The Princes of Reuss Route – princely pleasure in the land of the Reuss dynasty

The Princes of Reuss Route offers a cultural and historical discovery tour of approximately 110 kilometres between Bad Lobenstein and Bad Köstritz, crossing the area once ruled by the Princes of Reuss and their forefathers, the Reeves of Weida, Gera and Plauen.

The House of Reuss was a multi-branched dynasty that ruled the Vogtland in Thuringia. Its members were originally imperial vogts (reeves) and later lords, then counts and, as far as the elder line is concerned, imperial princes after 1778, succeeded at various times by the younger lines. Although most of the dynasty's branches have now died out, the House of Reuss still exists today. The Reuss dynasty is the only ruling German royal house whose ancestors rose from the status of unfree knights in the Middle Ages and became reigning princes. We have the multiple Reuss principalities to thank for the variety of historical sights that are tightly packed along the route. Even today there are towns and villages in the area whose architecture is exceptional, and castles, palaces and museums provide fascinating insights into its historical roots. The route, which remains within the Thuringian Vogtland area for the whole of its length, passes places of cultural interest such as Mildenfurth Abbey, Osterburg Castle in Weida, the Upper Castle and the Lower Castle in Greiz, the Duden Museum and St. Mary's Church on the Hill in Schleiz, the Van der Velde villa and the magnificent art deco collection in Gera, and Burgk Castle. It also opens up a diverse and charming landscape: from the Thuringian Slate Mountains across hills and mountains and the deep river valleys of the Saale, the Wisenta, the Weida and the White Elster rivers, not to mention their reservoirs.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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Christmas Markets in Cologne

A White Christmas in Cologne

My notions of winter in Europe have been shaped by Hollywood movies. I expected to watch snowflakes romantically descend upon short winter days, and the cosy glow of Christmas trees in makeshift homes (think boutique hotels) to keep me warm. What surprised me on my December trip to Germany was the camaraderie and sheer revelry at the country’s famous Christmas markets, compelling enough to brave the single digit temperatures and rejoice over a white winter! If the thought of Europe evokes images of quaint old churches in juxtaposition with hi-tech buildings, and old towns with cobbled streets and artistic cafes, a winter trip to Cologne only romanticizes those images further. Come December, chirpy little Christmas Markets pop up among the city’s most charming neighborhoods, and become the go-to place for the city’s locals. Colorful booths line the streets, selling traditional German and Christmas gifts, like the famous Räuchermännchen, a wooden toy that is an incense smoker in disguise. Food stalls serve up hash browns, frankfurters, crepes, and local delicacies. People gather around drinking glühwein, the famous mulled wine of Europe warmed with spices, chatting, warming up over some neighborhood gossip. Christmas music plays everywhere, and the night rings with the clinking of cups and prost. Such revelry! At the Christmas Market on the Alter Markt in Cologne, local craftsmen and women demonstrate their talents with wood crafts, crystal painting and glass glazing; it is fascinating to observe the precision and pride that goes behind each little piece of work, and meet men and women who have come to these markets since they were little boys and girls. But the icing on the cake in a festive Cologne is its main market, which glitters in the dramatic backdrop of the city’s oldest and most charming cathedral; truly a European Christmas!

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