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Landmarks of Germany I 26 Fairy-Tale Castles, Historic Sites & More

History, culture, and nature is the best way to sum up the essence of sightseeing in Germany. From incredible alpine panoramas and lush forests to historic cities and charming towns steeped in history, Germany has it all. Visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to finding exquisite sights in the land of sausages and beer.

It’s a country that boasts some of the world’s best artists, musicians, and philosophers, and is where the first car and internal combustion engine originated.

Boasting fairy-tale castles and palace parks, old cathedrals and magnificent monuments, the list is endless. Let’s discover some of the most spectacular landmarks in Germany you won’t want to miss.

Pssst…Keep your eyes peeled for some breathtaking sites as you discover these landmarks dotted in and around some of the most beautiful cities in Germany

26 Landmarks of Germany

1. Neuschwanstein Castle

If you’re into fairy tales, then you certainly won’t want to leave Germany without a trip to see the picturesque Neuschwanstein Castle.

Neuschwanstein Castle exterior against forest
Neuschwanstein Castle

The 19th-century castle sits nestled on a hill just outside the enchanting town of Füssen, in Bavaria. It’s situated between the Ammergau and Allgäu Alps, near a beautiful alpine resort, especially popular for its water sports.

King Ludwig II commissioned the palace as a tribute to German composer Richard Wagner. The final result was incredibly opulent. In fact, it was used as the basis for Walt Disney’s famed castle at Disney World.

Neuschwanstein Castle in Winter
Neuschwanstein Castle

It’s one of the most famous castles to visit, with various tour options offered. These include trips to see the sumptuous interiors and incredible art collections found in the Hall of the Singers and the Throne Room.

2. The Black Forest

The Black Forest, or Schwarzwald, is located in the south-west of Germany. It got its name from the impressive canopy hanging over the mountain range in Baden-Württemberg. Here you’ll find cuckoo clocks, ruined castles, and black forest cake, and yes, it’s as enchanting as it sounds.

Black Forest House Germany
Black Forest House

With more than 160 km of the wooded forest to explore, extending from Pforzheim in the north to the High Rhine in the south, it’s a hiker’s paradise. It’s one of the most stunning natural landmarks to visit in Germany, with an abundance of towering waterfalls, thermal hot springs, and glacier lakes.

Black Forest Rooftops Germany
Black Forest Rooftops

Popular places to include on your must-see list while you’re here is the Black Forest Railway in Triberg, Triberg itself, the Baden-Baden Spa, and the stunning ski area at Todtnau. So, grab a map and take a tour of this panoramic region.

3. Sanssouci Palace and Park

Located in Potsdam, the Sanssouci Palace is a historical structure that was built by the Prussian king, Fedrick the Great. The single-story palace was built in 1745, with an elliptical dome in the centre.

sanssouci palace in germany
sanssouci palace

The palace is notable for its spectacular interior decor, especially in the enormous Marble Hall. Its rooms are adorned with over-the-top embellishments and dotted with beautiful paintings, furnishings, and sculptures.

sanssouci palace germany
sanssouci palace

When you visit the palace, make sure you take a stroll around the stunning Sanssouci Park. It’s considered one of the most celebrated examples of Potsdam Rococo and reflects Frederick the Great’s personal tastes. Here you’ll find beautiful Baroque flower gardens, over 3,000 fruit trees and an array of greenhouses.

For an incredible time, take a city tour and discover castles and palaces in Potsdam.

4. The Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburg Gate is an iconic German landmark in Berlin and one of the most famous landmarks in Europe. Located in the Mitte district, it’s a neoclassical monument that was commissioned by the Prussian king, Fredrick William II, in the 18th-century.

Brandenburg Gate in Berlin at night. Germany.

The grand monument was constructed as the city gate and modelled in the style of the Acropolis in Athens. The colossal structure measures an impressive 26 meters in height and is one of Berlin’s most iconic designs that were once part of the infamous Berlin Wall.

One of the prime features of this beautiful sandstone building is a sculpture of the Goddess of Victory, The Quadriga, which is perched at the top of the gate. Enormous Doric columns are at either side of the entrance and were once used by guards and toll-collectors.

If you’re keen on sightseeing and discovering more famous landmarks in Berlin, join a tour to see almost 50 sights around the city.

5. Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom)

The Cologne Cathedral, also known as Kölner Dom, is one of the largest cathedrals in Europe and began construction in the 1200s. The Classical Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Mary is located on the banks of the Rhine and is an astonishing masterpiece of High Gothic architecture.

Cologne Germany
Cologne Germany

The cathedral took over six centuries to build and reaches an impressive height of 157 meters. It’s the tallest twin-helical church in the world and is one of Germany’s most visited landmarks.

cologne cathedral germany
cologne cathedral

To see some panoramic vistas over the city and river, climb the 533 steps to the viewing platform (in the south Tower). Alternatively, book a tour to discover more of Germany’s most iconic landmarks. The cathedral is open every day from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm.

6. Mainau Island in Lake Constance

One of Germany’s best natural landmarks, Insel Mainau, is an island nestled in the middle of Lake Constance. It covers 44 hectares and attracts plenty of visitors to its beautiful gardens, butterfly houses, and more. The best time to visit the island is in spring, where millions of flowers begin to bloom and blanket the fields. 

mainau island house germany lake constance
mainau island

It’s a rather romantic destination for picnicking and drinking in views of the surrounding lake, German shores, and the Swiss Alps as a backdrop. You can access the island by boat or by a pedestrian bridge.

There is also a dreamy 18th-century castle, Schloss Mainau, found on the island. The castle grounds feature historic structures like a defensive tower, the gatehouse, and the White Hall.

mainau island germany
mainau island

After touring the beautiful ‘flower island’, enjoy a delicious glass of wine or a delicious dinner at one of the many eateries on the isle.

7. Berlin’s Museum Island

When you’re in Berlin, you cannot miss out on visiting its world-famous Museum Island, also known as Museumsinsel. The unique ensemble consists of five museums built between 1824 and 1930.

museum island berlin
museum island berlin

The Unesco World Heritage Site showcases some of the most important cultural exhibits, including the bust of the Egyptian queen, Nefertiti. It sits on a 400-meter long canal that lies between the River Spree and Kupfergraben.

The museums are open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, and on Thursdays until 8:00 pm. They are closed on Mondays except for the Pergamon and Neues Museums, which stay open all week.

Bode Museum, Museum Island Berlin
Bode Museum, Museum Island Berlin

You’ll certainly want to get a skip-the-line ticket to see some of these antiques and royal treasures in one or two of these museums.

8. The Baths of Baden-Baden

The word “bad” means spa in German. So when a town is called not just bad but double bad then you know that it is serious when it comes to spa. Baden-Baden has 12 hot springs and has been a spa resort for centuries.

Friedrichsbad Baden Baden is the oldest and most traditional of the Baden-Baden Thermal Spa options. 140 years old, this beautiful spa combines traditional Roman Bathing Culture with Irish Hot Air Bathing and Baden Baden hot springs.

friedrichsbad baden baden
exterior of friedrichsbad baden baden

When Friedrichsbad spa opened back in 1877 it was considered to be the most modern bathing establishment in Europe. However, you will have to get totally naked to enjoy this German spa.

Caracalla Therme Spa Baden-Baden Germany has 43000 square feet of thermal waters, saunas, hot and cold pools and a stylish wellness lounge. It is extremely impressive. Caracalla Baden Baden has 12 curative thermal springs, a café, giant pools, outdoor areas – really it has everything.

baden-baden-spa
PC Baden-Baden Spa Kur and Tourismus Gmbh

Friedrichsbad and Caracalla are the two largest and perhaps best known of the spas in Baden-Baden – but not the only options. There is also the lovely Brenner’s Hotel, a thai massage offer and a salt grotto in Baden-Baden.

9. Elbphilarmonie, Hamburg

The Elbphilarmonie only opened in January of 2017 and it is already one of Germany’s most popular tourist attractions – and the new symbol of Hamburg.

The building is a jaw-dropping feat of architecture. The bottom of the building features the classic red brick of the Port of Hamburg. However, it then “explodes” into an ultra-modern curved glass.

germany_hamburg_elbphilharmonie
Elpbhilharmonie glows on the harbour skyline

I highly recommend taking a tour of Elbphilharmonie to hear its amazing story. The building cost 10 times its original budget and was six years late in its completion.

However, the architects have done amazing things like ensuring that the very noisy port cannot be heard in the performance room. They have also managed to make sure that surrounding homes can’t hear the music from Elbphilharmonie.

germany_hamburg_elbphilharmonie-building

The building is actually like a giant mosquito pile with 29 different lifts, “waves” of glass and specially made lights. It also includes 44 luxury apartments as well as a hotel – and it looks far smaller than what it actually is.

The Elbphilharmonie Plaza is 37 metres above the ground and has some stunning views on its viewing platform. Take the 82-metre long escalator that is convexly curved so it is initially almost invisible – and you won’t see the Plaza area until you arrive.

The viewing plaza is open to the public and is like a giant verandah that goes all the way around Elbphilharmonie and has some fantastic views.

germany_hamburg_elbphilharmonie-escalator
The fantastic escalator at Elbphilharmonie

⇒ Save time and effort by booking an organised Tour of Elbphilharmonie.

10. Berlin Wall

Overnight on August 12, 1961 the East Germany Army began sealing off the streets and railway lines providing access to West Berlin. A wall was then erected along the sector border. The 167 kilometre wall encircled West Berlin until 1989.

The Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989. Germans from both the East and the West crossed the wall and then took hammers to it in an event which was watched all over the world.

Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall

The Berlin Wall didn’t fall cleanly, chunks were left. Local artists began using these to make street art in what has now become known as The East Side Gallery. In 1990, more than 100 artists from over 20 countries decorated what was the last stretch of the Berlin Wall. One of the best ways to see the Berlin Wall today is to hire a bike and ride the Berlin Wall Cycle Route.

11. Heidelberg Castle

It is believed that the first foundations for what is now Heidelberg Castle were laid in the 11th century. Alas, Heidelberg Castle was to suffer from dreadful bad luck for centuries from war and defeat to being struck by lightening. It appeared that it was Heidelberg Castle’s fate to always end up in ruin.

Heidelberg Castle
Heidelberg Castle

The beautiful city of Heidelberg has long attracted artists, writers and poet. During the 1800s, the ruins of Heidelberg Castle were idealised by the Romantic movement. Victor Hugo often wrote of its beauty.

Today Heidelberg Castle can be reached via a funicular or a relatively steep footpath of 315 steps.

12. Monument to the Battle of Nations

This stone temple was completed in 1913 in the town of Leipzig in Germany. The actual Battle of the Nations took place in October of 1813 and was between Napoleon and his allies and Russian, Prussia, Austrian and Swedish fighters. In the end, Napoleon was forced to retreat but only after a very bloody battle of over 600,000 troops.

Monument to the Battle of Nations
Monument to the Battle of Nations

The ground was broken in 1898 on the spot where Napoleon had surrendered and this German monument was finished in 1913. The Monument to the Battle of Nations has two floors. The first floor is known as the crypt and features eight statues. The second level is known as the Hall of Fame and contains more figures which stand over 31 feet tall. Visitors can continue up the stairs to the roof deck to see the field where the battle was fought.

13. Mount Zugspitze

Zugspitze is Germany’s highest peak at 2962 metres and is located in the south of the country on the border with Austria. The mountain can be accessed from both countries. On the German side, a cable car runs from Eibsee, the lake at the foot of the mountain.

Mount Zugspitze Germany
Mount Zugspitze

There are five hiking trails to the top of Zugspitze. They all vary in difficulty levels but most will take 8-10 hours each way to complete. There are alpine huts on the trails for overnight visits.

Both Austria and Germany ahve terraces on the top of Mount Zugspitze which museums and restaurants. It is is a popular spot for skiing in the winter.

14. Eltz Castle

The first mentions of Eltz Castle date back to 1157. The castle was built in a strategic position along the lower Eltz River, a tributary of the Mosel River. This fairy tale German castle was built on a 70 metre high rock providing views of both the Elzbach Valley and the River Eltz.

Eltz Castle Germany
Eltz Castle

⇒ Explore more of Europe in my posts on 14 Beautiful Cities in Europe 16 European Palaces not to Miss, 17 Beautiful Castles in Europe Not to Miss, 21 Most Beautiful Countries in Europe, 9 Most Beautiful Cities in Germany, 26 Landmarks of Germany, 25 Rome Monuments, 60 Most Famous Landmarks in the World, 12 Beautiful Famous Spain Landmarks and 16 Famous Landmarks in Europe.

In 1268, the Eltz family split into three branches and each had their own homes in the castle. Today, the last brand of the Eltz family is the sole owner of the castle. The castle now consists of eight towers with living quarters around an inner courtyard.

Visitors can take a tour of Eltz Castle which includes Knights Hall. After the tour, visit the Eltz family’s riches at the Treasure Chamber. Burg Eltz also has two restaurants and a gift shop.

15. Frankfurt Romer (City Hall)

Romer Frankfurt Germany
Romer

This beautiful villa with its three-garbled roof has been Frankfurt’s City Hall since 1405. The villa was originally two houses called “Romer” and “Goldener Schwan”. Today, Romer is still Frankfurt’s City Hall. The complex now consists of 13 buildings that are also used for trade fairs.

Romer Frankfurt
Romer Frankfurt

15. Beethoven Monument

The Beethoven Monument is located in Bonn, the city of Beethoven’s birth. It was opened in 1845 to celebrate the musician’s seventy-fift anniversary. This bronze monument was created by sculptor Ernst Julius Hahnel. The base of the monument features four symbols which represent instrumental, opera, spiritual and symphonic music.

beethoven statute bonn germany
beethoven statute bonn germany

16. Eagle’s Nest

Known in Germany as “Kehlsteinhaus” Eagle’s Nest was given to Hitler as a present for his 50th birthday. It is located in the Obersalzberg mountains and overlooks the small town of Berchtesgaden. This was a particularly impressive gift as it is located on Germany’s steepest road. Eagle’s Nest remains an engineering marvel.

eagle's nest germany.
eagle’s nest

In 1960 Eagle’s Nest was returned to the German govenrment and they turned it into a beer garden and restaurant. There is no mention of its previous owner.

Would you get naked at a spa? Check out my posts on Naked or Clothed – Baden Baden Spa Guide, the best Baden Baden Tour options, 26 Landmarks of Germany, 9 Most Beautiful Cities in Germany and One Day in Hamburg – all in Germany.

17. European Central Bank Building

This twin-tower skyscraper is located in Frankfurt. The European Central Bank building officially opened in 2015 and has a low rise building which connects the two skyscrapers. The North tower is 185 metres high and has 45 storeys. The South tower has 43 storeys and is 165 metres high. There are four interchange platforms for the two towers and the building also includes the Grossmarkthalle, a former wholesale market hall.

european central bank building
european central bank building

18. Mercedes Benz Museum

This automotive museum in Stuttgart covers the history of the Mercedes Benz. The Mercedes Benz was invented by Carl Benz in 1886. The museum is located near the company’s Daimler factory in Stuttgart and contains over 160 vehicles.

mercedes benz museum germany
mercedes benz museum

The exhibits display the earliest days of the vehicles all the way to futuristic research vehicles.

19. Geierlay Suspension Bridge

This beautiful suspension bridge was opened in 2015 and is located in the centre of the Hunsruck mountains between the municipalities of Sosberg and Morsdorf. The bridge was modelled on suspension bridges in Nepal and was named after the area of the land registry where the bridge is located.

Geierlay Suspension Bridge
Geierlay Suspension Bridge

Geierlay Suspension Bridge is 360 metres long and 100 metres high. Entry to the bridge is via the visitor centre in Morsdorf. Spring and autumn are considered the best times to visit the bridge due to the trees being in bloom or changing colour.

20. Miniatur Wonderland

Miniatur Wonderland isn’t really a landmark – well it is but it is enclosed and made up of tiny elements. Miniatur Wonderland is the second most popular paid attraction in all of Germany – after the famous Sleeping Beauty Castle Neuschwanstein. This is the largest model railway exhibition in the world.

I appreciate that this doesn’t sound terribly exciting – I thought the same thing. But trust me – you do not want to miss Miniatur Wonderland.

germany_hamburg_miniatur-wunderland-apartment-b

The model railway was started by twin brothers Gerrit and Frederik Braun in 2004. Even the local tourism board thought that they were both mad.

But they now run one of Germany’s most loved tourist attractions which receive over 18 million visitors every year.

There are more than 15kms of train tracks, 389,000 lights and 263,000 figures in the model railway. Day and night simulations run every 15 minutes.

germany_hamburg_miniatur-wunderland-las-vegas-at

The most extraordinary thing about this Hamburg museum is the level of detail. Check out the apartment buildings in Hamburg. Every little room will have a different person or person doing different everyday activities.

The entire thing is just extraordinary and so interesting – particularly the airport.

21. Main Tower, Frankfurt

This modern tower was designed by architects Schweger und Partner and completed in 2000. It features a rooftop observation platform with panoramic views of Frankfurt and the surrounding region. The lift will whisk you up the Main Tower Frankfurt in just 45 seconds. There is a restaurant and a cocktail lounge on the 53rd floor.

main tower frankfurt
main tower frankfurt

22. Altstadt, Nuremburg

Altstadt is the German word for old town. Nuremburg, home to one of the most famous Christmas markets in Germany, has an extremely beautiful old town. There are still both medieval stone fortresses and timbered houses as well as a 1,000 year old castle. Nuremberg is the second-largest city in Bavaria and home to Nurnberger bratwurst and Franconian beer.

altstadt nuremberg
altstadt nuremberg

Many of the main sits of Altstadt Nuremberg are located on or just off its main street Koenigstrasse. In addition to the Nuremberg Imperial Castle, check out the Nassauerhaus or Medieval Tower, the main market Square and the Heilig-Geist-Spital or Hospital of the Holy Spirit.

Nuremberg Germany
Nuremberg Germany

23. Berlin TV Tower

Built during the years of the GDR (German Democratic Republic), Berlin Tower stands at 368 metres and is perhap’s Berlin’s most visible landmark. Located on Alexanderplatz, it is also the highest building in Europe open to the general public.

The Berlin TV Tower was opened in 1969. At the time, it was an emblem of the superiority of the communist system. After German reunification, the TV Tower came to symbolise the city and its new cityscape.

berlin tv tower one of the landmarks of germany
berlin tv tower

The viewing tower of the platform is at 200 metres and offers 360 views of Berlin to more than one million visitors a year. The tower of course has a revolving restaurant called Sphere and the Panorama Bar.

24. Cochem Castle

This beautiful castle on the Moselle River was originally constructed in the 12th century. However, it was destroyed by French King Louise XIV in 1689. Cochem Castle as seen today was rebuilt in 1868. The new onwer Louis Ravene decided to create a neo-Gothic castle that would be a holiday home for his family.

cochem castle
cochem castle

In World War Two the family was forced to sell the family castle to the Prussian Ministry of Justice and the Nazi government turned it into a law school. At the end of the war, the castle became the property of the state. In 1978 the city of Cochem sold the castle to a private company.

cochem castle germany
cochem castle

Today vistors can see Cochem Castle on a 40 minute tour after a steep 20 minute walk up the narrow paved road to the its entrance. A shuttle bus is also available. Cochem Castle also has a restaurant called Sonnenterrasse or sun terrace.

25. Hohenzollern Castle

Hohenzollern Castle is in the south-west of Germany. It is just south of Stuttgart and close to the Black Forest. The castle is owned by the Royal Family – the impressively titled Swabian Royal House of Hohenzollern. If the family flag is on the tower then they’re at home.

Hohenzollern Castle
Hohenzollern Castle

The first castle was built on this hill in the 11th century. The original castle was destroyed and rebuilt between 1454 and 1461. By the end of the 18th century, it had fallen into ruin. The version visitors see today was built in 1867. Unfortunately, Hohenzollern Castle was hit during an earthquake in 1978. Renovations were finished in the 1990s.

Hohenzollern Castle germany
Hohenzollern Castle

Today the Castle receives over 300,000 visitors a year. It is slightly out of the way so if you are travelling without a car it may be an idea to look at a tour.

26. Reichstag Berlin

The Reichstag is the home of the German Parliament. The building was originally designed by Paul Wallot and was modelled after Memorial Hall in Philadelphia. It was completed in 1894. The building was badly damaged in 1933 by fire, an event which marked the end of the Weimar Republic.

After the war, West Germany’s parliament moved to Bonn and the building fell to ruin. Resorations began in 1961 and were completed in 1964. In 1990 the building was the site of the official reunification ceremony and in 1991 it was decided that German Parliament would return to the Reichstag.

Between 1995 and 1999 Norman Foster oversaw renovations to the building and construction of the stunning glass cupola. This mirrored cone directs light into the building. The dome itself can be visited via two large steel ramps that take the form of a double helix.

Dresden Germany
Dresden Germany

A Footnote: Landmarks of Germany

There is an endless list of landmarks in Germany not to be missed, from the prominent historic places. Nowhere else in the world will you find such a unique blend of medieval and present-day streets, historic architecture, and exquisite landscapes.

Whether you’re here sample some sausages and guzzle some award-winning beer. Or if you’re dying to see some spectacular sights, there are truly magnificent, must-see landmarks dotted throughout the country.

So grab your camera and your comfortable shoes, and get ready to be mind blown by these spectacular landmarks in Germany.

street art in Hamburg Germany
German street art in Hamburg

This landmarks of Germany post includes affiliate links. That means if you click through and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I wanted to make sure you were aware of this.

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