My Top 5 Places in Germany Where I've Visited

Posted on Friday, Oct 18, 2019

#5 - Spreewald

The Spreewald (Zpreevald) is a quiet little town about an hour south of Berlin. The village is made up of a series of canals, which people navigate by punt (basically a canoe). In some sense, it is Germany’s Venice, only without the large buildings and monuments, actual streets, nightlife, and fun masks. The one thing that the Spreewald has that Venice doesn’t is snake gods. Before Christendom reached the region, a snake served as the chief pagan god. In most pagan religions, snake gods are not often held in the highest esteem, frequently playing the antagonists’ role, but in the Spreewald, they are revered. This can be attributed to the helpfulness of snakes in the region. The snakes in the region are not poisonous, and early settlers of the region noticed that the behavior of snakes would change whenever there was an incoming flood. People began to keep snakes as pets, and now there are statues of snakes there. Which is pretty neat…     

#4 - Berlin

Putting Berlin fourth on this list feels like a crime, regardless Berlin is the city that I’ve lived in for the last two months, and it truly is fascinating. The complicated historical memory can be seen throughout the city. Especially in one of my favorite parts of the city: Museum Island. Most of the 19th-century monuments, castles, and churches were all destroyed in the Battle of Berlin in 1945, and many were left in ruin when the Soviets took control of the Eastern side of the country. If there was ever a time to visit Berlin, it would be now, many of these monuments have recently been rebuilt. An intriguing layer to the rebuilding process is that any parts of the building that could be salvaged and used in the reconstruction were used. If you ever find yourself in the city, run your hand down a random column of a building, chances are you will feel random indents and chips out of the column. These indents are from bullets. There is a tradition of accepting the complicated historical memory of the city and of the German nation that is unlike any other place.    

#3 - Dresden

Dresden is a shocking city to visit. All the monuments and century-old buildings look burnt. Dresden notoriously got the worst of the Allied bombing during the war, and the black stones that make up the buildings show all that survived. Regardless, it is a beautiful city at the same time. It is incredibly easy to walk, and viewing the Dresden skyline from a bridge overlooking the Elbe is fantastic. Pictured, is the statue of Augustus the Strong, King of Poland, who ordered the creation of many of the great sights in Dresden.

#2 - Potsdam

It is easy to spend an entire day in Sanssouci Park in Potsdam. The park was the seat of power for the Prussian and later on German Kaisers. The park is truly made for kings with beautiful gardens, palaces, and castles. There are even giant buildings for the servants lived, and for the kitchen. One of my favorite aspects of the park is that many of the buildings run parallel or perpendicular to the gardens and other monuments. If you have OCD, this is the place for you. The rest of Potsdam is equally beautiful; Potsdam is the capital of the German state of Brandenburg.

#1 - Saxon Switzerland National Park

Honestly, I think the picture is doing most of the work for me here. The Saxon-Switzerland National Park is weirdly enough nowhere near Switzerland and is about 40 minutes southeast of Dresden. The national park encompasses a vast amount of woodlands with unique rock formations that spreads into the Czech Republic. It’s most famous attraction the Bastei Bridge sits 1000 ft. above the ground atop the Bastei rock formation that was formed over a million years ago due to water erosion. There is miles and miles of hiking trails that take you to the highest peaks of the park, providing some awe-inspiring views.

Alex Cebulske
Centre International de Formation Européenne
Berlin, Germany | fall 2019