7 days - 6 nights - from € 539 p.p. Historic Highlights of the North
   

 

 

Northern Germany has always been a gateway of sorts with her busy ports of trade with Scandinavian countries and prominence in the Hanseatic League. Today the grand medieval homes and public buildings still stand in monument to the booming commerce of the Middle Ages. If you're heading there in the brief summer months, be sure to pack your beach gear because the coastal towns of northern Germany have become prime destinations for sea-lovers. So start planning your trip for the whole family - this unique region will please the beach-goer and historic buff alike.

 
Day 1 - Mainz

Arrive at Frankfurt International Airport (or at Mainz Main Train Station) to start your tour. Taxi transfer to your hotel in the Historic Highlights City of Mainz, located near Mainz Main Train Station.
"Live Mainz" - The state capital of Rhineland-Palatinate can probably best be understood under this motto. Because Mainz, the city at the confluence of the Rhine and Main and in the middle of the largest German wine-growing area, combines a way of life, a zest for life and a rich, age-old culture in an almost proverbial manner. Enjoy your arrival day in Mainz and explore the City which the Romans laid the foundations more than 2000 years ago.

 
Day 2 - Muenster

In the morning take a train ride to the Historic Highlight City of Münster. Toward the end of World War II, 92% of medieval Münster was destroyed. Many cities in the region decided to create modern metropolises from the rubble. But the citizens of Münster, known for being traditional, decided to rebuild their Altstadt (Old Town) with its original medieval lay-out and architecture. Many outside the city criticized this choice, though, saying that the people of Westphalia's capital were too conservative. Today, few would doubt the wisdom and perhaps soul of their decision. The Altstadt is a marvel for residents and visitors. It's also a place where peace, tolerance and understanding are celebrated. After all, this is the town where the Treaty of Westphalia was signed in 1648, ending the Thirty Years War and marking a rare time (perhaps the first in Europe) that peace was reached by negotiation and compromise (albeit more than five years of it) rather than by domination and defeat. The site of the negotiations and ultimate signing is the Friedenssaal (Hall of Peace) in the Rathaus. The Rathaus (Town Hall) is one of the most important achievements of Gothic profane architecture and has been reconstructed in full historic detail. The building from the middle of the 14th century was reconstructed in the 1950s, true to the original. It is in the heart of the Altstadt, on the Prinzipalmarkt, part of the medieval street lined by buildings that form a thick, high ring-wall around the earliest town center. Since the Middle Ages, the Prinzipalmarkt has been Münster's main shopping street. The tall, narrow houses with their steep gables and arched arcades on massive columns were originally built by wealthy investors. Generations of merchants have established their businesses along this remarkable street since the late 12th century. The Gothic gables of the Rathaus and the Renaissance façade of the Stadtweinhaus (City Wine House) are almost exactly as they were during medieval times. You'll find several demonstrations of the mastery of medieval architecture in Münster's churches. At the crossing of the city's two oldest streets, the Gothic Lampertikirche (St. Lampert's Church) keeps watch over the Principalmarkt. Visitors can crane their necks to see three iron cages hanging from the tower of church that were used in 1536 to make an example of the leaders of the Anabaptist Revolt, whose bodies were placed in the cages for the populace to see and for the birds to ravage. Today's late Gothic construction dates to the late 14th century, the west tower to the late 19th century. In the nearby St. Paul's Cathedral visitors find superb examples of a 13th-century church making the transition from Romanesque to Gothic during the 40 years it was under construction. A marvel of the late medieval times, its astronomical clock features a calendar extending to the year 2071. The Servatii Church, built around 1230, is the smallest and most original of the city churches. It displays late Romanesque and early Gothic elements and appears somewhat submerged since it still stands on original medieval ground level while the city built "up," literally, around it. The Liebfrauenkirche (St. Mary's Church) was first completed in 1340 with the mightiest Gothic church tower in Westphalia, although the helm roof has been missing since a massive storm in 1704. The beautiful sculptures of the Figurenportal (figure door), destroyed by the Baptists, were discovered under the transept and can today be seen in the Landesmuseum (City Museum). The church is also known as the Überwasserkirche (Overseas Church), since it was on the far side of the Aa River from the town. Where city walls once stood, the Promenade has encircled the city center since the 18th century. Bicycle is the way to go in this two-wheel-friendly city, and the 4.5 km (3 mile)-long, tree-lined Promenade serves as a car-free expressway for pedestrians. Your hotel is located close to Muenster main station.

   
  Day 3 - Luebeck

Take a train ride to the Historic Highlight City of Lübeck. Almost every visitor is imprinted with the stunning panorama of Lübeck, whose seven steeples stretch with majesty to the heavens in a silhouette that has inspired sailors, merchants, residents and visitors for nearly 600 years. Many of these spires, as with much of the city, are built in brick Gothic style, a feature that helps give the city a distinctive look. Prints and paintings from as far back as the 13th century show a similar skyline of the "City of Seven Spires." It was known as the "Queen of the Hanseatic League," an association of merchant city-states in the Baltic region. Maritime trade made Lübeck a wealthy town of merchants and sailors, and at one point it was the third-largest city of the Holy Roman Empire (behind Cologne and Prague). The great Northern city developed in the Middle Ages with treasures that can still be enjoyed today. A good starting place for your visit is St. Peter's Church, where you can get a bird's-eye view to orient yourself to the city. The magnificent structure features both Gothic and Romanesque construction and allows you to gaze from its 150-foot-high viewing platform to the city below. What you'll see is a compact collection of nearly 1,400 historic buildings under protection as historic monuments and a complete Altstadt (Old Town) designated at a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most survive from medieval times, Lübeck's Golden Age, when merchants and sea captains demonstrated their wealth and their devotion to their city and their God. You can get a great overview of Lübeck's medieval history at St. Anne's Museum. It's located in a former Augustinian convent from the early 16th century and is host to Germany's most significant collection of ecclesiastical art and late-medieval carved altarpieces of German origin. Be sure to see their exquisite collection of liturgical garments and tools from the Middle Ages. An exhibition of home décor touches on the daily lives of the citizens of the Hanseatic city throughout its history with several authentically furnished rooms. Similar to other large medieval cities, Lübeck had its share of day-laborers and porters. They mostly lived in "Buden" - small houses, often little more than huts - that were crowded together on corner lots, behind town houses or in the yards surrounded by residential blocks. They were accessed by small alleys, some 90 of which still exist today. These pedestrian passageways beckon visitors to travel down them, and your curiosity will often be rewarded when the so-called "Gänge" open up into charming brick courtyards surrounded by apartments and cottages. Heiligen-Geist-Hospital is not only one of Europe's oldest social institutions but also one of the most significant and well-preserved monumental buildings from the Middle Ages. Although initially used to tend to the sick, the building eventually came to serve as an almshouse. The building is still used as a retirement home today, and also hosts the annual Kunsthandwerker- Weihnachtsmarkt, the Craftsmen's Christmas Market. The Culture Forum Castle Monastery, founded in 1229, is the most important medieval monastery in northern Germany. After the Reformation it was used as a poorhouse until the end of the 19th century, when it was converted to a courthouse and prison. Since its restoration, it is now a Culture Forum: a place for analyzing arts and architecture, the history of the Hanseatic League and the Baltic region, contemporary history and philosophy. There are many impressive medieval churches in the city, some original and some rebuilt after WW II bombing. The Romanesque Lübeck Cathedral, a three-nave pinnacled basilica, is Lübeck's oldest architectural monument. After the city became the seat of the bishopric, in 1160, Henry the Lion laid the cornerstone to the mighty brick building in 1173. A wooden church had previously resided on the same location. St. Mary's Church was built from 1250-1350. It's the tallest brick church in the world and the third-largest church in Germany. It's also home to the world's largest mechanical organ, which was installed in 1968. It was damaged during World War II when incendiary bombs caused a firestorm that engulfed the church on Palm Sunday, 1942. Two church bells fell to the ground, and those smashed bells were left in place as a memorial. The present-day town hall, considered one of the oldest, most magnificent German buildings, was built in the 13th century as a cloth hall and emporium. At that time, it comprised three houses, the gables of which are still visible in the magnificent façade. Gothic paintings were just recently uncovered in the auditorium. The Lübeck Senate still convenes in the council chamber. Wind down after a long day of touring the medieval and more modern sites of Lübeck at the Traditionsbrauerei Brauberger. They brew and serve beer just as it was made - and consumed - in medieval times, and you can enjoy this medieval beverage of choice in an appropriately traditional atmosphere. Your hotel is located close to Luebeck main station.

   
  Day 4 - Rostock

ITake the train east along the coast to the Historic Highlights City of Rostock, one of Germany's most beautiful Hanseatic cities, where the Baltic Sea laps the shores of Mecklenburg/Western Pomerania, and the air tastes slightly salty, where old-fashioned sailboats provoke nostalgic longings, and where brick gables reach into the sky. Eight hundred years of history have shaped this "Gateway to the North." Rostock has preserved much of the charm that it once possessed as one of the most important members of the Hanseatic League. The gabled houses dominating the skyline attest to this, as well as the imposing brick warehouses, massive gates and fortifications, and awe-inspiring churches. They all bear eloquent witness to the wealth of the city's medieval merchants. Rostock has kept its importance as a trade center to this day, as well as its status as a college town. Its university, founded in 1419, is the oldest in Northern Europe. Important examples of medieval and Renaissance architecture abound in Rostock's Old Town. There's the 1490 Hausbaumhaus, one of the few wooden structures remaining in the city. The Marienkirche (St. Mary's Church), from the same period, continues to cast a dramatic shadow, although the 355-foot steeple of the Petrikirche tops the skyline (climb the 196 steps or take the half-minute elevator ride). Adjacent to the Marienkirche stands the 13th-century Rathaus, with its 18thcentury baroque makeover. Traditional gabled patrician houses line Wokrenterstrasse. Some of the original city wall still remains, especially along the park-like Wallstrasse. Beyond the wall, villas and residences were built in the 1850s for an expanding middle class. The lively Kröpelinerstrasse in the pedestrian zone is usually bustling with window-shoppers and friends chatting at sidewalk cafes. At its mid-way point, the Universitätsplatz (with its Fountain of Happiness) is a magnet for students, children and other young people. Fine restaurants abound. Plan on a trip to nearby Warnemünde while in the neighborhood. Although Warnemünde has been part of Rostock since 1323, the two cities are different. Rostock is all business, just as it was as a Hanseatic city. Warnemünde is just plain fun. This fishing village has lost little of its charm, despite its rise to seaside resort. Your hotel is located in the City Centre close to the Main Station.

   
  Day 5 & 6 - Potsdam

 

 

 

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Take the train to the Historic Highlights City of Potsdam. Extensive landscapes of castles, palaces and sprawling parks are the main attraction for palatial Potsdam. From the 17th through 20th centuries, Prussian kings commissioned the best artists of their time to build elaborate palaces and gardens in Potsdam, a center of Prussia and home of the royal residence. In the 19th century, renowned landscape architect Peter Joseph Lenné unified these riches into such a harmonious landscape that UNESCO placed it on the list of World Heritage Sites in 1991. For most visitors, it's Sanssouci Park that's the prime attraction. It covers 724 acres - compared to Central Park's 840 - and has three palaces: Sanssouci Palace, the New Palace and Charlottenhof Palace. A king who joined his troops on the battlefield, Frederick the Great commissioned Sanssouci Palace in 1747 as a summer palace where he could have a respite from battle sans souci - without worry. Visitors today still benefit from his stately escape, so check your worries at the palace gates to enjoy splendid gardens and a collection of breathtaking architecture and adornment. Most of what visitors see is the ornate original - not reconstructions or duplicates - and perhaps Germany's most impressive example of rococo architecture. The walls, ceilings, and doors of every room were all richly and intricately embellished and furnished. In front of the palace, vineyard terraces stretch in geometric shapes down into the park. Many visitors to Sanssouci Park neglect the smaller but exquisite New Garden, with two charming palaces: the Marble Palace and Cecilienhof, built in 1917 in the style of an English country estate. Although Cecilienhof is the youngest of the Hohenzollern palaces, it carries perhaps the greatest direct significance for Americans and modern Europe. It was here that the victorious powers of World War II met from June 17 to August 2, 1945 for the Potsdam Conference. Churchill, Truman and Stalin enjoyed the calm and luxurious surroundings of the Cecilia Court Palace as they discussed how to partition post-war Germany. There is plenty to explore in Potsdam regarding its former Communist rule. Signs still remain from those times, which after all ended not even 2 decades ago. As recently as 1994, the city still had 60,000 Russian soldiers. And you are now free to wander the former "Forbidden City," a walled-off villa district once controlled by the KGB. The draw of nearby Berlin for those interested in former East Germany is natural, but many visitors opt to overnight in Potsdam and take day trips to Berlin instead of the other way around. Room rates and restaurants are considerably less expensive and the atmosphere more cordial. You can be in the heart of Berlin within 25 minutes by S-Bahn or train. Be sure to set aside some time to walk around the Baroque Old Town, especially the Dutch Quarter with its gabled brick houses and Brandenburg Street, a pedestrian shopping boulevard lined with antique stores and shops. Gain some of the best views of the parks and palaces from the lakes and river. Relaxing cruises are available of different lengths and routes, from 90-minute lake tours to full-day excursions from Potsdam to Berlin and back.

Day 7 - Potsdam / Berlin

Enjoy your last day of the tour. A taxi will take you to any Airport in Berlin or to Potsdam main station.

   
 

Book This Tour

INCLUDED

  • Airport Transfers

  • 6 nights accommodation

  • All train transportation in first class

  • Sightseeing at leisure

  • Tour package with valuable information, maps and brochures

  • Some entrance fees

7 days / 6 nights independent tour

€649 per person - based on double occupancy


Alternatively:

AVIS rental car instead of 1st class train travel:

€539 per person - based on double occupancy

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