UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany

Lindstedt Palace

Lindstedt Palace is part of the ensemble of courtyards and gardens of Potsdam. It was built in the second half of the 19th century by Friedrich Wilhelm IV in late classicism style. The authors were four architect, including the famous Friedrich Ludwig Persius and Friedrich August Stüler. The palace is listed as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin.
Founded: 1858-1861 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Ehrenfels Castle Ruins

Ehrenfels Castle was (re-)built about 1212 at the behest of the Archbishop of Mainz as a defensive work against the constant attacks by Elector Palatine Henry V, who, as Imperial vicar of Franconia, strived to cut down the archbishop"s reach. Mainz staffed the castle with Burgmannen and erected a customs post controlling the shipping on the Rhine, supplemented by the Mouse Tower below at the river. Heavily damaged in ...
Founded: 1212 | Location: Rüdesheim am Rhein, Germany

Liebenstein Castle

Liebenstein Castle was probably built in the 13th century as well as near Sterrenberg castle. Both were owned by feodal lords of Bolanden (later Sponheim-Dannenfels). The gate tower was added 1363 and tower in 1380 and the castle was enlarged in the 15th century. However, already in 1529 it was abandoned and left to decay. The major restoration took place in 1977 and today Liebenstein is a hotel and restaurant.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Kamp-Bornhofen, 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

Bad Ems Spa Town

Bad Ems is a town in Rheinland Pfalz, Germany. It is the administrative seat of the Rhein-Lahn rural district and is well known as a spa on the river Lahn. In 2021, the town became part of the transnational UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name 'Great Spas of Europe'. The town was first mentioned in official documents in 880 and received its town charter in 1324. The Counts of Nassau and Katzenelnbogen rebu ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Bad Ems, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.