8 days - 7 nights - from € 569 p.p. Treasures of the Renaissance and Baroque
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While Italy to the south was bustling with the influence of Renaissance ideals on art, architecture, literature and philosophy, Germany was busy with its own revolution of sorts with the Protestant Reformation. This preoccupation left little room for widespread "rebirth" in the country, though examples are found in southern Germany due to Italian influences, as well as a few isolated examples in the far north. After the Reformation, the Baroque movement was able to take hold. More than any other movement, the Baroque aimed toward a seamless meshing of architecture and art. The German Baroque truly flourished only in the south and in Lower Saxony-especially in Catholic Counter-Reformation areas-where Germany's brand of over-the-top adornment worked better perhaps than in any other country. And whereas Rococo is often used as a derogatory term for the Baroque gone awry, in Germany the Rococo actually succeeds (usually). Come judge for yourself by visiting the Historic Highlights of Germany and her Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo masterpieces.

 
Day 1 - Wiesbaden

 Arrive at Frankfurt International Airport (or at Wiesbaden Main Train Station) to start your tour. Taxi transfer to your hotel in the Historic Highlights City of Wiesbaden, located in the City Center.
The town received its descriptive name, literally "bathing in the fields," from the Franconians in 829. Long before this group, though, the thermal waters were discovered by the Romans. Nearly 2000 years ago, Roman soldiers began to bathe in the thermal water that bubbled up through the ground. They found these steaming pools had healing effects on them, and the ancient attraction still remains. Wiesbaden's wealthy spa, resort and casino owners can thank those stinky Roman soldiers and their inadvertent discovery while washing up in the fields for their continued popularity and profitability today. It began to develop as a resort town in the early nineteenth century, and the European aristocracy came in droves. The presence, prestige and influence of the cultural elite helped develop an extensive calendar of cultural events (many surviving to this day) and the magnificent structures built to house them. Casinos became popular in Wiesbaden to entertain the royalty, nobility and intellectual elite between dips in the baths and it quickly became one of the leading spa destinations in Europe. The Heidenmauer (Heathens' Wall) is the city's oldest structure, dating from Roman times, and is found next to the Römertor (Roman Gateway). It was part of a Roman stronghold dating back to 364-375 A.D. built to ward off attacks from the Germanic tribes. Only fragments of the wall remain today. The Römertor was built in 1902 with a covered wooden bridge. In the Römisches Freilichtmuseum (Roman Open-Air Museum) next to the Römertor, there are copies of stone tablets found in Wiesbaden from the Roman era. In the Museum Wiesbaden, an extensively renovated art collection and exhibit focuses on the "Roman Era and the Early Middle Ages." The Altstadt (Old City), once encircled by a city wall, lends itself to strolls through its narrow, twisting alleys lined with houses dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Perhaps the most impressive area is the district around the "new" Kurhaus, the massive and magnificent Wilhelminian structure that opened in 1907. The neoclassical structure is awe-inspiring with its massive dome and rich adornments, also housing the ornate Spielbank. Try your luck at the famed casino, where roulette, blackjack and poker are the primary games of choice, and visitors can tour or even take lessons. The adjacent Kurhaus Colonnade features a less formal gambling setting with 130 slot machines. The neighboring Hessisches Staatstheater (Hessian State Theater) was built between 1892-1894 by Fellner and Helmer, two Viennese architects. The magnificent and majestic foyer in Rococo style was added in 1902. The theater auditorium in the "Grosses Haus" is a revival of the Baroque style and has 1041 seats. And, of course, you can't leave Wiesbaden without experiencing the thermal baths as the Romans did. The Kaiser- Friedrich-Therme, erected in 1913, re-opened to the public in 1999 after extensive restorations. This historic thermal bath is heated by the Adlerquelle, a hot spring with a temperature of 66°C. It offers an Irish-Roman Bath, a fascinating contemporary sauna landscape, and a range of therapies using natural methods of treatment.

 
Day 2 - Augsburg

In the morning the trains takes you to the Historic Highlights City of Augsburg. Founded by Emperor Augustus in 15 B.C., Augsburg got its starts as a Roman military camp and became a Roman provincial capital for more than 400 years. By the 15th century, it was one of Europe's wealthiest and most important merchant cities. Having developed over two millennia, this town's distinct cityscape was shaped by all the great stylistic epochs. Great buildings, monumental fountains, lavishly laid-out streets, and ultramodern architecture attest to the city's tradition of cosmopolitan bounty. Many of Augburg's unique features can be credited to the pre-mercantile times of Roman soldiers, though. The city's wall dates from the Middle Ages, but you can still find traces of the Romans' handiwork in stretches of the original wall. They were also responsible for the city's intricate canal system. By one count, as many as 600 bridges cross the still-intact waterways - more, Augsburgers claim, than in Venice or Amsterdam. Be sure you don't miss the Roman Museum, a church of the former St. Magdalena monastery with prehistoric exhibits and interesting finds from the Roman empire. Take time to appreciate the magnificent beauty that the Renaissance imparted on Augsburg's façade. It is even nicknamed the "German Renaissance City." The majesty of this era is still very much alive here in the architecture of the monumental Rathaus (City Hall). This imposing Renaissance masterpiece was built from 1615 to 1620 by Elias Holl as an expression of the Free Imperial City's civic pride. Enjoy an impressive panoramic view of the city's architectural gems from the adjacent Perlachturm tower. Just one of many Renaissance fountains surviving intact, the magnificent Augustusbrunnen was erected in honor of the Roman Emperor from whom the city derives its name. Maximilian Street, framed by the historic façades of stately patrician homes, attests to the city's affluence in the days of the famous Fugger and Welser merchant dynasties. The world's oldest social settlement of the poor, The Fuggerei, was built by Jacob Fugger the Rich, banker to kings and emperors. Even today, its residents pay less than a dollar a year in rent. Banking must have been the profession of choice in Augsburg for those who wanted to lives like emperors and kings, as evidenced by the Schaezler Palace. The city palace of banker Liebert von Liebenhofen was built from 1765 to 1770 and features a richly adorned Rococo Banquet Hall,. Considered the most impressive Rococo work in Augsburg, it is also one of the most impressive private Rococo buildings in Bavaria. Today it also houses the German Baroque Gallery and the State Gallery with paintings by masters such as Dürer, Holbein and Cranach. Of interest to music-lovers, the ancestral home of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is open to the public and houses a museum for the famous composer, whose family originated in Augsburg. Augsburg also touts an impressive collection of religious edifices. The Dom (Cathedral) is lit by five of the oldest figured stained glass windows of the world (1140). St. Ulrich & Afra-Basilika and the Protestant Ulrichskirche join with the Dom to constitute a splendid architectural ensemble. And in 1518, Martin Luther first defended his theses of Protestantism to an emissary of the Pope while residing in St. Anna's Church, a former monastery that offers excellent examples of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo styles. The Augsburg region is distinguished as the childhood home to Elisabeth, Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary. Born in Munich in 1837, she married Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph at age 16 and quickly became the Princess Diana of her century. A strikingly beautiful woman, "Sisi" was beloved by the people. At the same time, she suffered as she tried to become accustomed to the etiquette and customs of the royal court, instead choosing to spend much of her time traveling. Eventually, she developed into a confident and energetic woman who lived her life , with independence until she was assassinated in Geneva in 1898. Augsburg is the western terminus of the Sisi Road, which travels through Bad Ischl, Austria, where she met Franz Joseph, and Vienna, where she lived in the Hofburg and Schönbrunn. The Road continues into Hungary to Gödöllö Palace near Budapest.
You hotel is located right at Augsburg main train station.

   
  Day 3 - 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.
Your hotel is located close to Regensburg's main station.

   
  Day 4 - Würzburg

In the morning 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 5 - 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 6 & 7 - 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. Your hotel is located close to Potsdam Main Station.

 
Day 8 - Potsdam/Berlin Airport for departure

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

  • 7 nights accommodation

  • All train transportation in first class

  • Sightseeing at leisure

  • Tour package with valuable information, maps and brochures

  • Some entrance fees

8 days / 7 nights independent tour

€699 per person - based on double occupancy


Alternatively:

AVIS rental car instead of 1st class train travel:

€569 per person - based on double occupancy

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