What Does the Inside of a Cactus Look Like? Investigating in Saguaro National Park

If you’ve ever looked at a large cactus, you have probably pondered the question “what does the inside of a cactus look like?”  It is hard to look at the spiny, pleated exterior of one and not wonder what is beneath. How does it stand? What does it look like inside? Wonder no longer – I have you covered after our visit to Saguaro National Park in Arizona!

What is in the Inside of a Saguaro Cactus?

spines of a saguaro cactusIn the very center, you will see woody ribs that give the cactus stability. After the Saguaro dies, these woody ribs can be used like regular tree wood for building and crafting. Extra stability is achieved through the Saguaro’s root system. Although it does not extend very far into the ground, the roots fan roughly the same length as the cactus’ height.

Around the woody ribs is the spongy flesh. Here’s where the cactus stores water. Did you know that when a fully grown (40 – 60 foot tall) Saguaro cactus is fully hydrated it can weigh 3200 to 4800 pounds? That’s because of all the retained water in this spongy flesh section!

inside of a cactus
Cross Section of a Saguaro Cactus
what does Inside of cactus look like
This dead Saguaro cactus is still standing – note the woody ribs!

Plitvice Lakes National Park

UNESCO World Heritage Site #231: Plitvice Lakes National Park

From the World Heritage inscription:

Plitvice Lakes National Park contains a series of beautiful lakes, caves, and waterfalls. These have been formed by processes typical of karst landscapes such as the deposition of travertine barriers, creating natural dams. These geological processes continue today.

The Plitvice Lakes basin is a geomorphologic formation of biological origin, a karst river basin of limestone and dolomite, with approximately 20 lakes, created by the deposition of calcium carbonate precipitated in water through the agency of moss, algae and aquatic bacteria. These create strange, characteristic shapes and contain travertine-roofed and vaulted caves. The carbonates date from the Upper Trias, Juras and Cretaceous Ages and are up to 4,000 m thick. In order to maintain and preserve the natural characteristics of the lakes, the whole of surface and most of the subterranean drainage system has to be embraced by extending the original borders of the park. The new areas comprise layers of karstified limestone with dolomites of Jurassic age.

There are 16 interlinked lakes between Mala Kapela Mountain and Pljesevica Mountain. The lake system is divided into the upper and lower lakes: the upper lakes lie in a dolomite valley and are surrounded by thick forests and interlinked by numerous waterfalls; the lower lakes, smaller and shallower, lie on the limestone bedrock and are surrounded only by sparse underbrush. The upper lakes are separated by dolomite barriers, which grow with the formation of travertine, forming thus travertine barriers. Travertine is mostly formed on the spots where water falls from an elevation, by the incrustation of algae and moss with calcium carbonate. The lower lakes were formed by crumbling and caving-in of the vaults above subterranean cavities through which water of the upper lakes disappeared.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice is without question one of the most spectacular national parks in Europe.

What it is, is simple enough: a chain of lakes connected by waterfalls. However, the visual effect of the lakes, the falls and the color of the water makes for one of the most amazing views you will see on the continent. It is a scene which would be right at home on a Japanese painting.

I had the luck (or misfortune depending on how you look at it) of being in the park during a freak April snowstorm. The ‘winter wonderland’ effect is something that is seldom seen in the park and I was lucky to get photos of.

Plitvice is about a 90 minute drive from Zagreb or Zadar. If you are in the region I would highly recommend a visit.


Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the oldest national parks in Southern Europe. It is also Croatia’s largest and most popular national park. It was recognized as a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site in Croatia in 1979.

The park was established in 1949 in an effort to preserve the mountainous karst area in Central Croatia. The park is located close to the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The protected area encompasses 296.85 square kilometers. The park is visited by over 1 million tourists per year. It is also known as a Protected Natural Value of Croatia.

About Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park is known for the lakes that are arranged in cascades. There are about 16 cascading lakes within the park. These lakes were formed due to the confluence of small rivers and subterranean karst rivers. Hence, all of these lakes are interconnected and has resulted in this unique natural formation.

In addition to being connected, these 16 lakes are also separated between upper and lower clusters due to the runoff from the mountains. Some of them can descend from an altitude of 636 to 503 meters. They collectively span an area of about 2 square kilometers. The largest lake formation within Plitvice Lakes National Park is the Korana River.

There are several attractions to be explored within the park namely the following:

  • The Lower Lakes
  • The Plitvica Stream
  • Korana River
  • Supljara Cave
  • Karlovci
  • Corkova Uvala

Plitvice Lakes National Park

There are plenty of other recreational facilities and activities that tourists can enjoy while exploring Plitvice Lakes National Park. For example, you can explore the Medvedak hiking trail or the instructive trail ‘Corkova Bay and Plitvica’. Aside from hiking trails, there are also cycling trails available within the park. There are also restaurants, cafes, and souvenir shops within the park grounds. Swimming is not allowed in the park.

Before you can enter Plitvice Lakes National Park, you need to present a ticket. The ticket price for non-students is 110 KN for a day tour and 180 KN for two days (during the off-season). For students, a day tour ticket will cost 80 KN. The ticket will entitle a free boat ride to cross the lake. If you are traveling during peak season, be prepared for a long queue! Ticket offices are available on the path at the park entrance.

How to Get Here

Plitvice Lakes National Park

If you want to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park, you need to know how to get here. There are plenty of options available for your mode of transportation. First and foremost, if you are traveling from outside Croatia, you can choose to fly to any of the major airports such as Split Airport, Dubrovnik Airport, or Zagreb Airport. The national airline is Croatia Airlines.

The most common option is to take a bus from Zagreb, Split, or Zadar. Buses traveling from any of these cities have routes that will spot at the entrance of Plitvice Lakes National Park. Make sure you ask the driver if they are headed to this route. Go to the bus stop early because the routes are unpredictable schedule-wise.

There are also private taxi transfers that can offer to drive you to the park. However, you should expect them to be a bit more costly than taking a bus. You can also book via a tourist agency. Most of these agencies will offer a 4-seat car that can drive you to the park and then pick you up at the end of the day to take you back to the hotel.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Croatia.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

OnTravel Interview – Germany

While I was in Germany I did my regular call in with Paul Lasley and Elizabeth Harryman to update them on my 2-week road trip around the country. As usual, the discussion drifted into many different travel related subjects.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #230: Muskauer Park / Park Muzakowski

UNESCO World Heritage Site #230: Muskauer Park / Park Mu?akowski
UNESCO World Heritage Site #230: Muskauer Park / Park Mu?akowski

From the World Heritage inscription:

Muskauer Park was the forerunner for new approaches to landscape design in cities, and influenced the development of landscape architecture as a discipline.

The site is the core zone of an extensive landscape park laid out by a leading European personality of the mid-19th century, Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau, around the New Castle of Muskauer on either side of the River Neisse, the border between Poland and Germany. The entire park extended around the town of Muskau and out into the surrounding farmed landscape. The area covers a total of 559.90 ha. Of this, 348 ha are within Poland and 211.90 ha within Germany. The park forms the starting point for an entirely different approach to the relationship between man and landscape. The design does not evoke classical landscapes or paradise, or provide enlightenment to some lost perfection, instead it is ‘painting with plants’, enhancing the inherent qualities of the existing landscape through embellishing its structures with trees, meadow and watercourses, to allow the landscape to merge with nature.

Pückler created an integrated landscape framework, extending into the town of Muskau. Green passages formed urban parks framing the areas for development, and the town becoming a design component in a utopian landscape. The structure of the Muskauer Park is focused on the New Castle, reconstructed by Pückler in the 1860s, according to the designs of the Prussian architect, Schinkel. A network of paths radiates out from the castle. Along them are ‘culminating points’ in the topography which create ideal viewpoints, each part of an intricately constructed network of wider interrelated views. The elements Pückler used were a combination of built and natural: bridges, watercourses, paths, ornamental buildings, woods, arboreta, scattered trees and the inherent geology of terraces, crags and the valley of the River Neisse. He wove all these into a visual picture of the highest aesthetic quality and one characterised by extraordinary simplicity and expansiveness. The landscape thus has a structure that can be appreciated for its aesthetic qualities. It also has strong intangible values – for the place it holds in the evolution of landscape design, and for its influence on what followed.

Muskauer Park

Muskauer Park is a site which straddles the German and Polish border. Most visitors will probably be coming to the German side where the palace and interpretative center is, however, the largest part of the park by area is actually in Poland.

Like many other world heritage sites in Germany, it was gutted during WWII and reconstructed in 1990’s. The middle of the park was an active border crossing zone with checkpoints until Poland entered the Schengen Area in 2007.

The palace is now a museum and interpretative center covering the life of Pückler and his thoughts on gardening.


Muskauer Park

Muskauer Park is a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site shared by Germany and Poland. It was inscribed in 2004 and categorized as an urban landscape, as well as a secular structure. This landscape park was built and developed in the mid-19th century.

The entire park covers a total land area of 3.5 square kilometers (Poland) and 2.1 square kilometers (Germany). The Muskauer Park is extended towards the opposing ends of the Lusatian Neisse River. Hence, it encompasses the borders of the two countries. It has a buffer zone of 17.9 square kilometers that includes the German town Bad Muskau and Polish Leknica.

About Muskauer Park

Muskauer Park

The Muskauer Park was founded by Prince Hermann von Puckler-Muskau. He was the author of Hints on Landscape Gardening and the owner of Bad Muskau since 1811. He spent several years studying in England. When he completed his studies, we founded the Park in 1815. Eventually, he established his own school for landscape management. In his courses, he outlined how to construct an extensive landscape park that focuses on nature improvement.

When UNESCO recognized the Muskauer Park as one of its World Heritage Sites, it cited that it was an exemplary example of how to countries defied borders to form a cultural collaboration. It also passed two major criteria for what constitutes a World Heritage Site: 1) groundbreaking development in terms of man-made landscape and 2) influence on landscape architecture and its industry. In addition to being a UNESCO site, Muskauer Park is also considered as one of the Historic Monuments in Poland.

Muskauer Park is considered as the largest English-style landscaped park in Central Europe. When Puckler designed this park, he modeled it after the English gardens from the early 19th century. This park surrounded the Muskauer Castle (also known as Schloss Muskau) that served as his residence. The primary feature that made this park stand out is how the differently structured areas were connected via winding paths and sweeping vistas. The design also integrated and worked with the natural flow of the Neisse River rather than trying to work through it. Hence, while the park is a man-made structure, it definitely utilized the natural layout of the park’s natural structures and formations to the fullest.

Muskauer Park

Within the park itself, there are several other notable attractions too. These attractions are listed below:

  • Old Castle – a tropical glasshouse located within the grounds of the park.
  • Kavaliershaus – a spa and hillside park within Muskauer Park .
  • English Bridge – this historical footbridge is located over Neisse River and was reconstructed in 2011 after having been destroyed several times in the past.

For those wanting to visit and explore more of the Muskauer Park, there are several buildings within the park’s premises that have been converted into holiday apartments. Hence, those who are interested can spend the night at the park. This is a great opportunity to experience and live the way that Puckler did by the time he built this park.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #229: Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz

UNESCO World Heritage Site #229: Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz
UNESCO World Heritage Site #229: Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz

From the World Heritage inscription:

The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz is an outstanding example of the application of the philosophical principles of the Age of the Enlightenment to the design of a landscape that integrates art, education and economy in a harmonious whole.

The first essays in landscape design began with the foundation of Oranienbaum, with its unified layout of town, palace, and park from 1683 onwards. The resulting complete Baroque ensemble, with obvious Dutch connections deriving from its designer, Cornelis Ryckwaert, has survived to the present day. Further developments on these lines took place around 1700 with the reclamation of marshy areas along the Elbe and the creation of planned villages and farmsteads. During the reign of Prince Leopold III Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau (1740-1817), an extensive landscape design project was begun around 1765 over the entire principality. This ambitious programme was launched in close collaboration with the architect and art theorist Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff (1736-1800). Landscape design, public education, and encouragement of the arts were closely integrated in this scheme. Wörlitz became the point of departure for wide-ranging improvements based on English landscape gardens and neoclassical architecture.

This unified scheme of buildings, gardens, and works of art, with a pervasive educational theme became the outward expression of the Enlightenment. Schloss Wörlitz was built in 1769-73 and it was the first neoclassical building in Germany. The Gothic House (1774) established a vogue for Gothic Revival buildings all across Europe. A number of other landscape projects in the principality date from this period. One of the most innovatory was the Chinese garden at Oranienbaum (1790), based on the theories of the English architect Sir William Chambers.

The roads and dykes that were essential for infrastructural development were planted with avenues of fruit trees, giving them an ornamental aspect. By the time Prince Franz died in 1817 virtually the entire principality had become a unified garden. Despite industrialization and the consequent expansion of Dessau since 1900, the characteristic features of the landscape have been preserved.

Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz

There are two major things to see if you visit Wörlitz: the palace and the park.

The palace is one of the better preserved buildings you will see in Germany. Not only was it (relatively) recently built in the 18th century, but it was untouched by WWII. It is also considered to be one of the first neoclassical buildings in Europe.

The park surrounding the palace is one of the best and earliest examples of an English garden in continental Europe.

Despite the name being “Dessau-Wörlitz”, the site is located in the town of Wörlitz, not in the nearby city of Dessau. It is very close to the Dessau part of the Bauhaus and its Sites in Weimar and Dessau world heritage site. Both can easily be visited in the same day.


Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz

The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz is a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site in Germany. It was inscribed in 2000 and is one of the largest English parks in Germany and in all of Europe. It is also commonly referred to as the English Grounds of Worlitz.

The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz was built and developed in the late 18th century during the rule of Duke Leopold III of Anhalt-Dessau. The Duke, along with his architect friend Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff, was strongly influenced by The Enlightenment. They wanted to break away from the traditional formal garden concept during the Baroque era. They wanted to build a naturalistic landscape, which eventually laid out the grounds for what was to become the cultural landscape for the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz. The total land area protected by UNESCO is 142 square kilometers.

About the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz

Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz

The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz is the first English-style landscaped garden in Europe. This 18th century garden is a cultural landscape that depicts a garden design that features harmony with architecture. The Duke Leopold III is credited for developing this landscaped garden as he is known to be an adherent of The Enlightenment. His beliefs therefore extended beyond his political views but also in terms of architecture and landscape gardening. This is exactly what transpired with the creation of this garden.

Aside from the garden, the cultural landscape of the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz also features another important structure: the Wörlitz House. This is the first ever classical building to be built in mainland Europe (it was constructed in 1769 to 1773). It is located at the center of Wörlitz Park. For the next 40 years, there were more parks and grand houses that were built in Dessau. Some of these buildings include Georgium Palace, Luisium Palace, Mosigkau Palace and Garden, Grosskühnau Palace and Garden, Sieglitzer Berg Hill, Kuhnau Park, and Wörlitz Park.

The central Worlitz Park is located at the part of the river which is an anabranch of the Elbe River. Hence, the park has access to a rich water source. When Duke Leopold III commissioned for this park to be built, he envisioned it as an educational institution in gardening, architecture, and agriculture. The majority of the park is therefore open to the public since the park was completed. A dam was built to protect the park from flood coming from the Elbe River, while also serving as a belt-walk with numerous views.

On the other hand, the Worlitz Palace features cabinets and interior finishing that was taken from the studio of Abraham and David Roentgen. Meanwhile, it also features a massive collection of Wedgwood porcelain that is accessible by the public. The wife of Duke Leopold III also had her own private room in the Grey House, which is located adjacent to the palace.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #228: Collegiate Church, Castle, and Old Town of Quedlinburg

UNESCO World Heritage Site #228: Collegiate Church, Castle, and Old Town of Quedlinburg
UNESCO World Heritage Site #228: Collegiate Church, Castle, and Old Town of Quedlinburg

From the World Heritage inscription:

The importance of Quedlinburg rests on three main elements: the preservation of the medieval street pattern; the wealth of urban vernacular buildings, especially timber-framed houses of the 16th and 17th centuries, and the important Romanesque collegiate church of St Servatius. The original urban layout is remarkably well preserved: it is a classic example of the growth of European medieval towns. The history of the medieval and early modern town is perfectly illustrated by the street pattern of the present-day town.

Situated in a hilly region to the north of the Harz Mountains, villa Quitilingaburg is first mentioned in 922 in an official document of Henry I (the Fowler), who was elected German King in 919. The town owes its wealth and importance during the Middle Ages to Henry I and his successors. On the death of Henry I in 936 his widow Mathilde remained in Quedlinburg at the collegiate church of St Servatius on the Castle Hill, founded by Henry’s son and successor Otto I as a collegial establishment for unmarried daughters of the nobility.

Westendorf, the area around the Burgberg, quickly attracted a settlement of merchants and craftsmen, which was granted market rights in 994. Several other settlements also developed in what was to become the early town centre, which was granted special privileges by the Emperors Henry III and Lothar IV in the 11th and 12th centuries. A Benedictine monastery was founded in 946 on the second hill, the Münzenberg. The Quedlinburg merchants were given the right to trade without restriction or payment of duties from the North Sea to the Alps. The resulting prosperity led to a rapid expansion of the town. A new town (Neustadt) was founded in the 12th century on the eastern bank of the river Bode, laid out on a regular plan.

The two towns were merged in 1330 and were surrounded by a common city wall. The new, enlarged town joined the Lower Saxon Town Alliance (Städtebund) in 1384, and in 1426 it became a member of the Hanseatic League. Quedlinburg retained an important economic role, as evidenced by the many elaborate timber-framed houses from the 16th and 17th centuries. The protectorate (Vogtei) of the town was sold by its hereditary owner, the Elector of Saxony, to the House of Brandenburg-Prussia in 1698, and in 1802 its special free status as an imperial foundation came to an end when it was formally incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia.

Collegiate Church, Castle, and Old Town of Quedlinburg

I really liked Quedlinburg. It is a very small town which few people, even in Germany, are aware of. There are several things which I found interesting about the town:

  • It is the burial site of Otto I, the first Holy Roman Emperor.
  • The town of Quedlinburg is one of the best preserved old towns in Germany as it was not bombed in WWII and there was little renovation done by the East German government after the war.
  • The cathedral was the site of a bizarre Nazi shine that venerated Otto I and his father King Henry I as the beginning of a golden age for Germany. They attempted to turn the church into the seat of a new Nazi religion that never quite caught on.
  • Millions of dollars in artifacts were stolen from Quedlinburg after the war by American soldier, Joe Meador from Texas. He mailed home a jewel covered bible belonging to Henry I that he found in a nearby cave. The bible sat in his house until his death when his brother took it to a flea market to sell it for $500. (It was worth several million). All of the stolen artifacts were return to Quedlinburg and are now on display.

Quedlinburg is probably the best kept secret in German world heritage sites and well worth a visit.


Collegiate Church, Castle, and Old Town of Quedlinburg

The Collegiate Church, Castle, and Old Town of Quedlinburg is a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located in the town of Quedlinburg in the Harz district of Germany. The site was inscribed into the UNESCO list in 1994. It was originally deferred in 1990 due to the lack of clear definition as to which area would be covered as the UNESCO protected area.

The town of Quedlinburg was recognized by UNESCO for its medieval origins and heritage that have remained intact today. In fact, exploring the town of Quedlinburg would mean that you will find several high quality timber-framed buildings throughout the town.

About the Collegiate Church, Castle, and Old Town of Quedlinburg

The Collegiate Church, Castle, and Old Town of Quedlinburg UNESCO site encompasses the entire town of Quedlinburg. It also consists of several other separate areas that include the following:

Collegiate Church, Castle, and Old Town of Quedlinburg


Historic Town: This historic town is protected by city walls, which is a common feature of a medieval town. The old town originated in the 10th century while the new town originated in the 12th century. These two historic towns are composed of fine medieval buildings that reflect the economic boom that Quedlinburg experienced during the 16th to 17th century.

Westendorf District: This part of Quedlinburg is where the castle hill is located. This is also where you will find several other notable tourist attractions such as the collegiate church of St. Servatius and the Imperial buildings.

St. Wipert’s Church: You will find the crypt inside the church that dates back to the ca. 1000.

Munzenberg: This part of the town is known for being traditionally poor. It is composed of 60 small timber-framed buildings.

Collegiate Church, Castle, and Old Town of Quedlinburg

The Collegiate Church of St. Servatius is currently one of the most popular tourist attractions in Quedlinburg. It is also part of the UNESCO site Collegiate Church, Castle, and Old Town of Quedlinburg. It is used as the performance venue for the Quedlinburg Summer of Music. The church is located on Castle Hill, which makes it the most prominent building in Quedlinburg.

If you would like to explore more of one of Europe’s Renaissance and Medieval towns, you can go to the market square. You will find the Roland statue and the Renaissance town hall. The churches and castles rise above the town that also serves as symbol to how they dominated the town during the Middle Ages.

According to UNESCO, the Collegiate Church, Castle, and Old Town of Quedlinburg reflect the architectural splendor of a European town during this era. There are around 800 houses in the town that are considered as important monuments in the tow. Aside from its architectural splendor, these buildings and structures also showcase different styles and periods that have influenced the town.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #227: Mines of Rammelsberg, Historic Town of Goslar and Upper Harz Water Management System

UNESCO World Heritage Site #227: Mines of Rammelsberg, Historic Town of Goslar and Upper Harz Water Management System
UNESCO World Heritage Site #227: Mines of Rammelsberg, Historic Town of Goslar and Upper Harz Water Management System

From the World Heritage inscription:

Rammelsberg-Goslar is the largest and longest-lived mining and metallurgical complex in the central European metal-producing region whose role was paramount in the economy of Europe for many centuries. It is a very characteristic form of urban-industrial ensemble which has its most complete and best preserved expression in Europe at Rammelsberg-Goslar.

Rammelsberg lies 1 km south-east of Goslar, in the Harz Mountains. It has been the site of mining for metalliferous ores and metal production (silver, copper, lead, zinc and gold) since as early as the 3rd century BC. The first documentary mention of Rammelsberg is from the beginning of the 11th century. The rich deposits of silver ore there were one of the main reasons for siting an imperial residence at the foot of the Rammelsberg mountain by Emperor Henry II; he held his first Imperial Assembly there in 1009. The town of Goslar grew up around the imperial residence. The town was to play an important role in the economic operations of the Hanseatic League and achieved great prosperity, which reached a peak around 1450. The revenues from mining, metal production, and trade financed the creation of the late medieval townscape of fortifications, churches, public buildings, and richly decorated mine-owners’ residences which distinguish the present-day town.

In 1552 Rammelsberg was taken from the town of Goslar by the Duchy of Brandenburg, which managed it until 1866, when the mining area was seized by the Kingdom of Prussia. Mining and metallurgical operations continued there until the last mine closed in 1988.

The remains of the mining industries include waste heaps from the 10th century and excavated remains of the installations that produced them: the St Johanniskirche (c . 970); ore-transportation tracks of the 12th century: the Rathstiefster tunnel or adit (c . 1150); mining structures of the 13th century: the Tiefer-Julius-Fortunatus tunnel (1585); the overseer’s house (c . 1700); Communion Quarry (1768), the Roeder tunnel system, including two well-preserved underground water-wheels (1805): the old office building (1902); the haulage way and vertical shaft with technical equipment (1905); the Gelenbeeker tunnel (1927); the Winkler ventilation shaft (1936); the surface plant complex of 1935-42: and mineworkers’ houses from 1878 to 1950.

The town of Goslar likewise preserves evidence of its growth and long identification with the mining industry, with remains from many periods. Among these are the Imperial Palace and the Palatine chapel of St Ulrich (c . 1100): the Frankenburger Church (1130); the antechurch of the former Stiftskapelle (1160), containing the 11th-century imperial throne; the market place fountain (c . 1200); the Frankenburg miners’ settlement (c . 1500); many houses of mine-owners from the 14th-16th centuries; and the miners’ infirmary (1537).

The town was not significantly damaged in the Second World War and so the historic centre has survived intact, with its original medieval layout and many Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings of high quality

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend a lot of time on Goslar. It was freezing cold, with a stiff wind and I didn’t have appropriate clothing. I’m putting this site on my “return to” list for that reason.

I also only was able to visit the old town of Goslar and didn’t get to visit the mines which is an important part of the site.

That being said, I’d put Goslar on a par with Bamberg and Quedlinburg for old German towns with well preserved half-timber housing. Like both cities, Goslar was undamaged by WWII which allowed the pre-war housing to remain intact.

If you are in the area of Goslar I would also recommend visiting two nearby world heritage sites: the Fagus Factory in Alfeld, and St Mary’s Cathedral and St Michael’s Church in Hildesheim


Mines of Rammelsberg, Historic Town of Goslar and Upper Harz Water Management System

The Mines of Rammelsberg, Historic Town of Goslar and Upper Harz Water Management System are a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a combination of an urban medieval landscape with a mines landscape and secular structure. It was inscribed into the UNESCO list in 1992 but was expanded in 2010 to include the Upper Harz Water Management System.

Therefore, this UNESCO site is made up of two locations. The first one is the Mines of Rammelsberg and the Historic Town of Goslar. The second one is the site that was added upon its extension: the Upper Harz Water Management System.

About Mines of Rammelsberg, Historic Town of Goslar and Upper Harz Water Management System

The Mines of Rammelsberg, Historic Town of Goslar and Upper Harz Water Management System is a collection of different sites that represent the cultural identity and history of the city. Hence, it is important to look into each of these sites to get a better understanding as to why UNESCO considered it of value enough to earn the World Heritage Site status.

Mines of Rammelsberg and the Historic Town of Goslar

Mines of Rammelsberg, Historic Town of Goslar and Upper Harz Water Management System

The mining history of Rammelsberg could not be determined exactly when or how it started. However, it has been a continuous process that has gone through different phases. When this mine was established, it was basically used for the mining of copper ore. Eventually, the site was used for mining silver.

According to the archaeological excavations at the site, it was determined by experts that the history of mining in Rammelsberg dates back to the 3rd Century AD. There were several layers of sediments at the site that would support this claim. Aside from pre-industrial melting equipment, there are also remains of ore that were unearthed at the site of the mine during archaeological excavations.

On June 1988, the mines in Rammelsberg were officially closed. This was after over 100 years in operation and after extracting more than 30 million tons of ore. Part of the reason why the mine was closed was the mineral deposits were largely exhausted. Eventually, the abandoned mine was converted into a museum in order to preserve the cultural heritage of the mine. This is also where some of the artifacts and industrial equipment were put on display to tell the history of the site.

Upper Harz Water Management System

Mines of Rammelsberg, Historic Town of Goslar and Upper Harz Water Management System

This component of the UNESCO site Mines of Rammelsberg, Historic Town of Goslar and Upper Harz Water Management System represents a masterpiece in engineering and early mining. This system consists of 107 historical ponds, 31 kilometers of waterways, and 310 kilometers of ditches. In fact, it is considered as one of the world’s largest pre-industrial power supply facilities. If you want to visit this part of the UNESCO site, you can do so on foot. Simply follow along a network of waterside trails that will enable you to get a closer glimpse into the technological innovations of the time, which was part of the reason why the mines in Rammelsberg and the historic town of Goslar prospered.

Visit my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany.

Visit my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #226: Fagus Factory in Alfeld

UNESCO World Heritage Site #226: Fagus Factory in Alfeld
UNESCO World Heritage Site #226: Fagus Factory in Alfeld

From the World Heritage inscription:

Designed in around 1910, the Fagus factory in Alfeld constitutes an architectural complex which foreshadows the modernist movement in architecture. Built by Walter Gropius, it is notable for the innovative use of walls of vast glass panels combined with an attenuated load-bearing structure. It bears testimony to a major break with the existing architectural and decorative values of the period, and represents a determined move towards a functionalist industrial aesthetic.

The Fagus factory in Alfeld establishes several major fundamental aspects of modern functionalist architecture of the 20th century, in particular the curtain wall. It constitutes a homogeneous, territorial and built complex, rationally and completely designed to serve an industrial project. It expresses great architectural unity. The scheme is at once architectural, aesthetic and social, and bears witness to a determination to achieve humanist control of the social and aesthetic changes linked to industrialisation. The interior decorative and functional elements are attuned with the architecture and the social project. They represent one of the first consummate manifestations of industrial design.

Fagus Factory in Alfeld

The Fagus Factory in Alfeld is one of the most unique world heritage sites I’ve ever visited. Despite the fact that it is an actual working factory held in private hands, I wouldn’t really classify it as an industrial site, but rather an as architectural site.

I’ve read several reviews of the Fagus Factory which call it a ‘shoe factory’. This is incorrect. What they make are shoe lasts, which are the molds which are used to make shoes.

I’m guessing that only hardcore world heritage enthusiasts or students of architecture will be interested in visiting the Fagus Factory. If you are in Hildesheim, however, you might want to take the 30 minute drive to Alfeld to visit the factory as it is so close.

Despite being a functioning factory, there is a museum onsite dedicated to the building and the history of the company. Whoever it was in the Fagus corporation who had the idea of turning their factory into a world heritage site is a genius.


Fagus Factory in Alfeld

The Fagus Factory in Alfeld is a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site in Germany. It was inscribed in 2011 and represents the shoe last factory in Lower Saxony, Germany. This factory is known as the best example of early modern architecture. This building was commissioned for by Carl Benscheidt. He is the owner of the factory and envisioned a radical structure that would showcase how the company has broken free from its past.

The design for the Fagus Factory in Alfeld is a collaborative work between Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer. The building was constructed in 1911 and completed in 1913. However, the interiors were finished in 1925.

About Fagus Factory in Alfeld

The Fagus Factory in Alfeld was built and designed by architect Walter Gropius when he was only 27 years old. He was influenced by other modernist architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and other Japanese ideas. Indeed, he wanted to focus on the relationship between interior and exterior space when it comes to designing a building. Thus, the way the Fagus Factory in Alfeld has re-interpreted the Japanese concepts of shoji screens by using steel and glass.

Fagus Factory in Alfeld

The steel framework of the Fagus Factory in Alfeld is responsible for holding the entire structure together. As for the building itself, its use of glass on the walls and windows facilitate natural light and a more open view concept. For this reason, this factory was recognized by UNESCO as it is more than just an example of modern architecture – it also provides a glimpse into the social implications of design and how it has incorporated new building technologies. Moreover, it reflected a time wherein art merged with industry and it became a symbol of modern design in the early 20th century.

The main building, one which is often referred to as the Fagus building, is just one of many components to this site. The building itself is 40-centimeters high and is made of dark brick base. The entrance with the clock was not part of the original building but rather expanded in 1913. The inside of the building is where the offices are located in. They were completed around the mid-1920s. There are two other big buildings that are part of the UNESCO site and these are the warehouse and production hall. The original plan that Werner wanted for the building was achieved with coherence and great uniformity.

The cultural significance of the Fagus Factory in Alfeld extends beyond the architectural system used. It has close ties with the Alfeld community as well. This industrial property is therefore considered of international and local significance. It has employed locals for over 100 years. This is crucial in a town consisting of about 20,000 people. For this reason, this factory is etched as one of the hallmarks of the town’s identity.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #225: St Mary’s Cathedral and St Michael’s Church at Hildesheim

UNESCO World Heritage Site #225: St Mary’s Cathedral and St Michael’s Church at Hildesheim
UNESCO World Heritage Site #225: St Mary’s Cathedral and St Michael’s Church at Hildesheim

From the World Heritage inscription:

St Michael’s Church has exerted great influence on developments in architecture. The complex bears exceptional testimony to a civilization that has disappeared. These two edifices and their artistic treasures give a better overall and more immediate understanding than any other decoration in Romanesque churches in the Christian West.

The ancient Benedictine abbey church of St Michael, built between 1010 and 1022 by Bernward, Bishop of Hildesheim, is one of the key monuments of medieval art. Of basilical layout with opposed apses, the church is characterized by its symmetrical design: the east and west choirs are each preceded by a transept which protrudes substantially from the side aisles; elegant circular turrets on the axis of the gable of both transept arms contrast with the silhouettes of the massive lantern towers located at the crossing. In the nave, the presence of square impost pillars alternating in a original rhythm with columns having cubic capitals creates a type of elevation which was prove very successful in Ottonian and Romanesque art.

St Mary’s Cathedral, rebuilt after the fire of 1046, still retains its original crypt. The nave arrangement, with the familiar alternation of two consecutive columns for every pillar, was modelled after that of St Michael’s, but its proportions are more slender.

The church of St Michael and the cathedral contain an exceptional series of elements of interior decoration that together are quite unique for the understanding of layouts used during the Romanesque era. First come the bronze doors dating to 1015, which retrace the events from the book of Genesis and the life of Christ, and the bronze column dating from around 1020, the spiral decor of which, inspired by Trajan’s Column, depicts scenes from the New Testament.

St Mary’s Cathedral and St Michael’s Church at Hildesheim

There are some significant things to be found in Hildesheim.

The church of St. Michael (seen in image) was the model that was used by many romanesque churches and cathedrals throughout Germany and Europe.

Like Würzburg Palace, both churches in Hildesheim were gutted by bombs during WWII. The St. Michael’s you see today is very different than the church which existed before the war. Over the centuries, St. Michael’s had parts of the original Romanesque building removed and parts of other styles were incorporated into the design. After the war the decision was made to restore St. Michael’s to its original Romanesque design from the 11th century.

Oddly enough, the wooden ceiling in St. Michael’s is the original wood ceiling. It is a beautiful design that looks like it has undergone serious renovation. In reality, the only work done on it was scrubbing off a layer of grime.

St. Mary’s Cathedral was under renovation when I was there (a common thread in my travels) but the 1,000 year old column, chandelier and bronze doors were all on display in other churches or museums in town. The cathedral is scheduled to reopen on August 15, 2014.


St Mary’s Cathedral and St Michael’s Church at Hildesheim

The St Mary’s Cathedral and St Michael’s Church at Hildesheim is a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site in Germany. It was inscribed in 1985 for its cultural value and significance. It is a Roman Catholic Church that features a combination of Gothic, Romanesque, and Baroque architectural style. To this day, the church is still in use. The groundbreaking of this church was in the 1110s.

These two churches that form this UNESCO site are two inseparable monuments – hence, they are named as one UNESCO site. These monuments serve as testimony to the religious art established by the Holy Roman Empire in this part of Germany.

About St Mary’s Cathedral and St Michael’s Church at Hildesheim

The St Mary’s Cathedral and St Michael’s Church at Hildesheim is a monument that is of essence to the religious and architectural landscape of the city. In order to fully understand their value, it is important to look into each component of this site and what their significance is.

St. Mary’s Cathedral

St Mary’s Cathedral and St Michael’s Church at Hildesheim

St. Mary’s Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary, is a medieval Roman Catholic Church. It was built at the center of Hildesheim and is located close to St. Michael’s Church- the other half of the UNESCO site.

It was built sometime in the 1010 to 1020 while featuring a Romanesque architectural style. The cathedral features a symmetrical plan and consists of two apexes. This is a common feature found in Ottonian Romanesque architecture during the Old Saxony period. There are several treasures that are housed within this cathedral including bronze works, world-famous artworks, Romanesque wheel chandeliers, Azelin chandelier, and Hezilo chandelier.

From the 11th to the 14th centuries, there have been numerous renovations and extensions that were done on St. Mary’s Cathedral. An air raid in March 1945 completely destroyed the cathedral. It was rebuilt from 1950 to the 1960. Meanwhile, further renovations were done in 2010 as part of the conservation measures.

St. Michael’s Church

The St. Michael’s Church is one part of the UNESCO site St Mary’s Cathedral and St Michael’s Church at Hildesheim. It is an early Romanesque church that was founded in 1010. It was founded by Bishop Bernward. The church is notable for its painted ceiling. Meanwhile, the church was once the location of the bronze Bernward doors that are now re-located to the St. Mary’s Cathedral. Currently, St. Michael’s Church is a Lutheran church. It is considered one of the most important churches from the early Christian period, architecture-wise.

For both of these churches, there were several treasures that are housed in between the two of them. They are as follows:

  • Shrine of St. Epiphanius of Pavia and Cathedral
  • Shrine of St. Godehard
  • Hildesheim Reliquary of Mary
  • Crosses of Bernward
  • Eagle lectern
  • Gothic Inkpot Madonna
  • Tomb of Priest Bruno
  • Bernward Monument
  • Hildesheim rood screen
  • Late Romanesque bronze baptismal font
  • statue of Mary

Many of the religious items from these cathedrals were transferred to and currently displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York following the 2010-2014 renovations.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.