As a traveller and explorer, one of the best feelings you can possibly experience is when you get off the beaten track to encounter sights and delights you would not encounter otherwise. Blessed with wonderful natural views, vibrant cultures and stunning architecture that dates back to the medieval era or even further, Germany allows plenty of options to dig up unconventional adventures and destinations.
Munich may be where Germany’s first opera house was opened in 1657, but the small town of Bayreuth in Upper Franconia packs no less of a punch when it comes to operas. It is home to the Festival Theatre, which hosts the annual Richard Wagner Festival (or the Bayreuth Festival).
The landmark, however, is the Margravial Opera House, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an architectural marvel at the time it was built. Built in 1748, the centrepiece of this significant theatre house is its roof which has a 25-metre span without any columns to support it. A great example of Italian architecture from the late Baroque period, the Margravial Opera House has been hosting the Bayreuth Baroque Festival since 2000—a significant cultural event that has been featuring performances of long-lost operas and reviving them for a modern era. Even though more than 80 opera houses exist in Germany today, there’s just something magical in Bayreuth’s operatic atmosphere that helps it truly stand out from the rest.
Modern street art meets medieval architecture: Regensburg
The town of Regensburg is known for its labyrinthine alleys and cobbled roads dating back to the medieval era. The city was built by the Romans as a river port and has been the capital of the Upper Palatinate region in south Germany. The medieval regions of this town, the so-called Old Town, is, in fact, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many of the buildings here are more than 2,000 years old, and there’s a distinct Gothic influence in the city’s architecture. However, the city’s walls are being given a fresh look mostly due to the efforts of street artist and teacher Andre Maier. In his works, Maier painstakingly combines a number of styles and influences (for instance, classical styles and Art Nouveau) to create a unique visual identity for the city. The result? Many of the city’s corridors and courtyards—the only spaces Maier is permitted to paint on—are now awash with murals painted by Maier.
Painting artworks on Regensburg’s walls may be something new to the city, but the subjects and themes of Maier’s works are anything but new. He pays homage to Remesburg’s medieval roots and origins by picking up topics and subjects from the city’s History Museum, a great repository of information. One of the most well-acclaimed works by Maier is a five-storey high mural of a woman in medieval armour holding a dog—a painting which, Mural says, represents Regensburg and its identity. By brightly decorating Regensburg’s public spaces, Maier is, in many ways, taking the city to its equally colourful past, completing a full circle—from the past to the present and back to the past—in the process. Maier’s project merges the past and the present in refreshing ways that have to be seen in order to be believed.
Set in wood: German Half-Timbered Houses Route
A spellbinding 3,000-km stretch of road—between Stade on the river Elbe and Meersburg by Lake Constance—awaits you in Germany.This route, the German Half-Timbered Houses Route, is a German speciality. As the name suggests, the route is a sightseeing paradise showcasing the numerous styles and best examples of traditional German half-timber architecture that came to prominence between the 15th and 17th centuries—a style in which the inner and outer frames of buildings are made of timber and the space in between filled with materials such as brick and concrete, among others.
Along the way, you will journey across more than 100 quaint, medieval towns rich in history and culture, including a number of World Heritage Sites, along seven different sub-routes. Highlights along the route include Stade, Quedlinburg (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Celle (don’t miss Hoppener House and its castles and museums), Bernkastel and Esslingen (both known for its vineyards), and Rothenburg ob der Tauber, among many others.
The sheer variety of memorable experiences awaiting visitors in every nook and cranny of the country makes Germany a destination that should rightfully be explored to the hilt.
This is a sponsored post in collaboration with German National Tourist Office, India.