Top city themes – select 'your city' …

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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Reaching seemingly endlessly up into the sky, Ulm Minster's tower has watched over the city for centuries. After the Second World War, during which much of the city was destroyed, Ulm took the right approach to reconstruction. The city planners achieved a successful compromise that resulted in a unique cityscape of lovingly restored buildings on the one hand and breathtaking modernity on the other.

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Heidelberg is a city that will capture your heart. Famous the world over, it is a perennial favourite among international tourists. The city has so much to offer: charm and character in abundance between the Old Bridge and the mighty castle, an unparalleled choice of culture and entertainment, hearty yet heavenly cuisine and a picturesque setting nestled between the Neckar river and the foothills of the Odenwald forest.

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Wuppertal is the biggest city in the Bergisches Land and is the region's main centre for business, education, industry and the arts. It is above all known as the city with the suspended monorail – as Wuppertal's official slogan proudly proclaims. From the windows of the monorail, visitors look out onto a confident, historically aware city, with an amazing amount to offer.

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There are few cities in recent history that have to live with the label of 'ex-capital city', but Bonn is one of them. Nevertheless, those who thought Bonn would fade into obscurity without its capital status have been proven wrong. Previously known as the 'federal village', and now an internationally renowned hub of commerce and culture, Bonn comes across as assured and cosmopolitan as ever.

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The regional capital Magdeburg is one of the oldest cities in Germany's new federal states, although the course of its history has not always been smooth. As an imperial seat, Hanseatic power and fortified city, Magdeburg has repeatedly been ravaged by war and destruction. Yet it has always had faith in its own future, has always rebuilt and reinvented itself, whilst preserving the memory of the two Ottos who shaped the city.

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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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Leipzig's key role in setting the rhythm for the peaceful revolution of 1989 is testament to the city's musical endowment. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Leipzig was labelled 'City of Heroes' – a title which could also be in reference to the many great musicians, kapellmeister and composers who are arguably more popular and more prominent here than anywhere else in the world.

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Wiesbaden is one of the best-heeled cities in Germany: this ultra-sophisticated city is characterised by its refined taste, its touch of class and its prestige. A long-established and exclusive spa resort, the city is widely regarded as the wellness capital of Europe. Whether you come for the saunas or the restaurants, the atmosphere or the shopping, you will find everything to be at the height of luxury.

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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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A city of emperors and princes, leaders and followers, inventors and scholars, Nuremberg has mirrored German history ever since the Middle Ages – the power, the tension, great achievements and great tragedies. Protected by the castle, arts and crafts once flourished, while a new spirit of freedom enlivened the city at a time when few other places could offer such a quality of life. And the same is still true today.

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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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Augsburg, with its Mozart heritage, is one of the most historically significant cities in Germany – not to mention one of the prettiest. As you stroll through the city's ancient streets, it doesn't take much imagination to gain a sense of Augsburg's importance as a prominent financial centre, international trading hub and focal point for the fine arts in the days when the Fugger banking empire was at its peak.

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Kassel, the city that became the hub of the contemporary art world with its documenta exhibition, also owes much of its cultural renown to the legacy of the Brothers Grimm. A city that has always fused tradition with innovation to great effect; a city in possession of one of Europe's most palatial gardens, the Wilhelmshöhe, and with it a landmark like no other, the Hercules monument.

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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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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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Churches, towers and bridges, great culture and glittering festivals: Erfurt offers medieval charm in abundance and a rich history combined with a lust for life and a warm welcome. Situated at the crossroads of ancient German and European trade routes, the regional capital of Thuringia has always been popular with important intellectuals and is a self-assured, proud centre of innovation, as well as a magnet for visitors from around the world.

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Bielefeld was founded in 1214 by Duke Hermann von Ravensberg. A man of great foresight, he saw potential in the location at the intersection of two old trading routes near a pass through the Teutoburg Forest. This paved the way for a typical mercantile town with a large market and beautiful timber-framed houses, which to this day remain prominent features in a city that appreciates fine art.

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There are many ways to interpret or define culture. But it can be easily summarised with just one word: Dresden. The sheer abundance and splendour of the city's cultural treasures are enough to take your breath away. And since Dresden also just happens to be set amidst a stunning river landscape, your amazement is soon accompanied by pure delight.

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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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This is a cosmopolitan city, youthful, laid-back and proud of a history going back more than 1,200 years. Whether as a bishop's seat, a member of the Hanseatic League or a university city – Münster has always played an important role in the region and far beyond. The city earned its place in the annals of world history when the Treaty of Westphalia was signed there.

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Mainz is famous for its university, its Roman heritage, its status as a media hub and regional capital, and its three most defining features: the Romanesque cathedral, the Gutenberg printing press and the Rhineland carnival. The people of Mainz have good reason to be proud of their city's history spanning almost 2,000 years. This rich cultural heritage incorporates a well-established winegrowing tradition, which only adds to Mainz's appeal.

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Schwerin has just short of 100,000 residents, making it Germany's smallest state capital. It enjoys a picture-perfect location among a series of lakes that reflect both the passing clouds in the northern sky and the city's most famous landmark, Schwerin Castle. A fitting landmark: light, airy, bright and welcoming – just like the city itself.

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The harbour is the heart of the maritime city of Rostock. Although there may be fewer sailors on the quayside these days, the harbour still shapes the character of the city. It is also the venue for major events, such as the Hanse Sail in August, which attracts hundreds of sailing ships and a million visitors each year.

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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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What travellers from around the world are saying

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

Deesden : 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

Elbphilarmonie

The next big thing

Due to open in 2017, the Elbphilarmonie is a ~very~ controversial project among Hamburg's taxpayers. But its sheer originality and generous public spaces will definitely put Hamburg on the map of people who've never thought of visiting this vibrant town. The building will contain three concert halls, two hotels, apartments, shops and a public square between the base of the bulding (a former wharehouse) and the new, Gaudí-esque top. You can count on Hamburg becoming as popular with foreign travelers as it is among German visitors.

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xongas@gmail.com