Historic Sites in Germany

What are the best Historic Sites in Germany?

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Home of the ancient Germanic tribes, impinged on by the Romans, centre of the Holy Roman Empire and the focal point of 20th century conflict, Germany is a nation with a diverse history, reflected in its historic sites today.

There's a host of top cultural attractions to visit in Germany today, and among the very best are the Brandenburg Gate, the Imperial Baths of Trier and the Berlin Wall. Other popular sites tend to include Schwerin Castle, Berliner Dom and the Reichstag.

We’ve put together an experts guide to German cultural places, landmarks and monuments with our top ten places to visit as well as a full list of Historic Sites in Germany, which shouldn’t be ignored if you have the time.

1. Brandenburg Gate

Few historic sites in Germany have such political, social and symbolic importance as the Romanesque gateway known as the Brandenburg Gate. Commissioned by King Frederick William II of Prussia it stood in the entrance to boulevard Unter den Linden, which led to the city palace. 

Visitors from around the world come to see the Brandenburg Gate and its ornate carvings, including its dramatic depiction of Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory, driving a horse drawn chariot. Today, among other things, it is seen as a symbol of German reunification.

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2. Imperial Baths of Trier

Amongst the largest Ancient Roman baths outside of Rome, the Imperial Baths of Trier are some of the best preserved Roman sites in Germany. They provide a startling reminder of the diverse nature of German history.

Trier was a Roman city initially established in around 15 BC and called Augusta Treverorum. By the late third century AD, when Diocletian divided the Empire and created the Tetrachy, Trier was such a flourishing and important city that it was known as the “Second Rome”. At this time, Constantius Chlorus became the emperor of the West Roman Empire and moved to Trier with his son, Constantine the Great.

From 306 onwards, Constantine began a mass development of the city, of which the Imperial Baths of Tier were a part.

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3. Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall ranks amongst the most iconic of all the historic sites in Germany. An 87 mile long concrete barrier between East and West Berlin, it became a symbol of the Cold War and an embodiment of the so-called ‘Iron Curtain’ between eastern and western Europe.

The Berlin Wall was a matter of great controversy throughout its existence, with world leaders continually calling for it to be torn down, including John F Kennedy’s famous declaration of “Ich bin ein Berliner” and Ronald Reagan’s 1987 speech when he implored, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!".

The fall of the Berlin Wall finally occurred on 9 November 1989 and the wall was almost completely dismantled in the days and weeks that followed. Very few segments of the wall remain. The largest, 1.3 kilometer, section can be found at the open air East Side Gallery, although small sections are dotted throughout the city.

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4. Bruhl Palaces

The Bruhl Palaces (Schlosser Bruhl) are comprised of the Augustus Palace and the Falkenlust Palace, built in the 18th century for the Archbishop and Elector of Cologne, Clemens August of Bavaria.

Begun in 1725 atop the ruins of a medieval moated castle and completed in 1768, Augustus Palace is considered a masterpiece of the German Rococo style, the highlight of which is its staircase by Balthasar Neumann. Augustus Palace was Clemens August's favourite residence and, with its proximity to Bonn, was used as a government reception hall from 1949 until the seat of government was returned to Berlin.

Falkenlust Palace was constructed between 1729-1737 and served as the hunting lodge of Clemens August.

The Bruhl Palaces together with their extensive gardens are on the UNESCO World Heritage list and are open to the public as museums.

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5. Schwerin Castle

Schwerin Castle is a picturesque palace and once the home of the dukes of Mecklenburg. The history of the site itself dates back as far as 1160, with the current incarnation of the castle being built in the 19th century. Taken over by the German state in 1918, the castle would undergo yet another set of renovations in the twentieth century, following a fire.

Schwerin Castle is now both the seat of the local government and an art museum displaying pieces ranging from the ancient to the twentieth century. Some of the most important pieces at Schwerin’s museum are its seventeenth century Dutch and Flemish paintings.

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6. Reichstag

The Reichstag Building started its life in 1894, when it served as the seat of the German Parliament. Designed by architect Paul Wallot during the reign of Emperor Wilhelm I, the building contained several pioneering architectural elements, including a steel and glass copula which was the first of its kind.

Wilhelm I was succeeded by Wilhelm II by the time the Reichstag was completed in 1894 and, despite this new leader’s opposition to the institute of parliament, the Reichstag survived his reign and was the site where the politician Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed the institution of the German Weimar Republic in 1918. It served as such until 1933, when a fire tore through it, damaging it severely.  However, it was the socio-political consequences of this latter event which would have the most lasting effects.

The ruling Nazi party blamed the fire on communists and used the incident as an excuse to carry out a purge of any perceived traitors. The Reichstag was heavily bombed during the Second World War and emerged as a ruin, the effects of which were exacerbated by its neglect during the Cold War. 

Reconstruction followed and was completed in April 1999. It now houses the current German parliament, the Bundestag, and also acts as one of Germany’s most popular tourist attractions. Guided tours are available, but must be booked in writing well in advance.

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7. Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is a vast and impressive gothic cathedral which took over six hundred years to complete.

Located on what was previously the site of a Roman villa, thought to have dated back to the fourth century as well as several increasingly larger churches, construction of the current Cologne Cathedral began in 1248. There was already a church on the site, but when the relic known as the Three Magi was brought there, it was felt a larger church was need to accommodate the hordes of pilgrims to the site.

Due to its enormous size and elaborate nature as well as a series of interruptions including the arrival of French Revolutionaries, Cologne Cathedral was only completed in 1880.

Today, Cologne Cathedral is home to a wealth of important ecclesiastical art, the highlight of which is the Shrine of the Three Magi (or three Kings), thought to contain the skulls of the three wise men.

Despite having been bombed during World War II raids, Cologne Cathedral has survived and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, revered for being a remarkable example of a gothic cathedral. Visitors can also enter its treasury for more religious relics or climb its tower for great views of Cologne. Guided tours are available by appointment.

Cologne Cathedral features as one of our top German Visitor Attractions.

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8. Basilica of Constantine - Trier

The Basilica of Constantine or “Konstantin Basilika” in Trier in Germany is a remnant of this city’s prominent Ancient Roman history.

Once the place where Emperor Constantine the Great would meet and greet audiences, the Basilica of Constantine was part of the development of Trier undertaken by the emperor from 306 AD. At the time, Trier, then Augusta Treverorum, was the capital of Rome’s Western Empire and the home of Constantine the Great.

In the fifth century, the Basilica of Constantine was destroyed by invading Germanic forces, but now stands restored. This is partially due to the fact that it was incorporated into a seventeenth century palace and then served as an army barracks. In 1944, the Basilica of Constantine was renovated and it is now used as a church.

The Basilica of Constantine is one of this city’s many Ancient Roman sites and part of its UNESCO World Heritage listing. It is apparently the largest single Ancient Rome room to stand intact.

Be sure to look out for the optical illusion created by the window sizes of the Basilica of Constantine, which make it look even bigger than it actually is.

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9. Worms Cathedral

Worms Cathedral (Wormser Dom) also known as the Cathedral of St Peter is a Romanesque cathedral in the German city of Worms. A sandstone structure with distinctive conical towers, Worms Cathedral was constructed in phases throughout the twelfth century and mostly completed by 1181.

In fact, the present Worms Cathedral is not the first to be built on this site, a previous, smaller version having existed as early as the seventh century and a further incarnation built in the eleventh century. This second version of Worms Cathedral was famous for being the burial site of the Salian Dynasty, a medieval German royal line of Holy Roman Emperors. This Salian crypt can still be seen at Worms Cathedral.

In 1792, when French revolutionary forces captured Worms, Worms Cathedral was used as a storage facility and stables. During World War II, the building was damaged by air raids, but survived. Worms Cathedral features as one of our Top Tourist Attractions in Germany.

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10. Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie was an important crossing point in the Berlin Wall, which separated East and West Berlin from 1961 to 1989.

The Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie were prominent symbols of the Cold War. At the time, West Berlin was controlled by the American, British and French forces and East Berlin by the Soviet Union.

In a bid to prevent the ongoing migration of East Berliners to the west, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin erected the Berlin Wall, closing off East Berlin from the rest of the city.

Checkpoint ‘C’, nicknamed Checkpoint Charlie based on the NATO phonetic alphabet, was the only place where Allied forces were allowed to cross the border and, at its location at the junction of Friedrichstraße with Zimmerstraße and Mauerstraße, was also the most visible checkpoint along the wall.

Checkpoint Charlie was made up of a watchtower and barriers erected by the Soviet forces, while the American forces originally had only a temporary wooden shack followed by a temporary metal structure.

Checkpoint Charlie was the site of many stand offs between the Soviet and American forces, including the October 1961 dispute over the checking of the travel documents of US officials, which culminated in both sides amassing tanks at the checkpoint.

However, it was the tragic death of attempted East Berlin escapee, Peter Fechter which attracted mass protest and some of the most poignant imagery of the time. The teenager was shot by Soviet guards as he tried to flee to the West and lay dying in the no-man's land between East and West Berlin before the world media.

The original Checkpoint Charlie is housed at the Allied Museum in Berlin-Zehlendorf, but the site now displays a replica where the original once stood as well as information about the era. Nearby is a small private museum about the checkpoint called ‘Haus am Checkpoint Charlie’.

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Full list of Historic Sites in Germany

Beyond the most famous German cultural places, landmarks and monuments, there’s many similar places to visit including Cologne Cathedral, the Basilica of Constantine in Trier and Worms Cathedral to name but a few. We’re constantly expanding this list of Historic Sites in Germany and you can view the current selection below.

Ansbach Residenz

A former medieval castle, Ansbach Residence was remodelled in both the 16th and 18th centuries leaving a splendidly furnished state residence.

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Babelsberg Castle

Babelsberg Castle is a picturesque 19th century Gothic castle which boasts stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

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Berlin Stasi Prison

The Berlin Stasi Prison was a notoriously brutal Cold War prison in East Berlin from 1951 to 1989.

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Berlin’s Victory Column

Originally a symbol of Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian War, Berlin’s Victory Column was designed by Heinrich Strack and today stands as a symbol for the city, boasting panoramic views over Berlin.

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Braunfels Castle

Braunfels Castle is a beautifully picturesque medieval castle which towers above the Lahn valley. Highlights include the museum and Knight’s Hall which showcase collections of weaponry, armour, art, sculpture and medieval furniture.

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Burg Rheinfels

Burg Rheinfels was an imposing medieval fortification, the dramatic ruins of which lie in St Goar in Germany.

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Burgkloster

The Burgkloster was a medieval monastery turned poorhouse, court and Nazi prison.

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Burgtor

The Burgtor is one of only two surviving medieval gates in Lubeck.

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Celtic hillfort of Otzenhausen

The Celtic hillfort of Otzenhausen contains the remains of an ancient fortification in Germany, thought to have been constructed by the Treveri tribe.

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Coburg Castle

Dominating the town of Coburg in Upper Franconia, Coburg Castle is one of Germany’s largest and most impressive surviving medieval fortress complexes.

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Dachau Concentration Camp

Dachau Concentration Camp was a Nazi concentration camp in Germany.

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Dachau Palace

Sitting on a hill overlooking the River Amper, the original 12th century castle on the site built for the Counts of Dachau was demolished in 1403. It made way for a four-winged Renaissance-style palace for the rulers of Bavaria built between 1546 and 1577

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Feldherrnhalle

The Feldherrnhalle is a 19th century Bavarian victory monument which later acquired significance by the Nazis.

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Hall of Fame and Statue of Bavaria

The Ruhmeshalle – Hall of Fame – is a Doric colonnade above the Bavarian open space known as Theresienwiese as a pantheon for celebrated Bavarian artists, politicians and scientists. It is fronted by a magnificent 18-metre high bronze of Bavaria, the female personification of the state of Bavaria.

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Hall of Liberation at Kelheim

The Befreiungshalle or Hall of Liberation is a stunning neoclassical rotunda sitting atop Mount Michelsberg in the southern German town of Kelheim. It was completed in 1863 and commemorates Germany’s victory over Napoleon in the 1813-15 Wars of Liberation.

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Hassenhausen Museum

Hassenhausen Museum in Auerstedt is a museum of the 1806 Battle of Jena-Auerstedt of the Napoleonic Wars.

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Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz

Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz was the site where the Nazis planned the extermination of the Jews known as the Holocaust.

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Hedeby Viking Museum

Hedeby or Haithabu, a former Viking settlement in Germany, is now home to the Hedeby Viking Museum.

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Heiliger Sand

Heiliger Sand in Worms in Germany is the oldest Jewish cemetery in Europe.

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Herrenchiemsee Palace

A stunning 19th century Bavarian palace, located on its very own 230-hectare island, modelled on the Palace of Versailles.

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Hohenzollern Castle

Hohenzollern Castle is a truly impressive 19th century castle and popular tourist destination located 40 miles south of Stuttgart.

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Holstentor

Holstentor is a picturesque medieval gate which houses the city museum of Lubeck. UNESCO listed.

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Jakobikirche

Jakobikirche was built in 1334 and now represents one of Lubeck’s best preserved medieval churches.

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Jena Battlefield

Jena Battlefield was the site of a Prussian defeat in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars.

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Jewish Museum - Berlin

The Jewish Museum in Berlin explores the history of Germany’s Jewish community.

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Johannisburg Palace

Built between 1605 and 1614 in the city of Aschaffenburg on a terrace overlooking the river Main, Johannisburg Palace is one of the German Renaissance’s most spectacular – and most – important examples of palace architecture and was, until 1803, the residence of the archbishop-electors of Mainz.

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Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is a famous Berlin landmark and the ruins of a 19th century church.

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Karl Marx Haus

Karl Marx Haus in Trier was the birthplace of the father of Marxism.

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King’s House on Schachen

Built between 1869 and 1872 by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, the King’s House is located on Schachen, a few miles from the Austrian border at the foot of the Wetterstein mountain massif.

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Konigstein Fortress

Konigstein Fortress in Dresden has been everything from a stronghold to a World War II prisoner of war camp.

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Liebfrauen

Liebfrauen is a thirteenth century UNESCO-listed gothic church in Trier.

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Linderhof Palace

Unique in design and style, the ornate 19th century Linderhof Palace exhibits exquisite Rococo ornamentation and is surrounded by beautiful landscaped gardens.

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Lubeck Cathedral

Lubeck Cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in this UNESCO listed city centre.

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Lubeck Town Hall

Lubeck Town Hall is a picturesque medieval building which began as a thirteenth century cloth hall.

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Lutzen Battlefield

Lutzen Battlefield was the site of an important battle of the Thirty Years’ War in 1632 and a Napoleonic victory in 1813.

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Marienkirche

Marienkirche in Lubeck is Germany’s third largest church.

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Munich Frauenkirche

The Munich Frauenkirche is one of the city’s most iconic sites.

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Neuschwanstein Castle

A fairy-tale castle built for an introverted and reclusive king, Neuschwanstein Castle’s idyllic mountainous setting attracts millions of tourists.

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Nuremberg Castle

Nuremberg Castle is a medieval castle where Holy Roman Emperors would reside.

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Nymphenburg Palace

Nymphenburg Palace is a grand baroque palace in Munich and one the city’s most famous sites.

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Plassenburg Castle

The fortress of Plassenburg Castle sits high above the Bavarian city of Kulmbach and is considered by many to be one of the most mighty and impressive castles in Germany.

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Porta Nigra

Porta Nigra is a late second century Roman gate in Trier in Germany.

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Rheinisches Landesmuseum

The Rheinisches Landesmuseum chronicles the history of Trier and the region as far back as the Stone Age.

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Romano-Germanic Museum - Cologne

The Romano-Germanic Museum is a museum of Ancient Roman history in Cologne.

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Romerbrucke

Romerbrucke is a second century UNESCO-listed Roman bridge in Trier which is still in use.

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Rosenau Palace

Most famous as the birthplace of Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria, Rosenau Palace in Bavaria is a grand medieval country house that sits in picturesque gardens above the River Itz in Rödetal.

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Rosenburg Castle

Set in stunning Bavarian forest country overlooking the blue Danube, Rosenburg Castle is a 12th century Romanesque mansion, museum and falconry school.

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Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp

Sachsenhausen was a Nazi concentration camp 35km outside of Berlin during the Second World War.

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Schönbusch Palace

Arguably more famous for the park and green spaces than the schloss, Schönbusch in Bavaria is a magnificent 18th century English landscaped garden, one of Germany’s earliest and most impressive.

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Seehof Palace

In Memmelsdorf in Upper Franconia, the northernmost region of Bavaria in Germany sits Seehof Palace, a stunning white and gold dollhouse built in 1686 for the Bamberg Prince-Bishops.

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Soviet Memorial Treptow

Located in Berlin’s Treptower Park, the Soviet Memorial was designed by architect Yakov Belopolsky in order to remember the Soviet soldiers who were killed in the 1945 Battle of Berlin.

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St Matthias Abbey - Trier

St Matthias Abbey houses the grave of its namesake, the apostle, St Mathias.

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The Barbara Baths - Trier

The Barbara Baths were a second century baths complex of Roman Trier. UNESCO listed.

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The Battle of the Nations Monument

The Battle of the Nations Monument commemorates the 1813 Napoleonic Wars battle in which the French emperor suffered one of his greatest defeats.

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The Berlin Flak Tower

The Berlin Flak Tower is a World War II bunker and anti-aircraft tower built under Hitler’s orders.

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The Munich Residence

The Munich Residence was a focal point of Bavarian power for over four centuries.

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The New Synagogue

Once a working synagogue, the New Synagogue in Berlin is today used as an informative museum, with the building standing as a great representation of eastern Moorish architecture.

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Trier Cathedral

Trier Cathedral is a mostly medieval, UNESCO-listed church with a history dating back to Roman times.

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Trier Roman Amphitheatre

Trier Roman Amphitheatre is a well preserved UNESCO site in use as early as the first century.

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Tucher Palace

The Tucher Palace in Nuremburg, northern Bavaria was built between 1533 and 1544 as a summer residence and garden palace for the Tuchers, one of Nuremberg’s prominent patrician families.

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Veitshöchheim Palace

On the banks of the River Main, Veitshöchheim Palace in Würzburg is a stunning late Baroque stately home that’s as famous for its magnificent rococo gardens as the house itself.

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Weiden Roman Burial Chamber

The Weiden Roman Burial Chamber is an Ancient Roman tomb on the outskirts of modern day Cologne.

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Weißensee Cemetery

The largest Jewish cemetery in Europe, the Weißensee Cemetery in Berlin is home to about 115,000 graves. It is popular with visitors due to its beautiful art nouveau mausoleums and mourning hall.

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Westwall Museum

The Westwall Museum allows visitors to enter tunnels which formed part of this renowned line of World War II fortifications.

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Willibaldsburg Castle

Started in the 1350s and not finished for 300 years, Willibaldsburg Castle in the southern German town of Eichstätt is a stunning hilltop castle complete with a renowned botanical garden.

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Worms Synagogue

Worms Synagogue is built on the site of two former synagogues destroyed during the Crusades and on Kristallnacht.

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Würzburg Residence

The Würzburg Residence was built for Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn, Prince-Bishop of Würzburg in the 1700s and is one of Europe’s most stunning and lavishly opulent Baroque palaces.

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Xanten Archaeological Park

Xanten Archaeological Park houses the remains of the former Roman settlement of Colonia Ulpia Traiana.

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Zwernitz Castle

Zwernitz Castle is an 11th century castle, once the hereditary seat of the Upper Franconian Walpodes situated in the beautiful village of Wonsees in south-eastern Germany.

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Our database of Historic Sites in Germany is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. So, if you know of other German cultural places, landmarks and monuments, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by contacting us today.