For a country that projects such influence and unity as a major powerbroker in the European Union, it's hard to believe that Germany was a country divided until 1990. With a reputation for precision engineering and high-tech products, the largest country with the biggest economy in Europe is actually an amalgamation of states with distinct and unique cultures and attributes.
After its defeat in World War II, Germany was divided into two sectors with the democratic nation to the west, and the Soviet-controlled area to the east. After decades of ‘haves' and ‘have-nots' separated by the heavily guarded Berlin Wall, the peaceful reunification process has seen the country embrace their differences to become a welcoming and appealing destination.
Known as a progressive nation where culture and differences are celebrated, Germany straddles the past and present with ease. Churches hollowed out by bombs are juxtaposed by post-modernist steel and glass structures in the capital, Berlin, and the Disney-esque Neuschwanstein Castle resides in the same state as the site of the Munich Oktoberfest. Different cultures, religions and lifestyles are all tolerated and even welcomed in Germany where the Love Parade drew thousands of people from around the world.
Germany is a leader in cutting-edge fashion, culture, music and art with a plethora of well-known tastemakers designers, artists, models and DJs hailing from here. Berlin is the place to go for cutting-edge art and culture and the best underground dance clubs. The ancient Roman city of Cologne boasts Romanesque churches and archaeological sites, while Hamburg is a harbour city with a famous red-light district along the Reeperbahn.
Hearty history and boundless beauty
The iconic German images of lederhosen, giant beer steins and pretzels can be found in Munich in the country's south, and the nearby Bavarian Alps are home to Germany's best skiing and snowboarding resorts.
While Germany may be marching forward, the past is never far behind. The horrors of World War II and the legacy of the Nazi regime can be seen in sobering museums, monuments and underground bunkers. While not always an attraction as such, you can gain an insight into the past and Cold War-era Germany at the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, Holocaust Memorial, and former concentration camp sites.
From the picturesque beauty of the Romantic Road to the bonhomie of Munich's Oktoberfest, and the edgy industrial feel of Berlin's Potsdamer Platz to the meandering Rhine River and Baltic Coast, Germany has seductive sights in all states.