UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany

Germany is home to 42 sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Many of the sites, like the Cologne Cathedral, the Bauhaus complexes in Weimar and Dessau, or the medieval city center of Regensburg, are familiar to travelers. While places like the Abbey of Lorsch or former industrial sites-turned cultural centers, like Völklingen Ironworks or the Zollverein complex in Essen may be less familiar. The natural heritage sites on the list, like the fossil-hunters paradise at the Messel Pit near Darmstadt, are gems hidden in plain site, open to the public but under state conservation protection. Take your time perusing this overview of the sites and plan to visit a few on your next trip to Germany.

Cultural Heritage Sites

  • Aachen Cathedral

    Aachen Cathedral Enlarge image Aachen Cathedral (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) Aachen Cathedral was the first German cultural monument to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1978

    The cathedral, which was built between around 790 and 800, is of universal significance to the history of art and architecture, and one of the great icons of religious architecture. Contemporaries declared the Palatine Chapel of the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne to be a miracle of the art of construction – of half divine, half human conception. The Palatine Chapel, the first vaulted building north of the Alps, is heavily influenced by the building traditions of classical antiquity and by Byzantine architecture

  • Abbey and Altenmünster of Lorsch

    Torhalle in Lorsch Enlarge image Torhalle in Lorsch (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) At the small town of Lorsch, between Worms and Darmstadt, the Abbey of Lorsch was founded by the Frankish Count Cancor and his mother Williswinda during the reign of Pippin the Short (751-768). The buildings at Lorsch are among the most significant relics of pre-Romanesque building techniques in Germany. They were inscribed in the World Heritage List in 1991 together with the nearby Altenmünster monastery.

    Nowadays, the famous Torhalle – one of the few monuments of the Carolingian period to have preserved its original appearance over the centuries – reminds us of the bygone greatness of a once powerful monastery complex.

  • Bauhaus and its Sites in Weimar and Dessau

    The Bauhaus in Dessau Enlarge image The Bauhaus in Dessau (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.)

    Almost seventy years to the day after the inauguration of the Gropius Building in Dessau, the Bauhaus sites in Weimar and Dessau were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in December 1996.

    As UNESCO explained in its official justification, the Bauhaus, with its sites in Weimar (Thuringia) and Dessau (Saxony-Anhalt), represents the so-called Bauhaus school of architecture which, between 1919 and 1933, applied revolutionary ideas to building design and town planning. The buildings of the Bauhaus professors, from Walter Gropius to Hannes Meyer, Lazlo Moholy-Nagy to Wassily Kandinsky, founded the Bauhaus style, which made a decisive mark on the architecture of the 20th century.

  • Berlin Modernism Housing Estates

    Berlin Modernism Housing Estates Enlarge image Berlin Modernism Housing Estates (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) The property consists of six housing estates that testify to innovative housing policies from 1910 to 1933, especially during the Weimar Republic, when the city of Berlin was particularly progressive socially, politically and culturally.

    The property is an outstanding example of the building reform movement that contributed to improving housing and living conditions for people with low incomes through novel approaches to town planning, architecture and garden design. The estates also provide exceptional examples of new urban and architectural typologies, featuring fresh design solutions, as well as technical and aesthetic innovations. Bruno Taut, Martin Wagner and Walter Gropius were among the leading architects of these projects which exercised considerable influence on the development of housing around the world.

  • Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

    Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe Enlarge image Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe (© picture alliance / Uwe Zucchi) Descending a long hill dominated by a giant statue of Hercules, the monumental water displays of Wilhelmshöhe were begun by Landgrave Carl of Hesse-Kassel in 1689 around an east-west axis and were developed further into the 19th century. Reservoirs and channels behind the Hercules Monument supply water to a complex system of hydro-pneumatic devices that supply the site’s large Baroque water theatre, grotto, fountains and 350-metre long Grand Cascade. Beyond this, channels and waterways wind across the axis, feeding a series of dramatic waterfalls and wild rapids, the geyser-like Grand Fountain which leaps 50m high, the lake and secluded ponds that enliven the Romantic garden created in the 18th century by Carl’s great-grandson, Elector Wilhelm I. The great size of the park and its waterworks along with the towering Hercules statue constitute an expression of the ideals of absolutist Monarchy while the ensemble is a remarkable testimony to the aesthetics of the Baroque and Romantic periods.

  • Carolingian Westwork and Civitas Corvey

    Imperial Abbey of Corvey Enlarge image Imperial Abbey of Corvey (© picture alliance / Arco Images GmbH) These structures are located along the Weser River on the outskirts of Höxter where they were erected between AD 822 and 885 in a largely preserved rural setting. The Westwork is the only standing structure that dates back to the Carolingian era, while the original imperial abbey complex is preserved as archaeological remains that are only partially excavated. The Westwork of Corvey uniquely illustrates one of the most important Carolingian architectural expressions. It is a genuine creation of this period, and its architectural articulation and decoration clearly illustrate the role played within the Frankish empire by imperial monasteries in securing territorial control and administration, as well as the propagation of Christianity and the Carolingian cultural and political order throughout Europe.

  • Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust at Brühl

    Augustusberg Castle in Brühl Enlarge image Augustusberg Castle in Brühl (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.)

    The castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1984 as exceptional examples of 18th century castle-building. They represent the first major works of the Rococo style in Germany and for half a century they were the model for the palaces of many German princes. In 1725, Prince-Elector Clemens August commissioned the Westphalian architect Johann Konrad Schlaun to build a residence castle over the remains of a medieval fortress. Over three years a restrained three-winged building was constructed which incorporated elements of the original building fabric.

  • Classical Weimar

    Weimar Enlarge image Belevedere Castle in Weimar (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V)

    The ensemble known as ‘classical Weimar’ is a unique testimony to a long-gone but still resonant cultural epoch – the Weimar Classical Period. The Weimar Classical Period took up traditions and progressive influences from world culture, extending far beyond national borders in its ambition, significance and effect – and becoming part of world culture. Literary works of exceptional importance were created, marked by a spirit of openness to the world, universal education and humanist ambitions.

    Weimar’s inscription in the World Heritage List in 1998 was justified by UNESCO with reference to the ‘high artistic quality of the public and private buildings and parks in and around the town’ from the ‘flowering of the Weimar Classical Period’ and Weimar’s outstanding role as a cultural centre in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

  • Collegiate Church, Castle, and Old Town of Quedlinburg

    Quedlingburg Enlarge image Quedlingburg (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) The old town of Quedlinburg was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994. Quedlinburg, a stone’s throw from the Brocken mountain on the eastern side of the Harz range, provides an ‘outstanding example of an early medieval town in central Europe’, made up of a fortified nucleus and a number of adjoining settlements.

    Old town and new town fused in 1330 to a twin community with a common town wall. With 1300 timber-framed houses spanning six centuries and a number of art nouveau buildings, Quedlinburg as a whole is one of Germany’s largest monuments.

  • Cologne Cathedral

    Cologne Cathedral Enlarge image Cologne Cathedral (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) Cologne Cathedral, constructed between 1248 and 1880, is considered a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996. At the time of its completion in the 19th century, the cathedral was the tallest building in the world.

    The builders of Cologne Cathedral had perfected the cathedral as a form. The design of the western façade broke every convention: as the largest church façade in the world, it was to cover a surface area of 7,000 square metres, flanked by two mighty 156-metre towers.

  • Fagus Factory in Alfeld

    Fagus Factory in Alfeld is a 10-building complex - began around 1910 to the design of Walter Gropius, which is a landmark in the development of modern architecture and industrial design. Serving all stages of manufacture, storage and dispatch of lasts used by the shoe industry, the complex, which is still operational today, is situated in Alfeld an der Leine in Lower Saxony. With its groundbreaking vast expanses of glass panels and functionalist aesthetics, the complex foreshadowed the work of the Bauhaus school and is a landmark in the development of architecture in Europe and North America.

  • Frontiers of the Roman Empire

    The Roman Limes Enlarge image The Roman Limes (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) In the year 2005 the Upper German-Raetian Limes was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Together with Hadrian’s Wall in Great Britain (UNESCO World Heritage since 1987), the limes make up the multinational World Heritage Site entitled ‘Frontiers of the Roman Empire’.

    The limes mark out the Roman border fortifications with castles, watchtowers, walls and palisades, which the former superpower used to demarcate its territory against the free Germania. With 550 km in length, it is the longest monument in Europe.

  • Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz

    Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz Enlarge image Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz is ‘an exceptional example’ of the application of the philosophical principles of the Age of Enlightenment to the design of a landscape that integrates art, education and economy in a harmonious whole. This was the justification given by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for the inscription of this manmade landscape in the World Heritage List in November 2000.

    The philosophy of the 18th century is reflected in this park landscape with English gardens, castles and meadows, with antique-style temples on the banks of streams and lakes. Situated between Luther’s Wittenberg and the Dessau of the Bauhaus, the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz stretches over 150 square kilometres. This unique work of landscaping was created between 1765 and 1800 by Prince Leopold III Friedrich Franz of Anhalt-Dessau and his advisor, the architect Friedrich Wilhelm von Erdmannsdorff.

  • Hanseatic City of Lübeck

    Lübeck Enlarge image Lübeck (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) The inscription of the medieval town centre of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck in 1987 was the first time an entire old town had been recognised by UNESCO as World Cultural Heritage.

    The city was founded in 1143 and laid out in 1159 during the reign of Heinrich der Löwe along the lines that remain visible today. The backbone of the town’s architecture is made up of structures built in the High Gothic period, as visible in the division into plots, the sequences of similar gabled houses, wood-framed roofs and false façades. Lübeck is an exemplary model of the family of Hanseatic towns that are spread around the shores of the Baltic. 

  • Historic Centers of Stralsund and Wismar

    Wismar Enlarge image Wismar (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) In 2002, UNESCO inscribed the historic town centres of Stralsund and Wismar in the World Heritage List together, as representative examples of the cultural heritage of the Hanseatic League. Both are ideal representations of developed Hanseatic towns during the heyday of the League in the 14th century.

    The historic town centres have maintained their medieval layout almost totally intact and are perfect examples of the construction of sea trading towns in accordance with the Lübeck Law. A group of six monumental brick churches provide a unique cross-section of the renowned religious architecture of the Hanseatic towns.

  • Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg

    Wittenberg Enlarge image Martin Luther Statue in Wittenberg (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) The Luther memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg (Saxony-Anhalt) were recognised as part of humanity’s cultural heritage, as they represent a significant stage in human history and are of ‘outstanding universal value bearing unique testimony to the Protestant Reformation’.

    Luther was born in 1483 in Eisleben and died there in 1546. Wittenberg was the centre of Luther’s work during the Reformation, and the Castle Church – on the door of which he nailed his 95 Theses on the 31st October 1517 – later became his final resting place as well as that of his closest collaborator, Phillip Melanchton.

  • Maulbronn Monastery Complex

    Maulbronn Enlarge image Maulbronn (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) The monastery of Maulbronn, located near to Karlsruhe, is the most perfectly preserved medieval monastery complex north of the Alps. The main criteria for its inscription in the World Heritage List in 1993 were the almost untouched topographical situation of the monastery, with its cultural landscape marked by the Cistercian monks, and the exemplary nature of its cultural assets.

    The complex, founded in 1147, provides insights into the life and work of the Cistercian order between the 12th and the 16th century. Some building elements from the period 1200 to 1210 are significant for the architectural history of the whole of central Europe: the early Gothic church porch, the south wing of the cloister and the men’s refectory, which is possibly the most elaborate dining hall of the 13th century.

  • Margravial Opera House Bayreuth

    Margravial Opera House Bayreuth Enlarge image Margravial Opera House Bayreuth (© UNESCO / Bavarian Department for State-owned Palaces, Gardens and Lakes (BSV) - Heiko Oehme) A masterpiece of Baroque theatre architecture, built between 1745 and 1750, the Opera House is the only entirely preserved example of its type where an audience of 500 can experience Baroque court opera culture and acoustics authentically, as its auditorium retains its original materials, i.e. wood and canvas. Commissioned by Margravine Wilhelmine, wife of Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg–Beyreuth, it was designed by the renowned theatre architect Giuseppe Galli Bibiena. As a court opera house in a public space, it foreshadowed the large public theatres of the 19th century. The highly decorated theatre’s tiered loge structure of wood with illusionistic painted canvas represents the ephemeral ceremonial architectural tradition that was employed in pageants and celebrations for princely self-representation.

  • Mines of Rammelsberg, Historic Town of Goslar and Upper Harz Water Management System

    Goslar Enlarge image Goslar (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) Together with the mines of Rammelsberg, the medieval old town of Goslar and its imperial palace were inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1992.

    The richness of the Rammelsberg in silver and particularly copper ores led to the founding of the palace by Emperor Heinrich II at the beginning of the 11th century; in the year 1009 the first Imperial Assembly was held in Goslar. The imposing palace was erected in the Romanesque style. Goslar was a residence for German kings and emperors until 1253 and a centre for the Christian faith – the ‘Rome of the North’.

    The Upper Harz mining water management system, which lies south of the Rammelsberg mines and the town of Goslar, has been developed over a period of some 800 years to assist in the process of extracting ore for the production of non-ferrous metals. Its construction was first undertaken in the Middle Ages by Cistercian monks, and it was then developed on a vast scale from the end of the 16th century until the 19th century. It is made up of an extremely complex but perfectly coherent system of artificial ponds, small channels, tunnels and underground drains. It enabled the development of water power for use in mining and metallurgical processes. It is a major site for mining innovation in the western world.

  • Monastic Island of Reichenau

    The Monastic Island of Reichenau Enlarge image The Monastic Island of Reichenau (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) The monastic island of Reichenau on Lake Constance is an outstanding testament to the religious and cultural role of a great Benedictine monastery in the Middle Ages. In the year 724, the abbot Pirmin founded the monastery on the ‘rich isle’, and the Benedictine abbey developed between 800 and 1100 into a spiritual and cultural centre of the Holy Roman Empire.

    The three Romanesque churches on the island built between the 9th and 11th centuries are fine examples of the architecture of the early Middle Ages in Central Europe. The meticulously restored wall paintings show Reichenau to be a ‘highly significant artistic centre of great significance to the history of art in Europe in the 10th and 11th centuries’. In the year 2000, UNESCO inscribed the monastic island in the World Heritage List.

  • Museumsinsel (Museum Island), Berlin

    Bode Museum, part of the Museum Island Enlarge image Bode Museum, part of the Museum Island (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) The Museum Island in Berlin is considered ‘a unique ensemble of museum buildings which illustrates the evolution of modern museum design over more than a century’. It is ‘an outstanding example of the concept of the art museum, going back to the time of the enlightenment and the French Revolution’.

    The Museum Island is part of the cultural heritage of the 19th century, the age of education and the sciences. Five museum buildings belong to the complex of the Museum Island, which was declared part of the World Heritage by UNESCO in 1999: the Pergamon Museum, the Old Museum, the National Gallery, the Bode Museum (formerly Kaiser Friedrich Museum) and the New Museum.

  • Muskauer Park (Park Muzakowski)

    Muskauer Park / Park Muzakowski Enlarge image Muskauer Park / Park Muzakowski (© Hans-J. Aubert) UNESCO inscribed the Muskauer Park (Park Muzakowski) in the World Heritage List in 2004 as a common German-Polish cultural heritage site. The park was built on both banks of the River Neisse, along the German-Polish border, between 1815 and 1844 by Prince Hermann of Pückler-Muskau, and uses the techniques of ‘nature painting’ to create a harmonious garden-as-artwork. It had a considerable influence on landscape architecture in Europe and America.

  • Old Town of Regensburg with Stadtamhof

    Regensburg Enlarge image Regensburg (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) In 2006, UNESCO inscribed the ensemble entitled ‘Old Town of Regensburg with Stadtamhof’ in the World Heritage List. In the High Middle Ages Regensburg was a political centre of the Holy Roman Empire and a flourishing European trading centre.

    The old town is considered an outstanding example of an intact medieval city. Architectural highlights include the patrician houses and towers, the cathedral and the 12th century stone bridge.

  • Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin

    One of the Palaces in Potsdam Enlarge image The Marmorpalais; one of the Palaces in Potsdam (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) In 1990, UNESCO officially recognised the palaces and parks of Potsdam and Berlin, built between 1730 and 1916, as part of the World Heritage. The protected area of the World Heritage Site covers the palace and park of Babelsberg, as well as the ‘New Garden’ situated to the west of the Heiligen See lake, with the Marmorpalais and the Cäcilienhof palace where the Potsdam Agreement was signed in August 1945.

    The palace and park of Sanssouci, often called the ‘Prussian Versailles’, are a synthesis of the artistic movements that marked the European cities and courts of the 18th century. The whole complex is an outstanding example of architectural creativity and landscaping, against the spiritual background of the monarchist ideal.

  • Pilgrimage Church of Wies

    Pilgrimage Church of Wies Enlarge image Pilgrimage Church of Wies (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) The church of Wies in Steingaden, Upper Bavaria, was inscribed in the World Heritage List in 1983 as a masterpiece of human creativity and an exceptional testimony to an extinct culture. The abbot of the Premonstratensians in Steingaden decided to build this shimmering work of piety to accommodate the pilgrims visiting a miraculous icon.

    The construction work began in 1745 under the supervision of the renowned architect Dominikus Zimmerman. In pastureland at the foot of the Alps he created one of the most perfect works of art of the Bavarian Rococo. The choir was consecrated in 1749, and the rest of the church in 1754. 

  • Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps

    Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps Enlarge image Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps (© dpa - Bildfunk) This serial property of 111 small individual sites encompasses the remains of prehistoric pile-dwelling (or stilt house) settlements in and around the Alps built from around 5000 to 500 B.C. on the edges of lakes, rivers or wetlands. Excavations, only conducted in some of the sites, have yielded evidence that provides insight into life in prehistoric times during the Neolithic and Bronze Age in Alpine Europe and the way communities interacted with their environment. Fifty-six of the sites are located in Switzerland. The settlements are a unique group of exceptionally well-preserved and culturally rich archaeological sites, which constitute one of the most important sources for the study of early agrarian societies in the region.

  • Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier

    Trier - Porta Nigra Enlarge image Trier - Porta Nigra (© DZT/Andrew Cowin) Trier, founded in 16 B.C. as “Augusta Treverorum”, is the oldest town in Germany. The quantity and the structural quality of the surviving monuments – the bridge, the remains of the town’s fortifications, thermal baths, amphitheatre and warehouses – make Trier an outstanding testimony to the four centuries of the Roman era. These Roman buildings and the subsequent Christian buildings that rose from their ruins – and are now inseparable from them – were inscribed together in the World Heritage List in 1986.

    Trier is directly and tangibly connected to one of the most important events in human history: Constantine’s campaign against Maxentius in the year 312, which led to the recognition of Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire in the Edict of Milan in 313.

  • Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus

    Hamburg's historic Speicherstadt warehouse district Enlarge image (© picture-alliance/ dpa/dpaweb) Speicherstadt and the adjacent Kontorhaus district are two densely built urban areas in the centre of the port city of Hamburg. Speicherstadt, originally developed on a group of narrow islands in the Elbe River between 1885 and 1927, was partly rebuilt from 1949 to 1967. It is one of the largest coherent historic ensembles of port warehouses in the world (300,000 m2). It includes 15 very large warehouse blocks as well as six ancillary buildings and a connecting network of short canals. Adjacent to the modernist Chilehaus office building, the Kontorhaus district is an area of over five hectares featuring six very large office complexes built from the 1920s to the 1940s to house port-related businesses. The complex exemplifies the effects of the rapid growth in international trade in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

  • Speyer Cathedral

    Speyer Enlarge image Speyer (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) In 1981, Speyer Cathedral was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as the masterwork of Romanesque architecture in Germany. Consecrated to the Virgin Mary and Saint Stephen, the cathedral was constructed in two long phases, between 1025 and 1061 and between 1082 and 1106. It perfects a floor plan which was to have a great influence on the development of Romanesque architecture in the 11th and 12th centuries. The floor plan’s hallmarks are the balanced division of the building into East and West, and the symmetrical arrangement of four towers at the corners of the space created by the nave and transept.

  • St Mary's Cathedral and St Michael's Church at Hildesheim

    Hildesheim Enlarge image Hildesheim (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) Hildesheim Cathedral and the Benedictine abbey church of St. Michael are an exceptional testimony to the religious art of the Holy Roman Empire. Since 1985 the cathedral and St. Michael’s at Hildesheim have featured on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

    The two buildings and their artistic treasures provide a profound insight into the construction of Romanesque churches in the Christian west. The origins of both St. Mary’s Cathedral and St. Michael’s Church go back to the 11th century. St. Michael’s, built between 1010 and 1022 by Bishop Bernward of Hildesheim, is a key work of medieval art.

  • Town Hall and Roland on the Marketplace of Bremen

    Bremen Enlarge image Bremen (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) UNESCO added the town hall and the statue of Roland in Bremen to the World Heritage List in 2004.

    Bremen’s town hall and Roland statue represent the development of the Hanseatic League, to which Bremen belonged from 1358. The town hall was built at the beginning of the 15th century in the Gothic style, and renovated in the early 17th century in the ‘Weser Renaissance’ style. The statue of Roland on the marketplace was erected in 1404 as a guardian of Hanseatic freedoms.

  • Town of Bamberg

    Bamberg Enlarge image Bamberg (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) The old town of Bamberg was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993 due to its exemplary nature. It represents in a unique manner the central European town, developed upon a street pattern going back to the early Middle Ages.

    The historic makeup of the town, with its many monumental buildings ranging from the 11th to 18th centuries – a synthesis of medieval churches and Baroque townhouses and palaces – preserves architectural motifs that influenced the whole of Europe. Architecture in Bamberg served as a model from central Germany to Hungary, and shows up a close relationship with Bohemia in the Baroque period. The historical fabric of the old town in Bamberg remains generally intact, with over 1000 buildings listed as protected monuments.

  • Upper Middle Rhine Valley

    Rhine Valley Enlarge image Rhine Valley (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) The UNESCO World Heritage Committee declared the landscape of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley between Bingen, Rüdesheim and Koblenz a World Heritage Site in 2002. The Committee praised the Upper Middle Rhine Valley as a cultural landscape of great diversity and beauty. The landscape presents an unusual wealth of cultural features and historical and artistic associations.

    The Middle Rhine Valley thanks its special appearance to both the natural shape of the river landscape and to human hand. For two millennia the Middle Rhine Valley has been one of the most important transport routes for cultural exchange between the Mediterranean region and northern Europe.

  • Völklingen Ironworks

    Völklingen Enlarge image Völklingen (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) The Völklingen Ironworks represents a century of steel and labour. It was founded by the Cologne engineer Julius Buch in 1873. Under the management of Karl Röchling it became Germany’s largest producer of steel girders. In its heyday, 20,000 workers transformed ore from Lorraine and Sweden into iron using coal from the Saarland. The works was one of the most modern industrial plants in Europe. It was inscribed in the World Heritage List in 1994.

  • Wartburg Castle

    The Wartburg Enlarge image The Wartburg (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) The Wartburg, near Eisenach (Thuringia), was inscribed in the World Heritage List in 1999 as ‘an outstanding monument to the feudal era in Central Europe’. Legend has it that the castle was founded in 1067 by Count Ludwig der Springer. It was here that Martin Luther translated the New Testament between 1521 and 1522.

    The castle is also linked to the legend of the ‘Minstrel’s Contest’, to Saint Elisabeth and to the festival of the German students associations 300 years after the Reformation. Due to its location on the former border between East and West Germany, the Wartburg remains a symbol of German integration and unity.

  • Würzburg Residence with the Court Gardens and Residence Square

    Würzburg Residence Enlarge image Würzburg Residence (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) The Würzburg Residence was recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage in 1981. Decorated between 1740 and 1770, with a fine garden laid out between 1765 and 1780, it is one of the most sumptuous of Europe’s Baroque palaces. The Residence is a model of cooperation between artists drawn from many European countries, a ‘synthesis of the European Baroque’. Its originality and ambitious construction make it unique.

  • Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen

    Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen Enlarge image Zollverein Coal Mine Industrial Complex in Essen (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) In 2001, UNESCO declared the Zollverein Coalmine Industrial Complex in Essen a World Heritage Site. The World Heritage Committee praised the Zollverein Coalmine as a representative example of the ‘development of traditional heavy industries in Europe’.

    Exceptional value was attributed to the Bauhaus-influenced architecture of the industrial complex, which for decades provided the model for modern industrial construction. The Zollverein Coalmine was the largest and most modern coal processing plant in the world. In 1986 the mine was closed down, and the whole industrial complex is today an ideal place to gain an insight into mining history and the development of industrial architecture in one of Europe’s most important industrial regions.

Natural Heritage Sites

  • Messel Pit Fossil Site

    Messel Pit Fossil Site Enlarge image Messel Fossil Pit Site (© UNESCO-Welterbestätten Deutschland e.V.) The Messel Pit near Darmstadt was the first German natural monument to be accepted by UNESCO on the World Heritage List in December 1995. This fossil bed provides a unique insight into the earliest stages of the evolution of mammals. It documents the history of the earth’s development 49 million years ago, as the extinction of the dinosaurs brought radical transformations in the animal and plant worlds.

    The oil shale conceals fossils that cover the entire spectrum of living beings in the Eocene period (57 to 36 million years BC), with a diversity and quality that has yet to be equalled by any other site.

  • Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany

    The Ancient Beech Forests of Germany, represent examples of on-going post-glacial biological and ecological evolution of terrestrial ecosystems and are indispensable to understanding the spread of the beech in the Northern Hemisphere across a variety of environments. The new inscription represents the addition of five forests totaling 4,391 hectares that are added to the 29,278 hectares of Slovakian and Ukranian beech forests inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2007. The tri-national property is now to be known as the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany (Slovakia, Ukraine, Germany).

  • The Wadden Sea

    A view of the Wadden Sea (Wattenmeer) at low tide near the Westerheversand Lighthouse on the coast of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany's northernmost state. (c) dpa - Bildfunk Enlarge image A view of the Wadden Sea (Wattenmeer) at low tide near the Westerheversand Lighthouse on the coast of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany's northernmost state. (© dpa - Bildfunk) The Wadden Sea (Germany / The Netherlands) comprises the Dutch Wadden Sea Conservation Area and the German Wadden Sea National Parks of Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein. It is a large temperate, relatively flat coastal wetland environment, formed by the intricate interactions between physical and biological factors that have given rise to a multitude of transitional habitats with tidal channels, sandy shoals, sea-grass meadows, mussel beds, sandbars, mudflats, salt marshes, estuaries, beaches and dunes.

    The inscribed site represents over 66% of the whole Wadden Sea and is home to numerous plant and animal species, including marine mammals such as the harbour seal, grey seal and harbour porpoise. It is also a breeding and wintering area for up to 12 millions birds per annum and it supports more than 10 percent of 29 species. The site is one of the last remaining natural, large-scale, intertidal ecosystems where natural processes continue to function largely undisturbed.

UNESCO World Heritage

German World Heritage Sites Collage