval times.
The Vischering Castle was built in 1271 and stands in present-day Lüdinghausen, North Rhine-Westphalia – an area saturated with castles. Germans call it a Wasserschloss (“water castle”) because it is surrounded by water for protection.
The castle is a product of a family feud between Bischop Gerhard von der Mark and the Von Ludinghausen family. In the 13th century, the bishop constructed it to compete with the other family’s castle, which was located nearby. Family feuds were common in those days, but they did not always lead to magnificent castles!
The horseshoe-shaped castle was built for defense and still contains its drawbridge, courtyard, strategic gateways and defensive wall. Although it was partially destroyed in a fire in 1521 and partially damaged during World War II, it was rebuilt and continues to stand open to visitors today.
Europe’s largest hillside park is located in Germany – and it happens to be an UNESCO World Heritage site, as well! Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe is a Baroque “mountain park” west of the city center in Kassel, Germany.
Built in 1696, the large park is laid out in a Baroque style with beautiful gardens and architecture. The most interesting feature, however, is its waterworks. About 92,000 gallons of water flow through the park, connecting to reservoirs and channels. The waterworks begin at the top of a hill and flow down to the Grand Fountain, which shoots the water 164 feet into the air.
The waterworks are a sight in and of themselves, but the park also features old architecture, a giant Hercules memorial, faux ruins, a Roman aqueduct and a Chinese pagoda. One of its most picturesque attractions is the Löwenburg Castle, erected by landgrave Wilhelm IX at the end of the 18th century.
The best part about visiting Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe: there’s no entrance fee to get into the park itself! It’s a great spot for those summer picnics we’re so eagerly anticipating right now!
Let’s take a look at 12 influential German women whose names have gone down in history. Who would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!
Hildegard von Bingen
Hildegard von Bingen (also known as Saint Hildegard) is the oldest person on our list. This influential German woman is largely considered the founder of scientific natural history in Germany. She was a Benedictine nun who was also an abbess, artist, author, composer, pharmacist, poet, preacher, mystic and theologian! It seems there is nothing that von Bingen couldn’t do! In 2012, she was named a Doctor of the Church, a rare title only given to saints who contributed heavily with their theological writings. Only three other women in history have received this title.
“Humanity, take a good look at yourself. Inside, you’ve got heaven and earth, and all of creation. You’re a world – everything is hidden in you.”
Empress Elisabeth of Bavaria („Sissi“)
Many of you may have watched or heard about a royal Austrian woman nicknamed “Sisi”. Elisabeth of Bavaria was born into a royal family in Munich, Germany, which was part of the Kingdom of Bavaria at the time. At the age of 16, she married Emperor Franz Joseph I and became the Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary. Her biggest achievement was helping to create the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary in 1867. She was killed during an anarchist assassination while in Geneva in 1898.
Although the invention of the first practical automobile is credited to Karl Benz, his wife also had an enormous impact on the industry. Bertha Benz, a German woman from Pforzheim, was Karl’s business partner. She financed the manufacturing of his first horseless carriage with her dowry. In 1888, she took her two sons and drove the Patent Motorwagen Model III 120 miles from Mannheim to Pforzheim without telling her husband. This was the first time someone drove an automobile over a long distance, fixing all technological complications on the way. Bertha made history; her drive alleviated fears that people had about automobiles, bringing the Benz Patent-Motorwagen its first sales.
In the Swabian Mountains in southern Germany is a spring so blue that it attracts countless visitors. Known as the Blautopf (“blue pot”), this strange mountainous spring forms the drain for the Blau (River Blue) cave system. What makes this spring particularly strange and unique is its deep blue color – a result of the physical properties of the nanoscale limestone present in the water.
According to scientists, that is.
Legends tell a different story.
One local myth claims that someone pours a vat of ink into the Blautopf every day to maintain its color. Another strange myth claims that it is impossible to measure the Blautopf’s depth since a water nix steals the leaden sounding line (a thin rope with a plummet) every time it is submerged. There is even a story about the Schöne Lau, a beautiful mermaid trapped in the Blautopf. Today, a life-size statue of the mermaid stands near the Blautopf.
Experienced cave divers are known to explore the Blautopf and its underground corridors (which are many miles long with enormous chambers). This, however, is restricted to well-trained divers, since it is dangerous and has led to fatalities in the past. But for most people, viewing the Blautopf from the outside is satisfying enough! The majestic blue color makes for spectacular photos year-round.
Germany is filled with creations from the days when castles and knights were the norm. One such creation is the Rakotzbrücke — the Devil’s Bridge.
Located in Kromlauer Park near Gablenz in eastern Germany, this unique bridge is shaped as a semi-circle. From a distance, the reflection in the water creates the image of a perfect sphere. Photographers and travelers love visiting this bridge, and you may have seen already seen fantastic images of the Devil’s Bridge on Instagram!
The bridge was commissioned by a local knight in 1860 and built with a diversity of local stones. It was called the “Devil’s Bridge” because its structure made it so dangerous that it must have been built by Satan, people said. Similar bridges exist throughout Europe and many of them are considered the work of the devil due to their “impossible” design.
This bridge (and the surrounding park) are a must-see for travelers in the area, but take note that crossing the bridge is strictly prohibited! There are great views of the bridge from the park, and you can always Photoshop yourself into the pictures you take!
Excitement is running high as we head into the final days of the Winter Olympics. Today, Germany beat Canada 4-3 in the men’s ice hockey semi-finals. Many were surprised by the result, since Canada has been a nine-time Olympic Champion in the sport and rarely settles for a bronze. Germany will play against Russia in the finals on Sunday – you can be sure that we’ll be watching!
If you’re looking for a travel destination with jaw-dropping views, add The Bastei to your list. This rock formation stands 636 feet above the Elbe River in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, southeast of Dresden.
What makes this majestic rock formation even more spectacular is a wooden bridge that connects several of these rocks together. Visitors have been walking across the bridge since it was constructed in 1824 (and replaced by a sandstone version in 1851).
From the 12th to the 15th century, a fortress known as the Felsenburg Neurathen stood by the rock formations. This fortress, however, was burned down by an opposing army in 1484 and there is little left of it to see.
In 1801, tour guide Carl Heinrich Nicolai perfectly described the rock formation from one of its lookout points:
“What depth of feeling it pours into the soul! You can stand here for a long time without being finished with it (…) it is so difficult to tear yourself away from this spot.”
The rock formations have impressed so many people that The Bastei was even the location for Germany’s very first landscape photographs, taken by photographer Hermann Krone in 1853.
The Bastei continues to draw in tourists today, as it has done for centuries!
Nordic-combined skier Eric Frenzel has been chosen as Germany’s flagbearer for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics on Friday.
Frenzel was selected for the honor by the German Olympic Sports Association, which held a poll on its website. When Frenzel found out he was nominated to be in the top 5, he said “I feel honored and it is a certain recognition for our sport and me individually.” (Source: DPA)
The 29-year-old athlete won the Olympic gold medal in the 10km individual normal hill at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. He also won a bronze medal in the 2010 Olympics and a silver medal in the 2009 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships.
The German Embassy endorsed e-mobility with its very own stand at the Washington Auto Show this winter. The German government supports the use of electric cars, offering incentives for consumers and investing in infrastructure and R&D.
This year, we are proud to announce that the German Embassy will be converting its entire fleet of cars to electric or hybrid cars and install charging stations on Embassy grounds. This switch will create an environmentally friendly transportation option for diplomats and staff that avoids emissions and protects public health.
German companies have long stated their plans to switch over to electric vehicle production. Car manufacturers like Volkswagen, BMW, Smart and Daimler are working to produce many new models of e-cars. Some of these were on display at the Washington Auto Show. By the year 2025, VW and Daimler expect that 25 percent of their sales will consist of e-cars alone, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported last year.
This fast progression of the transition to e-cars is aided by the tax incentives put forth by the German government. In 2015, the German government dedicated 600 million Euros for e-car subsidies. In Germany, those who buy an electric car receive a 4,000 Euro subsidy, while those who buy a hybrid car receive 3,000 Euros. The car owners are also exempt from car ownership taxes for 10 years.
To make e-car ownership easier, the German government also plans to install at least 7,000 fast-charging points throughout the country, mostly along the Autobahn, by 2020.
With more than 129,246 plug-in electric cars registered in Germany between 2010 and 2017, the future looks electric!
German companies with facilities in the USA are applying the German apprenticeship system to train workers for long-term careers, often partnering with community colleges and other training providers. You might catch this video on the German Embassy’s Skills Initiative on local DC channels WUSA9 and WJLA. What do you think about the dual work education system?