|10 days - 9 nights - from € 799 p.p.||Medieval Masterpieces|
If you have particular interest in that lengthy, if vaguely defined, post-ancient, pre-Renaissance period that most refer to as medieval times or the Middle Ages, visiting the historic cities of Germany will be like striking oil. Some city centers remain completely preserved from these times, allowing you to wander narrow streets, contemplate masterworks of architecture and lose yourself completely in Germany's medieval history.
|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.
|Day 2 - Heidelberg & Freiburg|
Take a train to the Historic
Highlights City of Heidelberg. A taxi will take you up to the Castle.
Heidelberg is renowned for its romantic ambiance. Joseph von Eichendorff,
the German Romantic poet who studied in Heidelberg in 1807, could be
speaking today: "Heidelberg itself is magnificent romantic city; there
the spring entwines the houses and courtyards and everything ordinary
with vines and flowers, and castles and forests tell a wonderful
fairytale of times past. "Take in the magic of the Castle, the Old
Bridge and the Old Town panorama; wander through the picturesque side
streets full of enticing opportunities to look, poke around and shop;
enjoy the varied year-round program of cultural activities and the flair
of historic student pubs. See the indelible marks of the imperial Prince
Electors Palatine who ruled Heidelberg for so many centuries, and keep
your eyes open for lions emblazoned upon various public spaces, the
traditional symbol of the "Kurpfalz"(Palatinate).Heidelberg is an
endlessly walk able little city. Stroll the Old Town for traditional
markets on the squares and cosmopolitan shopping on the bustling
Hauptstrasse. The restaurant selection is plentiful, and some of the
best people-watching is to be done from outdoor dining on this main
pedestrian way. The ruins of the Heidelberg Castle area steep but short
hike, or one stop upon the funicular rail, from the Old Town.
Majestically perched high above the narrow lanes and picturesque roofs
of town, the magnificent red sandstone structure crowns the city. For
five centuries it was the glamorous residence of the Electors Palatine.
The construction lasted over 400 years and consists of ramparts,
outbuildings and palaces in all styles from Gothic thigh Renaissance.
The two dominant buildings at the eastern and northern side of the
courtyard were erected the 16th century, and today they are considered
to be two of the most important buildings in German architectural
history. Another point of interest regarding Heidelberg's Electors
Palatines the triumphal arch in honour of the Prince Elector Karl
Theodor, located at the far eastern edge of town. When the
foundation-stone was laid on October 2, 1775, the Prince Elector
personally attended the celebration. He took a personal interesting the
construction work, and the final result was a neoclassical building
following the tradition of Roman triumphal arches, crowned by four
lions. Portraits of the Prince Elector and his wife can be seen under
the princely hat towards the top of the structure. You can also visit
the tombs of the Prince Electors in the Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the
Holy Ghost).Take a half-day excursion to visit the sumptuous residence
of the Palatinate Electors Karl Philipp and Carl Theodor, Schwetzingen
Castle and its gardens. Often referred to as the "German Versailles,"
the palace was built from 1698, and its famous gardens grew from 1742,
inspired by both French and English estates. Explore the castle's varied
architectural elements, including the luxurious bathhouses of the
Electors, the mosque and the1752 Rococo theatre. No city was as beloved
by the Romantic poets as Heidelberg, due in great part to her enchanting
location on the Nectar River amidst mountains, woods and sloping
vineyards. The city has drawn and inspired great writers and thinkers
for many centuries, leading its popular walking path to become known as
the Philosopher's Walk. Recognized as one of Europe's most beautiful
trails, you can take a leisurely ramble to see the panorama of the city
and river below that moved the likes of Goethe, Mark Twain, Carl Maria
von Weber, Alan Ginsburg and many more. As Germany's oldest university
town, Heidelberg flaunts her distinguished history while retaining a
youthful atmosphere. One in five residents is a student, and the many
bistros, bars, boutiques, music and dance clubs, coffeehouses and
theatres catering to this group are to be enjoyed by the visitor as
well. And be sure to treat yourself to a "Student's Kiss," Heidelberg's
mouth-wateringly sweet specialty.
|Day 3 - Black Forest & Augsburg|
First-class train ride to
thru the Black Forest to Neustadt/Schwarzwald, a holiday world of its
own. Busy hustle and bustle combined with sweet idleness. Neustadt
subscribes to the resort town tradition. There are the "Heimatstuben" -
a permanent exhibition of native folk art and customs, the St.
Jakobs-Münster (cathedral) and the educational woods trail which
provides information on flora and fauna. From the tower to the Hochfirst
crest (the local mountain) one has a spectacular view of the region,
stretching from the Vosges Mountains on the other side of the Rhine to
the French and Swiss alpine chain. The Hochfirst ski jump is Germany's
largest natural ski jump.
|Day 4 - Regensburg|
Take a train ride to the
Historic Highlight City of Regensburg. When you arrive in Regensburg,
you will be welcomed with legendary Bavarian hospitality into the
best-preserved medieval city in Germany, where two thousand years of
history remain alive today. The town began as a Roman camp, Castra
Regina, named for the Regen River on which it lies. Emperor Marcus
Aurelius saw to the completion of the camp and had the northern gate of
the camp, the Porta Praetoria, built in the second century A.D. You can
still visit this awe-inspiring structure during your stay. After
withdrawal of the Romans, Regensburg was the governmental seat of the
Bavarian dukes and Bavaria's first capital. In the time of Charlemagne,
Regensburg became a favored site for Imperial diets and princely
assemblages. With this rise in its political fortunes, the city also
enjoyed an economic boom. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the ministry
officials of the Frankish kings developed into proud and incredibly
wealthy merchants. Their lifestyle rivaled that of the nobility. The
buildings from the flourishing medieval times are remarkably
well-preserved. Many grandiose patrician houses remain with
Italian-style towers reaching to the heavens and embellishing the
impressive city skyline. The buildings, towers and churches offer an
unspoiled peek into the past. You need not be a student of history to
get a strong sense of what life was like in the days of old in
Regensburg. Regensburg has a long history of imperial significance. The
city was the seat of the Perpetual Imperial Diet from 1663 through 1806,
when the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in Regensburg. During this
time, the ambassadors from the German and European royal courts made
homes for themselves in the city and founded a varied culture of
festivals and celebrations. The parliament convened in the Imperial
Chamber in the Town Hall, an impressive work of Renaissance
architecture, through 1806. Visitors can now visit the exhibition of
books and prints illustrating the history of the Imperial Diet. The
dungeons and inquisition chamber in the cellars are also on show.
Castles, churches, monasteries and St. Peter's Cathedral bear testimony
to the grandeur of the prosperous medieval era, which is also brought to
life in the many museums with their valuable and fascinating
collections. The Stone Bridge and the Old Town Hall, set in the heart of
the medieval city, are among the most important historic buildings in
Germany. Take a boat trip on the Danube to best experience the river
that has sustained the city since ancient times. Visit the Neupfarrplatz
for a glimpse into the ancient and medieval city. This square was once
the site of Roman officers' homes. In the early Middle Ages, it became
Regensburg's Jewish quarter, later razed during economic hardships in
1519. Recent construction work uncovered the foundations of the former
Jewish quarter built over Roman ruins. Descend into the excavations via
stairs adjacent to the Neupfarrkirche to see cellars, walls, wells,
steps and roads and gain a better insight into the lives of the ancient
Romans and the medieval Jews of Regensburg. No visit to Regensburg is
complete without a visit to the Schloss Thurn und Taxis, a magnificent
castle built around a former 8th century Benedictine abbey by the Thurn
and Taxis family in 1812. While still the family's ancestral home, three
main sections are open to the public. The palace, with its magnificent
furnishings, paints a vivid picture of court life in the 19th century
and is said to have more rooms than Buckingham Palace in England. The
palace also houses the Thurn and Taxis Museum, a branch of the National
Museum of Bavaria, with an extensive collection of jewelry, watches,
porcelain place settings, duelling pistols and other family treasures.
Around lunchtime, be sure to stroll toward the Steinerne Brücke (Stone
Bridge), an architectural achievement as impressive today as when it was
built in the early 12th century. Nine centuries ago, workers
constructing the bridge received their meals at a riverside kitchen.
That same kitchen - the Historische Wurstküche (Historic Sausage
Kitchen) - serves several thousand Regensburger Bratwurst each day to
locals and visitors. On a sunny day, guests can sit elbow-to-elbow on
slat benches and devour platefuls of the little Bavarian sausages,
sauerkraut and sweet mustard.
|Day 5 - Nuremberg & Würzburg|
First-class train ride to Nuremberg. The city's history reaches back to the year 1050, its name "nourenberc" translating into "rocky hill". Nuremberg's famous landmark, the Kaiserburg, towers above the Old town, which is protected by the 5 kilometers long city wall with its many towers. When exploring the beauty of Nuremberg's mediaeval Old Town one can start at the Koenigstor ("Kingsgate"), from where the timber framed buildings, the Gothic Church of St.Lawrence and the Church of St.Sebaldus can be easily reached by foot. Right next to the Koenigstor there is the Handwerkerhof (craft center), here you will feel like you are back in the mediaeval times, there are craft workshops like they used to have a long time ago as well as a gingerbread bakery. Make sure to enjoy a Nuremberg Bratwurst along with a beer or a glass of Frankenwein. In the afternoon the train takes you to the Historic Highlights City of Würzburg. This lively city is the northern gateway to the Romantic Road, a trade route from the Middle Ages still traveled by visitors seeking the best of medieval Germany. Today Würzburg is a surprisingly cosmopolitan Bavarian city filled with architectural and artistic treasures - and exquisite Franconian wine. Würzburg is dominated by its most prominent landmark, the Fortress Marienberg. The origins of this fortress date back to around 1000 B.C., when a Celtic fortified refuge existed on this site. Since the foundation of the Würzburg bishopric in 742, the city has been the region's religious centre. Würzburg experienced its most prosperous period during the rule of the art-loving prince-bishops of the Schönborn family, for whom Balthasar Neumann built the "palace of palaces" from 1719 to 1744. Known as the Würzburg Residenz (Residence), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is arguably the most ornate Baroque palace in Germany. The centre entryway is big enough for a stagecoach to turn around and leads to a massive grand staircase. Halfway up the stairs, eyes are drawn upward to "The Four Continents" (only Europe, America, Asia and Africa were known at the time), a fresco by the Venetian artist Tiepolo that is considered the world's largest painting. The brilliant colours fill an unsupported vaulted ceiling, which critics of the time said would surely collapse. Not only did it outlast the critics, but it was the only part of the Residenz left standing after a 1945 bombing. The prince-bishops hired some of Europe's finest architects, sculptors and painters, and their legacy can be seen on nearly every block. Sights worth exploring include St. Kilian's Cathedral for its exquisite architecture and the adjacent Neumünster Church, built where missionaries were killed in 689 and the destination for thousands of pilgrims every July 7. Behind this church is the Lusam Garden, where the tombstone of the medieval poet, Walther von der Vogelweide can be found. Mention should also be made of the Marienkapelle on the market square as one of the most interesting late-Gothic Bavarian churches. Würzburg (like its visitors) benefits from its prime location on the River Main. The promenade makes for delightful strolls, and riverfront cafés overflow in good weather. Sightseeing boats offer excursions to neighbouring villages, and passenger ships plying the Rhine, Main and Danube make the city a prime stop. And there are few better views from a hotel room than of a river, a castle rising above it, and vineyards stretching beyond sight. From the northernmost point of the Romantic Road, a pleasant day trip might include visiting medieval Rothenburg, Germany's "Christmas city." Another diversion of interest is Weikersheim Castle, the main residence of the princes of Hohenlohe. Situated at the heart of the Franconia wine region, the excellent white wines produced in the area are central to life in Würzburg. The people of this city have a great appreciation for the quality and variety of wine from their region, as evidenced by the fact that nearly 80% of the wine produced there is also consumed there. Visitors can gain their own appreciation at one of the many annual wine festivals, during wine cellar tours, at wine tastings, in wine bars and from extensive wine lists at almost every restaurant. Your hotel is located near Würzburg´s main station.
|Day 6 - Fulda & Erfurt|
In the morning the train takes you to Fulda. The Benedictine monastery of Fulda was founded in 744 by Sturmius on behalf of Saint Bonifatius. These days Fulda is the heart and soul of the commercial and cultural life in this eastern part of Hessia. Fulda is well known for its building tradition. Historical buildings in a baroque style dominate Fulda's city centre. Take the train to the Historic Highlights City of Erfurt. Erfurt became a pilgrimage destination of sorts with the reunification of Germany. Thousands of Americans poured into this former East German city to see where Martin Luther studied, to bow heads where he prayed, to walk the same medieval streets and even to sleep where he slept. Luther came to the University of Erfurt as a student in 1501, served as a monk in the Augustinian Monastery starting in 1505 and was ordained as a priest in the St. Mary's Cathedral in 1511. At almost every turn, there's a reminder of the man who launched the Reformation. But there is far more to this city than Luther. The compact Altstadt makes for easy exploration of its many neighboring historic sights. The Domberg (Cathedral Hill) thrusts impressive twin cathedrals above the city's rooftops. The hike up the 70 steps from the Domplatz is worth it to see the treasures of the 14th-century St. Mary's Cathedral and the 13th-century St. Severus. The Fischmarkt (Fish Market) is the center of the historical city. Next to the neo-Gothic City Hall (1870-75), with its numerous of lovely mural paintings depicting the history and legends of Thuringia and Erfurt, you will find a number of town houses once owned by rich woad merchants. A few steps further there is the notable renovated classical facade of the Kaisersaal (1715), the former old university ballroom. It was here, that Napoleon I. met Tsar Alexander I. at the Erfurt Congress in 1808. The Krämerbrücke (Merchant's Bridge), built in 1325, is completely covered by houses on both sides. The original 62 narrow houses on the bridge have over time been amalgamated to form the present 32 houses, and it is recognized as the longest bridge of its kind in Europe. The Augustinerkloster (Augustinian Monastery), dating back to 1277, houses an exhibition that shows the life and work of its resident of six years, Martin Luther. Also not to be missed is the Petersberg Citadel, one of the few of nearly completely preserved Baroque Citadels in Europe. Today it stands as impressive proof of the art of European fortification construction from the 17th to the 19th centuries. This beautiful city has bloomed into the reputation of Europe's "Flower City." A city of parks and gardens, it boasts Germany's largest flower bed (6,000 square meters) in the ega-Park. The "ega" is a gardening exhibition center built around the 500- year-old Cyriaksburg fortress and is a testament to man's ability to find harmony with nature in landscape gardening. Just behind the train station, City Park rises with a series of stone terraces. The old Brühl Park, built as a refuge for nobility in the 18th century and now gone quite literally to seed, is being tamed and manicured. Your hotel is located close to Erfurt main station.
|Day 7 - Münster|
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. There is also much to be discovered in the countryside surrounding this intriguing city. More than 100 moated castles dot the scenery of Münsterland. The city's nobility lived in these stately residences during the summer months and returned to their mansions in the city in wintertime. An excellent example that is open to the public is Burg Vischering. After seeing how the upper-crust lived, visit Mühlenhof Open- Air Museum to see what daily life on the farm was like for everyone else. More than 30 farm houses and other structures - a windmill, bake house, smithy, smoke house, horse-driven grinding mill, village store, storage sheds, bee hives and barns - have been transported from their original locations throughout Westphalia to this village-style, open-air museum on the shores of the Aasee. Your hotel is located close to Muenster main station.
|Day 8 - Lübeck|
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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 9 - Lübeck & Hamburg|
Free day to explore the Historic Highlight City of Lübeck. Hamburg is just a short (one hour) train ride from Lübeck and you might want to visit this fascinating metropolis.
|Day 10 - Lübeck/ Hamburg Airport for departure|
The Airport Shuttle bus will bring you to Hamburg Airport. Or continue your tour from Lübeck main train station.
10 days / 9 nights independent tour
€879 per person - based on double occupancy
AVIS rental car instead of 1st class train travel:
€799 per person - based on double occupancy