In Cologne, we visited the towering, twin-spired Gothic Cathedral. Cologne Cathedral is one of the world's largest churches and is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe. For four years, 1880-84, it was the tallest structure in the world, until the completion of the Washington Monument. It has the second-tallest church spires, only surpassed by the single spire of Ulm Cathedral, completed ten years later in 1890. Because of its enormous twin spires, it also presents the largest facade of any church in the world.
On our first afternoon in Germany, we took a Rhine Cruise past castle-crested cliffs, terraced vineyards, and trim, half-timbered towns. The Rhine River cuts through 820 miles of European heartland from Switzerland to the North Sea. In German, it is known as the Rhein.
In a magnificent hilltop setting of woodland and terraced gardens sits Heidelberg's magnificent, crumbling Schloss, probably the country's most famous castle. Sacked by French troops in 1689, it has remained a dignified ruin with romantic allure ever since.
Painters and poets from around the world have immortalized it in picture and word. Mark Twain described it as "the Lear of inanimate nature - deserted, discrowned, beaten by the storms, but royal still, and beautiful.
The castle is a combination of several buildings surrounding an innter courtyard. Each building highlights a different period of German architecture.
We walked the streets and alleys of Rothenberg taking in the ramparts and towers, cobbled lanes, and 16th-century houses.
This well preserved medieval town is home to a 13th-century Rathaus and is full of window boxes spilling colorful flowers.The city wall is more than a mile long. Later, we drove along the Romantic Road towards the Danube Valley and Munich.
The Romantic Road (Romantische Strasse), on the border with Austria, stretches for 180 miles from Wurzburg southward to Fussen. It is named for the dozens of medieval towns, villages, and castles that line its course.
Two of the most romantic and charming treats of this tourist area are the carriage rides and the interesting gift shops.
There are shops devoted to steins that are filled with hundreds of steins in various sizes. Regardless of the size, all of them have been intricately and colorfully designed, fitting containers for the many excellent German beers.
The cuckoo clock shops are filled with walls covered with delightfully detailed cuckoo clocks that are ringing with a symphony of "cuckoos". All the owners seem to speak English so it is easy to ask questions about the various types of cuckoo clocks.
When in Bavaria, do as the Bavarians do. It's off to the Hofbrauhaus, in Munich, where Bavarian musicians and folk dancers never fail to put everyone in a genuine Oktoberfest mood. This is probably Germany’s most famous beer hall and it deserves to be! The beer comes in huge steins and it's absolutely some of the best brew I've ever tasted. Now that is saying something!
Munich's famous Hofrauhaus was founded in 1589 by the Duke of Bavaria, Wilhelm V. It is one of one of Munich's oldest beeer halls. Hundreds of tourists visit it each year.
This picture below is a general view of the Olympic Stadium 1,000 foot high television tower located in the Schwimmhalle Park. The picture below on the right is a picture of Olympic Stadium. It was host to the 1972 Olympics.
In Nymphenburg, just to the west of Munich is located the spacious Nymphenberg Palace. Overjoyed by the birth of his son in 1664, King Ferdinand Maria had the central section of the palace built for his wife in the style of an Italian villa.The palace, along with it's park, is now one of the most famous sights in the Munich area.
The central pavilion has ceiling frescoes. It is a grand hall and occupies over three floors of the central palace.
The southern pavilions and wings house the Gallery of Beauties. Here, they have portrayed 28 beautiful women from all social classes of Munich.
The northern pavilions houses the chapel.
In the city of Munich, is the Marienplatz with its Old and New Town Hall. It has been the city's main square since 1158.
It is a pedestrian only area. It is still the prominent public square, the largest in Munich, and it still stands as the center of social activity in the city, much as it has throughout its history.
It was originally erected in 1638 to celebrate the end of Swedish occupation during the 30 year war.
The facade of the Marienplatz is gigantic. It was re-built in the late 19th century, an example of German "Grunderzeit style", a historical backdating style.
This is the original Old Town Hall which was destroyed by fire in 1460 and also again during the 2nd world war. The exterior looks plain when compared to surrounding buildings but the interior has been noted to be a masterpiece of medieval design.
The picture below is of one of the markets we visited.
King Ludwig II commissioned the construction of Linderhof Castle, where he spent a significant portion of his adult life in its remote setting. Initially, it was to be nothing more than a private hunting lodge for the king to enjoy. However, after a time, Ludwig declared that Linderhof would be a new Versailles and expanded the grounds. Linderhof grew in elegance and opulence. The French influence is evident in the broad courtyard and large shallow castle fountain. The surrounding gardens are especially beautiful. Linderhof castle includes a man made cave that is set into the mountainside. Inside the cave is a grotto with a lake.
The following pictures are of Linderhof Castle and its gardens.
Close to Linderhof Castle is Oberammergau. It is a peaceful town in the Bavarian Alps that comes alive every ten years to honor a vow made in 1633. During that year, the bubonic plague devastated much of Europe, leaving behind only misery and hunger. To escape the plague, the towns people promised to reenact the life of Christ once every decade, in the year ending in zero, forever. The death rate rose from 1632 to 1633. But in July of 1634, when the villagers produced the play, the death rate slowly subsided to one in the month after the play was first performed. The original performance by peasants took place in a field in 1634. Since then, the Passion Play has grown in sophistication and the ancient vow remains fulfilled.
The play is produced every 10 years, the last year it was produced was 2010.
Placed on the square in front of the passionhouse you will find this lovely statue and fountain. It's called "Jesus and the donkey statue". It depicts Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey while greeted with palm leaves.