Germany boasts a fascinating history and plenty of historic landmarks for tourists to discover. It boasts magical cities, intriguing landmarks, captivating stories and castles alike – making it an irresistible travel destination.
There is an abundance of castles, parks and gardens to discover as well as numerous museums in Germany. Here is a list of some of the most significant historic landmarks that should not be missed when traveling there.
The Brandenburg Gate
The Brandenburg Gate is one of Germany’s most renowned landmarks and it has a fascinating history. Constructed on the site of what used to be city gate connecting Berlin and Brandenburg an der Havel in 18th century, this neoclassical monument stands proud today as one of Germany’s iconic symbols.
Prussian King Frederick William II commissioned Carl G. Langhans to design it after the Propylaea at Athens. This sandstone structure is supported by six doric columns on either side, creating an iconic structure within Prussia.
In 1793, Johann Gottfried Schadow’s Quadriga statue crowned the gate. This sculpture depicted Victory as a goddess riding upon four horses in her chariot.
After Napoleon’s occupation of Berlin in 1806, Napoleon ordered that the chariot and statue be transported to Paris. When Prussian control was restored in 1814, however, the statue was restored with a Prussian eagle and Iron Cross decoration.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the Brandenburg Gate became a symbol of German unity and freedom. Thousands gathered there to celebrate, making it an attractive tourist attraction even today. Additionally, it has served as the backdrop for numerous speeches, celebrations and concerts over time.
The Monument to the Battle of Nations
The Monument to the Battle of Nations, situated in Leipzig, Germany, stands as a striking reminder of an iconic event from 1813: the Battle of Nations. Consecrated in 1913, this striking structure serves to honor this significant occasion.
It stands 91 metres (299 ft) high and features over 500 steps leading up to the viewing platform at the top, offering stunning views of the city. Made up largely from concrete and featuring granite facings, this landmark stands 91 metres (299 feet) high.
This breathtaking structure is one of Europe’s tallest, completed just in time for the centennial celebrations of the battle. Constructed out of 27,000 granite blocks and tons of sandstone, it stands 88 meters high.
Inside, it is divided into two sections: a crypt and the Hall of Fame. On the first floor is an altar decorated with eight large statues depicting fallen warriors; while on the second story are four 9.5-metre (31 ft) statues that represent four legendary qualities associated with German people: bravery, faith, sacrifice and fertility.
This majestic 91 metre (300 ft) temple near Leipzig stands as a tribute to freedom and those who fought for it. Crafted over fifteen years, it has become one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.
The Beethoven Monument
On Bonn’s Munsterplatz stands a bronze statue of the renowned composer Ludwig van Beethoven. Erected in 1845, its design features allegoric representations of various types of music composed by Beethoven.
This monument is especially notable in that Franz Liszt was instrumental in its commission and funding, writing a cantata to mark its inauguration.
In addition to the monument, there are other tributes to Beethoven throughout Bonn. Visitors can tour his birthplace in the city centre as well as other museums and landmarks related to him.
The Beethoven House, established in 1889 and situated in the city’s historic center, houses one of the world’s largest collections of Beethoven artifacts. This museum houses music manuscripts, paintings, furniture and even his last piano – as well as a permanent exhibition as well as changing thematic displays that provide different perspectives on his life and works.
The Eagle’s Nest
The Eagle’s Nest, also known as Kehlsteinhaus, is an iconic landmark located atop Kehlstein mountain in Obersalzberg. It’s a popular tourist destination that provides stunning views of the German Alps.
Hitler ordered this building as a tea house to celebrate his 50th birthday in 1939, and later converted it into a restaurant.
Today the building is a three-room restaurant with few artifacts and often obscured by fog. However, the road leading up to it and tunnel used by Hitler to reach his elevator remain stunning features in any weather condition.
The Eagle’s Nest stands as an exception among German historical monuments that did not suffer damage during World War II bombings. Plus, it’s relatively close to Salzburg by car or train, making it a popular tourist destination.
For optimal enjoyment, it is best to join a tour. These excursions last around four hours and include all transport costs as well as admission fees.
The Golden Rider Statue
The Golden Rider Statue, commonly referred to as the Goldener Reiter, is one of Dresden’s most recognizable landmarks. Crafted by Ludwig Wiedemann out of copper covered in gold, it was inaugurated in 1736 and stands as one of Dresden’s most impressive monuments.
Augustus the Strong, who served as both Polish King and Saxon Elector, is commemorated with this monument located on New Town Square – one of Germany’s most popular tourist destinations.
This statue of the Emperor on his horse is an impressive work of art that captures the movement and strength of a powerful animal in sculpture. The horse raises its right foreleg at the knee while planting its left foreleg firmly on the ground.
Furthermore, the emperor extends his right hand outward in a gesture commonly associated with peace and clemency in Roman culture. This gesture may be seen as the emperor offering their enemy the gift of peace or signifying that he is willing to forgive them for any past wrongs they have committed.
There is a longstanding myth regarding equestrian statues: If the horse’s front hooves are up in the air, then its rider died during battle; if only one front hoof is raised, then they were wounded or died from battle wounds; and if all four hooves are on the ground then it appears they died from non-battle related causes. However, this rule isn’t always adhered to and many statues exist which don’t follow it exactly.
The Neptune Fountain
At Alexanderplatz in Vienna, the Neptune Fountain invites visitors to stop and admire its intricate sculptures. Commissioned by Pope Pius IV in 1563, it features a majestic bronze statue of Neptune riding his chariot drawn by four horses. Surrounding him are an array of demigod figures: three young Tritons, four Neptune’s daughters and two marine divinities.
In 1878 Antonio della Bitta and Gregorio Zappala added statues to the Neptune Fountain, with Della Bitta creating its centerpiece depicting Neptune fighting an octopus. He also sculpted Nereids with cupids and walruses for other parts of the fountain.
The symbol on one side of the Neptune Fountain’s base, which appears as a compass and square, is actually a sextant–a tool used by mariners to calculate their location. It’s accompanied by a compass rose.
The Neptune Fountain is an iconic landmark that honors water’s importance. Situated between St Mary’s Church and Rotes Rathaus (Berlin City Hall), this fountain symbolizes the importance of water to mankind.
The Walhalla Hall of Fame
The Walhalla is a hall of fame in Germany that honors notable individuals. Situated above the Danube River in Donaustauf, east of Regensburg in Bavaria, it was originally constructed as a neoclassical building during World War I.
King Ludwig I founded this hall as an homage to Valholl (commonly referred to as Valhalla), the great hall in Norse mythology where warriors battled and were gloriously slain.
Ludwig I sought to honor not just military heroes, but a wide range of notable people from German history. While some kings and other nobles were honored, he also recognized many scientists, artists, and writers.
At Walhalla, you’ll find a vast collection of iconic personalities such as Martin Luther and Beethoven. Their statues, along with those of Albrecht Durer and Johann Gutenberg, exude an ageless elegance that is truly captivating.
Other noteworthy figures enshrined at the Walhalla include poet Heinrich Heine and composers Richard Strauss and Johann Sebastian Bach. Additionally, Albert Einstein and Sophie Scholl are notable figures within its walls.