In the mountains of the Bavarian town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen is the Partnach Gorge – a natural monument filled with waterfalls, rapids, caves and beautiful water basins.
The 2,303 ft long gorge is incised by a mountain stream and visitors can walk through it year-round.
The sedimentary rock strata of the gorge (called Muschelkalk in German) was formed 240 million years ago – back when the region was still a shallow sea. Traces of the burrowing and feeding of marine animals can still be seen on the strata. The gorge itself was formed many millions of years ago when the Partnach stream cut into the rocks, creating a river that flows through the mountains and forms the gorge.
Back in the 18th century, local Germans used the gorge to transport firewood to nearby towns on a raft. This, however, was quite dangerous, due to the strong current of the Partnach Gorge.
Today, however, the gorge is more of a tourist attraction than a method of firewood transportation. There is a small entrance fee in the summer months.
Many people know Germany for its quaint villages and Bavarian mountains, but the country is also home to many deep caverns shrouded in mystery. One such place is the Saalfeld Fairy Grottoes, which are colorful caves in Thuringia. So colorful, in fact, that the Guiness Book of World Records once named them the “most colorful cave grottoes in the world.”
In the 16th century, the caverns were used as an alum shale mine. Back then, alum was used in medicinal products, to tan animal hides and as a food preservative, among other uses. According to legend, some of the miners at work had an encounter with a beautiful fairy, who vanished as they approached her in the mines. This is how the grottoes received their name.
The caverns were mined for their alum shale for centuries, but more effective chemical compounds were developed over time and the grottoes were closed in 1850 and largely forgotten about. The caverns were rediscovered by explorers in 1910, who were amazed at the beautiful mineral deposits that has accumulated in the years that it was abandoned. The mineral deposits created interesting formations in shades of beige, red, brown and grey and these formations were reflected in the underground pools of water below them. The caverns were opened up for sightseeing in 1914 and are a popular tourist destination today.
The picturesque Naumburg Cathedral in eastern Germany is an 800-year-old cultural landmark that is famous for its Romanesque and Gothic architecture. This week, UNESCO designated the Naumburg Cathedral as a World Heritage site.
The Naumburg Cathedral is a masterpiece of human creativity,” Maria Böhmer, President of the German UNESCO Commission, told Deutsche Welle. “It is in line with the cathedrals of Amiens in France, Modena in Italy and Burgos in Spain.”
The cathedral is famous for the works of the Naumburg Master, a German architect and sculptor who combined architecture, statues and glass paintings in the building. His identity is unknown, but his artwork brings visitors from near and far alike.
One of the most famous pieces of art in the Naumburg Cathedral is the statue of St. Elisabeth of Thurinigia, who is considered one of the most important woman of the Middle Ages for her devotion to and sacrifice for the sick and the poor.
Are you traveling to Germany this summer? Tourism is booming! The Federal Statistical Office released new data showing that incoming tourism in Germany increased by 4.8 percent from January to April (compared to the same period in 2017). There were 23.1 million recorded international overnight stays in German hotels during that time!
“One million additional nights in four months – this is further proof of the successful positioning of Germany as a travel destination,” said Petra Hedorfer, Chairwoman of the Board of the German National Tourist Board (GNTB). The European market continues to grow by 3.6 percent and “the Asian and American markets continue to grow at a rate of 6.5 and 8.2 percent respectively.”
The GNTB report states that the United States continues to be the most important source of tourism in Germany. From January through April, 5 percent more Americans visited Germany than during that time in the previous year.
In a separate survey, the GNTB asked visitors to name their favorite destinations in Germany. Last year’s top 10 sights were the Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg (the world’s largest model railway exhibition), Europa-Park, Neuschwanstein Castle, Lake Constance, Old Town of
, Dresden’s old quarter, the Heidelberg Castle, Phantasialand, the Hellabrunn Zoo in Munich and the Moselle Valley.
If you’ve ever been to Germany, you surely know about Germans’ love for currywurst!
In fact, Germans love currywurst so much that they even have a museum dedicated to it.
The Currywurst Museum, located in downtown Berlin, is dedicated to the popular sausage dish, presenting everything from the history of the currywurst to its presence in film, TV and music. The interactive museum also features exhibits such as spice sniffing stations, a sausage sofa, ketchup-bottle-shaped audio stations and virtual currywurst-making stations.
Located right near Checkpoint Charlie, the Currywurst Museum is an unusual and entertaining addition to any Berlin trip – especially with kids!
But how did this strange museum come into being?
The museum opened its doors in August 2009 – 60 years after the invention of the currywurst. This popular German sausage was created by Berlin resident Herta Heuwer in 1949. Back then, Germany was suffering the aftermath of World War II and there was a shortage of food. So Heuwer experimented: she got a hold of some ketchup and curry powder from British soldiers and added these ingredients to a traditional German Bratwurst. She then began to sell this newly invented currywurst at a stand near Checkpoint Charlie. Her creation was a hit, and she eventually reached a point where she was selling up to 10,000 currywurst sausages a week.
The founder of the Currywurst Museum, Martin Loewer, realized how important this food item became in Germany and created the museum to acknowledge its impact. The museum currently receives about 350,000 visitors per year.
Are your kids tired of spending hours in “boring” museums?
Take them to the Pig Museum in Stuttgart, Germany!
This museum features 25 themed rooms with more than 50,000 different pigs, ranging from piggy banks to stuffed animal pigs. Visitors can learn about the evolution of different species of pigs, as well as myths and legends about pigs from around the world.
This museum is less than ordinary – and its history is unusual, too. The concept began when Erika Wilhelmer, the owner of the museum and an avid pig paraphernalia collector, decided to convert a slaughterhouse into a museum in 1988. Over the years, her collection grew – and in 1992 the Guinness Book of World Records declared it the world’s largest pig museum. Once the museum had reached 40,000 pig items, it was relocated to its current location in Stuttgart.
Whether you find pigs adorable or you have an appetite for them, the Pig Museum in Stuttgart is sure to teach you something new about these intelligent farm animals! And when you’re finished exploring the history and culture surrounding pigs, you can relax in the beer garden and order some delicious Swabian delicacies.
High up in the picturesque Moselle Valley is the town of Cochem. With an elevation of 272 ft and a population of 5,000, this historic town is truly a magical escape from city life.
Behind the colorful buildings that line the historic streets of Cochem is the Reichsburg Castle, which stands atop a hill and is surrounded by forests and vineyards. The castle, which is open for tours, dates back to the year 1100 and is filled with Baroque furniture and historic artifacts. During the Nine Years’ War in the late 1600s, the castle was destroyed, but it was reconstructed in the Gothic Revival Style in the 1800s. This hilltop castle is visible from most places in Cochem – and visitors who hike to the top are greeted with spectacular views of the town.
But even the town itself is worth a tour. Cochem is one of Germany’s oldest towns, dating back to early Celtic and Roman times. It is not known when the region was first settled, but it was first mentioned in the year 886. Over many centuries, the town survived the Plague, the French occupation, the Thirty Years’ War, the Second World War and other hardships, but it remained strong and held on to its charm.
Aside from its quaint buildings, Cochem is also known for its fine wines. With vineyards and family-run wineries surrounding the town, Cochem is the center of the Mosel wine trade.
So if you’re in Germany this summer, make sure to stop by Cochem for a glass of wine and spectacular views of a fairy-tale town and its castle!
If you’re looking for a modern Northern German travel destination with historic buildings and delightful traditions, Oldenburg is the place for you!
Oldenburg is located in the State of Lower Saxony, only 45 minutes from the North Sea. This makes it a perfect origin for day trips to the islands, harbors and beaches of Northern Germany.
Located on the river Hunte, Oldenburg is also often called the “Huntestadt”. The Hunte flows near the city center pedestrian zone past the palace gardens and flows into the old harbor.
When in Oldenburg, make sure to stroll through its walkable downtown. The city center was made car-free in 1967, making Oldenburg’s (quintessentially German) “pedestrian zone” the oldest area-wide one in the country. It is over 13 hectares and is filled with buildings spanning the centuries. At the edge of the zone there is the old powder tower, once part of the cities fortifications, which was built in 1529. There are old merchant houses from the 17th century and the palace dating back to the 16th century, to only name a few.
Spared by war destruction, Oldenburg’s architecture is characterized by a lively mix of old buildings and modern neighborhoods. Well known are the gabled houses which are called “Hundehütten” due to their resemblance to dog houses.
So what does one do while in Oldenburg? Once a year, at the end of September/beginning of October, the city celebrates its “fifth season” – the Kramermarkt – established in 1608, a Volksfest (fair), visited by around 1.5 million people every year. Around the same time the “Grünkohlzeit” (kale season) begins. The city is well known for its kale with “Pinkel”, a type of sausage from the area. This is quite a different experience from the kale shakes and salads in the US! You will see many “Grünkohltouren” (kale tours) drawing handcarts through the streets, crowning a kale king and queen at the end of the tour.
Another name for this town which you might run into is “Pauldingburg”. This is because Detroit native Rickey Paulding has been playing for the local first-league basketball team “EWE Baskets Oldenburg” since 2007 – an unusually long time for a professional athlete, during which he has hooped his way into the hearts of Oldenburg’s citizens. And although Oldenburg is located in Northern Germany, Downton Abbey doesn’t feel far away! Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband to Queen Elizabeth, is a patrilineal descended from one of the House of Oldenburg’s branches.
On the south shore of Lake Überlinger near Konstanz is a place commonly known as “Flower Island”. As the name implies, the 45 hectar island of Mainau is covered in colorful flowers as far as the eye can see, making it an attractive destinations for summertime travelers.
The small island is notable for its many parks and gardens – particularly its roses. The island is home to about 30,000 rose bushes consisting of 1,200 varieties and 20,000 dahlias of 250 varieties. The Italian Rose Garden alone has more than 500 varieties of roses!
It even has an arboretum with 500 species of trees and a greenhouse with a tropical climate and hundreds of free-flying butterflies. The gardens are also home to a peacock enclosure and a petting zoo with ponies and goats.
The island originally belonged to the Order of Teutonic Knights, but it was purchased by the Grand Duke Frederick I of Baden in 1853. Frederick I used the palace on the island as his summer residence. Over the years, ownership of the island changed hands many times. In 1932, under the ownership of Prince Wilhelm, Duke of Södermanland, the island was gifted to the prince’s only child, Lennart Bernadotte, who started a foundation that continues to manage the island today.
Today, the island is open daily to visitors. Travelers who come to the island can relax among a sea of flowers, view the baroque Mainau castle and enjoy views of Lake Überlinger and Lake Constance.