Above: Cologne at dusk, 26 May 2016 (HL).
Every year UNESCO-Welterbetag (UNESCO World Heritage Day) in Germany is celebrated on the first Sunday in June. Out of the 46 inscribed sites in the country, I highlight the following 30 Germany UNESCO World Heritage Sites (WHS) I’ve visited.
Welterbestätten in Deutschland (30 von 46)
- Aachen Cathedral (Aachener Dom)
- Alfeld, Fagus factory (Fagus-Werk)
- Augsburg, Water Management System (Wassersystem)
- Bamberg Old Town (Bamberger Altstadt)
- Berlin, Modernism Housing Estates
- Berlin, Museum Island (Museumsinsel)
- Blaubeuren, Ice Age caves
- Bremen Roland (Bremer Roland)
- Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom)
- Dessau Bauhaus#
- Dessau-Wörlitz, Garden Kingdom (Gartenreich)
- Eisenach Wartburg
- Eisleben Luther sites: Luthers Geburtshaus, Luthers Sterbehaus*
- Essen Zollverein
- Goslar, Rammelsberg Ore Mines
- Hamburg Commercial- & Warehouse-Districts (Kontorhausviertel, Speicherstadt)
- Hildesheim, St. Michael’s & St. Mary’s
- Höxter, Corvey Abbey
- Kassel, Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe
- Lorsch Abbey
- Lübeck Old Town (Lübecker Altstadt)
- Potsdam Palaces and Parks
- Regensburg Old Town (Regensburger Altstadt)
- Reichenau Island
- Speyer, Imperial Cathedral (Kaiserdom)
- Unteruhldingen, Prehistoric Pile Dwellings (Pfahlbauten)
- Upper Middle Rhine Valley (Oberes Mittelrheintal)
- Wadden Sea (Wattenmeer)
- Weimar Bauhaus#
- Weimar Classicism
- Wittenberg Luther sites: Lutherhaus, Stadtkirche*
- Würzburg Residence (Residenz)
# Bauhaus sites in Dessau & Weimar inscribed as one UNESCO World Heritage Site.
* Luther sites in Eisleben & Wittenberg inscribed as one UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Aachen Cathedral (Aachener Dom)
From 786 AD/CE, Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne built his imperial palace in what is now Aachen. Built between 793 and 813 AD/CE, the Palatine chapel includes the original octagon, an example of Carolingian Renaissance construction. The church would eventually become the core for the much larger “surrounding” cathedral. Aachen’s Cathedral is Germany’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978.
Alfeld, Fagus Factory (Fagus-Werk)
With a population of about 21-thousand, Alfeld is about 50 minutes by train south from Hannover in the German federal state of Lower Saxony.The Fagus factory building is considered one of the first buildings of the Modern Age, particularly with steel and glass construction, and a feature of unsupported windows at the corners of the building. Fagus company founder Carl Benscheidt commissioned architect and Bauhaus founder, Walter Gropius, to create and build a factory for making shoes. “Fagus” is Latin for “beech tree”, and shoe lasts constructed from beech wood were sold and distributed around the world in the manufacture of shoes. Today, the building is still a working factory. Fagus creates plastic lasts milled to precise specifications for specific designs by shoe companies. Also on-site is GreCon which produces systems for fire-detection and fire-extinguishing. As a unique living monument, the Fagus factory building was inscribed in 2011 as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Augsburg, Water Management System
At the historic 17th-century Rotes Tor (Red Gate) are three water towers: Grosser Turm (Large Tower, 1416 then bricked 1463); Kleiner Turm (Small Tower, foundation 1470); and the Kastenturm (Box Tower, also Spitalturm, 1599). Below the Large and Small Towers, the Fountain Master House (Brunnenmeisterhaus) building included a part of the waterworks (until 1879) and an apartment for the fountain operations master. The pumping towers are the oldest water utilities buildings in central Europe since medieval times. Augsburgian ingenuity with these waterworks provided fresh clean drinking water to its citizens for over 460 years from 1416 to 1879. Augsburg’s medieval water management system received in 2019 inscription as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bamberg Old Town (Bamberger Altstadt)
In the Neue Residenz (New Residence built for the bishopric in the early 17th-century), the bright colours in the Rosengarten (rose garden) balance the greys and browns of the stonework from the former St. Michael’s monastery hovering on Michaelsberg hill in the background. This entire area is in Bamberg’s Old Town which was inscribed in 1993 as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Berlin, Modernism Housing Estates
In the southeast borough/district of Treptow-Köpenick, the Gartenstadt Falkenberg (Falkenberg Garden City) by Bruno Taut is the oldest of six settlements around the city of Berlin. The “Garden City” is related to Ebenezer Howard’s idea of living in a cooperative settlement with access to green space. The combination of bright colours and specific building details are expressions of new (early 20th-century) architecture and urban composition. The Garden City settlement is also known as the Tuschkastensiedlung or “Paintbox Housing Estate.” All six settlements around the German capital city were inscribed in 2008 as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Berlin, Museum Island (Museumsinsel)
The Berlin Museumsinsel is an island consisting of five museums built between 1824 and 1930: Alte Nationalgalerie (left-centre), Altes Museum, Bode-Museum, Neues Museum, and Pergamonmuseum. These museums represent individual artistic and historical significance, the continuing development of what museums should mean to society, and the achievement of a grand central civic project. I made this picture of Museum Island near the Buchhandlung Walther König bookstore that I visit whenever I can for the location (duh) and their arts- and photography-books. In 1999, Berlin’s Museuminsel was inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Blaubeuren, Ice Age caves
In the southeast corner of the German state of Baden-Württemberg, the Swabian Jura (Swabian Alb) mountains hosts a number of caves which contains important archaeological discoveries. About 40 to 50 thousand years ago, the area was at the edge of the extended Alpine glaciation (Würm period), and was home to early humans living in caves and surrounding river valleys, including an early version of the Danube. This “Venus” figure was discovered in 2008 in the Hohle Fels cave near the town of Blaubeuren. The sculpture is 6 centimetres (2.4 inches) tall and is a female figure dating back to about 40-thousand years. The figure is representative with a ring for the head. The prominent breasts and broad hips suggest a symbol for fertility; surface abrasions imply the figure was worn as charm or pendant. In 2017, a number of Ice Age caves in the Swabian Alb were inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bremen Roland (Bremer Roland)
Built in 1404 AD/CE, the Roland statue in Bremen’s market square is associated with the 8th-century AD/CE Frankish leader and Margrave of Brittany, a paladin of Charlemagne’s imperial court. The statue was built to represent rights and privileges associated with the free imperial city of Bremen. The Old City Hall (out of frame to the right) saw its start as Gothic in the early 15th-century with Renaissance style renovations in the early 17th-century. Bremen’s City Hall and Roland statue were inscribed in 2004 as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom)
In silhouette after sunset, the twin-spired Cathedral and the adjacent Hohenzollern Bridge are the best-known landmarks for the city of Cologne. Taking over 630 years for construction, the cathedral includes among its important religious treasures: sculptures, stained glass, and a reliquary and shrine to the Three Wise Men. The Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) was inscribed in 1996 by UNESCO as World Heritage Site.
“Clear economical lines, and transparent glass corners.” We take for granted how we see much of the basics of 21st-century design and architecture derived from the Bauhaus movement in early 20th-century Germany. Simpler and less-ornate meant cleaner lines, and the idea an entire building wall could consist of (supported and reinforced) glass, let alone having a building’s corner be glass instead of solid wood, brick, or plaster were ideas big, revolutionary, and perhaps a little heretical against accepted architecture. Design and form, form and function, and functionally designed architecture were all to be created and stand independently of class or economic status. The Bauhaus Dessau building was part of the 1996 inscription as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Dessau-Wörlitz Gartenreich (Garden Kingdom)
Prince Leopold III Friedrich Franz (Prince Franz, for short) was Duke of the Anhalt-Dessau principality asked his friend and architect Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff to transform Anhalt-Dessau using principles of the European Enlightenment to landscape design and build English-style parks in the early classical and neogothic architectural style. In response to the park in nearby Wörlitz, Prince Johann Georg (John George) of Anhalt-Dessau, brother of Prince Franz, also commissioned in 1780 the construction of a palace and garden which now bear his name. The Georgengarten and Schloss Georgium are part of the 2000 inscription as UNESCO World Heritage Site shared with the neighbouring city of Wörlitz.
Wartburg Castle is the place to where Martin Luther was whisked safely away into hiding after he was declared heretic and outlaw after his trial at the Diet (Imperial Parliament) of Worms in 1521. Luther hid here in safety until 1522 when he returned to Wittenberg. Wartburg Castle was inscribed in 1999 as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Eisleben Luther sites: birth & death houses
Martin Luther was born in Eisleben in this house (“Geburtshaus”) on 10 November 1483. After five centuries and multiple phases of renovation and expansion, the house is now a museum dedicated to his early childhood in Eisleben and nearby Mansfeld. The houses where Luther was born and where he died were inscribed in 1996 as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
At this location, the museum here is dedicated to Martin Luther’s final days and to the place where Luther died in 1546. But due to clerical/paperwork errors and misunderstandings, this house is not the actual place where Luther died; he died down the street in a building that’s now a hotel. The houses where Luther was born and where he died were inscribed in 1996 as class=”postlink” href=”https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/783″ rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>UNESCO World Heritage Site.
he massive winding tower for Shaft 12 at the former coal mine Zeche Zollverein dominates the local landscape in Essen. Like the Zollverein, former coal mines throughout the Ruhr river region have been or are undergoing transformation from abandoned industrial sites to urban green- and cultural-spaces. Essen’s Zollverein colliery was inscribed in 2001 as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Goslar, Rammelsberg Ore Mines
Based on archaeological digs in the area, mining activity and some form of ore extraction here in the northern reaches of the Harz mountains in central Germany occurred up to 3000 years ago. At Rammelsberg mountain (635 metres / 2083 feet), mining for ore had gone uninterrupted for about 1000 years until the mine’s final closure in 1988. With an age between 360 and 420 million years old (Devonian period), the rock yielded rich deposits of minerals including copper, gold, silver, lead, and zinc. For economic and cultural contributions to the region, land, and continent over centuries and intact remnants to all phases of mining operations, the Rammelsberg mine was inscribed in 1992 as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hamburg Kontorhausviertel, Speicherstadt
In Hamburg’s Kontorhausviertel, important brick buildings like the Chilehaus and Sprinkenhof are representative of brick construction in the late 19th- and early 20th-century. The Kontorhausviertel was the first district dedicated solely to office- and commercial/trading-houses on the European continent, and designed entirely to serve and complement the storage of goods and materials in neighbouring Speicherstadt warehouse district. Hamburg’s Speicherstadt and Kontorhausviertel districts were both inscribed in 2015 as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In Hamburg’s Speicherstadt, this view east from the Kehrwiedersteg pedestrian bridge is towards the Brooksfleet canal and beyond. The Speicherstadt is the port’s former warehouse district where goods and raw materials from around the world were stored.
Hildesheim, St. Michael’s & St. Mary’s
St. Michael’s Church was founded in 1010 AD/CE, bombed in 1945, and rebuilt in 1960. Hildesheim’s St. Mary’s Cathedral (Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary) was inaugurated in 872 AD/CE, reestablished in 1061, bombed in 1945, and rebuilt in 1960. These two churches are faithfully reconstructed examples of Romanesque architecture which were recognized by UNESCO in 1985 as World Heritage Site.
Höxter, Corvey Abbey
As one of the most important expressions of Carolingian architecture, the Schloss/Kloster Corvey complex was inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014. The Westwork (at right) is the only remaining structure in the entire complex that dates back to the Carolingian era; at left is the west wing of the Baroque monastery.
Corvey began life in the late-8th to early 9th-century as an idea for a church group to move beyond its borders and go on missions throughout the lands. One group in particular began their journey from house Corbie on the river Somme in present-day northern France. Thanks to Emperor Ludwig der Fromme (the Pious) and as part of Charlemagne’s initial desire to “Christianize” Saxon lands, construction began at this location next to the Weser river in 822 AD/CE. The Benedictine monastery, “Corbeia nova” (New Corbie), was inaugurated in 836 AD/CE.
Kassel, Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe
From the top of Kassel, the weather forecast for German Unification Day is “variable” which is a simple understatement: clouds, sun breaks, and rain showers. The holiday morning starts with low-lying fog and mist like a veil surrounding the Hercules statue here at Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe (Mountain Park, William’s Heights). That William sure had a fine sense of place, timing, and a whole lot of coin to burn. But lucky for us in the present, we have since 2013 a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Lorsch is a town in southwest Germany where the federal states of Hesse, Baden-Württemberg, and Rhineland-Palatinate meet. In the Old Town, the prominent gatehouse (or royal hall) is a very prominent feature of the former Benedictine abbey whose founding goes back to the 8th-century AD/CE. The abbey contained one of the most important library collections in medieval Germany, including the “Lorsch Pharmacopoeia,” one of the first documents highlighting the importance of science and medicine in the development of new healing methods, independent of (and, where some were concerned, interfering with) the practice of the “divine plan” for healing sickness. It’s not entirely clear what the purpose of the gatehouse was for, but what’s known is that the gatehouse is one of the finest examples of Carolingian architecture and one of the oldest pre-Romanesque buildings in Germany. All that’s left today of the abbey are the gatehouse, part of the church, monastery wall, and a couple of administrative buildings. Since 1991, UNESCO’s listing for the World Heritage Site includes the remnants of the abbey and of the nearby “Altmünster” monastery.
Lübeck Old Town (Lübecker Altstadt)
Lübeck remains as one of the finest examples of a medieval Hanseatic city with plenty of brick Gothic architecture. Founded in the 12th-century AD/CE, Lübeck was the former capital of the Hanseatic League, thriving as a major trading centre in northern Europe until the 16th-century. UNESCO inscribed the city’s Old Town as World Heritage Site in 1987.
Potsdam Palaces and Parks (Schlösser und Parks)
Glienicke Bridge, known as the former “Bridge of Spies”, connects Berlin (left) with Potsdam and Brandenburg state (right). In decades past with the world divided along the lines of east (i.e., USSR) and west (i.e., US), this bridge was a visual reminder of the internal divisions between West Berlin (left) and East Germany (right), until the Wall fell in 1989 and the two Germanies reunited in 1990. The bridge is part of the overall Palaces and Parks inscription for Potsdam and Berlin as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990.
Regensburg Old Town (Regensburger Altstadt)
With St. Peter’s Cathedral as a key landmark, the Old Town along with Stadtamhof form the inscription for Regensburg’s listing as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2006. This image of the Cathedral is from the rooftop restaurant of the Kaufhof department store.
In the late 8th-century, Bishop Egino arrived from Verona and the church he founded at this location on the northwest corner of Reichenau Island was consecrated in 799 AD/CE. Rebuilding and modifications occurred over the intervening centuries until the building we see today as the Romanesque Basilica of St. Peter and Paul was built in the 12th-century; completed in the 15th-century were the church’s two towers to the east. For its heritage of medieval monastic and scholarly standing, Reichenau was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2000.
Speyer Imperial Cathedral (Kaiserdom)
The Kaiserdom cathedral in Speyer, Germany, is one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in the country. Emperor Konrad the 2nd (Salian dynasty) had construction begin around 1030 A.D. The cathedral may not be the tallest in town, but it certainly is one of the most distinctive. In 1981, UNESCO awarded the location the status of World Heritage Site.
Unteruhldingen, Prehistoric Pile Dwellings
In and around what are now the Alps, humans in the Stone to Bronze Age began building dwellings with long poles (“piles”) on the shorelines of lakes for food, security, mobility, and trade. People eventually moved inland as seas rose. The lack of oxygen in deep waters meant that traces of human presence like piles and other organic remnants (e.g., clothes, food, etc.) did not suffer extreme deterioration. Pile dwellings have been found in six European nations and are all presently under water, which means access is obviously restricted. Archaeological “digs” underwater means education opportunities at the surface, including the carefully researched reproductions at the Pfahlbauten Museum on the northeastern shore of Lake Constance. Shown here are reproductions of 5 pile dwellings from the nearby Unteruhldingen-Stollenwiesen site from about 970 BC/BCE. Additional evidence of human settlement and daily life going back several thousand years provides important clues to piece together the origin story of our species. A total of 111 pile dwelling locations are part of a single inscription as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011.
Upper Middle Rhine Valley (Oberes Mittelrheintal)
There’s no worry of hearing the sirens’ call and running aground, because this is from on-board Deutsche Bahn’s InterCity IC2218 train on the way north to the city of Cologne. With this view of the famous Loreley rock-cliff formation, winding back and forth against the twisting Rhine river shoreline slows the total journey some. This area is a part of the stretch between Mainz and Koblenz, known as the Oberes Mittelrheintal (Upper Middle Rhine Valley region), UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002.
Wadden Sea (Wattenmeer)
Located in an intertidal zone in the southeastern reaches of the North Sea, the tidal mudflats near Cuxhaven (and near the mouth of the Elbe river) are a part of an extensive Wadden Sea nature-reserve and -park. It is the world’s largest unbroken system of intertidal sand- and mudflats, stretching across 3 nations including Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands. The Wadden Sea park has been UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009.
This is the central staircase to the main building (van de Velde building) of Bauhaus University in Weimar. Completed in 1911, the building was designed by Henry van de Velde as the sculptors’ studio for what was then the Saxon Grand Ducal Art School. The set of Bauhaus buildings was designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
At Herder Square, the Town Church of St. Peter and Paul dates back to 1500, although an original church on this site goes back to about 1245. With its name also called Herder Church after Johann Herder, the church is home to the triptych painting begun in 1552 by Cranach the Elder and completed by his son (Cranach the Junior). This church is a part of the “Classic Weimar” inscription as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998.
Wittenberg Luther sites: Luther House, Town Church
After successful completion of his doctorate in 1512, Martin Luther moved to Wittenberg University to become Professor of Theology. He would move into a former monastery (structure shown above). In time, he and his wife, Katharina von Bora, made this place their home for their children, his students and visitors, and their staff. The Luther House is one of four key Reformation sites in Wittenberg in the 1996 inscription as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Morning sun casts a warm glow on the City and Parish Church of St. Mary (Stadtkirche). This was the church where Martin Luther preached and it’s where Holy Mass was celebrated in the German language for the first time. Considered the “Mother Church of the Reformation”, the church is one of four sites in the city inscribed in 1996 as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Würzburg Residence (Residenz)
Built between 1720 and 1744, the Würzburg Residenz (Residence) was the seat of prince-bishops until the mediatization (secularization) process in 1802-1803. Today, the Residence is one of the most important baroque palaces in Europe. The surrounding Court Gardens were redesigned beginning in 1770 to fit within the city walls.
In World War 2, the March 1945 Allied bombing raid lasted less than one-half hour and destroyed 89% of the inner city including a large portion of the Residence. Art historian and US Army 2nd Lieutenant John Skilton was stationed in Würzburg from June to October 1945 as officer of the Monuments and Fine Arts Section. Thanks to his tireless efforts, support from the US Army, and experts from the city, restructuring proceeded to rebuild and save the city’s landmark. In 1981, the Würzburg Residence was inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I made all photos labelled “(HL)” between 2009 and 2017 with Canon EOS cameras 450D (450D) and 6D mark 1 (6D1). Images for the German UNESCO Commission and the map of World Heritage Sites in Germany are from Wikimedia. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-9TO.