UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany

Bremen Town Hall and Roland Statue

Bremen Town hall was built between 1405 and 1410 and the Weser Renaissance facade added in the 17th century. The Town Hall and the statue of Roland on the marketplace are outstanding representations of civic autonomy and sovereignty, as these developed in the Holy Roman Empire in Europe. The old town hall was built in the Gothic style in the early 15th century, after Bremen joined the Hanseatic League. The building was re ...
Founded: 1404-1410 | Location: Bremen, 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

Völklingen Ironworks

The Völklingen Ironworks in western Germany close to the border with France cover 6 ha and are a unique monument to pig-iron production in Western Europe. No other historic blast-furnace complex has survived that demonstrates the entire process of pig-iron production in the same way, with the same degree of authenticity and completeness, and is underlined by such a series of technological milestones in innovative eng ...
Founded: 1881 | Location: Völklingen, 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

Jagdschloss Glienicke

Jagdschloss Glienicke is a small German hunting lodge in Berlin-Wannsee. It was built in 1682 by Charles Philippe Dieussart for Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg and completed in 1693 during the reign of Frederick William I of Prussia. Frederick I of Prussia used it as a military hospital. In 1763, Frederick II of Prussia gave it as a present to Isaac Levin Joel, a wallpaper and carpet maker who used it for wallpa ...
Founded: 1682 | Location: Wannsee, Germany

Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe is a unique landscape park in Kassel. The area of the park is 2.4 square kilometres, making it the largest European hillside park, and second largest park on a mountain slope in the world. Descending a long hill dominated by a giant statue of Hercules, the monumental water displays of Wilhelmshöhe were begun by Landgrave Carl of Hesse-Kassel in 1689 around an east-west axis and were develop ...
Founded: 1689 | Location: Bad Wilhelmshöhe, Germany

Reichenstein Castle

Reichenstein Castle, also called Falkenburg, is located above Trechtingshausen. The large construction is one of the spectacular examples of the castle reconstruction in neo-Gothic style. Reichenstein Castle, built in the 11th century, was owned by a robber-baron. Therefore it was destroyed in 1253 and again in 1282. It decayed since the 16th century. In 1834 Friedrich Wilhelm von Barfuß started the reconstruction. Baro ...
Founded: 1100 | Location: Trechtingshausen, 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

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

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

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 Fran&ccedi ...
Founded: 1725-1768 | Location: Brühl, Germany

Gutenfels Castle

Gutenfels Castle was built in 1220. It was used with Pfalzgrafenstein Castle in the middle of the Rhein and the fortified town of Kaub on the far side to provide an impenetrable toll zone for the Holy Roman Emperor until Prussia purchased the area (1866) and ended this toll in 1867. This castle, primarily owned (since 1257) by the Falkenstein family, is one of the most important examples of the Hohenstaufen military and ...
Founded: 1220 | Location: Kaub, Germany

Katz Castle

Count Wilhelm II of Katzenelnbogen built the Katz Castle in the second half of the 14th century. Katz Castle was used as bastion and military base to protect the Rheinfels Castle. Together they formed a fortified bulwark with a barrier for levying of the Rhine toll. The extended view up to the bend of the river at the Loreley was also of great importance to secure salmon fishing. Due to the intentionally chosen location o ...
Founded: c. 1371 | Location: Sankt Goarshausen, Germany

Pfalzgrafenstein Castle

Pfalzgrafenstein Castle is a toll castle known also as 'the Pfalz'. This former stronghold is famous for its picturesque and unique setting. The keep of this island castle, a pentagonal tower with its point upstream, was erected 1326 to 1327 by King Ludwig the Bavarian. Around the tower, a defensive hexagonal wall was built between 1338 to 1340. In 1477 Pfalzgrafenstein was passed as deposit to the Count of Katz ...
Founded: 1326 | Location: Kaub, Germany

Melanchthonhaus

The Melanchthonhaus is a writer"s house museum in the German town of Lutherstadt Wittenberg. It is a Renaissance building with late Gothic arched windows and the broad-tiered gables. It includes the study of the Protestant Reformer Philipp Melanchthon, who lived there with his family. In 1954 the house became a museum on Melanchthon"s life and work displaying paintings, prints and manuscripts by him and h ...
Founded: 1536 | Location: Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany

Heimburg Castle

Heimburg castle was built from 1294 on as a bastion in the Electorate of Mainz against the Palatines. It decayed later and was destroyed by the French in 1689. In the 19th century it was rebuilt by the industrialist Hugo Stinnes.
Founded: 1294 | Location: Niederheimbach, 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

Lutherhaus

The Lutherhaus is a writer's house museum in Lutherstadt Wittenberg. Originally built 1504 as part of the University of Wittenberg, the building was the home of Martin Luther for most of his adult life and a significant location in the history of the Protestant Reformation. Luther was living here when he wrote his 95 Theses. The Augusteum is an expansion to the original building that was constructed after Lut ...
Founded: 1504 | Location: Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany

Church of the Redeemer

The Protestant Church of the Redeemer (Heilandskirche) is famous for its Italian Romanesque Revival architecture with a separate campanile (bell tower) and for its scenic location. It was built in 1844. The design was based on drawings by King Frederick William IV of Prussia, called the Romantic on the Throne. The building was realized by Ludwig Persius, the king"s favorite architect. The church is situated on the ba ...
Founded: 1844 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Schönburg Castle

Schönburg Castle was first mentioned in history between the years 911 and 1166. From the 12th century, the Dukes of Schönburg ruled over the town of Oberwesel and had also the right to levy customs on the Rhine river. The most famous was Friedrich von Schönburg - a much-feared man known as “Marshall Schomberg” - who in the 17th century served as a colonel and as a general under the King of Franc ...
Founded: 1100-1149 | Location: Oberwesel, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.