UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany

St. Peter's Church

St. Peter"s Church, once three-naved, was built between 1227 and 1250 and expanded in the 15th and 16th century to a five-naved Gothic hall church. The church roof was destroyed during the Second World War and was provided with an emergency roof in 1960. Reconstruction was only completed in 1987. Nowadays, St. Peter"s is no longer used as a church. Instead, the 800-year-old light and airy church interior has ev ...
Founded: 1227-1250 | Location: Lübeck, Germany

Würzburg Residence

The sumptuous Würzburg Residence was built and decorated in the 18th century by an international corps of architects, painters, sculptors, and stucco workers under the patronage of two successive Prince-Bishops, Johann Philipp Franz and Friedrich Karl von Schönborn. The Residence was essentially constructed between 1720 and 1744, decorated on the interior from 1740 to 1770 and landscaped with magnificent gardens from 1 ...
Founded: 1720-1780 | Location: Würzburg, Germany

Holstentor

Holstentor (Holsten Gate) is the most well-know symbol of Lübeck. The city gate was built between 1464 and 1478 along the lines of Dutch models. Its purpose served both as a form of defence and as a form of prestige. Above the round-arched gateway entrance of the twin-towered construction, the inscription CONCORDIA DOMI FORIS PAX (unity at home, peace abroad) can clearly be seen in golden letters. Nearly every visitor i ...
Founded: 1464-1478 | Location: Lübeck, Germany

Chilehaus

The Chilehaus is a ten-story office building in Hamburg. It is an exceptional example of the 1920s Brick Expressionism style of architecture. The Chilehaus was designed by the architect Fritz Höger and built between 1922 and 1924. It was commissioned by the shipping magnate Henry B. Sloman, who made his fortune trading saltpeter from Chile, hence the name Chile House. The cost of construction is difficult to determin ...
Founded: 1922-1924 | Location: Hamburg, Germany

New Palace

The New Palace (Neues Palais) is a palace situated on the western side of the Sanssouci royal park. It is considered to be the last great Prussian baroque palace. The building was begun in 1763, after the end of the Seven Years" War, under Frederick the Great and was completed in 1769. It was purposed to celebrate Prussia’s success. In an architectural form, Frederick the Great sought to demonstrate the power ...
Founded: 1763-1769 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Historic Centre of Stralsund

The medieval towns of Wismar and Stralsund were major trading centres of the Hanseatic League in the 14th and 15th centuries. In the 17th and 18th centuries they became Swedish administrative and defensive centres for the German territories. They contributed to the development of the characteristic building types and techniques of Brick Gothic in the Baltic region, as exemplified in several important brick cathedrals, the ...
Founded: 1240 | Location: Stralsund, Germany

Schiller Residence

Friedrich Schiller purchased the house where today is known as Schillerstrasse in Weimar for himself and his family in 1802. The house was originally built in 1777. He had to go deep into debt to finance the purchase. The family lived in the house until Charlotte von Schiller’s death in 1826. It became municipal property in 1847, and in the same year also became the first publicly accessible memorial to a poet in Ge ...
Founded: 1777 | Location: Weimar, Germany

St. Jacob's Church

St. Jacob"s church is easy to recognise from a distance as it has four spherical globes on the tower"s helm edge. The three-naved Gothic brick hall church (built in 1334) has been the church of seafarers since the Middle Ages. It was consecrated together with St. Mary"s and St. Peter"s. Since the church did not suffer any damage during the 2nd World War, the boxed pew and historic organ are still intac ...
Founded: 1334 | Location: Lübeck, Germany

Maulbronn Monastery

Founded in 1147, the Cistercian Maulbronn Monastery is considered the most complete and best-preserved medieval monastic complex north of the Alps. Surrounded by fortified walls, the main buildings were constructed between the 12th and 16th centuries. The monastery"s church, mainly in Transitional Gothic style, had a major influence in the spread of Gothic architecture over much of northern and central Europe. The water-m ...
Founded: 1147 | Location: Maulbronn, Germany

Marksburg Castle

Marksburg as the only undamaged hilltop castle in the Middle Rhine Valley. In the early 12th century records mention the Noble Freemen of Brubach (who probably built the lower part of the keep around 1117), even though the castle itself is first referred to in 1231. The Lords of Eppstein built the Romanesque castle complex with its triangular layout, characteristic of the Staufer era. The Eppsteins were amongst the most p ...
Founded: c. 1117 | Location: Braubach, Germany

Quedlinburg Abbey

Quedlinburg Abbey was a house of secular canonesses. It was founded on the castle hill of Quedlinburg in the present Saxony-Anhalt in 936 by Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, at the request of his mother Queen Matilda, later canonised as Saint Matilda, in honour of her late husband, Otto"s father, King Henry the Fowler, and as his memorial. Henry was buried here, as was Matilda herself. Thanks to its Imperial connections the n ...
Founded: 936 AD | Location: Quedlinburg, Germany

Basilica of Constantine

The Basilica of Constantine (Konstantinbasilika or Aula Palatina) is a Roman palace basilica that was built by the emperor Constantine (AD 306–337) at the beginning of the 4th century. Today it is used as a church and owned by a congregation within the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland. The basilica contains the largest extant hall from antiquity with a length of 67 m, a width of 26.05 m and a height of 33 m. It ...
Founded: 310 AD | Location: Trier, Germany

Wieskirche

The Pilgrimage Church of Wies (Wieskirche) is an oval rococo church, designed in the late 1740s by Dominikus Zimmermann. It is located in the foothills of the Alps in the municipality of Steingaden. The sanctuary of Wies is a pilgrimage church extraordinarily well-preserved in the beautiful setting of an Alpine valley, and is a perfect masterpiece of Rococo art and creative genius, as well as an exceptional testimony to ...
Founded: 1745-1754 | Location: Steingaden, Germany

Church of Peace

The Protestant Church of Peace (Friedenskirche) is situated in the palace grounds of Sanssouci Park in Potsdam. The church was built according to the wishes and with the close involvement of the artistically gifted King Frederick William IV and designed by the court architect, Ludwig Persius. After Persius" death in 1845, the architect Friedrich August Stüler was charged with continuing his work. Building includ ...
Founded: 1845 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Lübeck Cathedral

Lübeck Cathedral is a large brick-built Lutheran cathedral in Lübeck, Germany and part of the Lübeck UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1173 Henry the Lion founded the cathedral to serve the Diocese of Lübeck, after the transfer in 1160 of the bishop's seat from Oldenburg in Holstein under bishop Gerold. The then Romanesque cathedral was completed around 1230, but between 1266 and 1335 it was converted into a Gothic-style ...
Founded: 1173 | Location: Lübeck, Germany

Trier Imperial Baths

The Trier Imperial Baths (Kaiserthermen) are a large Roman bath complex, designated as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The impressive ruins of the baths, along with the derelict rooms and the walls of previous structures, are among the most important to have been discovered in Trier. Today a visit to the thermal baths, which can also be explored below ground, is like stepping back in time. The walls of the hot bat ...
Founded: 0-200 AD | Location: Trier, Germany

Historic Centre of Wismar

Wismar is a unique representative of the Hanseatic League city type, with its Brick Gothic constructions and many patrician gable houses. It has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 2002, together with the historical core of Stralsund. Wismar has preserved its medieval harbour basin, whereas the island location of Stralsund has remained unchanged since the 13th century. To this day the unmistakable ...
Founded: 1229 | Location: Wismar, Germany

Duchess Anna Amalia Library

The Duchess Anna Amalia Library in Weimar houses a major collection of German literature and historical documents. The library contains 1,000,000 books, 2,000 medieval and early modern manuscripts, 600 ancestral registers, 10,000 maps etc. The research library today has approximately 850,000 volumes with collection emphasis on the German literature. Among its special collections is an important Shakespeare collection of a ...
Founded: 1761 | Location: Weimar, Germany

Goethe House

The Goethe House is the main house where poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe lived in Weimar, though he did live in several others in the town. Goethe House is one of sites in a UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of multiple structures related to Weimar Classicism. Johann Wolfgang Goethe lived in the house on Frauenplan for 50 years until his death in 1832, apart from his journeys and a lengthy stay in Italy. He first mov ...
Founded: 1709 | Location: Weimar, Germany

Cecilienhof Palace

Cecilienhof Palace was built from 1914 to 1917. Emperor Wilhelm II ordered the establishment of a fund for constructing this new palace at Potsdam for his oldest son, Crown Prince Wilhelm (William) and his wife, Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin on 19 December 1912. Cecilienhof was the last palace built by the House of Hohenzollern that ruled the Kingdom of Prussia and the German Empire until the end of World War I. ...
Founded: 1914-1917 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.