germany Tag

riechenau island, germany, lake constance, world heritage site
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Why is Reichenau Island so important?

Reichenau Island, Germany At Lake Constance, four countries meet. The vast stretch of water borders Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, while Liechtenstein is just 30 kilometres away by road. France and Italy are also just short drives away. This is the confluence of Central Europe. In this lake, with its ferries and yachts and watersports, is a small island called Reichenau. More than a thousand years ago, it used its location and its talent to influence art and architecture across the continent. Although it’s located in present day Germany, it emerged at a time when borders seemed fluid. A monastery built on Reichenau Island in 724 – and churches built between the 9th and 11th centuries – were some of the first examples of medieval religious architecture in this part of the world. The wall paintings inside these structures also gave inspiration to artisans in the surrounding countries. What is on Reichenau Island? When I pop...

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21 November
baden-baden casino, germany, most beautiful casino, best casinos in the world
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A royal plush

Baden-Baden Casino, Germany Marlene Dietrich called it “the most beautiful casino in the world”. The glamour, I imagine, loses its lustre if you’re not winning. The great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky immortalised it in his novel ‘The Gambler’, which he wrote to pay off debts he accumulated at its tables. And so the famous Baden-Baden Casino became infamous and a getaway for the rich and powerful. “In the nineteenth century Baden-Baden became internationally famous when people came here to the gambling house,” local guide Valeria Casagrandi tells me. “At that time it was open only between May and October and that’s why Baden-Baden was the summer capital, or the summer residence, of Europe.” We walk through the large glass doors and into a striking room with soft yellow lights, mirrors, and wood finishings. “This is the oldest casino in Germany and one of the oldest in Europe and this is the reception,” Valeria says. “In the afternoon...

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19 November
freiburg, germany, mosaics, streets, gutters, market, munster
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Looking down in Freiburg

Freiburg, Germany Standing in the main market square of Freiburg, the cathedral looms above me. The bells are ringing out, filling the air. The chatter of the shoppers at the stalls, buying their fruit and vegetables, is drowned out by the peals. I look up at the bell tower but there are no signs of where the sound is coming from. The stone turret conceals the source inside the building that has stood for hundreds of years. Looking up in Freiburg is not the best way to spend your time, though. Instead, it’s looking down which reveals the true character of the city. It’s on the footpaths and along the roads that you can trace the history and culture of this beautiful German community. At first appearance, the channels by the side of the road look just like gutters. In fact, they look more like hazards that someone is likely to fall in...

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18 November
black forest, feldberg, germany, treks in black forest, snow
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The Black Forest turns white

The Black Forest, Feldberg, Germany Who knew that snow could fall so early? It’s been unseasonably cold in the southwest of Germany this time of year, but I did not expect to find myself in the middle of a snowfight. In the mountains outside Freiburg, the unusually early blanket of frost has turned the Black Forest white. By the morning, the trees’ branches are supporting a healthy layer of snow. As the sun crosses the sky, it all starts to melt. Trekking through the forest, it drips constantly onto my head. The clouds are dry but it feels like it’s raining under this sky of heavy leaves. Local Sabrina Roseler is guiding me along the track, towards a lake at the bottom where we’ll stop for lunch. She’s patient as she waits for a million photographs to be taken along the way. There’s something about the snow, the way it catches the sun,...

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06 November