All of this is packed into a country that would fit three times into Ontario, and five times into the Province of Quebec. And there are now some tourist activities that just were not possible before the unification of Germany. For example Germany was the cradle of the Reformation and the rebel monk, professor and church reformer Martin Luther, is one of Germany`s greatest sons. It was nearly 500 years ago that Luther nailed his famous 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. The regions of Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Saxony are home to many of the sites associated with Luther, and it was only when the Berlin Wall came down 25 years ago that visitors were once again able to retrace his steps.
2014 is a very special year for Germany with the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and there are many special events planned.
Visitors to Berlin have many choices to experience the history of the Wall and what it meant to the city and the people of Berlin. These include:
To mark the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, there is also a series of new exhibitions in Berlin devoted to the division of Germany and life in the former East Germany.
From 9 November 2014, the permanent exhibition at the Berlin Wall Documentation Centre will reopen its doors to the public after a year's renovation. It offers detailed information on the history and politics behind the building of the Berlin Wall
The GDR museum provides insights on the everyday life in East Germany. It is an interactive museum - encouraging visitors to open doors, pull out drawers and press buttons. You can learn about the school system in the GDR, the Stasi police surveillance, how a former living room would have been decorated and furnished and much more.
There are also other events in Germany to celebrate this landmark event – especially in Leipzig, which played a pivotal role in history leading up to the fall of the Wall. Peaceful protests in Leipzig led to the eventual toppling of the Berlin Wall and the regime behind it.
The Festival of Lights composed of audio, video and light installations on October 9, 2014 remembers the 70,000 citizens of Leipzig who, candles in hand, defied dire Stasi police warnings and took to the streets that night to demonstrate for more freedom in the GDR. They sparked a movement that grew steadily across the GDR to become the “Peaceful Revolution” that paved the way for the fall of the Berlin Wall five weeks later and German reunification 12 months after that.
Since reunification people all over Germany have become more wide ranging in their thinking, and the creative and cultural economy in Germany has got stronger and stronger. “Created in Germany” has become a driving force that complements the world-famous “made in Germany” label. Painters, architects and artisans as well as international cultural events are all embracing the nation`s creative potential, which is evident wherever you go.
Decorating Christmas trees. Hiding Easter eggs. You would be surprised to learn how many common customs originated in Germany. In fact Germany offers an extraordinary heritage of traditions as beloved as Christmas Markets and Cuckoo Clocks and as delicious as Frankfurt Green Sauce and Black Forest Gateau! In Germany traditions and customs are part of people’s everyday lives and visitors have the opportunity to join with the locals to enjoy some unique vacation experiences.
You can discover the culinary heritage of Germany when you taste the local and regional cuisine. Delight in German artistry and creativity as you enjoy local arts, crafts and music. And join in living traditions with the many festivals and customs found in both cities and rural areas alike.
The sausage is perhaps the best known, but of course it is only one of the many culinary traditions in Germany. Black Forest Gateau is also well known - but there is everything food wise from gherkins to chocolate and beer to gingerbread. Here are just a few examples…..
Spreewald is a beautiful region approximately 100 km south of Berlin that is famous for its gherkins. And Germans love their spreewald gherkins! There are mustard gherkins, pepper gherkins, sour gherkins, garlic gherkins....all celebrated during the gherkin festival in August where you can try all the different varieties. Gherkin recipes are well kept secrets that are passed down over generations.
Knödel are large, round, poached or boiled dumplings that are made of potato or bread and without yeast. There is a huge variety and you can add bread crumbs, bacon and so on. Knödel is typically served either as a side dish with hearty meat and sauce - or it can be a main dish and there is even sweet Knödel, too.
Berliner Weisse is either a red or green beer and it is usually taken with a shot of raspberry or woodruff-flavored syrup that cuts the brew's tartness. It is served in a bowl shaped glass and used to be the most popular beer in Berlin in the 19th century.
Aachener Printen is a very popular kind of ginger cookie, but unlike ginger bread the printen are sweetened with sugar beets. Printen have been produced since 1820 and you can find them in the Christmas markets packaged in nice boxes that make them a lovely gift to take home.
And there are lots of other tasty Christmas Traditions in Germany as well! Dresden Stollen cake is very much linked to the history of the city Dresden and its former kings. It is made with flour, butter, dried fruits, almonds and marzipan and it is delicious! It is also known as "Strietzel" and the Dresden “Striezelmarkt” is the oldest Christmas market in Germany.
Lübeck is known as the “Marzipan City” in Germany. Visitors from all around the world appreciate the attention to detail in each handcrafted marzipan figure. There is a wonderful exhibit in Lübeck dedicated to marzipan. On the ground floor you can see a miniature city of Lübeck made out of marzipan, and you will also find life sized marzipan figures. You can of course, try this delicacy for yourself and there is also a Museum and a cafe.
Everyone thinks of the German people as very creative people – and this is shown, for instance, by the vibrant modern arts and fashion design scene. This creativity has also been manifest over the centuries in the beautiful German handicrafts and in the strength of the manufacturing heritage in Germany.
The Royal Porcelain Manufactory is located close to the Tiergarten in Berlin and is world famous for its unique porcelain. You will find everything here from plates and cups to vases, candleholders and more. Each masterpiece is stamped with the famous cobalt blue scepter trademark which dates back to 1763.
The Erzgebirge Or (Ore Mountains) have a long history of coal mining. To supplement their income during wintertime, and also when the coal became more scarce, workers started creating exquisitely beautiful wooden handicraft. Nowadays, each piece is still handmade and you can find fabulous Christmas gifts in the markets such as whimsical nutcrackers, Christmas pyramids and candle arches.
Germany has such a strong industrial heritage that there are several UNESCO World Heritage sites that preserve this industrial background.
Between 1847 and 1986 Zollverein was the largest and most modern coal mine in the world. It contained five pits, an underground facility, a central coking plant, pit heaps, traffic infrastructure and workers’ housing. Nowadays, it is one of the most impressive industrial monuments on the planet and still the only facility in the world which so clearly demonstrates the complexity of the industry built around the ‘black gold’. As well as preserving it, the decision was taken to change the purpose of the industrial space. So, in addition to the Museum, there is a spectacular fifties style restaurant with a very young and energetic team of cooks.
The Fagus factory is a shoe factory that provides one of the first examples of early modern industrial architecture. In 1911 the owner wanted to break from tradition and set a new example. He commissioned architects Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer, who designed the first building anywhere in the world created with an exterior mainly of glass. The glass and steel facade and the huge, wrap-around corner windows free of supports lend the building an elegant feeling of lightness
Christmas Markets are one of the best loved and visited traditions of Germany. During the four weeks before Christmas Germans celebrate Advent, which is strongly linked to traditional Christmas markets. Often held in wonderful settings such a medieval town centres, the markets are full of treasures! You'll find plenty of hand-crafted Christmas decorations, cute little incense burners, wooden-carved toys and nativity scenes to place at the centre of your Christmas display. Germany's first Christmas market was recorded in 1393, and today there are thousands of them all over the country. The most popular are the Nuremberg Christkindelmarkt and the Strietzelmarket in Dresden. Part of the joy of the markets is that it is a great opportunity to meet the local people. It is very common in Germany to go with your colleagues after work and enjoy delicious mulled wine called Glühwein. Glühwein is made from red wine, sugar, cinnamon stick, lemon, oranges, anis, cloves and nutmeg.
There are so many living traditions ingrained in the German culture it is hard to pick just a few examples. Check out www.germany.travel for some more inspiring travel ideas that introduce you to the heritage of Germany.
2017 will see the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and the driving force behind this spiritual revolution was Germany’s Martin Luther. The Luther wedding - takes place every year in Wittenberg and celebrates the wedding on June 13, 1525 of the former monk Martin Luther and the escaped nun, Katharina von Bora. Expect to see colourful robes, musicians, jugglers, knights, merchants, delicacies of Wittenberg, historical markets and, of course, the historic parade that rounds up this great festival. More than 2000 “wedding guests” walk through the streets of Wittenberg.
Octoberfest is one of the most popular German festivals, and one that has been exported worldwide. The Bavaria Octoberfest, held in Munich, is the most popular funfair in Germany. It typically lasts for 16 days and visitors can enjoy attractions such as amusement rides, sidestalls and games, as well as a wide variety of traditional food such sausages, pretzel, potato dumplings (Knödel), Sauerkraut and Schweinshaxe (grilled ham hock).
The Carnival in Cologne is also referred to as the 5th season of the year or “crazy days”. Carnival season starts on November 11 at 11:11am where the mayor hands over power to a trio consisting of a prince, a peasant and a maiden. The actual celebrations are held during the 5 days leading up to Ash Wednesday. Everyone dresses up just like Halloween in scary or funny costumes and there are street parades and ghost parades all around the city. Many businesses are closed for the 5th season and often the folk still working will be dressed up as well. The most important procession is the one on Rose Monday, which by the church calendar is always the Monday before Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent. The big carnival wagons are filled with sweets and spectators call out “ALAAF” (which means “Cologne above all”) to ask for sweets to be thrown. The most popular carnival cities in Germany are Cologne, Mainz and Düsseldorf.
The historical old town of Frankfurt, nestled between the Emporer’s Cathedral and Römer City Hall, is currently being reconstructed according to the original plans. Here, time-honoured structures and new buildings will combine to form a new quarter reminiscent of its historical predecessor. And the Archaeological Garden, a Roman building site unearthed in the middle of the old town, will find itself structurally protected by the city’s new municipal centre.
The mixture of young and old continues. Frankfurt is the birthplace of Germany’s most celebrated author. J. W. von Goethe was born in 1749 and the Goethe-House in near the old town. While modern, internationally recognized museums on both sides of the River Main combine to form a unique promenade of culture and the arts known as the museum embankment. The Old Opera House in Frankfurt was erected in 1880 but totally destroyed during World War II. In 1981 the façade and the forecourt were reconstructed according to the original plans.
Alongside its many historic and cultural attractions, Frankfurt offers superb culinary and shopping opportunities. If you are interested in trying a glass of the famous Frankfurt apple wine, while also discovering the many sides of the Main metropolis, then go on a tour with the Apple Wine Express. This time-honoured streetcar takes its passengers on a merry ride through the city’s old town and Sachsenhausen. Apple wine has been Frankfurt’s most popular beverage for over 250 years. True apple wine aficionados enjoy their apple wine pure; only in special circumstances will they take it mixed with sparkling mineral water. This “watered down” version, known as “sauergespritzter”, is particularly popular amongst first-timers.
Apple wine tastes best when combined with local fare, such as loin ribs with sauerkraut, boiled eggs and potatoes with the famous Frankfurt green sauce, “handkäs’ with music” and the legendary frankfurters.
For over seven centuries, locals have been following the custom of eating green vegetables and herbs on Green Thursday, known to the English-speaking world as Maundy Thursday. This ancient tradition combines the Christian guidelines of Lent with the pre-Christian belief of saving the spirit of spring for the remainder of the year. The seven herbs found in the real Frankfurt Green Sauce are borage, chervil, garden cress, parsley, salad burnet, sorrel and chives. Normally, the dish is made with a combination of sour cream, mustard, mayonnaise and vegetable oil. The so-called “secret” blend varies from family to family and restaurant to restaurant.
“Handkäs’ with music” is another Frankfurt speciality. Handkäs’ is a German regional sour milk cheese. It gets its name from the traditional way of producing it – which is forming it by hand. It is a small yellow cheese with a pungent aroma. “Handkäs’ with music” is cheese served with a dressing of vinegar and oil, topped with chopped onions and caraway seeds, plus bread and butter. The “music” refers to the gas that raw onions usually generate! Traditional Frankfurt inns and taverns serve Handkäs’ with music and Leiterchen, the local version of spare ribs, Haxe mit Sauerkraut, or knuckle of pork, and Rippchen, the ever-popular loin ribs.
Long and slender in shape, the famous boiled pork sausage is Frankfurt’s oldest and most famous delicacy. Key characteristics of a proper Frankfurter are form, colour, firmness and, of course, taste.
Like the sausage, other popular Frankfurt specialties are also named after their hometown: Frankfurter Kranz, or Frankfurt Crown Cake, is a local favourite to have with your coffee. The Frankfurter Kranz was developed by an unknown master baker in 1735. It symbolizes a crown with the jewel-like cherries as decoration.
The many malls and shopping centres, both in Frankfurt’s city centre and outside, provide an excellent shopping experience and an opportunity to discover Frankfurt’s up-and-coming fashion designers. Arts and crafts may be found at the weekly flea markets down along the riverside. And for culinary delights, there’s the Kleinmarkthalle, the city’s famous central market, a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.
Frankfurt’s inhabitants love to party – so hundreds of street festivals, markets, traditional folk fairs and open-air events take place throughout the city every year. The Museum Embankment Festival ranks amongst Europe’s largest cultural celebrations. It features workshops and guided tours held at the museums as well as live music, stage performances and international cuisine on offer along the riverside. During Museum Night, some 40 Frankfurt and Offenbach museums remain open into the early hours of the morning, presenting a superb programme of culture and the arts. And revisiting the theme of “old and new” - some of the city’s folk fairs, such as the Dippemess and the Main Festival, date back to the Middle Ages. And the year always concludes with the time-honoured Frankfurt Christmas Market.
With so much to see and do, you may want to consider a Frankfurt Card during your stay. This provides:
Whether you are visiting Germany you will want to find a place to stay. Check out Maritim - an award winning Hotel Company and the most widely recognized of all German hotel groups.
Maritim is Germany's largest privately own hotel company with superior, luxury 4 four-star properties. They own 51 hotels of which 38 are in Germany. The portfolio includes centrally located city hotels, conveniently located airport hotels, coastal beach resorts, lakeside family hotels, course-adjoining golf hotels and parkland spa hotels.
The elegant accommodation, award winning restaurants, sought-after pubs and comprehensively equipped wellness facilities have made the name "Maritim" synonymous with excellence in German hospitality. One of the major ingredients in Maritim's recipe for success is its emphasis on wining and dining. Most hotels have multiple restaurants serving both regional specialties and a wide selection of international favourites. And regardless of which hotel, the day always gets off to a perfect start with Maritim's sumptuous breakfast buffet.
As an example, if you were travelling to Berlin this year, perhaps for the celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, you would have the choice of two Maritim hotels . And both these hotels offer FREE Internet!
The Maritim Hotel Berlin occupies a prime spot on the city's Tiergarten park in the tranquil diplomatic quarter, close to the "Kurfürstendamm" and the "Potsdamer Platz".
The Maritime ProArte Hotel Berlin is a 4-star superior design hotel in the middle of Berlin, between the Brandenburg Gate and the Gendarmenmarkt.
With both of these hotels you can also book a package deal that includes some special elements related to the fall of the Berlin Wall that includes:
When you fly to Germany, Frankfurt is a great choice as there are direct flights from Canada and there are excellent connections to the rest of Germany as well as the rest of Europe.
An airline to put on your list is Condor. Condor has a strong pedigree and will celebrate 60 years in business next year. It has been wholly owned since 2009 by Thomas Cook Group – probably the best known travel brand in existence, and one of the largest holiday companies in the world.
Condor flies NON-STOP from Canada to the heart of Europe and beyond. There are direct 3 flights per week from Toronto, plus if you are flying from Montreal or other cities around Canada you have the connections to meet up with your direct service from Toronto. Condor makes it easy through partnerships with WestJet and Air North
Condor is well known for its German punctuality, quality and safety due to the efficiency of their dedicated maintenance department. On board Condor offer modern refurbished cabins with all the little extras that make the difference on a transatlantic flight. Relax in your comfortable seat with an anti-thrombosis cushion, relax with mood lighting that is also said to help reduce jet lag, and enjoy the entertainment on your 9’’ screen seatback video.
Condor provides 3 classes of service - Business Class, Premium Economy Class and Economy Class. They are recognized as providing a very child friendly service – and they also offer child discounts. And speaking of discounts – check out their special deals and promotions and subscribe to their newsletter to keep abreast of all the latest deals.
Fly to Germany with Condor
Stay in Germany with Maritim Hotels