Romantic Road in Germany

Fuggerhäuser

The Fuggerhäuser (Fugger houses) is a complex of houses built for the Fugger family of businessmen. From 1512 to 1515 Jakob Fugger the Younger built two linked houses on the Via Claudia (now Maximilianstraße) near the wine market, one as a town-house and the other as a warehouse. He designed them himself, based on notes he had taken on his travels in Italy. The secular building was the first Renaissance style building c ...
Founded: 1512 | Location: Augsburg, Germany

Augsburg Cathedral

The Cathedral of Augsburg is perhaps located on the site of a pre-existing 4th-century building, not necessarily a church, whose foundations have been excavated beneath the current level; the site is included within the ancient Roman walls of Augusta Vindelicorum. The first known church in the place is documented from 822, but dating to the late 8th century reigns of bishops Wikterp and Simpert. The edifice was damaged b ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Augsburg, Germany

Fuggerei

The Fuggerei is the world's oldest social housing complex still in use. It is a walled enclave within the city of Augsburg. It takes it name from the Fugger family and was founded in 1516 by Jakob Fugger the Younger as a place where the needy citizens of Augsburg could be housed. By 1523, 52 houses had been built, and in the coming years the area expanded with various streets, small squares and a church. The gates were lo ...
Founded: 1516 | Location: Augsburg, Germany

Weikersheim Palace

Weikersheim Palace (Schloss Weikersheim) was built in the 12th century, however the exact year is not known. The palace was the traditional seat of the princely family of Hohenlohe. In the 16th century, Count Wolfgang II inherited Weikersheim after a division of estates and made it his main home. He converted the moated castle into a magnificent Renaissance palace, whose splendid rooms have been preserved with their furni ...
Founded: 1586 | Location: Weikersheim, Germany

Museum im Kulturspeicher Würzburg

The Museum im Kulturspeicher Würzburg is a municipal art museum opened in 2002 within a converted river-side warehouse that provides 3,500 m² of exhibit space in 12 rooms. It contains two distinct collections: the municipal art collection, founded in 1941 as the Städtische Gallerie and originally located in Hofstraße; and the Peter C. Ruppert Collection of European concrete art from World War II to th ...
Founded: 2002 | Location: Würzburg, Germany

St. Ulrich's and St. Afra's Abbey

From the late 16th century onward, the Abbey of St. Ulrich and St Afra was one of the 40-odd self-ruling imperial abbeys of the Holy Roman Empire and, as such, was a virtually independent state. The territory of that state was very fragmented: the abbey of St. Ulrich and St Afra proper enclaved within the Free Imperial City of Augsburg, and several small territories disseminated throughout the region. At the time of its d ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Augsburg, Germany

Harburg Castle

Harburg Castle is one of the jewels of the German Romantic Road. Wonderfully preserved, the castle sits high on a hill and overlooks the town for which it"s named. It is unclear when the first structure was erected, but the castle was first mentioned in a document in 1150. Harburg was built by the former Hohenstaufen emperors of Germany in the 11th or 12th century. In 1295, the castle was transferred to the Count of ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Harburg, Germany

Pilgrimage Church Käppele

Käppele is the commonly used name for the church Wallfahrtskirche Mariä Heimsuchung in Würzburg. It was built following plans by Balthasar Neumann in the mid-18th century in Rococo style. It serves as a pilgrimage church and until 2014 was attended to by members of the Capuchins. The name Käppele is derived from the German word Kapelle (chapel). Originally, a local fisher erected a pietà in what was then a vineyard ...
Founded: 1748 | Location: Würzburg, Germany

Bad Mergentheim Castle

The castle of Mergentheim was the residence of the Grand Masters of German Teutonic Order from 1525-1809. In 1996 the museum was opened with around 3000 m² of exhibition space. The 800-year history of the German Teutonic Order from 1190 to the present day is illustrated with objects, works of art and models. The castle has a rich architectural history. There are Romanesque structural elements (residential quarter co ...
Founded: 1525 | Location: Bad Mergentheim, Germany

Füssen Franciscan Monastery

The Franciscan Monastery was inaugurated in 1628, but damaged already in 1632 by the Swedish army. The restoration took place in the late 1600 and the new wing dates from 1712. The church of St. Stephen was built between 1763-1767. The monastery is the official end of the Romantic Road – a sign is available for photographic proof of a visit. However, the main reason to visit is the fine views that can be enjoyed fr ...
Founded: 1628 | Location: Füssen, Germany

Steingaden Abbey

Dedicated to John the Baptist, the Steingaden abbey was founded in 1147 as a Premonstratensian house by Welf VI, third son of Henry the Black, Duke of Bavaria, and brother of Duke Henry the Proud. The first monks and their abbot came from the Premonstratensian Rot an der Rot Abbey. The Romanesque abbey church was dedicated in 1176. Between 1470 and 1491 the abbey buildings were refurbished under Abbot Caspar Suiter in the ...
Founded: 1147/1663 | Location: Steingaden, Germany

Dinkelsbühl Castle

The castle of the Teutonic Order in Dinkelsbühl was originally called 'Tewtscher Hof' (around 1350) and situated next to the almshouse. When the town was extended in 1390 it was rebuilt in its actual position. Newer building was built in Baroque style (1764). The valuable Rocaille cartouche on the gable and rococo chapel with intricate stucco are worth of seeing.
Founded: 1764 | Location: Dinkelsbühl, Germany

Feuchtwangen Old Town

Worth seeing in Feuchtwangen is the historic old town with its marketplace that is described as 'Franconia"s ballroom'. Also worthy of note is the former Benedictine monastery church with its Romanesque cloister, in which the craftsmen"s workshops are housed. Also, a fair amount of the town"s old wall still stands, dating from about 1400. Of the town"s original three gates, only one, the Uppe ...
Founded: | Location: Feuchtwangen, Germany

Rottenbuch Abbey Church

Rottenbuch Abbey was founded as an Augustinian monastery in 1073 on land granted by Duke Welf I of Bavaria. The Abbey church was constructed between 1085 and 1125 in the Romanesque style. The design of a crossing transept and free-standing tower is unusual for a Bavarian church. Rottenbuch was a center of papal loyalty during the Investiture Controversy. Under the patronage of Emperor Louis the Bavarian in the 14th centur ...
Founded: 1073 | Location: Rottenbuch, Germany

Tauberbischofsheim Castle

Tauberbischofsheim town came under control of the Prince-Bishops of Mainz in the 13th century and it was they who built the former castle at the top part of the central historic part of the town. The castle is now given over to a Regional Museum and the old watchman's tower and living quarters, the Türmersturm, is the symbol of the town.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Tauberbischofsheim, Germany

Schongau Old Town

The important strategic position of Schongau on a defensible hill above the Lech means that it has a very long history of settlement. Finds from the Bronze Age have been made in the area, along with Roman remains. Schongau is surrounded by fortified walls built in the Middle Ages - parts of them can still be walked around - and those fortifications were built to protect the wealth created by its position on the river and ...
Founded: | Location: Schongau, Germany

Donauwörth Abbey

The Holy Cross Abbey in Donauwörth was founded around 1040 by Mangold I von Werd as a Benedictine convent. In the early 12th century the convent moved to the western edge of the city to the highest point insode the city walls. After buildings were damaged during the Thirty Years" War, the abbey church wa rebuilt. In 1770-1780 it was expanded to the Rococo style. The monastery was dissolved in 1803. The church r ...
Founded: c. 1040 | Location: Donauwörth, Germany

Schillingsfürst Castle

The Baroque castle of Schillingsfürst was first mentioned in the year 1000. It was owned by Hohenlohe family since 1300s. However, the castle was destroyed by Ludwig of Bayern in 1316. The next castle was destroyed in 1525 and third one again in 1632 in Thirty Years" War. The current castle was built by Prince Karl Albrecht Schillingsfürst in 1753-1793. Today there is a museum.
Founded: 1753-1793 | Location: Schillingsfürst, Germany

Friedberg Castle

The Friedberg castle was subsequently built to serve as a border security and customs post for the Duchy of Bavaria and Swabia, but put the town in opposition to the free city of Augsburg. It was built between 1257-1264 by Duke Ludwig II. The castle was the cause of the first burning of Friedberg by Augsburg in 1396. The town was subject to the many frequent wars between Swabia, Bavaria and Augsburg. A revival in the to ...
Founded: 1257 | Location: Friedberg, Germany

Herrgottskirche

Herrgottskirche (Church of Our Lord) was built in the mid-14th century after a farmer is said to have found an undamaged communion host in the field that he was ploughing. It is most famous for its wooden altar by the woodworker Tilman Riemenschneider which is considered as one of the most valuable examples of religious altar carving in the Middle Ages.
Founded: c. 1350 | Location: Creglingen, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château built between 1658-1661 for Nicolas Fouquet. It was made for Marquis de Belle Île, Viscount of Melun and Vaux, the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV, the château was an influential work of architecture in mid-17th century Europe. At Vaux-le-Vicomte, the architect Louis Le Vau, the landscape architect André le Nôtre, and the painter-decorator Charles Le Brun worked together on a large-scale project for the first time. Their collaboration marked the beginning of the 'Louis XIV style' combining architecture, interior design and landscape design. The garden's pronounced visual axis is an example of this style.

To secure the necessary grounds for the elaborate plans for Vaux-le-Vicomte’s garden and castle, Fouquet purchased and demolished three villages. The displaced villagers were then employed in the upkeep and maintenance of the gardens. It was said to have employed eighteen thousand workers and cost as much as 16 million livres. The château and its patron became for a short time a focus for fine feasts, literature and arts. The poet La Fontaine and the playwright Molière were among the artists close to Fouquet. At the inauguration of Vaux-le-Vicomte, a Molière play was performed, along with a dinner event organized by François Vatel, and an impressive firework show.

After Fouquet was arrested and imprisoned for life, and his wife exiled, Vaux-le-Vicomte was placed under sequestration. The king seized, confiscated or purchased 120 tapestries, the statues, and all the orange trees from Vaux-le-Vicomte. He then sent the team of artists (Le Vau, Le Nôtre and Le Brun) to design what would be a much larger project than Vaux-le-Vicomte, the palace and gardens of Versailles.

The Marshal Villars became the new owner without first seeing the chateau. In 1764, the Marshal's son sold the estate to the Duke of Praslin, whose descendants would maintain the property for over a century. It is sometimes mistakenly reported that the château was the scene of a murder in 1847, when duke Charles de Choiseul-Praslin, killed his wife in her bedroom, but this did not happen at Vaux-le-Vicomte but at the Paris residence of the Duke.

In 1875, after thirty years of neglect, the estate was sold to Alfred Sommier in a public auction. The château was empty, some of the outbuildings had fallen into ruin, and the famous gardens were totally overgrown. The huge task of restoration and refurbishment began under the direction of the architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, assisted by the landscape architect Elie Lainé. When Sommier died in 1908, the château and the gardens had recovered their original appearance. His son, Edme Sommier, and his daughter-in-law completed the task. Today, his descendants continue to preserve the château, which remains privately owned by Patrice and Cristina de Vogüé, the Count and Countess de Vogüé. It is now administered by their three sons Alexandre, Jean-Charles and Ascanio de Vogüé. Recognized by the state as a monument historique, it is open to the public regularly.

Architecture

The chateau is situated near the northern end of a 1.5-km long north-south axis with the entrance front facing north. Its elevations are perfectly symmetrical to either side of this axis. Somewhat surprisingly the interior plan is also nearly completely symmetrical with few differences between the eastern and western halves. The two rooms in the center, the entrance vestibule to the north and the oval salon to the south, were originally an open-air loggia, dividing the chateau into two distinct sections. The interior decoration of these two rooms was therefore more typical of an outdoor setting. Three sets of three arches, those on the entrance front, three more between the vestibule and the salon, and the three leading from the salon to the garden are all aligned and permitted the arriving visitor to see through to the central axis of the garden even before entering the chateau. The exterior arches could be closed with iron gates, and only later were they filled in with glass doors and the interior arches with mirrored doors. Since the loggia divided the building into two halves, there are two symmetrical staircases on either side of it, rather than a single staircase. The rooms in the eastern half of the house were intended for the use of the king, those in the western were for Fouquet. The provision of a suite of rooms for the king was normal practice in aristocratic houses of the time, since the king travelled frequently.

Another surprising feature of the plan is the thickness of the main body of the building (corps de logis), which consists of two rows of rooms running east and west. Traditionally the middle of the corps de logis of French chateaux consisted of a single row of rooms. Double-thick corps de logis had already been used in hôtels particuliers in Paris, including Le Vau's Hôtel Tambonneau, but Vaux was the first chateau to incorporate this change. Even more unusual, the main rooms are all on the ground floor rather than the first floor (the traditional piano nobile). This accounts for the lack of a grand staircase or a gallery, standard elements of most contemporary chateaux. Also noteworthy are corridors in the basement and on the first floor which run the length of house providing privacy to the rooms they access. Up to the middle of the 17th century, corridors were essentially unknown. Another feature of the plan, the four pavilions, one at each corner of the building, is more conventional.

Vaux-le-Vicomte was originally planned to be constructed in brick and stone, but after the mid-century, as the middle classes began to imitate this style, aristocratic circles began using stone exclusively. Rather late in the design process, Fouquet and Le Vau switched to stone, a decision that may have been influenced by the use of stone at François Mansart's Château de Maisons. The service buildings flanking the large avant-cour to the north of the house remained in brick and stone, and other structures preceding them were in rubble-stone and plaster, a social ranking of building materials that would be common in France for a considerable length of time thereafter.

The main chateau is constructed entirely on a moated platform, reached via two bridges, both aligned with the central axis and placed on the north and south sides. The moat is a picturesque holdover from medieval fortified residences, and is again a feature that Le Vau may have borrowed from Maisons. The moat at Vaux may also have been inspired by the previous chateau on the site, which Le Vau's work replaced.

Gardens

The château rises on an elevated platform in the middle of the woods and marks the border between unequal spaces, each treated in a different way. This effect is more distinctive today, as the woodlands are mature, than it was in the seventeenth century when the site had been farmland, and the plantations were new.

Le Nôtre's garden was the dominant structure of the great complex, stretching nearly a mile and a half (3 km), with a balanced composition of water basins and canals contained in stone curbs, fountains, gravel walks, and patterned parterres that remains more coherent than the vast display Le Nôtre was to create at Versailles.

Le Nôtre created a magnificent scene to be viewed from the house, using the laws of perspective. Le Notre used the natural terrain to his advantage. He placed the canal at the lowest part of the complex, thus hiding it from the main perspectival point of view. Past the canal, the garden ascends a large open lawn and ends with the Hercules column added in the 19th century. Shrubberies provided a picture frame to the garden that also served as a stage for royal fêtes.

From the top of the grand staircase, this gives the impression that the entire garden is revealed in one single glance. Initially, the view consists of symmetrical rows of shrubbery, avenues, fountains, statues, flowers and other pieces developed to imitate nature – these elements exemplify the Baroque desire to mold nature to fit its wishes, thus using nature to imitate nature. The centerpiece is a large reflecting pool flanked by grottos holding statues in their many niches. The grand sloping lawn is not visible until one begins to explore the garden, when the viewer is made aware of the optical elements involved and discovers that the garden is much larger than it looks.