Germany — History and Culture
Germany has a long, complex, and colorful history, which is one reason the country is so interesting to visit. Learning the stories and significance behind the many castles, palaces, and churches is simply fascinating. Modern Germany has been shaped by the events of WWII and the re-unification of Germany. Berlin, after becoming the capital again in 1990, has become a true European metropolis. German culture has been influenced in many ways, one of them being the many Turkish immigrants.
Germany’s original inhabitants date back to the Bronze Age and are thought to have come from Scandinavia. Much of Germany was overrun by the Romans, who expanded their empire well into central and northern Europe, and called the area Germania. As the Roman Empire declined, Germanic tribes emerged. Of special importance was Charlemagne and the subsequent rise of the Hohenstaufen emperors, whose princes ruled until 1254.
A turn in Germany’s history was the Protestant Reformation, led by Marin Luther in 1517. The spread of Protestant religion united many Germans and led to the construction of some of the country’s most stunning churches. Pilgrims and those interested in history still follow the Luther Trail, which includes sites such as St. Anne’s Church in Augsburg, the Coburg Fortress, the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt, Marburg Cathedral and Wartburg Castle, to mention a few.
Germany was ravaged by many wars, with tumulus events wreaking havoc to important historic buildings and documents. Notable conflicts include the Silesian Wars (1740), the Seven Years’ War (1756), the Danish-Prussian War (1864), the Austro-Prussian War (1866), the France-Prussian War (1870), and WWI (1914). The rise of the Third Reich and the Holocaust were dark points in history and badly damaged the country’s spirit. The heavy bombings during WWII by the Allies significantly destroyed many of the historic cities and sites in Germany. A good place to learn more is at the German History Museum (Deutsches Historisches Museum) in Berlin.
Germany’s central location in Europe has always put the country in a leadership role in the region. In fact, Germany was one of the founding members of the European Community in 1957, which has now developed into the European Union. To learn about the history of the euro, visitors should head to the European Central Bank, which is headquartered in Frankfurt.
Known as the ‘Land of Poets and Thinkers,’ German culture has been heavily influenced by religion, composers, writers, and philosophers. The country has been home to the likes of Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven, and poets such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich von Schiller, as well as Friedrich Nietzsche, Immanuel Kant, and Max Weber.
Culture, of course, varies from region to region. The southern state of Bavaria spends a significant amount of its annual budget in supporting the arts. There are many folk songs, music, and festivals in this region and spending some time here can be an eye-opening experience.