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.
This UNESCO route through the west and south-west of Germany with the wine regions of the Moselle, Hessische Bergstrasse, Palatinate, Baden and Württemberg takes in a number of venerable sites of spirituality and hospitality. It journeys back to a time when industrial chimneys joined church towers as defining features of the landscape.
UNESCO World Heritage sites:
- Roman monuments, the Cathedral and Church of Our Lady in Trier
- Völklingen Ironworks
- Lorsch Abbey
- ShUM Sites Speyer, Worms and Mainz: Testimonies to Jewish Lives
- Speyer Cathedral
- Maulbronn Monastery Complex
- Le Corbusier's work in Stuttgart
Other towns and cities worth seeing:
Founded as Augusta Treverorum in 16 BC, Trier is Germany's oldest town and a true monument to history. Historical buildings of international standing, remarkable churches and magnificent Roman remains all make a visit to this romantic city on the Moselle an unforgettable experience.
The Völklingen Ironworks are the world's only surviving smelting works from the Golden Age of the iron and steel industry in the 19th and 20th century. In 1994 these gigantic ironworks covering an area of 600,000m² became the first industrial monument to be inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list. Today, they are a cultural attraction, themed discovery park and science centre rolled into one.
The King's Hall at the former Lorsch Abbey in Hessen is a late Carolingian construction, probably built in the middle of the 9th century under Louis the German. Together with the other buildings and archaeological remains of the medieval abbey complex, the building was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991 as the last remaining section of the Carolingian abbey still visible from above ground.
The buildings and cemeteries in the three ShUM Sites of Speyer, Worms and Mainz are among the oldest surviving testimonies to Jewish life in Germany and Europe. A thousand years ago, Jewish scholars composed liturgies and prayers here that are still in use today. The Judenhof in Speyer, the Synagogue District in Worms with the Heiliger Sand (Holy Sands) Cemetery and the Old Jewish Cemetery in Mainz tell of the long and eventful history of the three communities. They are emblematic of Jewish life in Germany.
The imperial cathedral in Speyer, officially known as the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Stephen, is the town's most prominent landmark. Laid out in the form of a Latin cross, it is one of Germany's largest and most important Romanesque buildings, and was intended to be no less than the largest church in the western world when building work began in 1030.
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.
Over a period of around 400 years, the monks built a remarkable monastery at Maulbronn, which became a distinguishing feature of the surrounding landscape. Today, this former Cistercian abbey, which is situated between Heidelberg and Stuttgart, is not only the most complete and best-preserved monastic complex north of the Alps, it is also a particularly fine example of medieval architecture and, since 1993, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
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.
It is impossible to see into the future. But in 1927, whoever saw the new Weissenhof housing estate in Stuttgart found themselves in the 21st century – the concept and architecture were so groundbreaking. Two of the houses in this estate, designed by Le Corbusier, were elevated to the status of UNESCO World heritage sites in July 2016.