Appearing between 1913 and 1934, Berlin's six Modernist housing estates, with their promise of 'light, air and sunshine' for residents, provided a welcome antidote to the gloomy tenement buildings of Wilhelmine Germany. Their clean lines made them hugely influential in 20th century architecture and town planning.
Innovative Germany: visionary town planning in Berlin, the revolutionary design of the Bauhaus School and the revolutionary thinking of Martin Luther, who in the 16th century not only reformed the Church, but changed society forever. Follow Germans who were ahead of their time in different centuries on the 'Visionaries and pioneering thinkers' UNESCO route.
UNESCO World Heritage sites:
- Berlin Modernism Housing Estates
- Luther memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg
- Bauhaus sites in Weimar, Dessau and Bernau
- Wartburg Castle
- Darmstadt's Mathildenhöhe: Cradle of the "Bauhaus" movement
Other towns and cities worth seeing:
Even today, some 500 years after the Reformation and the beginning of the modern era, the atmosphere of those times can still be felt in Eisleben and Lutherstadt Wittenberg. This is where you'll find unique Luther memorial sites such as the house where the Church reformer was born, the house where he died, the monastery where he lived and the church to which he nailed his 95 theses.
The Bauhaus art school revolutionised artistic and architectural thinking and work in the 20th century. Today, the original buildings in Weimar, Dessau and Bernau, along with museums and exhibitions, provide an insight into this formative building block of the modern age.
Leipzig's key role in setting the rhythm for the peaceful revolution of 1989 is testament to the city's musical endowment. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Leipzig was labelled 'City of Heroes' – a title which could also be in reference to the many great musicians, kapellmeister and composers who are arguably more popular and more prominent here than anywhere else in the world.
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.
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.
Large, imposing and steeped in history: high above the town of Eisenach sits Wartburg Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1999. One of the best-preserved medieval German fortresses and almost 1,000 years old, it is possibly Germany's most famous castle, and certainly one of its most important.
The Wedding Tower, the Studio House, the Plane Tree Grove, the Swan Pond: at Mathildenhöhe in Darmstadt you can still feel the spirit of new beginnings. From 1901 until the beginning of the First World War in 1914, this artists' colony was considered one of the most important centres of modern art and architecture in Europe and worldwide. Driven by the desire for renewal and for the peaceful coexistence of all cultures, the architects and artists of Mathildenhöhe bridged the gap between Art Nouveau and New Objectivity and thus became an important source of inspiration for the later Bauhaus movement.
Frankfurt is first and foremost a city of modernity. Business, architecture and Europe's third-largest airport – they're all here and they're all at the cutting edge. Perhaps that's why Frankfurt has grown a particular fondness for museums that vary greatly in terms of size, style and subject matter. The city prides itself on always staying ahead of the times, whilst preserving traditions at the same time.