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There are currently 46 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany, which ranks 5th in the world for most world heritage sites. This includes 43 cultural sites and 3 natural sites.
Map of Germany’s World Heritage Sites
Germany UNESCO Sites
Aachen Cathedral (1978)
Aachen Cathedral is an iconic landmark in Germany for its architectural feat that spawned many copies. This cathedral was the first built vaulted structure. The church’s ties with Charlemagne also explains why his burial was held on this site upon his death.
The town hall and the abbey at Lorsch were built during the Carolingian era. Hence, you will find a lot of paintings and sculptures inspired by the era found within the town and the abbey. To this day, most of these artworks are still in a well-preserved state.
The original Bauhaus University in Weimar was founded in the year 1919. It was instantly recognized for the role it played in the progression of modern art through architecture. The university was shut down in 1925 due to politics. However, a second Bauhaus school was quickly established in Dessau after a few months. Since then, artists from all over the world were invited to teach at the university until it closed again in 1933.
Bergpark Wilhelmshohe (2013)
This is the largest hillside park in Germany and Europe (second largest mountain slope park in the world). The waterworks in the Hercules statue exhibit the ideals of absolutist Monarchy and also showcase the influence of the Baroque and Romantic periods when it comes to the aesthetics. Hence, this earned a spot in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany.
There are six housing estates that are included in this collection. These estates were built from 1910 to 1933. The buildings showcase a reform movement that took place in Berlin during that time, which provide improved living and housing conditions for low-income families. There are also innovative designs and layouts featured in these housing estates that were not seen in Berlin before. Several notable architects worked on designing these housing estates.
These two buildings were built during the AD 822 and 885 in a rural setting that has seen a tremendous level of preservation. In fact, the Westwork is the only structure to survive the Carolingian era. On the other hand, the Civitas Corvey is known as a valuable archaeological remain and is therefore preserved to this day. The Corvey is one of the best expression of the architectural ideals during the Carolingian era.
The Augustusburg Castle was once the residence of the archbishop and prince of Cologne. Meanwhile, Falkenlust served as a hunting lodge. Both structures exhibit the principles of early German Rococo architectural style.
Classical Weimar (1998)
During the 18th and 19th centuries, Weimar served as the cultural center of Germany. It is home to many artists and writers from Germany such as Schiller and Goethe. When you visit Weimar, you will also find several buildings and parks that reflect the vibe of the period wherein it flourished. Hence, it was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany.
Quedlinburg has been preserved from the height of its development in the 16th and 17th centuries. Hence, tourists who visit Quedlinburg today will be able to witness well-preserved historic sites and buildings that they would feel like walking into a time machine and traveling back to the time of the earlier centuries. From timber-framed houses to Romanesque castles and cathedrals, and medieval-patterned streets, you will find them all here.
Cologne Cathedral (1996)
This cultural site was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany in 1996. Cologne Cathedral was constructed in the mid-1200s and construction stopped until it was finished in the late 1800s. The Second World War destroyed the cathedral but it was restored. This is the most visited site in Germany with an average of 6.5 million tourists visiting it annually.
Walter Gropius constructed this in 1910 to manufacture shoes. However, the factory itself is an attraction in Germany as it showcased the decorative values of the 20th century. Its use of glass provided a homogenous aesthetic appeal that was also evident in his work with the Bauhaus.
This is one of the cultural sites included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany. The listing used to include only Hadrian’s Wall, which was built to defend the Roman Empire against the “barbarians” in 142 AD. However, the UNESCO site listing was expanded to include all frontiers of the Roman Empire in Germany.
This garden is recognized into the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany for its outstanding use of philosophical principles from the Age of Enlightenment into its design. The garden landscape produces a harmonious whole in terms of its use of principles from the era’s economy, education, and art. The site was inscribed by UNESCO on its list in 2000.
Hanseatic City of Lubeck (1987)
The Hanseatic League monopolized trade in Europe and designated Lubeck as the capital of the trading activity during that time. Even though the majority of Lubeck got destroyed during World War II, the architectural elements that date to as far back as the 12th century remain intact until today.
The towns of Wismar and Stralsund were also major trading centers as part of the Hanseatic League in the 14th and 15th centuries. Hence, they played an important role as a trading, administrative and defensive centers. The architectural styles of the buildings and structures in both towns are also notable. Their roles in the architectural and trading landscape both help establish them as culturally valuable towns in Germany.
Several memorials were built to commemorate the life of Martin Luther in the towns of Wittenberg and Eisleben. Some of these monuments include the Melanchthon’s house (located in Wittenberg) wherein Martin Luther was born and died, the castle church he posted his famous ’95 Theses’, and his room in Wittenberg, among others.
This Baroque opera house is located in Bayreuth, Germany and was inscribed into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany in 2012. It was built during the mid-18th century and is one of few surviving theaters in Europe. Since then, this opera house has undergone extensive restoration projects.
Maulbronn Monastery Complex (1993)
This is a Cistercian monastery in Maulbronn that is recognized as the best preserved and most complete medieval monastic complex in Germany. The buildings in this monastery complex were built during the 12th and 16th centuries. The main church in the monastery features a Transitional Gothic style that spearheaded in the popularity of this architectural style in Europe and Germany. The monastery also features its own elaborate water-management system that was ahead of its time.
Messel Pit Fossil Site (1995)
Archaeological experts consider this site as one of the richest areas for studying the environment of the Eocene. The site provides evidence for the early stages of mammal evolution with exceptional mammal fossils that had been preserved. Archaeologists who studied the site were able to unearth fully articulated skeletons and stomach content for animals.
The Upper Harz Water Management System took 800 years to develop and has provided a key role in extracting ore and the mining industry in the region. The mines and their ponds were built during the 16th century until the end of the 19th century. The ponds feature a complex system of channels, tunnels and underground drains, which was an advanced system during that time.
Monastic Island of Reichenau (2000)
The island of Reichenau was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany. It was founded in 724 and features ruins of the Benedictine monastery and several artistic and intellectual sites. A few notable churches known for their impressive wall paintings and decorations can also be found in the region. These include St. Mary, St. Paul, St. George and St. Marcus churches, which were built during the 9th and 11th centuries.
There are five museums that can be found in Museum Island in Berlin. All of these museums were constructed somewhere between the early 1800s to the early 1900s. Although these museums are diverse in terms of the items and artifacts showcased, they have been unified as one by the UNESCO list to showcase the different aesthetics across various time period in Germany.
This park is best known for its beautiful landscape located along the Neisse River. The park was built for by Prince Hermann von Puckler-Muskau, to which the park was named after. It took nearly 30 years for the park to be completed. The most impressive fact about the design of the park was its use of local pants to enhance the natural landscape.
Regensburg is one of the most notable medieval towns in Germany. Hence, it was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany as it features a collection of buildings that span two millennia in history. You will also find a wide range of architectural styles including Romanesque, Gothic and Roman buildings. Aside from these buildings, you will also find towers, churches, and monasteries dating back to the 12th century, particularly near the famous Stone Bridge.
This UNESCO site spans a total of 500 hectares that include the parks and up to 150 buildings in Potsdam. All of these buildings were created from the 18th century and early 20th century. The site also encompasses the buildings and palaces near the banks of River Havel and Lake Glieicke.
Pilgrimage Church of Wies (1983)
This pilgrimage church is one of the most notable attractions in Wies. For this reason, it was recognized by UNESCO as one of Germany’s World Heritage Sites. The church is a creation of architect Dominikus Zimmerman and is one of the best examples of the use of Bavarian Rococo architectural style.
This is a site that collectively showcases settlements during the prehistoric times across various countries near the Alps. There is a total of 111 individual small sites included in this list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany.
This site is an important natural feature in Germany because scientists used it as subject to study the spread of the beech tree. There are five forests included in this recognition of a UNESCO site to help in the preservation and protection of the said forests, which is crucial in the study of how the environment plays a vital role in the development of beech forests.
During the 1st century AD, the Romans colonized Trier in Germany. They helped develop Trier from a small town into a flourishing town filled with Roman buildings and structures. Many of these buildings remain standing until today. Furthermore, the oldest church in Germany is located in Trier.
Speicherstadt and Kontorhous District (2015)
Speicherstadt and Kontorhous are two districts in Germany located close to each other. They represent two urban areas that were built near the port city of Hamburg. These two areas are recognized by UNESCO for their showcase of how coherent port warehouses can be.
Speyer Cathedral (1981)
This cathedral features a Romanesque architectural style and was built during the early 11th century. It underwent remodeling during the late 11th century and is recognized until today as one of the grandest Romanesque cathedrals in the world, not just in Germany.
This cultural site added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany in 1985 consists of two churches: St. Mary’s Cathedral and St. Michael’s Church. St. Michael’s Church is an Ottonian Romanesque style that was constructed in 1010. The church features notable wooden ceiling, Bernward columns, and painted stucco-work. Meanwhile, St. Mary’s Cathedral contains Hezilo and Azelin chandeliers along with some treasures.
This square features several notable attractions including the city hall and statue of Roland. The city hall was constructed during the 15th century and underwent renovation in the 17th century. During the early 20th century, a new city hall building was constructed nearby. Bremen experienced a lot of growth and development during the rule of the Roman Empire. Both the new and old city halls survived World War II bombings.
Town of Bamberg (1993)
Bamberg was once a center of the diocese for the spread of Christianity during the onset of the 11th century. In the 12th century, monumental public constructed continued until the town was recognized as the center of Enlightenment in the 18th century. This was partly due to the fact that several writers decided to settle in the town of Bamberg.
There are 17 sites included in this listing for the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany – all of which features works of famous architect Le Corbusier. This is also a transnational property, which includes some sites (still showcasing work from Le Corbusier) in other countries such as India, Japan, Argentina, and France.
Upper Middle Rhine Valley (2002)
This 65-km stretch of the Middle Rhine Valley was recognized as one of the cultural sites listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany. You will find many castles, vineyards and other historic towns within the area, which helped to earn its recognition from UNESCO.
Völklingen Ironworks (1994)
In 1994, this site was included in the list of UNESCO sites in Germany because it is the only remaining example of ironworks that operated in Europe and North America. More impressive is the fact that this is the only ironworks facility built from as early as the 13th century that remains intact today.
The Wadden Sea(2009)
This is one of few natural sites included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany. The coastline is distinctive because of the flat landscape, and the presence of marshes, mudflats, and dunes. This area is also home to several plants and animal species wherein UNESCO hopes to preserve by including it in the list.
Wartburg Castle (1999)
Located in Eisenach, this castle is of cultural importance to Germany. It is located approximately 410 meters in elevation and one of the few medieval structures that remain in the city until today. The castle underwent a rebuilding process in the 19th century, which now depicts the current appearance of the castle. While Martin Luther was in exile in Wartburg, he stayed in the castle and reportedly wrote the German translation of the New Testament in the castle.
This impressive Baroque palace was created for by prince-bishops Lothar Franz and Friedrich Carl von Schonborn. This palace is not only one of the grandest but also among the largest in the country.
The industrial complex in Essen, Germany was inscribed into the UNESCO list in 2001 for its cultural value. This site contains all of the equipment used by this historic coal mine when it began operating approximately 150 years ago.
Caves and Ice Age Art in the Swabian Jura (2017)
The newest world heritage site in Germany is Caves and Ice Age Art in the Swabian Jura. This is a collection of archaeological sites that were founded during the Aurignacian period. The sites included in this world heritage site listing are 3 caves located on 2 separate locations. These sites were explored by archaeologists wherein they managed to recover early musical instruments, stone tools, and figurative art. According to researchers, these objects were carved using a wide range of materials but the most notable of them is the mammoth ivory.
Naumburg Cathedral (2018)
Located in the eastern part of the Thuringian Basin, the Cathedral of Naumburg, whose construction began in 1028, is an outstanding testimony to medieval art and architecture. Its Romanesque structure, flanked by two Gothic choirs, demonstrates the stylistic transition from late Romanesque to early Gothic. The west choir, dating to the first half of the 13th century, reflects changes in religious practice and the appearance of science and nature in the figurative arts. The choir and life-size sculptures of the founders of the Cathedral are masterpieces of the workshop known as the ‘Naumburg Master’.
Archaeological Border complex of Hedeby and the Danevirke (2018)
The archaeological site of Hedeby consists of the remains of an emporium – or trading town – containing traces of roads, buildings, cemeteries and a harbor dating back to the 1st and early 2nd millennia CE. It is enclosed by part of the Danevirke, a line of fortification crossing the Schleswig isthmus, which separates the Jutland Peninsula from the rest of the European mainland. Because of its unique situation between the Frankish Empire in the South and the Danish Kingdom in the North, Hedeby became a trading hub between continental Europe and Scandinavia and between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. Because of its rich and well preserved archaeological material, it has become a key site for the interpretation of economic, social and historical developments in Europe during the Viking age.
Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří Mining Region (2019)
Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří (Ore Mountains) spans a region in south-eastern Germany (Saxony) and north-western Czechia, which contains a wealth of several metals exploited through mining from the Middle Ages onwards. The region became the most important source of silver ore in Europe from 1460 to 1560 and was the trigger for technological innovations. Tin was historically the second metal to be extracted and processed at the site. At the end of the 19th century, the region became a major global producer of uranium. The cultural landscape of the Ore Mountains has been deeply shaped by 800 years of almost continuous mining, from the 12th to the 20th century, with mining, pioneering water management systems, innovative mineral processing and smelting sites, and mining cities.
Water Management System of Augsburg (2019)
The water management system of the city of Augsburg has evolved in successive phases from the 14th century to the present day. It includes a network of canals, water towers dating from the 15th to 17th centuries, which housed pumping machinery, a water-cooled butchers’ hall, a system of three monumental fountains and hydroelectric power stations, which continue to provide sustainable energy today. The technological innovations generated by this water management system have helped establish Augsburg as a pioneer in hydraulic engineering.
View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.