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Formerly Germany's coal-mining region, the Ruhrgebiet forms one of the largest conurbations in Europe with 5 million residents and is now known for its diverse and vibrant cultural scene. Bochum, Dortmund, Duisburg, Essen, Oberhausen and many other towns and cities combine to form a fascinating urban area that is full of surprises.

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Goethe and Schiller, Herder and Wieland, Nietzsche, Fürnberg, Liszt, Bach, Cornelius, Gropius, Feininger, Klee, Itten. Weimar is intrinsically linked with the great names of Germany's and Europe's intellectual past. Both Weimar Classicism and the Bauhaus remain beacons of the extraordinarily rich cultural life that is abundantly and harmoniously manifest in the town.

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Potsdam is best known for the magnificent palaces and parks that date back to its time as the former royal seat of Prussia. Prussian pomp and splendour, a heritage of great architects and scholars, and a focal point during the Cold War: Potsdam offers a breathtaking panorama of culture and history.

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Aachen is a city that lives and breathes Europe. It is practically Europe in miniature. Aachen, on the border with Belgium and the Netherlands, has encapsulated the spirit, values and ideals of Europe since the days of Charlemagne. Indeed the Charlemagne Prize for services to European unity has been awarded at Aachen's town hall since 1950.

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Formerly Germany's coal-mining region, the Ruhrgebiet forms one of the largest conurbations in Europe with 5 million residents and is now known for its diverse and vibrant cultural scene. Bochum, Dortmund, Duisburg, Essen, Oberhausen and many other towns and cities combine to form a fascinating urban area that is full of surprises.

More »

Formerly Germany's coal-mining region, the Ruhrgebiet forms one of the largest conurbations in Europe with 5 million residents and is now known for its diverse and vibrant cultural scene. Bochum, Dortmund, Duisburg, Essen, Oberhausen and many other towns and cities combine to form a fascinating urban area that is full of surprises.

More »

Formerly Germany's coal-mining region, the Ruhrgebiet forms one of the largest conurbations in Europe with 5 million residents and is now known for its diverse and vibrant cultural scene. Bochum, Dortmund, Duisburg, Essen, Oberhausen and many other towns and cities combine to form a fascinating urban area that is full of surprises.

More »

Formerly Germany's coal-mining region, the Ruhrgebiet forms one of the largest conurbations in Europe with 5 million residents and is now known for its diverse and vibrant cultural scene. Bochum, Dortmund, Duisburg, Essen, Oberhausen and many other towns and cities combine to form a fascinating urban area that is full of surprises.

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Saarbrücken is a likeable city with a vibrant cultural scene, baroque architecture and a French ambience combined with the joie de vivre of the Saarland. This state capital, university city, economic hub and trade fair venue is situated at the centre of a region that spans three countries. If you are looking for an easygoing, friendly city with a feel-good factor, then Saarbrücken is the place.

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What does Berlin have that other world cities don't? Well, first of all, there's the locals, whose rough yet friendly charm is all part of the Berlin experience. Add to that an incredible array of sights that reflect not only the city's newfound swagger but also its great history and the dramatic events of the 20th century.

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Founded as Augusta Treverorum in 16 BC during the reign of the Roman emperor Augustus Caesar, Trier is Germany's oldest city and an important site for classical monuments and art treasures. This can be seen at the Porta Nigra, the best-preserved city gate from antiquity and today the most famous landmark of this city on the banks of the Moselle.

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Osnabrück has gone down in history as a city of peace for its role in the Treaty of Westphalia. But Osnabrück is much more than that. It's also a city of many layers, with something new to discover at every turn. Connoisseurs, for example, are spoilt for choice by the exceptional gourmet restaurants and regional specialities on offer here.

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Lübeck, the Queen of all the Hanseatic cities, was founded in 1143 as 'the first western city on the Baltic coast'. Today, its appearance is still characterised by a medieval ambience and by cultural and historical attractions, such as the Holsten Gate, that hark back to Lübeck's glorious past as a free imperial and Hanseatic city.

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Bremen: a regional capital and trading city with a long-standing maritime heritage. Bremerhaven: 1,000 years Bremen's junior but still steeped in history and with many tales to tell. These two cities together form Germany's smallest federal state – a world of experiences that is cosmopolitan, welcoming and full of pleasures, open to the new and respectful of the old.

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Anyone thinking a medieval town with a 2,000-year-old history might be slightly on the quiet side is greatly mistaken: Regensburg is anything but dull. World heritage comes to life in the individual historical buildings and squares but, above all, in the town that they form. What's more, this is a town for fun-lovers with the highest concentration of bars in Germany.

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At the famous Deutsches Eck, or German Corner, where the Rhine and Moselle converge, lies one of Germany's oldest and most beautiful towns – Koblenz. Vineyards, forests and four mountain ranges form the backdrop to the city, whose 2,000-year history has given rise to beautiful churches and castles, palatial residences and grand town houses.

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Würzburg is a pleasing harmony of history, culture and wine. This university town and former royal seat is idyllically situated on either side of the Main river and offers a vibrant atmosphere and an endearing charm. It has gained a name as the centre of the Franconian winegrowing region and, not least, as a city with exceptional places of interest.

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Every Cologne resident has more than their fair share of zest for life and partying spirit – it's in their DNA. After all, Cologne is more than just a city – it is a matter of the heart, an emotion and an unfalteringly positive state of mind. At the root of this outlook are carnival, kölsch beer and, of course, Cologne Cathedral.

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If German cities were schoolchildren then Darmstadt would be top of the class. Highly educated, well read, cultivated, immaculately groomed and with a range of interests. Through science, literature, art and architecture, Darmstadt has developed a wholly unique appeal that has earned it much acclaim.

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What travellers from around the world are saying

Kunsthofpassage

1000 e 1 passagem

Em Neustadt tem a Kunsthofphpassage, que é uma passagem incrível. Ela tem vários prédios "temáticos". O azul por exemplo quando chove, a água nos canos vira música. Fora os prédios, ainda tem várias lojas bacanas e cafés charmosos para você aproveitar. #youngDresden #mustsees #shopping #cafés

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martinha@viajoteca.com

Obras incríveis

Albertinum: um museu de arte moderna de 125 anos, que foi reaberto em 2010, após uma reforma de 51 milhões de euros. A coleção de retratos começa com um dos pintores alemães mais românticos, Caspar David Friedrich, e termina com seu artista vivo mais famoso, Gerhard Richter, sendo que ambos passaram a infância em Dresden. Você vai encontrar desde a Bailarina de Degas, a Monet, Manet, Rodin, Van Gogh. A entrada Vista 10€

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martinha@viajoteca.com

Zwinger Palace

O Chateau de Versailles de Dresden

O Zwinger Palace é um dos melhores exemplos da arquitetura barroca tardia na Alemanha. Construído entre 1710 e 1728 pelo arquiteto Pöppelmann, o Palácio Zwinger foi usado para grandes festas e torneios. Hoje, o complexo barroco de pavilhões, galerias e pátios interiores é a casa de grandes museus e obras. A Madonna Sistina de Rafael você encontrará lá. O acervo de Porcelana tambem é belíssimo. O Arsenal também é muito interessante se você curte trajes e armas. Se você não quiser entrar em nenhum museu, vá pelo menos para andar pelos jardins e admirar o "Kronentor", que é o portão com a coroa.

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martinha@viajoteca.com

Asisi Panometer

Dresden : 1945

Setenta anos depois do bombardeio de Dresden, na Segunda Guerra Mundial, um panorama de 360 ​​graus que mostra a cidade destruída foi revelado na cidade. O artista Yadegar Asisi criou uma imagem circular de 100 metros de largura e 30 metros de altura que mostra Dresden após os devastadores ataques aéreos dos aliados. Entre 13-15 fevereiro de 1945, apenas alguns meses antes do fim da guerra, os bombardeiros britânicos e norte-americanos destruíram mais de 90 por cento do centro histórico da cidade, matando cerca de 25.000 pessoas. Mais de 3.900 toneladas de bombas de alto poder explosivo e dispositivos incendiários dizimaram marcos importantes do barroco em uma cidade que é considerada "a Florença do Elba". O panorama, Dresden: 1945, fica aberto de 24 de Janeiro à 31 de maio de 2015, no gasômetro Panometer. http://www.asisi.de/en/panoramas/dresden-1945/photo-gallery.html

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martinha@viajoteca.com

Frauenkirche - Church of Our Lady

A Lady de Dresden

A Igreja da Nossa Senhora de Dresden é um espetáculo de linda. É a igreja que vai te impactar no primeiro minuto que você entrar e ver uma igreja branca, super luminada. Se há um lugar cuja história pode mover-lo às lágrimas, será n'a Igreja de Nossa Senhora. Durante a Segunda Guerra Mundial, a igreja foi bombardeada e ficou em escombros até 1994, quando um programa de restauração foi iniciado. Hoje, é um lembrete dos dias antes da guerra e um dos lugares que você vai ter uma história imparcial sobre a Segunda Guerra Mundial.

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martinha@viajoteca.com

Christmas Markets in Cologne

Christmas in Germany

Christmas may be over, but 11 months from now the season will be upon us and you should spend 2015 in Germany! Why? The Christmas season is in Germany is like no other. There is no other place in the world where you can experience countless, and famous, Christmas markets that will without a doubt, put you in the holiday spirit. While the markets are open all day, it’s best to visit at night. Many towns across Germany have decorated the streets and market squares with evergreen-lined stalls, twinkling lights and religious (and not so religious) statues to kick off the holiday season as festively as possible. If you are a foreigner in Germany at this time of year, it's difficult to miss home when Germany puts on an excellent show at Christmas time. No matter what German city you are in, you can find families and friends of all ages, walking around shopping for unique and traditional gifts, sipping on mulled wine and indulging in delicious German food. You will hear laughter amongst the Christmas carols that will make you forget about your toes and fingers tingling from the cold temperature at this time of year. It’s truly a traditional delight for all of the senses. No trip to the German Christmas markets is complete without trying a class of glühwein, which is a combinations of red wine, spices and sugar. This traditional drink will keep you cozy and happy. Hungry? No problem! There are many stalls that sell traditional German Christmas Market food and snacks for you to enjoy such as bratwurst, mutzen, schmachtlappen and reibekuchen. In a world where Christmas present shopping consists of the latest technology and thoughtless gift certificates, it’s nice to be able to find traditional hand carved gifts at several stalls. Not to mention, mountains of oranges and nuts, the original gift that St. Nicholas gave to people hundreds of years ago at this time of year. While many countries around the world celebrate Christmas, no other place does it like Germany. So, if you feel that this time of year has been lacking in holiday spirit, take a trip over to this European country and be reminded what Christmas time is all about.

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hopscotchtheglobe@gmail.com

Canadians First Time at a Traditional Co-ed Spa

Visiting a co-ed spa was a foreign concept to me, being born and raised in Canada. Nudity in my culture is reserved for your own home where some have issues looking at themselves in the mirror. The gym change room is another publicly acceptable nude room, many of us have mastered the art of undressing by using a towel without exposing our private parts. My wife, Kristen, and I walked into that spa and let go of our Canadian mentalities. I undressed in the co-ed change room next to a woman in her 60s. She had kind eyes, a warm smile and no knowledge of nude shame as she stripped down without embarrassment. Kristen and I entered the spa, dropped our towels and were liberated, free for all to gaze upon! There were adults of all ages and body type, casually conversing as if being nude was more comfortable than being clothed. I had to constantly remind myself that people are not judgemental of bodies here, something I have never experienced in North America. Nudity is very much a part of the culture here. This German spa was the first place I have experienced harmony and equality among class, age, sex. Nobody knows whether you walked in with an Armani suit or a ripped t-shirt, you are all equal, beautiful and free. I immediately felt unjudged and part of the community. The architecture and decor of the spa was heavenly. Stone tiles lead the way to a large open room with lounging chairs and a marble swimming pool. The ambiance is zen, with only the sound of calm conversations and light background music. Buddha heads, candles, bamboo designs and waterfalls decorate the many rooms with relaxation and beauty. The outdoor rooftop contained hot tubs and saunas to keep you warm and steamy as well as cold pools and a bucket of snow used to cool your body down before jumping back into the hot tub. I left with my body relaxed, my skin clean, and my mind at peace. I learned that the human body is a beautiful gift which should be appreciated and accepted. Nudity is our original state and should be more widely accepted.

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hopscotchtheglobe@gmail.com

Herrenhauser Gärten Grotto

Niki the St.-Phalle at her best

A couple of years ago a very wealthy friend of mine, who owns an work of art by French artist Niki de St.-Phalle, told me included Hannover in a trip to Europe just to see Nikki's art in town. I had totally forgotten this until I came to Hannover and found out that Niki's works are all over the place. There are three Nanas in the Sculpture Mile downtown and an ancient grotto at the Herrenhauser Gardens was redone by Niki, who filled with her Nanas, a colorful Ganesha and a myriad of kaleidoscopic mirrors. Before her death, she donated her private collection to Hannover's Sprengel Museum, and will appear in the new wing due to open late in 2016.

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xongas@gmail.com