Germany's Romantic Road Romantische Strasse links more than 20 beautiful Bavarian cities and towns. As Germany's most popular tourist route, it attracts more than 2 million people every year who enjoy Gothic cathedrals, half-timbered fachwerk houses, fairytale castles and The Alps. The 350km road runs north-south from Würzburg to Füssen near the Austrian border and was used as a trade route during the middle ages.
Catriona Rowntree's first stop was Augsburg, an independent city in Bavaria's south-west. Founded by the Roman emperor Augustus in 15 BC it was the base for the Fugger banking empire. The Fuggerei, part of the city devoted to housing for needy citizens, was founded in 1516 and is still in use today at the incredible rent of around € 0.88 ($1.75) a year!
Maximilianstrasse is regarded as southern Germany's finest street. It is Augsburg's main thoroughfare, a place of grand buildings, shops, cafes, restaurants and bars. It's lined with wonderfully ornamented baroque and rococo mansions, with the palaces of rich merchants and bankers giving an insight into how the wealthy families of the past lived.
Perlachturm, a bell tower, was built in 1182. Augsburg's Renaissance town hall was built in 1620, and a bishop's residence, built in 1750, is today the administrative seat of Swabia, one of Bavaria's seven administrative regions. Augsburg's cathedral was founded in the ninth century and the Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches are full of history.
Landsberg am Lech
Forty minutes south is the medieval walled town Landsberg am Lech on the banks of the River Lech. Walls are punctuated by many towers and gates and inside, you'll find charming cobbled streets lined with a town square and historical buildings.
Landsberg grew to wealth and power during the late Middle Ages when Duke Heinrich the Lion relocated the salt transportation route to the town's advantage.
It may be best known for the prison where Adolf Hitler was incarcerated in 1924. It is where he and Rudolf Hess wrote the book Mein Kampf. Hitler's cell became part of the Nazi-cultus and many followers visited during the Nazi period. Landsberg am Lech was known as the Town of Hitlerjugend Hitler Youth. It was also one of the largest camps for Jewish refugees after World War II and the place of execution for more than 150 war criminals after 1945.
Of lighter interest is the curious Mutterturm (Mother Tower) on the Lech's left bank. It was built in the late 1800s by Anglo-German artist Sir Hubert Von Herkomer in honour of his mother. Sir Hubert was a painter, film pioneer, racing-car promoter, composer and a leading light of Victorian society. The tower has examples of his works and can be seen in the adjacent Herkomer-Museum, formerly the home of his parents. It is also popular for registry-office weddings.
Only 64km away is Schwangau, surrounded by four lakes against the backdrop of the Ammer Mountains nature protection area. Neuschwanstein Castle, also known as Ludwig's Castle, attracts almost 2 million tourists a year.
King Ludwig II was most eccentric and was posthumously immortalised by Walt Disney whose Sleeping Beauty castle was inspired by Ludwig's creation. Ludwig had Germany's first telephone, running water and electricity and was loved by locals. Just before his 41st birthday he was declared insane by government ministers who were terrified by him, deposed and within a week, he was found floating in a lake dead. Locals think of the king as not crazy but politically unwise and fond of enduring elegance.
Entrance tickets can only be bought at the ticket centre in the village of Hohenschwangau below the castle. It is a 30-minute uphill walk, or you may prefer to be taken there by a horse-drawn carriage! Tours are conducted in German and English.
From Würzburg to Füssen in Germany's Bavaria.
Europcar has car hire in Germany starting at $54 a day.
Emirates has flights to Munich.
- Perth $2179
- Melbourne $2230
- Sydney $2247
- Brisbane $2250
- Adelaide $2273
Valid for travel from March 5, 2009 until further notice. Conditions apply.
Prices correct at March 5, 2009.
For further information
Ph: 1300 303 777
Tea at Mutterturm Tower
86899 Landsberg am Lech
Ph: +49 8191 128 246
Alte Bergstrasse 448
86899 Landsberg Am Lech
Ph: +49 8362 939 880
Visas: Australians require valid passports to enter Germany, but return tickets and visas are not required.
Electricity: Germany operates on 230V, 50Hz with two round pins.
Time zone: Germany's time is GMT +1 hour.
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