HOLIDAYS IN GERMANY (2017 | Issue 1)

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Germany has lived through many avatars: first, as the Holy Roman Empire, then as a region in Central Europe that was regarded as constituting Germany, even though there was no central German state anymore; later, as an established German state from 1871–1945, until it was divided into two parts: East and West Germany; and as united Germany after the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. What’s Up, Germany? has hand-picked some outstanding sites that have stood witness to Germany’s rich history. Each one has its own story to tell. Listen quietly, and you’ll hear it.

BRANDENBURG GATE

Designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans in a Romanesque style in the late 1700s, the Brandenburg Gate is Berlin’s most famous landmark. Though originally meant to be a symbol of peace, it was appropriated by the Nazi Party. Later, the gate became a symbol of the Cold War. It was also the focal point of many politically charged rallies and speeches, including JFK’s famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech. With the unification of Germany in 1990, the gate finally became the positive symbol it was intended to be.

BERLIN WALL

Once a 140km-long concrete barrier enclosing West Berlin, this “iron curtain” built in 1961 kept families and loved ones apart. It was brought down on 9th November 1989 and only a few segments remain today. The largest remaining section of the wall—a 1.3km-long stretch—is now an open air museum called East Side Gallery, which has exquisite murals celebrating the human spirit. There’s a replica of Checkpoint Charlie, the erstwhile crossing point between East and West Berlin, and a small museum nearby.

REICHSTAG BUILDING

A trip to Berlin would be incomplete without a visit to the seat of the German parliament. Its glass dome signifies transparency in governance. There are free guided tours of the dome and the rooftop terrace, but make sure to book in advance.

MUSEUM ISLAND

History buffs may never want to leave this island with its five museums housing treasures spanning 6,000 years of history: Pergamon Museum, Bode Museum, Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie and Altes Museum. Buy the Berlin Museum Pass to get access to all the museums in the city for three whole days! You can hop across to the impressive 20th-century cathedral nearby, the Berliner Dom. That is, if you have the energy!

TRIER’S ROMAN MONUMENTS

Germany’s oldest city, Trier, has nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Among them are the beautifully preserved ruins of a 4th-century Roman public bath complex, the amphitheatre and Porta Nigra, the only surviving city gate.

HEIDELBERG CASTLE

Built over a period of three centuries, different styles can be seen in different parts of this castle, including Gothic and Renaissance elements. Its cellar houses the world’s largest wine barrel, which can hold up to 2,20,000 litres of wine! Heidelberg city itself dates back to the 12th century and is home to the oldest university in Germany.

LÜBECK

Founded in 1143, this city with its brick Gothic architecture and narrow lanes has retained its medieval ambience. Don’t miss the town hall, Holsten Gate and St Mary’s Church.

Images: Colourbox

Did you know quite a few German words have entered the English language?
What’s Up, Germany? shares some über-cool ones with you!

  • Wanderlust: a strong desire to travel
  • Wunderkind: a child prodigy
  • Zeitgeist: the spirit of the age or worldview
  • Spiel: a sales pitch or a long, insincere speech
  • Schadenfreude: to take pleasure in someone’s misfortune
  • Leitmotif: an underlying theme
  • Doppelgänger: someone’s clone or double
  • Kitsch: tacky, over-sentimental art or objects
  • Ersatz: an artificial or inferior substitute
  • Angst: a feeling of apprehension
  • Hinterland: backwoods
  • Kaput: broken

“We travel,some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” —
Anais Nin