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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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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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Krefeld, the centre of Germany's textile trade, is three towns in one: neo-classical Krefeld, baroque Uerdingen and the small medieval castle town of Linn. Though the different influences are still easily identifiable, these places have grown together over time to form one city – a city characterised by fine traditions combined with a cheerful demeanour and a refined lifestyle.

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Lifestyle, joie de vivre or lebensart – whatever you call it, Munich has it in spades. It might be down to the clear blue skies or simply the city's beauty, but one thing's for certain: the people of Munich always like to show their best side, whether they're in a beer garden, on one of the exclusive shopping streets, or in Bayern Munich's stadium.

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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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