The Museums of Berlin
Berlin is talked about all over the world with regard to the wonderful selection of museums which are located in the city. If you aren’t going to be there for very long, here are a few that you should definitely try to get to. The Pergamonmsueum - one of the world’s best ancient history museums housing extensive collections of Greek, Islamic and Far Eastern Art as well as artefacts from both the Greek and Roman Empires; the Gemäldegalerie, one of Europe’s leading art museums where you will see the works of European masters including Botticelli, Raphael, Titian and Vermeer and the Topographie des Terrors where there are exhibitions detailing the rise to power of the Nazis as well as some of the atrocities of the war. You should wander around, however, as there are some weird and wonderful ones that will pleasantly surprise you. Never knew history could be this much fun.
Dachau Concentration Camp KZ-Gedenkstaette Dachau
Dachau is suituated approximately thirty minutes from Munich and is the site where the first concentration camp of the Nazi era was built. This camp was unlike its Polish counterparts of Auschwitz and Trblihnka in that it was originally used to hold political opponents and intellectuals as opposed to Jews. About thirty five thousand people died within its walls although the gas chambers were reportedly never used. The walls, chambers and crematoriums have all been restored in a chilling memorial to all that were interred and died there from 1933 to 1945. While it is a most educational attraction, it is also a very eerie one and is not to everyone’s taste.
The Black Forest (Schwarzwald)
If you do get the chance, and this will probably only come about if you are staying in or around Stuttgart or Freilburg, you should try to spend at least one day in this area. How you spend your day when you get there is entirely up to you but try to bring some energy with you. There’s a lot more to the forest than just pine trees or quiet relaxation. The inspiration for the Story of Hansel and Gretel, Schwarzwald now offers some of the most breathtaking locations for skiing and hiking in particular, but also mountain biking, swimming and surfing. Of course, you get to relax too – by the lakes in summer or a big fire in winter. All you have to do is choose which one you would prefer.
For any of you who have ever been to Disneyland in California, you will probably feel a certain sense of recognition when you arrive at Neuschwanstein Castle. The reason, this is where the creators came when they needed inspiration for a fairy tale castle. It is the most impressive and impractical castle in Germany and was created for ‘Mad King Ludwig’ who lived in Bavaria in the 1800s. Incidentally, he was responsible for the building of several other castles in the Bavarian region making it an extremely interesting and picturesque area to spend a holiday. The nearby town of Fuessen should also be visited. A quaint little town nestled between two lakes and surrounded by the mountains, Fuessen, like the castle, is like something from a fairytale. So, while poor old Ludwig may well have been mad, the German tourism industry owe him a great deal of gratitude.
Cologne, in the northwest of the country on the banks of the Rhine, is home to one of the most impressive cathedrals on the continent. The building of this Gothic structure began in 1248 and didn’t finish until 1880. Obviously people were a lot more patient with architects and builders back in the thirteen hundreds. Including the magnificent dome, the Cathedral stands at one hundred and fifty seven metres tall and the towers can be seen from anywhere in the city meaning you will never lose your way. While its sheer size alone is impressive, it doesn’t even begin to compare to its interior with its wonderful stained glass windows and religious artefacts, the most famous of which is the Shrine of the Three Magi.