UNESCO Heritage Sites #106-112: Weekends out of Berlin

New place of residence, new UNESCO weekend opportunities!

#106 – Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz

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The aestetically-pleasing gardens built for pleasure and calm

Following the example of their English counterparts, German nobles at the end of 18th century, wanted to build spaces where their minds were able to wonder and create. Wörlitzer Park is one of the best examples of such English-style gardens. Like Frederick the Great’s vineyard palace, the estetics are a priority over functionality, and fascination with antiquity and the East is abundantly clear. It is no surprise to see palm trees, clearly not suitable for the frosty German winters, amidst the reproductions of famous ruins and Oriental-style houses.

#107 – Luther towns of Eisleben of Wittenberg

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Schlosskirche, the church where Luther posted his 95 Theses

Such is the significance of these towns in the life of Martin Luther, that their official names include the Lutherstadt descriptor. Luther was born in Eisleben in a family of well-off and quite enterprising mine owner. In Wittenberg, on the door of the Schlosskirche, Luther famously posted his 95 Theses, criticising the practices of the Catholic church and effectively starting the Protestant Reformation.

#108 – Quedlinburg

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Collegiate Church in Quedlinburg is a great example of medieval European architecture

In existance since at least the 9th century, Quedlinburg was a prosperous mechant town throughout the Middle Ages. This is apparent due to the presence of many well-preserved half-timbered Fachwerk houses found all around the old town. The obvious focal point of the town is the castle and the St. Servatius church complex perched high above the rest of the town.

#109 – Skellig Michael

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Though uninhabitted nowadays, Skellig Michael still preserves marks of human activity

Ok, so this remote island on the west coast of Ireland is not exactly a weekend getaway from Berlin, and in fact it took a long time to get there, but I couldn’t break up the theme, could I? Fans of Star Wars will recognize the island as the location for the final reveal in the seventh installment. In real life, it has been a site of a secluded monastery from the 6th century. The only way of getting to the island is by renting a local motoboat which takes about 45 minutes each way. The sea is cold and unforgiving, tossing the boat and tossing the lunch in your belly. It’s hard to imagine the monks performing the commute a thousand years ago!

#110 – Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange)

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Built nearly 5000 years ago, Newgrange is still overwhelming in its dimensions

Ireland’s second Heritage site, Newgrange is a Neolithic-age spiritual monument, consisting of a stone circular mound. The mound contains an entrance leading to the inner chamber. The entrance is barely noticeably sloping upwards, so by the time you are in the centre of the mound, your feet are at the eyelevel of someone at the entrance. While completely dark, the entrance is alligned in a particular way so that only during the winter solstice the light enters and lights up the interior chamber. The light reveals many ancient carvings of geometric patterns and concentric circles.

#111 – Speicherstadt, Hamburg

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Specherstadt – brick warehouses as far as the eye can see

When you think about bridges, most likely images of Venice and Amsterdam come to mind. However, the European city with the most number of bridges is actually Hamburg. As 0ne of the busiest ports in Europe, Hamburg required a lot of storage for the shipped goods. To address the growing need for warehouses, a special duty-free district, Speicherstadt, was built. Its red brick buildings became symbols of the city, and despite becoming a UNESCO site two years ago, it is still an active storage place for many carpet merchants.

#112 – Centennial Hall, Wroclaw

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Centennial Hall, built by a cake-loving architect. 

In 2016, Wroclaw was named the European Capital of Culture, and as a result there were great train deals from Berlin. At a first glance, Centennial Hall is nothing more than a huge concrete wedding cake of a building. Built in 1913 to honour of the centenary of the victory over Napoleon’s army, the Hall was ahead of its time both in its ambitious scale and the architectural innovations.

 

 

 

 

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