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    Crumbling buildings in Rome (pictured) only add to the atmosphere in a country where old is redefined and western civilization begins. Explore Italy!

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Architecture of Germany

German Architecture - Lorsch Abbey
Lorsch Abbey

Germany boasts some of the world's most impressive architecture, but more importantly some of the best examples of architecture from nearly every time period. World War II destroyed much of the country's historic architecture, but some cities and most towns and villages were untouched, leaving great architecture. Most of the cities were rebuilt in a modern style, giving the country incredible modern architecture today.

Some of the oldest standing buildings in Germany today were built by the Romans. The city of Trier has the best examples from this period, primarily in the Cathedral of St Peter (300s), whose remains today are primarily from latter reconstructions, but the core and base are authentically Roman. In addition to this church, there are other Roman ruins sprinkled around the city as it was a major center during the 100-300s.

Moving into the Medieval Ages, perhaps the best example of Carolingian architecture is the Abbey of Lorsch (700s). This building also became an example for later buildings throughout Germany. Another great example from this time period and in this style is the Palatine Chapel in Aachen, which was originally a part of Charlemagne's palace (700-800s).

German Architecture - Cologne Cathedral
Cologne Cathedral

Despite these unique buildings in the Carolingian style, most of the architecture remaining from this period is in the Romanesque style. The Abbey of Reichenau (700s) on the Island of Reichenau is an excellent example of this style. The Church of St. Michael and St. Mary's Cathedral, both in Hildesheim (1000s) as well as Speyer Cathedral (1000s) are also among the best examples. There are also dozens of other examples from this time period, primarily all churches.

As the style slowly changed from Romanesque to Gothic, many buildings, again primarily churches, were built in a combination of these two styles. Saint-Martin (1100-1500s) in Tours has a base structure that is ultimately Romanesque, but its designs and features are essentially gothic. The Maulbronn Monastery (1100-1500s) is similar in nature, with both Romanesque and gothic features, but again most of what is seen is Gothic. Cologne Cathedral (1200-1800s) is a better statement in true Gothic architecture.

German Architecture - Medieval Rothenburg
Rothenburg

Many of the best examples from the Medieval time period are towns as a whole, including Bamberg, Rothenburg, Quedlinburg, Regensburg, and Lubeck. The buildings in these towns, both civic and domestic buildings contain many of the traditional features people associate with Germany today, most of which were built in the 900-1200s. In the first three of these towns, the churches tends to be built in stone similar to Romanesque buildings found throughout Europe, while most of the civic and domestic buildings are constructed of wood. The city of Lubeck however had more money as the capital of the Hanseatic League so most of the Medieval buildings there were constructed from stone or brick. Regensburg's architecture is a combination of these two, as a trading capital it had more money and hence more stone buildings, but not to the extend Lubeck had.

The Italian Renaissance's architecture arrived to Germany in the mid-1500s, but was more geographically concentrated than earlier architectural styles and only lasted about a century. Most of the buildings that did adopt aspects of the Renaissance style only added Renaissance facades, however a few full Renaissance buildings do exist. The Landshut Residence (1537-1543) and Cologne's City Hall's Rathauslaube (1557-1562) are both built entirely in this style.

German Architecture - Wurzburg Residence
Wurzburg Residence

Baroque architecture is a style with vast difference from one part of Europe to the next, but similar features are generally found within any single country. Germany is the exception to this since the style was generally divided by Catholic and Protestant beliefs and feelings towards church architecture. As the home to the Reformation, Germany saw a divide on this architectural front with Bavaria and other Catholic areas being more expressive in the style than the northern and primarily Protestant part of the country. Unfortunately, due to the Thirty Years' War, few true Baroque buildings were built, as latter Baroque, known as Rococo, became more significant. The best example of the early Baroque style in Germany is perhaps the Wurzburg Residence (1700s).

The examples of Rococo architecture are numerous and abound in Germany. The Augustusburg and Falkenlust Palaces (early 1700s) in Bruhl were some of the first buildings in this style in Germany. The Church of Wies (1745-1754) made the style more authentically German, more specifically Bavarian, as did Ottobeuren Abbey when it was rebuilt in the early 1700s. The New Palace (1763-1769) in Potsdam is the best example of northern German, specifically Prussian, Baroque or Rococo architecture.

After Baroque and Rococo in Germany, there were numerous styles that flourished, most notably neo-Classicism, although numerous sub-sets of this style also exist. The most notable and famous neo-classical monument is Brandenburg Gate (1789-1793) in Berlin. Humboldt University and Museumsinsel in Berlin also have a number of buildings in this style. The city of Weimar built a lot of architecture during this time, many of which are neo-Classically influenced as well.

German Architecture - Neuschanstein
Neuschwanstein Castle

The New Town Hall in Munich (1867 and 1908) is an example of Gothic Revival, while Neuschwanstein Castle (1869-1886) near Fussen is an example of Romanesque Revival or Romanticism, two more styles common in Germany in the late 1700s-early 1900s.

Modern architecture entered Germany in the early 1900s and to this day is one of the most popular and populous styles, particularly in the cities. One of the earliest examples of this style is the Fagus Factory in Alfeld (1910). This building represents the new building styles, techniques, and materials from the Industrial Revolution while contributing to that revolution as a factory. During this same time (1910-1933) the Berlin Modernism Housing Estate was built. Additionally, since WWII destroyed many of the buildings in the major cities, cities like Berlin, Frankfurt, Dresden, Cologne, and Munich have an incredible number of modern buildings throughout.

This page was last updated: March, 2013