Top city themes – select 'your city' …

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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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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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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In many ways, Chemnitz is one of Germany's most modern cities. It flourished during the industrial revolution, and business and research continues to thrive here, while at the same time its architecture and culture show strong modernist influences.

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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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Explore the far corners of the globe and return via Hamburg – travel itineraries don't get much better than that. Gateway to the world, beautiful seafaring hub, maritime capital of the north – even the normally reserved locals find it hard to conceal their pride in their home city, its ambience and its cosmopolitan charm.

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There are cars you drive... and then there are cars you dream of. Stuttgart has both in abundance. Not only does the city produce internationally renowned cars, but it also lives and breathes automotive history in a way that nowhere else does. Drivers' dreams become reality when they visit Stuttgart.

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Düsseldorf becomes the focus of the fashion world when the city reveals the latest in designer fashion and high-street trends. 'The Gallery Düsseldorf' emerged from Igedo (the world's biggest fashion show in its day) and is now a biannual event that attracts international fashion designers and buyers in their droves to the Rhine city.

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You don't have to hold a doctorate to visit Göttingen, but it could come in handy in a city that seems to pulsate with a thirst for knowledge, and that is dominated by students and academic life more than anywhere else in Germany. A total of 44 Nobel laureates are associated with Göttingen. Some were born in the town, others came here to study, teach or carry out research.

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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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Famously home to such companies as Schott Glas and Zeiss, Jena offers a remarkable combination of industrial and intellectual heritage, research, innovation and academia. This is as evident in the city's institutions and universities as it is in the bars of the wonderful old quarter, which as cosy as they are traditional.

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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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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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