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Ten of the Most Interesting Places in Germany
Interesting places always teach us something, whether it is about the past in general, or the specific person or group who built it or drew inspiration from it. The places are physical marks of legacy from all who have touched upon them. We find connections to our history in them. Most very interesting and intriguing places are found in areas of the Earth where a lot of history took place.
One area on our Earth, which has many interesting and intriguing places, is the country of Germany. Germany has a long history from education to culture and literature. Thus, Germany is home to many intriguing places, where most of these places are very old, dating back several hundreds of years. Below is a list of ten of the most interesting places in Germany, in no particular order. These ten are just the bridge to the castle of history.
1.) Heidelberg Castle
Heidelberg Castle is a decently sized castle and is located in Heidelberg, Germany. This castle makes it onto the list because of the long and vast history, including the symbolism it has in Germany, and its popularity among visitors. The Heidelberg Castle's long history dates back several centuries, beginning with the first castle structure built before 1214. There were once two castles in the area early on in the centuries, but soon was down to the one still standing, as the one higher one on a hill was destroyed by lightning a couple hundred years after they were built. Its architecture is from the Renaissance and Gothic periods.
The Heidelberg Castle had many residents, including famous residents, over time, who had expanded the castle as it was destroyed and reconstructed throughout the centuries. The present castle was an expansion from the early 1600s. This castle had been through a couple wars and lightning bolts over time and was continuously rebuilt several times over its history, where around the 1800, it was already considered a ruin. Besides famous residents, the Heidelberg Castle also had many famous visitors, including Johann Wolfgang Goethe, and Mark Twain. There is even a memorial tablet and statue for Goethe on the premises. Mark Twain felt inspired by this castle and mentioned it in 'A Tramp Abroad,' his 1880 book.
With the castle considered a ruin, at first many people in town took the stones, iron, et cetera, to use in building their own houses. The government then intended to take down the ruins, as their judgment of the castle and the ruins was that it was old and useless. Today, we have Charles de Graimberg, a French Count, to thank for saving the castle and surrounding ruins of what is left presently. Without him, the castle would have never been preserved or documented, and we would not be able to venture around it nowadays. Without him, the Heidelberg Castle would have been lost and forgotten in the history of time.
2.) Snow White's Castle
The next place on this list is Snow White’s Castle, or named Baroque SchlossFriedrichstein in German. Snow White’s castle is a medium sized castle and is located in Bergfreiheit, a mining village, in the Bad Wildungen, Germany area. This was the home of a count’s daughter and the sister of the founder of the village. According to history, she was a beautiful, young princess and was poisoned to death at the age of twenty-one by her stepmother.
This place is an interesting stop to visit because it is part of the Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, tour stops to see if you take a self-led tour of the places the brothers were influenced by for their stories. The story of the young princess & her fate, along with the short men who worked in the mines at the time, is thought to be the origin and inspiration for the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” The history of the castle itself and of the famous writers who were inspired for a folklore story by this place makes it worthy of a visit of exploration.
3.) Sleeping Beauty's Castle
Next, we have the last castle mentioned on this list, which is another fairy tale castle. This castle is Sleeping Beauty’s Castle or Dornroschenschloss Sababurg in German, and is of medieval architecture. It is located in Sababurg, Germany in the ancient Reinhardswald Forest.
According to history, the story of Sleeping Beauty’s castle is that the Archbishop of Mainz founded it in 1334, and named it Zapfenburg. The archbishop used the castle as a place to protect the traveling pilgrims on their journey to the holy site of Gottsburen. Then, about 160 years later and onward, in 1490, a landgrave of Hesse, named Wilhelm I, expanded the original place to become a hunting lodge, which is the present day castle that stands today.
However, by the early 19th century, the castle was abandoned. The castle, like Snow White’s castle, inspired the Grimm Brothers their Sleeping Beauty castle in their Sleeping Beauty story. Since it was around the time the Brothers Grimm published their Sleeping Beauty fairy tale and the castle took on a “sleeping” appearance by being covered with ivy and greatly hidden in the ancient forest, people assumed this was where the “Sleeping Beauty” tale actually took place.
Today, the castle is a hotel with a restaurant and a theatre on the premises. Even from the outside, with still all the shrubbery and ivy, it is a place full of wonder of all the history that occurred from the beginning. This place is an intriguing castle you would not want to miss and will leave you enchanted.
4.) Brothers Grimm Museum in Kassel
Once upon a time… almost all Disney fairy tale stories, like the princess stories of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, originally were Brothers Grimm fairy tales. Following after the castles on this list is the Brothers Grimm Museum or Brüder Grimm Museum in German. The museum is located in Kassel, Germany. This museum displays the works of the Grimm Brothers, along even with some of their furniture from their house.
The Grimm Brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, were fairy tale collectors and storywriters, who lived in the 19th century in Germany. They wrote down the legends and tales they heard from a few of the people they had met who knew all of them. The brothers then traveled and lived in many places in Germany, including the city of Kassel. Many of the places in Germany, including Snow White and Sleeping Beauty’s castles contributed or became associated with the Grimm Fairy Tales. These places can be visited and are located along a specific route that travelers and visitors can follow, called the German Fairy Tale Route.
A few other fairy tales that are originally Grimm’s fairy tales are Rumplestiltskin, Little Red Riding Hood, and Hansel & Gretel. When Disney came around in the mid 20th century, Disney then adopted most of the Grimm fairy tales as a Disney story. Although, whether you knew about the Grimm Brothers or not, the Brothers Grimm museum is definitely a must-see place to visit, especially to learn about the brothers, their life, and their work.
5.) Goethe house
Next on the list of interesting places is Goethe’s house or Goethehaus in German. This house was the house, which Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born and grew up in, and it is located in Frankfurt, Germany. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer and poet in 18th century. At this place, you learn a lot about Goethe’s personal life in his house, including seeing his actual furniture, which is still there. Right next door, in the museum, his work, along with information on Frankfurt, Germany at the time, are displayed. There is just something about being able to walk in the same rooms with the same furniture (preserved of course) as someone from centuries ago, who had a great influence on society for the good, and being there helps to connect to their history.
6.) Romerberg Plaza in Frankfurt
Romerberg Plaza is another area in Frankfurt that is an interesting place to visit. In the Romerberg Plaza, there are many centuries old buildings located in the plaza since the Middle Ages. There are a couple churches, and government buildings. The Romerberg Plaza holds a wealth of centuries long history from fun activities of festivals, fairs, markets, and tournaments to formal activities of elections, executions, and coronations, since the 9th century. It was originally called Samstagsberg.
The fountain in the square of the plaza was the first fountain in Frankfurt, and current design, which was in the year 1611. Its statue of Justice was originally erected in 1543, but had been replaced and fixed over the centuries. In the 1800s, the fountain and statue were last replaced, which is now the current ones standing today. The Romerberg Plaza is definitely not one to miss when one is exploring Frankfurt.
7.) Eiserner Steg footbridge in Frankfurt
Another interesting place in Frankfurt is the Eiserner Steg footbridge. The pedestrian bridge was built in 1869, and provides a path over the Frankfurt River and connects the Romerberg Plaza to Sachsenhausen, which is Frankfurt’s apple wine district. The bridge carries the history of many years of visitors in Frankfurt. The Eiserner Steg, over the past few decades, has accumulated hundreds of padlocks with the names or initials of couples and lovers onto its iron beams. Thus, now this bridge is known as ‘the padlock bridge’ in Frankfurt. If you want to take a scenic route from one district to another in Frankfurt, this is a great path to take, especially if you are with your love and decide to part take in the “padlock tradition.”
8.) Ratskeller restaurant
The next interesting place on this list is not a place connected to the arts or a place to just view. This place is the Ratskeller restaurant, and it is located in Bad Wildungen, Germany. Its location is unique where one rarely would find a restaurant. The Ratskeller restaurant is a restaurant that is in the basement of the City Town Hall of the Bad Wildungen town. The food is good, and the experience is just as great. The restaurant is necessary visit for the food, atmosphere, and unique location.
9.) Heidelberg University and Downtown
The Heidelberg University and the Old Downtown of Heidelberg, Germany are also intriguing places to pass by that deserve a mention. There are actually two campuses of the Heidelberg University. The one that is the more interesting one has to do with the location of the campus, which is the first campus of the Old Downtown campus of the university. This campus location of the university has stood there for centuries. The university itself is Germany’s first and oldest university as it was established in the year of 1386. The old university campus building is now currently the cafeteria but the architecture is still great to look at.
The Old Downtown is fun to walk around in as all of the buildings here were spared during the wars. All the narrow streets with cobblestones, which now have many restaurants and little shops, still exist today. This is definitely a neat area to explore in Heidelberg.
10.) Old Opera House
Finally, we come to the last place on the list. The last interesting place mentioned here is the Old Opera House, located in Frankfurt, Germany. This cultural icon building also has been around for centuries. It is a building from the Wilhelminian Era, which were the years of 1890-1914. The Old Opera House was once destroyed to the building foundations, and became known as “Germany’s most beautiful ruin.” With the great love everyone had for it and its history and significance in Germany’s culture, the Opera House was rebuilt to its original architecture in 1980. Now the gorgeous Old Opera House hosts a variety of concerts and parties. The Old Opera House is a cultural staple that shines elegance not to be passed up.
There you have it: ten of the most interesting places in Germany. Of course, there are many more places in Germany that are just as interesting. Again, these places are just the bridge to the castle of history, and in no particular order and rank. The most intriguing and interesting places are most of the time historical places, which hold memories, and stories of the past. When they continue to stand and last throughout centuries, they can teach us something by being a link from the past to the present and future. If there are other places, especially in Germany, which is not mentioned above, please mention them in the comments below!
Which of these places above are your favorite or plan on visiting?
© 2014 Alyssa Scheidemann