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GERMANY

DESTINATIONS / EUROPE / GERMANY

FACTS /  A country of more than 80 million people, Germany has the largest population in the European Union. It also has the biggest economy in Europe and is home to many thriving industries, including car manufacturing. It was split into East and West Germany in the aftermath of World War II, with communists governing the East, while the West operated under a capitalist system. Reunification occurred in 1990. Today the country receives 31 million visitors a year – all drawn by its great combination of history, culture and scenery.
EXPERIENCE /  Munich’s Oktoberfest is famous the world over. It started out in 1810 as a celebration of a royal wedding and has since become a much-feted event, associated with German beer, pretzels and Bavarian music. One of the main features of Oktoberfest is the beer tents that crop up in Munich, and it is in these that you can experience the raucous party atmosphere for which the festival is so well known. You are also likely to see many people in traditional clothing, such as dirndl dresses and lederhosen. Dates vary, but the festival usually takes place from mid-September to early October every year.

 

SEE /  A remnant of Berlin’s Cold War past, the Berlin Wall is also a creative space sporting a lot of street art. The wall was present in the city from 1961 to 1989 and separated the communist East Berlin from the capitalist West. It was fiercely policed and divided families. Although much of the wall was taken away between 1990 and 1992, around 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) still stands today. It is an emotional sight for many who remember its momentous fall and German reunification, and an interesting history lesson for those who do not.

VIEW /  Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria and its surrounding forest is the stuff of fairy tales. In fact, the artists behind the castle in Sleeping Beauty supposedly took inspiration from it. The majestic white castle rises out of rocks above a lush green landscape. King Ludwig built it as a retreat from the outside world, but did not live to see the finished structure. Its beauty now attracts some 1.4 million people, who travel to the area each year to see its fantastic architecture. Take a tour of the castle to get a glimpse at its equally grand interior.

SHOP /  Frankfurt’s Zeil is a shopper’s dream, so much so that it is known as Germany’s Fifth Avenue. The street hosts many shops, but one of the best-known establishments here is the Zeilgalerie mall. Explore its 10 floors and get a great panoramic shot of Frankfurt from the mall’s viewing platform. The spiral design on the inside is also worth a photo or two. MyZeil is another major mall on this street, and can boast of many international big-name brands. Again, its design is striking with a glass vortex exterior and futuristic interior. No matter what your style is, you can probably find something for you on the Zeil.