UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany

Pfingstberg Belvedere

The Belvedere on the Pfingstberg is a palace in the northern part of the New Garden in Potsdam, atop Pfingstberg mountain. It was commissioned by Friedrich Wilhelm IV and is only one part of an originally substantially more extensive building project. The twin-towered building was modeled on of Italian Renaissance architecture, and it was built between 1847 and 1863 with an interruption from 1852 to 1860. From sketches of ...
Founded: 1847-1863 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Stahleck Castle

The exact building year of Stahleck castle is not known, but it has been proved that the castle was already occupied since the year 1095. It's first mentioned in documents in the year 1135 under Goswin von Hochstadt. Until 1148 almost 10 years of fight followed for the rights of the Stahleck. In the year 1156, after the death of Hermann of Stahleck, his stepbrother Konrad von Hohenstaufen became count palatine of Bachara ...
Founded: c. 1135 | Location: Bacharach, 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

Babelsberg Palace

Babelsberg Palace lies in the eponymous park and quarter of Potsdam, the capital of the German state of Brandenburg. For over 50 years it was the summer residence of Prince William, later Emperor William I and his wife, Augusta of the House of Saxe-Weimar. On 22 September 1862 in the palace and adjoining park the discussion between King William I and Bismarck took place that ended with the nomination of Bismarck as Minist ...
Founded: 1835-1849 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Glienicke Palace

Glienicke Palace was designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel for Prince Carl of Prussia in 1826, The building, originally merely a cottage, was turned into a summer palace in the late classical style. Particularly striking are two golden lion statues in front of the frontage, which were also designed by Schinkel. The lions are versions of the Medici lions from the Villa Medici. In the palace are antique objets d"art, whi ...
Founded: 1826 | Location: Wannsee, Germany

Brömserburg Castle

Once situated directly on the banks of the Rhine, Brömserburg Castle was owned by the Archbishops of Mainz from the beginning of the 10th to the beginning of the 19th century. During the 12th century they converted the old fortress into a castle residence. With its vaulted ceilings and walls of more than two metres thick, it successfully provided resistance against any attack. One exception was the destruction of the cas ...
Founded: c. 1000 AD | Location: Rüdesheim am Rhein, 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

Tiefurt Mansion and Park

Built in 1765 as a tenement house for a grand ducal demesne, Schloss Tiefurt served from 1776 as the residence of Prince Friedrich Ferdinand Constantin, the younger brother of the reigning Duke Carl August of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. After the expansion of the tenement house to a country mansion, he and his tutor Karl Ludwig von Knebel designed a landscaped park in English style. Meandering paths were laid together with the ...
Founded: 1776 | Location: Weimar, Germany

Imperial Abbey of Corvey

The Imperial Abbey of Corvey or Princely Abbey of Corvey was a Benedictine abbey. The site is located along the Weser River on the outskirts of Höxter where the Carolingian Westwork and Civitas Corvey were erected between AD 822 and 885 in a largely preserved rural setting. The Westwork (monumental, west-facing entrance) is the only standing structure that dates back to the Carolingian era, while the original imperial ab ...
Founded: 844 AD | Location: Corvey, Germany

Roman Bridge

The Roman Bridge (Römerbrücke) is an ancient structure in Trier over the Moselle river. It is the oldest standing bridge in the country. The nine bridge pillars date from the 2nd century AD. The upper part was renewed twice, in the early 12th and in the early 18th century, after suffering destruction in war. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier U ...
Founded: 100-200 AD | Location: Trier, 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

Muskau Park

The Muskau or Muskauer Park is the largest and one of the most famous English gardens of Germany and Poland. Situated in the historic Upper Lusatia region, it covers 3.5 square kilometers of land in Poland and 2.1 km2 in Germany. The park extends on both sides of the Lusatian Neisse, which constitutes the border between the countries. A fortress on the Neisse at Muskau was first mentioned as early as the 13th century und ...
Founded: 1811 | Location: Bad Muskau, Germany

Monastic Island of Reichenau

The island of Reichenau on Lake Constance preserves the traces of the Benedictine monastery, founded in 724, which exercised remarkable spiritual, intellectual and artistic influence. The churches of St Mary and Marcus, St Peter and St Paul, and St George, mainly built between the 9th and 11th centuries, provide a panorama of early medieval monastic architecture in central Europe. Their wall paintings bear witness to impr ...
Founded: 724 AD | Location: Insel Reichenau, Germany

Marmorpalais

The Marmorpalais (marble palace) was a royal residence commissioned by Frederick William II of Prussia and designed in the early classicist style by the architects Carl von Gontard and (from 1789) Carl Gotthard Langhans, designer of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. The Marmorpalais was reserved for the private use of the king, who had an artistic temperament. With this new construction the nephew and successor of Frederick the ...
Founded: 1787-1792 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Lorsch Abbey

The religious complex represented by the former Lorsch Abbey with its 1,200-year-old gatehouse, which is unique and in excellent condition, comprises a rare architectural document of the Carolingian era with impressively preserved sculpture and painting of that period. It gives architectural evidence of the awakening of the West to the spirit of the early and high Middle Ages under the first king and emperor, Charlemagne. ...
Founded: 764 AD | Location: Lorsch, 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

Hufeisensiedlung

The Hufeisensiedlung is a housing estate in Berlin, built in 1925-33. It enjoys international renown as a milestone of modern urban housing. It was designed by architect Bruno Taut, municipal planning head and co-architect Martin Wagner, garden architect Leberecht Migge and Neukölln gardens director Ottokar Wagler. In 1986 the ensemble was placed under German heritage protection. On July 7, 2008, it was awarded UNESC ...
Founded: 1925-1933 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz

The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz, located in Saxony-Anhalt in the Middle Elbe Region, is an exceptional example of landscape design and planning from the Age of the Enlightenment in the 18th century. Its diverse components – the outstanding buildings, English-style landscaped parks and gardens, and subtly modified expanses of agricultural land – served aesthetic, educational, and economic purposes in an exemplary ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Oranienbaum-Wörlitz, 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

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.