Palmengarten, Frankfurt

Close to the city center of Frankfurt am Main you’ll find a pleasure rather unexpected in this central location: the Palmengarten, a botanical garden between high modern houses and ancient homes. It is 22 hectares large and was opened in 1871. The garden expert Heinrich Siesmayer received the order to buy the trees and plants of the orangery of Adolphe, the Duke of Nassau. The garden was created following the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont and the buildings of the World Exhibition of 1867 in Paris. Some elements of that can be seen still today.

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Fagus-Werk, Alfeld an der Leine

We’re all used to modern buildings made of steel and glass. But where was the first of these buildings standing? At New York? At Frankfurt? At Singapore? No, it was built in 1911 in rural Lower Saxony, in a small town named Alfeld an der Leine. Why is that? It has to do with the story of Carl Benscheidt (1858-1947). He was an expert in making shoe lasts, an element still necessary today to produce shoes. A replica of a foot is created from beech wood (today mostly from high-density plastics) and the shoe material is formed around.

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Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum, Hildesheim

One of the good reasons to visit Hildesheim, Germany, is the RPM; the Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum. It is known because of its vast collection on Egypt and that’s something you typically wouldn’t expect: an Egyptology museum in a middle-sized city in rural Lower Saxony. Wilhelm Pelizaeus, a merchant from Hildesheim, was living for 40 years in Cairo and in 1907 he gave his private collection to his hometown. Four years later they were exhibited in a museum created only for this purpose, the Pelizaeus-Museum.

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Treasure box

Dom Mariä Himmelfahrt, Hildesheim

The cathedral of Hildesheim is a Roman-Catholic church officially named the Dom Mariä Himmelfahrt. Together with the church St. Michaelis it is since 1985 a UNESCO world heritage site and a good example of religious art during the Holy Roman Empire. The composition of buildings itself is already worth a visit, but the site also includes a museum exhibiting the enormous treasures collected over time. Additionally the icon of the city, the so-called 1,000 years old rosebush is also growing in the courtyard of the cathedral – therefore nearly every visitor of the city takes a look inside this treasure box.

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Oldest rose on the planet

1000jähriger Rosenstock, Hildesheim

The icon of Hildesheim is the rose, a special one with an old myth creating its fame. It is said that in 815 CE emperor Louis the Pious was hunting in the region which later became Hildesheim. His horse broke down and he was lost, therefore he attached the relics of Mary which he was always carrying with him to a rose bush and started to pray. He fell asleep and when he woke up the bush was in full bloom. When he stated to built a chapel in this location he was found and rescued.

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St. Michaelis

St. Michaelis, Hildesheim

The Michaeliskirche of Hildesheim is rather looking like a castle from afar, especially because of its towers. Since the Reformation it is a protestant church, but the crypt of Saint Bernward inside belongs to the Catholic church and is actively used by them. Yes, that’s a quite unusual but good solution. Since 1985 the church is (together with the cathedral) an official UNESCO world heritage site, they give insight into religious art during the Holy Roman Empire.

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Rathaus, Hildesheim

What many people don’t know is that Hildesheim was once a location for military important productions. Different companies produced tank parts, fuzes, aircraft engines and torpedoes as well as machine parts that were needed for the tanks and lorries of the Wehrmacht. Because of that Hildesheim was seven times the target of British, Canadian and US-American air raids in 1944 and 1945. On March 22nd, 1945, the historic city center was destroyed by 90 percent. 1,300 of the once 1,500 half-timbered houses were lost in a firestorm.

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Aussichtsturm Kniepenberg, Hitzacker

The Elbe is a 1094 kilometers long river which starts at the Giant Mountains (Krkonoše) of the Czech Republic and floats through Hamburg and into the North Sea close to Cuxhaven. During the times when Germany was separated into two different states the river was part of the inner-German border: after 1945 the US-American and British occupation zones met the Soviet zone here. On the side of the German Democratic Republic (GDR, DDR) a metal fence was created, towers built, villages removed and mines were placed.

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Hitzacker, Germany

Hitzacker, Dannenberg, Gorleben – these are the names of small cities known well throughout Germany. They are part of the Wendland, a very secluded region of Lower Saxony. Here a temporary storage for atomic waste was created and a final storage was planned, without any good reasons. It was merely the fact that this region was at the inner-German border which supported the idea of storing this long-term dangerous waste there. Between 1995 and 2011 thirteen so-called Castor transports arrived there and protests grew massively over time. That brought the region onto the inner maps of Germans.

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Reiterhof Lüneburger Heide, Göhrde

Germans have been very creative in the past on how they name their settlements. You can find many funny names and many international references on the map. In East Frisia you can walk from America (Amerika) to Russia (Russland). At the Baltic Sea you can enjoy Brazil (Brasilien) as well as California (Kalifornien). If you want to visit Canada (Kanada) you need to go to Thuringia; Norway (Norwegen) and Egypt (Ägypten) can be found in Lower Saxony. And there are different Cameroons (Kamerun) in this country, the one I like most can be found in the Wendland.

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