BAD WURZACH, Germany, Feb. 27, 2016 – Whatever your traveling desires may be, Germany just may be the most creative country in the world at finding ways to immerse visitors into its culture.
With no fewer than three popular major travel routes that encompass various historic and folkloric themes, Germany makes it easy for people who long to get far from the madding crowds to lose themselves.
The Romantik Road journeys through the quaint villages and majestic castles of Bavaria, while the Fairy Tale Road retraces the footsteps of the Brothers Grimm and the children’s stories everyone knows so well.
This year, the Baroque Road, another of Germany’s legendary cultural pathways, turns 50. It meanders through Upper Swabia along the Danube and Lake Constance. Here the storybook landscape comes alive with baroque castles, palaces, abbeys and churches.
Actually the Baroque Road is not a single route, but four different courses for visitors to enjoy. If you happen to be in Germany on June 18, the actual anniversary date, numerous attractions will celebrate the event with a program called “Long Night of the Baroque.”
Baroque architecture came into vogue in the late 16th century, and for the next hundred years or so the embellishments of gold and marble made their way through Europe and on to the New World.
Germany was a little late to the party, due in large part to the Thirty Years War and the counter-reformation by the Catholic Church, but once the baroque movement began, it didn’t take long to catch up.
The largely depopulated regions within Upper Swabia soon became overwhelmed by immigrants who contributed heavily to an economic upturn that provided considerable funding for the restoration of existing buildings. With the baroque period in full swing combined with nobility whose territories were mostly small or, at best, modest in size, dwelling places were quickly renovated into the baroque style.
The building frenzy lasted from approximately 1650 to the French Revolution with the result for travelers today being a magnificent concentration of baroque architecture that can be experienced along the 300 miles of Germany’s backroads and countryside.
The Main route is circular, beginning and ending in Ulm with its famous cathedral. Along the way, the road passes through Bad Wurzach, where the castle features the most beautiful baroque staircase in Upper Swabia.
Many towns along the quartet of roads are spa villages. You can easily recognize them because they have the German word “bad” in front of their name, which means “bath” or “spa.”
Beginning in Riedlingen, the west route terminates on Lake Constance.
Travelers wishing to sample a taste of other countries may want experience the south route, which travels around Lake Constance from Kressbronn am Bodensee before passing through Austria and Switzerland and ending in Meersburg, home to the oldest castle in Germany.
For those with limited time, the east route is the shortest, but no matter which path you choose, you will find a treasure trove of interesting villages and stunning baroque architecture.
Mention the baroque period, and typically architecture comes to mind, but remember the baroque style is not limited to buildings. It can also include art, gardens and other cultural manifestations that grew out of the movement.
Germany alone has 140 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which means it is practically impossible to travel the country without stumbling upon something unique and interesting. With countless villages and towns along the Baroque Road, of which there are too many to list, a visitor cannot help encountering something that appeals to even the most hardened sensitivities.
The tiny village of Erbach, for example, which nestles along the main route, features a shop where travelers can observe artisans sculpting ivory.
While the Romantik Road, the Fairy Tale Road and the Baroque Road may among Germany’s best known tourist routes, travelers will also discover a Wine Road, a Clock Road and even a Timber-Frame Road.
Yes, when it comes to innovations for travelers, Germany is at the top of the list. You see, in Germany, anyone can quickly become a “Roads Scholar.”
Taylor is founder of the Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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