Germany

Spotlight on Germany

Germany wears its riches well: elegant big-city charm, small picture-postcard towns, pagan-inspired harvest festivals, a wealth of art and culture and the perennial pleasures of huge tracts of forest, delightful castles and fine wine and beer are all there for the savoring. Deep in the heart of Europe, Germany has had a seminal impact on Continental history. From Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire to Otto von Bismarck's German Reich, Nazism and the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall, no other nation has molded Europe the way Germany has.

Berlin is without doubt the most fascinating city in Germany. Covering around 341 square miles Berlin is a unique landscape. With its numerous parks, lakes and wooded areas it is sometimes easy to forget that Berlin is the capital of Germany. The troubled history of this celebrated capital has for many years attracted tourists from around the world. It is estimated around 80% of Berlin was destroyed during the Second World War; landmarks like the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church stand as a lasting reminder of the mass destruction this city once endured. Perhaps one of Berlin's most famous landmarks is the Berlin Wall, the 'iron curtain' that divided this great city into two halves between 1961 and 1989. The East was governed by communism while the West was allowed to flourish under a democratic capitalist government. Even now, over a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the differences between the former East and West are still very apparent. Berlin has an undeniable air of mystery that has always been and always will be a major draw for tourists from around the world.

Munich - Home of the world-famous Oktoberfest, the Hofbrauhaus and beergarden-experience, Munich has become one of the most modern and prosperous cities in post-war Germany. Munich offers museums, art galleries, concert halls and historical buildings, beergarden atmosphere on a warm summer night and the hottest dance hall scene in Germany. The area around Munich has mountains, lakes, fairy-tale-castles, winter sport centers and treasures like the monastery-and-brewery of Andechs. Among "must-sees" in Munich, are a walk on the high-level-shopping mile of Maximilianstrasse, a visit of Monopterus building and the "Chinesischer Turm" beergarden on a warm summer day, a match of two main local soccer clubs in Olympic stadium, a visit to "Deutsche Museum", a beer in the students' pubs, and an afternight breakfast in the cafe "Schmalznudel" at Viktualienmarkt. For history, go to a museum, visit the castle of Nymphenburg or get confronted with the dark side of German history in Dachau concentration camp memorial site.

Frankfurt is the city of the International Book Fair, the National Library - a city encompassing a variety of publishing houses, libraries and bookshops. In its museums, exhibition halls, and art galleries, Frankfurt displays its distinct style of contemporary and historical art and culture. Frankfurt's high-rises form part of the city's identity. The skyline is unique, thanks to its extraordinary architectural blend of tradition and modernity. Europe's largest skyscraper is also situated here, the Commerzbank building. Frankfurt is home to one of the world's finest ballet ensembles. Frankfurt is a metropolis for techno and dance music, which lends the city a reputation of musical magnetism. The city's numerous theaters and theater groups, the opera, and the concert house Alte Oper offer Frankfurt's stage aficionados and lovers of fine arts a comprehensive and diverse program.

Dresden is located along the river Elbe in the German state of Saxony and is known as a center for fine arts and science. Beautiful landscaping along the Elbe can be seen in the Elbe meadows and slopes. -- The Altmarkdt (Old Market Square) dating back to the year 1370 has a rebuilt town hall and 18th century Landhaus where the state museum is housed. -- Grober Garten Park is the largest central park in Dresden that boasts a zoo and botanical gardens. -- The Zwinger is Dresden's baroque showpiece that houses the Old Masters Picture Gallery, Porcelain Collection, and Zoological Museum.  -- The Frauenkirche Church, Semper Opera House, and Royal Palace are historical monuments that can be seen in Dresden as well.

Rothenburg -- Of the many towns along the Romantic Road, Rothenburg is the most lovable. Today it’s Germany's best-preserved medieval walled town, enjoying tremendous popularity. Those spending a night in Europe’s most exciting medieval town risk actually hearing sounds of the Thirty Years’ War still echoing through its turrets and clock towers. This is a great place to do German shopping. A thousand years of history are packed between the cobbles. The walk around Rothenburg’s medieval wall offers great views. For the best view of the town and surrounding countryside, make the rewarding climb to the top of Town Hall Tower. Rothenburg’s Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum is fascinating. St. Jacob’s Church contains the one must-see art treasure in Rothenburg, a glorious 500-year-old altarpiece by Riemenschneider, the Michelangelo of German woodcarvers. Take a walk through Tauber Valley's trail leading downhill from Rothenburg’s idyllic castle gardens to a 600-year-old castle, the summer home of Mayor Toppler.

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Agents who have been to Germany...