In Germany’s Appalachia, the last coal mine is closing.
It’s a sunny October day on the outskirts of the west German town of Bottrop. A quiet, two-lane road leads me through farm pasture to a cluster of anonymous, low-lying buildings set among the trees. The highway hums in the distance. Looming above everything else is a green A-frame structure with four great pulley wheels to carry men and equipment into a mine shaft. It’s the only visible sign that, almost three quarters of a mile below, Germany’s last hard coal lies beneath this spot.
Bottrop sits in the Ruhr Valley, a dense stretch of towns and suburbs home to 5.5 million people. Some 500,000 miners once worked in the region’s nearly 200 mines, producing as much as 124 million tons of coal every year.
Riesling and Romans, baroque and bratwurst … our tipsters point to alluring cities from Bavaria to the Hanseatic northern ports – but sidestepping Berlin – taking in great food, museums, spas and bars.
Winning tip: Augsburg
One of Bavaria’s oldest cities, Augsburg is a delightful base for a cycling journey on the “Romantic road” or a relaxed city break. Visit the Fuggerei, Europe’s most venerable social housing project, founded by the Fugger banking dynasty in the 16th century. Residents are charged only a nominal rent provided they attend mass daily – just as in the 1500s. The Brechthaus in the old artisan quarter of Lechviertel is the birthplace of Bertolt Brecht and offers insights into the great playwright, poet and director’s Augsburg youth, US exile and uneasy relationship with the GDR after eventually taking up residence in East Berlin.
Come along with me as I share with you a perfect day spent in Regensburg, Germany. You will be pleasantly surprised.
In the early morning, we glided past cobbled lanes, underpasses, and archways out of Passau and towards the Black Forest near the UNESCO world heritage city of Regensburg. We passed small villages with their modestly tiny boardwalks along the river’s edge. We marveled from our balcony of the Viking River’s Elgin ship at the mystical landscape in the Autumn sun as we were ready to enjoy Bavaria’s famous white sausages, honey mustard, and locally crafted beer.
Upon arrival, my husband and I immediately hit the streets, ready for the day to begin with early morning shopping, photography, and simply spending more time with each other.
Travel is changing in 2017. It seems that travelers are increasingly seeking offbeat travels, that may run the gamut of ‘swimming with whale sharks in Mexico’ to ‘riding a jeep in an African safari’, rather than a ‘luxury resort stay on a tropical island’. No doubt, there is definitely a hunger for enriching experiences, rich culture and being able to immerse in raw, brute nature.
If you’re looking for new hidden gem destinations to visit in 2018, mapping your travels according to the UNESCO World Heritage List is a great start. Reappraised to include new sites every year, the list is the travel equivalent of the Oscars’, curating important sites of cultural significance or natural landmarks around the globe.
A cultural foundation in Germany has stepped in to repair England’s historic Iron Bridge.
The UK’s Iron Bridge is more than just a pretty landmark. Built in 1779, it was the world’s first metal bridge, a major milestone in engineering history. Like many aging pieces of infrastructure, though, it’s in dire need of repair—and the funds to shore it up are coming from an unexpected place. According to The Times, a German foundation has pledged to pay for the conservation project as a way to improve relations between England and Germany in the wake of Brexit.
Based in Hamburg, the Hermann Reemtsma Foundation normally funds cultural projects in Germany, but decided to work with the UK’s charitable trust English Heritage to save the Industrial Revolution landmark as a way to reinforce the cultural bond between the two countries.
Get a taste of the past in these 16 history-rich German cities.
When it comes to history, few places tell as enticing or complex a story as Germany. With Roman, Celtic, French, Prussian, and dozens of other influences meeting here over the centuries, this is where the light of Europe’s past glows brightest. The 16 Historic Highlights of Germany below — most dating back a thousand years or more — will escort you to a time and place you didn’t realize still existed. What awaits your eyes are aurulent palaces, medieval lanes, and views from high church towers.
But what awaits your taste buds? Beyond the fascinating stories and preserved relics of centuries gone by, the Historic Highlights of Germany each lay claim to one or more truly special culinary delights.
Every year millions of tourists flock to big cities such as Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. But for anyone seeking something a little more picturesque and authentic, here are 15 of the most romantic towns and small cities in Germany.
1. Bamberg (nearest city – Nuremberg)
Like Rome, this small and enchanting city is built on seven hills and its historic architecture earned it a listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Aside from a huge number of medieval half-timbered houses, some of the most beautiful buildings include the late Romanesque/early gothic imperial cathedral, St Michael’s Monastery and Altenburg Castle. But what Bamberg is most famous for is its unique old town hall, situated in the middle of a bridge.
The Regnitz river splits in the centre of the city creating the ‘Island District’ which has a pedestrian zone full of boutique shops and restaurants.
Bicycle highways, urban farms and local energy hubs — just some of the ways that yesterday’s smokestack cities are turning into tomorrow’s green spaces.
The Urban Transitions Alliance (UTA), a network that brings together cities in Germany, the United States and China, launched this week to help members learn regeneration tricks from each other.
“What to do with your brownfield sites, how to transition with citizens in mind, create new jobs — these cities have a lot of challenges in common,” said Roman Mendle, Smart Cities program manager at ICLEI, an international association of local governments.
As up to 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are generated in urban areas, cities have to play a leading role in addressing climate change.
We docked in Koblenz on our third full day with Viking River Cruises and had several choices of tours. One of the features I love with Viking is the ability to scope out all tours ahead of time and sign up for the “included tours” as you complete your personal form of registration. Kim was interested in the tour of the Marksburg Castle, but given my back issues I opted to remain on board and hopefully capture the magnificent homes, castles and other architectural interesting buildings on the Middle Rhine. She went ahead with the tour. I was glad I remained on board. As we sailed to Braubach, where Kim and the others would rejoin us. I noticed that there was a cable car running high above the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers where we docked.
The home of Martin Luther is celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation today – and trying to use that momentum to lasting effect.
Today is exactly 500 years since Martin Luther famously (or, for exacting historians: reputedly) nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Wittenberg’s Schlosskirche, turning a rumbling religious rift into a roaring ecclesiastical schism and starting what became to be known as the Reformation. Without Luther, the course of history would be unrecognisable. Yet without Wittenberg, a hive ofpioneering intellectual debate in late-medieval Europe and a prosperous power centre of the Holy Roman Empire, Luther would neither have developed his rebellious ideas nor enjoyed the political support to propagate them against the long arm of the papacy.