A look at Germany
Deutschland or Germany is highly industrialized and developed nation. As a leading European economy, it wields considerable clout in world politics.
However, Germany went through extremely tumultuous times in the first half of the past century. It became the subject of intense hatred for it role in World War II which caused the largest loss of life in human history. When the war ended, a vanquished Germany was totally in a shambles, torn into two.
The democratic West Germany rose like a phoenix and rebuilt itself to become a top industrialized nation. In comparison, the socialist East Germany made slow progress and most of its citizens yearned to be a part of the West. Finally the Berlin Wall that had separated the two Germanys was swept away by the strong democratic winds blowing in the Communist world and Germany was reunified in 1990.
Bradenburg Gate (Bradenburger Tor)
This landmark gate in Berlin was built in 18th century as a symbol of peace. It was originally part of a wall surrounding Berlin and was meant to be its main entrance.
The structure was badly damaged during World War II. After the war the iconic gate stood as a grim symbol of a divided city as it stood right at the boundary between the two Germanys. The Berlin Wall was built along the Bradenburg Gate and the huge Pariser Paltz remained completely desolate. The Bradenburg Gate became a symbol of freedom as thousands gathered here to celebrate the fall of Berlin Wall in 1989.
The Bavarian region is the cradle of German culture – cherishing its age – old traditions and yet eagerly embracing the future. One can still find men and women in their traditional clothing – lederhosen and dirndl respectively, in the small Bavarian towns.
The Black Forest here has made two major contributions to the world – the cuckoo clock and of course the delicious Black Forest cake made of chocolate and fresh cream with cherry on top!
The beautifully crafted cuckoo clocks were first made here in the 18th century. Tourists can take the famed ‘German Clock Route’ that winds its way through rolling hills, small villages and lush green forests, to visit many clock museums en route.
The Black Forest is also famous for the traditional ladies’ hat called ‘Bollenhut’. While young unmarried girls wear Bollenhut with enormous red pompoms, married women wear hats with black pompoms.
The Black Forest is believed to be the setting for popular fairy tales such as Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel.
Bavaria is full of palaces and castles straight out of fairy tales. The most famous one is the Neuschwanstein Castle in the Bavarian Alps. The reclusive king Ludwig II built the castle in the late 19th century as his personal retreat. It was opened to the public immediately after his death in 1886. Over 60 million people have visited it since then, making it one of Europe’s major tourist attractions.
Perched over a gorge, the picturesque castle is built in the medieval style in architecture with towers and spires. The signature Sleeping Beauty Castles in Disney amusement parks are inspired by this castle.
Germany’s motorway system the Autobahn, is one of the few public roads in the world without blanket speed restrictions, although advisory speed limits exist. The 12,000 km long Autobahn crisscrossing this small country is the third largest network in the world after US and China.
The Autobahn was the first limited – access, high –speed road network in the world. The first section between Frankfurt am Main and Darmstadt opened in 1935.
Although there are no speed limits, these roads have a good safety record thanks to disciplined nature of Germans.
Germany has as many as 103 Nobel laureates
- Scientists - Albert Einstein, Wilhelm Rontgen, Max Born, Georg Ohm, Max Planck.
- Inventor, industrialist - Werner von Siemens.
- Inventor of diesel engine - Rudolf Diesel.
- Inventor of space rocket - Wernher von Braun.
- Litterateurs - Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Gunter Grass.
- Playwright, poet - Bertolt Brecht.
- Philosopher - Karl Marx.
- Entrepreneur, inventor of blue jeans - Levi Strauss.
- Tennis Players - Steffi Graf, Boris Becker.
- Formula 1 - Micheal Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel.
- As many as 37 fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Germany. Global giants include Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler (Mercedes Benz), Porsche, Siemens, BASF, Bayer, etc.
- Oktoberfest, the world's largest fair, is held in Munich every year. The 16 - day long extravaganza is a celebration of the Bavarian beer - drinking culture. It is visited by over six million people from across the world.
- The culturally rich city of Weimer was home to many world - renowned writers, musicians, artists and philosophers including Goethe, Schiller, Richard Wagner and Bach.
- Rothenburg ob derTauber is the best preserved medieval town complete with churches, towers, market place, town hall and a clock tower.
- The Heidelberg University, founded in 14th century, ranks among the world's premier educational centers.
- The Cathedral of Cologne is a World Heritage Site. It took over 600 years to construct this masterpiece of gothic architecture.