UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany

Martin Luther's Birth House

Martin Luther"s Birth House (Martin Luthers Geburtshaus) is a museum in Eisleben, Germany. The actual house in which Luther was born no longer exists, it having been burnt completely to the ground in 1689. The German religious reformer Martin Luther was born there in 1483. Opened to the public in 1693, it is a World Heritage Site. In 2005-2007 an expansion was added for visitors; the ensemble has since rece ...
Founded: 1693 | Location: Eisleben, Germany

Maus Castle

Maus Castle construction was begun in 1356 by Archbishop-Elector of Trier Bohemond II and was continued for the next 30 years by successive Electors of Trier. The construction of Burg Maus was to enforce Trier"s recently acquired Rhine River toll rights and to secure Trier"s borders against the Counts of Katzenelnbogen (who had built Burg Katz and Burg Rheinfels). In the latter half of the 14th century Burg Maus ...
Founded: 1356 | Location: Wellmich, Germany

Igel Column

The Igel Column is a multi-storeyed Roman sandstone column in the municipality of Igel, Trier, dated to c. 250 AD. The column represents a burial monument of the cloth merchant family of the Secundinii. Measuring 30 m in height, it is crowned by the sculptural group of Jupiter and Ganymede. The column includes a four-stepped base, a relatively low podium, topped by a projecting cornice, a storey, its flat Corinthi ...
Founded: c. 250 AD | Location: Igel, 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

Martinsburg Castle

Martinsburg Castle with its powerful hexagonal tower was built around 1324 as a toll station on the Rhine bank in Oberlahnstein. It was a toll castle in the Electorate of Mainz. The pictorial assembly was built together with the town fortification. The pointed gate in the east wall shows a delicate cast iron oriel with emblem (1395). The north wing probably contained the main rooms. The apartment tower in the northwest, ...
Founded: 1324 | Location: Lahnstein, Germany

Ettersburg Castle and Park

Ettersburg Castle lies on the edge of the forest on the northern side of the Grosse Ettersberg. This woodland has been the hunting ground for the Dukes of Weimar since the 17th century. Duke Wilhelm Ernst started building the castle at the beginning of the 18th century; the work was completed by his nephew Ernst August. From 1776 to 1780, the Dowager Duchess Anna Amalia of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach held her summer court in Ett ...
Founded: 1706 | Location: Ettersburg, Germany

Siemensstadt Housing Estate

The Siemensstadt Housing Estate (Großsiedlung Siemensstadt) is a nonprofit residential community in the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf district. It is one of the six Modernist Housing Estates in Berlin recognized in July 2008 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It was built between 1929 and 1931, under the overall master plan of German architect Hans Scharoun. Seven prominent Weimar-era architects took part: Scharoun, Fred ...
Founded: 1929-1931 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Fürstenberg Castle Ruins

Fürstenberg Castle was built in 1219 by the Archbishop of Cologne to protect his property and toll station. It was destroyed during the Palatine Wars of Succession. Victor Hugo was once impressed by its powerful shielding wall and keep. The former massive curtain wall has recently been restored and the remains of the original rendering have been exposed and are now visible again.
Founded: 1219 | Location: Rheindiebach, Germany

Wieland Estate

The Ossmannstedt estate is closely linked with the name of Christoph Martin Wieland (1733-1813). The poet purchased the Baroque complex of buildings and park in 1797 and lived there with his family for six years (see Wieland estate in Ossmannstedt). Even in Wieland’s day, very little of the original Baroque garden remained, as the previous owners had used the three terraces sloping down to the river Ilm for agricult ...
Founded: 1797 | Location: Oßmannstedt, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Externsteine Stones

The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.

In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.

The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.

The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.