UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany

St. Mary's Church

St. Mary"s Church, the parish church in which Luther often preached, was built in the 13th century, but has been much altered since Luther"s time. The reformers Martin Luther and Johannes Bugenhagen preached there and the building also saw the first celebration of the mass in German rather than Latin and the first ever distribution of the bread and wine to the congregation - it is thus considered the mother ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany

Augustusburg Palace

Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle. In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François ...
Founded: 1725-1768 | Location: Brühl, Germany

St. Peter and Paul Church

The church St. Peter und Paul in Weimar, also known as Herderkirche after Johann Gottfried Herder, is the most important church building of the town. The first church was built on the same location from 1245 to 1249, but destroyed by fire in 1299. Only the foundations remain. The second building was badly damaged in the 1424 town fire. The present building dates back to the a hall church in late Gothic style, built betwee ...
Founded: 1498-1500 | Location: Weimar, Germany

Hildesheim Cathedral

Hildesheim Cathedral has been on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list since 1985, together with the nearby St. Michael's Church. The cathedral church was built between 1010 and 1020 in the Romanesque style. It follows a symmetrical plan with two apses, that is characteristic of Ottonian Romanesque architecture in Old Saxony. The cathedral's treasures include world-famous artworks, bronzeworks from the time of Bishop Be ...
Founded: 1010-1020 | Location: Hildesheim, Germany

Schlosskirche

All Saints' Church, commonly referred to as Schlosskirche (Castle Church) is the site where the Ninety-five Theses were likely posted by Martin Luther in 1517, the act that has been called the start of the Protestant Reformation. From 1883 onwards, the church was restored as a memorial site. A first chapel dedicated All Saints was erected at the new residence of the Ascanian duke Rudolf I of Saxe-Wittenberg ...
Founded: 1490-1511 | Location: Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany

Saalburg

The Saalburg is a Roman fort located on the Taunus ridge northwest of Bad Homburg. It is a Cohort Fort belonging to the Limes Germanicus, the Roman linear border fortification of the German provinces. The Saalburg, located just off the main road roughly halfway between Bad Homburg and Wehrheim is the most completely reconstructed Roman fort in Germany. Since 2005, as part of the Upper German limes, it forms part of a UNES ...
Founded: 90-135 AD | Location: Bad Homburg, Germany

Masters' Houses

In 1925, the city of Dessau commissioned Walter Gropius with the construction of three semidetached houses for the Bauhaus masters and a detached house for its director. The plot lies in a small pine-tree wood where Ebertallee stands today – one of the axes of the Dessau Wörlitz Garden Realm between the Seven Pillars of the Georgium and Amaliensitz. In 1926, Gropius and the Bauhaus masters László Moholy-Nagy and Lyon ...
Founded: 1925-1926 | Location: Dessau-Rosslau, Germany

Schloss Weimar

Schloss Weimar was the residence of the dukes of Saxe-Weimar and Eisenach, and has also been called Residenzschloss. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site 'Classical Weimar'. In history, the palace was often destroyed by fire. The Baroque palace from the 17th century, with the church Schlosskirche where several works by Johann Sebastian Bach were premiered, was replaced by a Neoclassical structure after a fire in ...
Founded: 1619 | Location: Weimar, Germany

Trier Amphitheater

The Roman Amphitheater in Trier is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The arena, built in the 2nd century A.D. for cruel games with gladiators and animals, had a seating capacity of about 20,000. When you enter the premises you walk through the ruins of the entrance gate. This was used as a quarry in the Middle Ages. The arena itsel ...
Founded: 100-200 AD | Location: Trier, Germany

Naumburg Cathedral

Naumburg Cathedral is a renowned landmark of the German late Romanesque and has been recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2018. The west choir with the famous donor portrait statues of the twelve cathedral founders (Stifterfiguren) and the Lettner, works of the Naumburg Master, is one of the most significant early Gothic monuments. The history of the town of Naumburg begins at the turn of the 9th and ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Naumburg (Saale), Germany

Rheinfels Castle Ruins

Rheinfels Castle construction was started in 1245 by Count Diether V of Katzenelnbogen. After expansions, it was the largest fortress in the Middle Rhein Valley between Koblenz and Mainz. It was slighted by French Revolutionary Army troops in 1797. The main entrance to the castle complex is a tall square clock or gate tower (~1300 AD) opposite the hotel. A connecting path joins the clock tower to the remains of the livin ...
Founded: 1245 | Location: Sankt Goar, Germany

Boppard Roman Fort

Boppard’s most famous sight is a castrum, a Roman Fort. The military camp of Bodobrica was established here in 360 AD. It is thought to be the best preserved example north of the Alps today. It once had 28 towers, and was a commercial centre as well as a fort. It was 308 × 154 metres and formed a rectangle of 4,7 hectare. The walls were 3 metres thick to the land side and 2,5 metres thick to the Rhine side. W ...
Founded: 360 AD | Location: Boppard, Germany

St. Michael's Church

The Church of St. Michael is an early-Romanesque church in Hildesheim. It has been on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list since 1985 together with near St. Mary"s Cathedral. Bishop Bernward of Hildesheim (996-1022) built a Benedictine monastery from the ground up on a hill near the city walls. Bernward set the first stone for the new church in 1010 and dedicated the still unfinished building to Michael on the ar ...
Founded: 1010-1022 | Location: Hildesheim, Germany

Boosenburg Castle Ruins

The Boosenburg Castle consists of high keep (donjon) and 9m wide moat. It was probably built in the 12th century. In 1838 all buildings around the keep were torn down and the new Neo-Gothic manor was built in 1872.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Rüdesheim am Rhein, Germany

Electoral Castle

The Electoral Castle, with its solid construction and bulky tower, forms the townscape and portrays the power of its builder, the Archbishop and Elector of Trier. The castle had many purposes. It was a fortification to keep enemies out, a stronghold to keep the Boppard nobles at bay and a toll castle for collecting toll from the ships passing Boppard and filling the Elector’s pockets. Like most castles along the Rhine, ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Boppard, Germany

Electoral Palace

The Electoral Palace was the residence of the last Archbishop and Elector of Trier, Clemens Wenceslaus of Saxony, who commissioned the building in the late 18th century. It was erected between 1777–1793. In the mid-19th century, the Prussian Crown Prince (later Emperor Wilhelm I) had his official residence there during his years as military governor of the Rhine Province and the Province of Westphalia. It now houses ...
Founded: 1777-1793 | Location: Koblenz, Germany

Rheinstein Castle

Rheinstein castle was constructed around 1316-1317. It was important for its strategic location. By 1344, the castle was in decline. By the time of the Palatine War of Succession, the castle was very dilapidated. During the romantic period in the 19th century, Prince Frederick of Prussia (1794–1863) bought the castle and it was rebuilt. In 1975 the opera singer Hermann Hecher bought the castle. It"s due to him ...
Founded: 1316 | Location: Trechtingshausen, Germany

Bauhaus University

Between 1919 and 1933, the Bauhaus School, based first in Weimar and then in Dessau, revolutionised architectural and aesthetic concepts and practices. The buildings created and decorated by the school"s professors (Henry van de Velde, Walter Gropius, Hannes Meyer, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Wassily Kandinsky) launched the Modern Movement, which shaped much of the architecture of the 20th century and beyond. The main bu ...
Founded: 1904 | Location: Weimar, Germany

Margravial Opera House

The Margravial Opera House is a Baroque opera house built between 1744 and 1748. It is one of Europe's few surviving theatres of the period and has been extensively restored. In 2012 the opera house was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It was built according to plans designed by the French architect Joseph Saint-Pierre (de) (ca. 1709 – 1754), court builder of the Hohenzollern margrave Frederick of Brandenbu ...
Founded: 1744-1748 | Location: Bayreuth, Germany

Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex

The Zollverein industrial complex, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, consists of the complete infrastructure of a historical coal-mining site, with some 20th-century buildings of outstanding architectural merit. It constitutes remarkable material evidence of the evolution and decline of an essential industry over the past 150 years. The Zollverein is an important example of a European primary industry of great economic sign ...
Founded: 1847 | Location: Essen, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.