• Historic Centres of Stralsund and Wismar
    Historic Centres of Stralsund and Wismar ©DZT, Norbert Krüger
  • Museum Island, Berlin
    Museum Island, Berlin ©Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Bernd Weingart
  • Germany's Ancient Beech Forests
    Germany's Ancient Beech Forests ©Nationalpark Hainich
  • The Wadden Sea
    The Wadden Sea ©Nationalparkverwaltung Schleswig-Holsteinsches Wattemeer
  • Hanseatic Town of Lübeck
    Hanseatic Town of Lübeck ©Lübeck und Travemünde Marketing GmbH

'Natural wonders and proud cities' route

"The sea is not a landscape. It is an experience of eternity," as the writer and Nobel laureate Thomas Mann once said – and his words ring true on the UNESCO 'Natural wonders and proud towns & cities' route. Natural features, including coastal mudflats and unspoilt beech forests, are interspersed with ancient Hanseatic towns and cities such as Bremen, Lübeck, Wismar and Stralsund.

The route

It is one of the most beautiful town halls in Germany: the magnificent facade is a textbook example of the Weser Renaissance architecture typical of northern Germany. Along with the Roland statue, the city's very own 'statue of liberty', it still stands as a reminder of the pride that the locals have for their city, their freedom and their sovereignty.

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The diversity of the Wadden Sea landscape on the North Sea coast makes it a unique habitat for countless species of plants and wildlife. This UNESCO World Natural Heritage site covers an area of around 10,000 square kilometres and includes the three Wadden Sea National Parks of Schleswig-Holstein , Lower Saxony and Hamburg , plus the Wadden Sea conservation area in the Netherlands.

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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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Lübeck, the undisputed Queen of the Hanseatic League, was founded in 1143 as 'the first western town on the Baltic coast' and provided a shining example for all the Hanseatic towns and cities along the Baltic. The medieval old town is one of the foremost examples of brick Gothic architecture and reflects Lübeck's illustrious past as an early centre of international trade.

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The grandeur and riches of the Hanseatic League in the 14th century could hardly be more vividly illustrated than in the historic centres of Stralsund and Wismar. Both towns boast virtually unchanged medieval layouts and extensively preserved architectural heritage from the brick Gothic period.

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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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They are really the original inhabitants of Europe: without human intervention, beech trees would still cover large areas of continental Europe. Today, unspoilt lowland beech forests are found nowhere else in the world but in Germany. The Ancient Beech Forests of Germany UNESCO World Natural Heritage site therefore offers a fascinating, romantic and incredibly diverse picture of the original European landscapes. They are an extension to the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians, an existing cross-border World Heritage property.

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The unique collection of galleries and museums on Berlin Museum Island, with its five temple-like buildings, houses treasures from 6,000 years of human history. Elevated to UNESCO World Heritage status in 1999, and located in Berlin's historical centre, the complex is the centrepiece of the city's museum network and is Europe's largest cultural investment project.

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