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Europe

The European continent was named after beautiful Phoenician woman called Europa.

Europe

When Zeus have seen Agenor's daughter Europa gathering flowers he immediately fell in love with her.

Places that I've seen and I like

There are a lot of cities and nice places in Germany, many of them having profound significance in the history of Germany and some in the history of the whole Europe. I will describe only these that I have visited myself, thus you may not find many very interesting cities and sites. But this only means that I was not there.

The places and sites are described on a few pages and put in the alphabetic order. Almost all photographs are taken by me using my amateur Panasonic camera. Few photos are added from the Internet.

Hanover, Heidelberg, Magdeburg, Potsdam and Rastatt

Hanover

Hanover on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen) and was once the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg. At the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the Electorate was enlarged to become the capital of the Kingdom of Hanover. With a population of 522,686 in 2010 the city is a major centre of northern Germany, known for hosting annual commercial trade fairs such as the Hanover Fair and the CeBIT as well as the Schützenfest Hannover, the world's largest sharpshooter's festival, and the Oktoberfest Hannover, the second largest bier festival in the world. In 2000, Hanover hosted the world fair Expo 2000.

Parking near Marschsee Marschsee
Niew Rathuis Niew Rathuis with Grazyna
Norddeutsche Landesbank New Ruthuis Eastern side

Hanover was founded in medieval times on the bank of the river Leine. Its original name Honovere may just mean "high river bank", though this is debated. Hanover was before a small village of ferrymen and fishermen that became a comparatively large town in the 13th century due to its position at a natural crossroads. As overland travel was relatively difficult, its position on the upper navigable reaches of the river helped it to grow by increasing trade. It was connected to the Hanseatic League city of Bremen by the Leine, and was situated near the southern edge of the wide North German Plain and north-west of the Harz Mountains, so that east-west traffic such as mule trains passed through it. Hanover was always the crossroads city thus, a gateway to the Rhine, Ruhr and Saar river valleys.

Old Hanover

In the 14th century the main churches of Hanover were built, as well as a city wall with three city gates. The beginning of industrialization in Germany led to trade in iron and silver from the northern Harz Mountains, which increased the city's importance.

Mahnmal Aegidienkirche Mahnmal Aegidienkirche 2
Old city Old city 2

The electors of Hanover would later become monarchs of Great Britain and Ireland. The first of these was George I Louis, who acceded to the British throne in 1714. The last British monarch who ruled in Hanover was William IV. The Salic law oh Hanover required succession by the male line and this forbade the accession of Queen Victoria in Hanover. Nevertheless, as a male-line descendant of George I, Queen Victoria was herself a member of the House of Hanover.

Old city buildings Old Ruthuis

During the time of the personal union of the crowns of the United Kingdom and Hanover (1714–1837), the monarchs rarely visited the city. During the Seven Years' War the Battle of Hastenbeck was fought on July 26, 1757, near the city. The French army defeated the Hanoverian Army of Observation, leading to the city's occupation as part of the Invasion of Hanover. It was recaptured by Anglo-German forces led by Ferdinand of Brunswick just the following year.

Marktkirche Luther and Maciek
Inside the Marktkirche Marktkirche orgels

Hanover remained a kingdom until 1866, when it was annexed by Prussia during the Austro-Prussian war. Despite having defeated Prussia at the Battle of Langensalza, the city of Hanover became a Prussian provincial capital. After the annexation, the people of Hanover opposed the Prussian regime. However, for Hanoverian industry, the new connection with Prussia meant an improvement in business. The introduction of free trade promoted economic growth, and also led to the recovery of the founders' era. In the period from 1871 to 1912 the population of Hanover grew from 87,000 to 313,000.

Huis in Hanover Ballen
City walls City walls 2
Niedersächsisches Landesmuseum HanoverRailway Station

In 1872 the first horse railway was inaugurated, and from 1893 an electric tram was developed. In 1887 Emile Berliner invented the vinyl record plate used with the gramophone in place of a cylinder. The city was enlarged in 1869, then in 1882 by adding Königsworther Platz and the Welfengarten and again in 1891 and in 1907. Municipalities of Stöcken, Gutsbezirk Mecklenheide, Bothfeld, Klein-Buchholz, Groß-Buchholz, Kirchrode, Döhren and Wülfel were incorporated into Hanover.

Opera huis CeBIT 2008 conference centre in Hanover
Großes Parterre mit Brunnen im Großen Garten Maciek and Grazyna
New Stadhuis View on the Marschsee

During the World War II Hanover was an important road junction, railhead and production centre thus, the target for strategic bombing. Targets included the United light metal works (VLW) in Ricklingen and Laatzen, today’s Hanover fairground, and the tank factory M.N.H. Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen. Forced labourers were used from the Hannover-Misburg subcamp of the Neuengamme concentration camp. More than 90% of the city centre was destroyed in 88 bombing raids. After the war, the Aegidienkirche was not rebuilt and its ruins were kept as a war memorial.

Old handelhuis Water supply
Handelhuis facade Waterfall on river Leine

The Allied ground advance into Germany reached Hanover in April 1945. The US 84th Infantry Division captured the city on 10 April 1945. Hanover was in the United Kingdom zone of occupation of Germany after the war, and became part of the new German Land of Lower Saxony in 1946. Today the City of Hanover is a Vice-President City of Mayors for Peace, an international Mayoral organization mobilizing cities and citizens worldwide to abolish and eliminate nuclear weapons by the year 2020.

University of Hanover

Above, the main building of the University of Hanover.

The Welfenschloss is a former palace in Hanover situated in the Northern district of the city, which is since 1879 the seat of the University of Hannover named today the Leibniz University of Hannover.

Heidelberg

Heidelberg is a city in south-west Germany. It is the fifth-largest city in the State of Baden-Württemberg after Stuttgart, Mannheim, Karlsruhe and Freiburg im Breisgau. In 2009, over 145,000 people lived in the city. It is a former residence of the Electoral Palatinate and the location of the University of Heidelberg, well-known far beyond Germany's borders. Heidelberg is a popular tourist destination due to its romantic and picturesque cityscape, including Heidelberg Castle and the baroque style Old Town.

Heidelberg bird view Heidelberg view from bridge

Heidelberg is in the Rhine Rift Valley, mainly on the left bank of the lower part of the River Neckar, bordered by mountains the Königsstuhl (568 m) and the Gaisberg (375 m). The River Neckar flows in an east-west direction and on its right bank is the Heiligenberg Mountain (445 m). The River Neckar leads to the River Rhine approximately 22 kilometres north-west in Mannheim.

Between 600,000 and 400,000 years ago, "Heidelberg Man" (probably ancestors of Neanderthals) lived in the nearby village Mauer. A jaw bone was discovered in 1907; after scientific dating, these remains were determined to be the earliest evidence of humanoid life in Europe.

Heidelberg View on Castle Heidelberg Castle
Broken Tower Castle Coer

In the 5th century BC, a Celtic fortress of refuge and place of worship were built on the Heiligenberg. Both places can still be identified. In 40 AD, a fort was built and occupied by the 24th Roman cohort and the 2nd Cyrenaican cohort. The Romans built and maintained castra (permanent camps) and a signalling tower on the bank of the river Neckar. They built a wooden bridge based on stone pillars across it. The Romans remained until 260 AD, when the camp was conquered by Germanic tribes.

Modern Heidelberg traces its beginnings to the fifth century. The village Bergheim is first mentioned in documents dated 769 AD. Bergheim now lies in the middle of Heidelberg. In 863 AD, the monastery of St. Michael was founded on the Heiligenberg inside the double rampart of the Celtic fortress. Around 1130, the bishopric of Worms extended its influence into the valley, founding Schönau Abbey in 1142.

Entrance to Apotheek Castle Apotheek

The first reference to Heidelberg can be found in a document in Schönau Abbey dated 1196. This is considered the founding date for Heidelberg. In 1155 Conrad of Hohenstaufen became the Count Palatine of the Rhine. The first mention of a castle in Heidelberg is in 1214, when Ludwig I received it from Hohenstaufen Emperor Friedrich II.

In 1225, Louis I, Duke of Bavaria obtained the Palatinate, and thus the castle came under his control. By 1303, another castle had been constructed for defense. In 1356, the Counts Palatine were granted far-reaching rights in the Golden Bull, in addition to becoming Electors. In 1386, the University of Heidelberg was founded by Rupert I, Elector Palatine.

Castle Small Barow Castle Hall

The University of Heidelberg played a leading part in the era of humanism and reformation and the conflict between Lutheranism and Calvinism in the 15th and 16th centuries. Heidelberg's library, founded in 1421, is the oldest public library in Germany still intact. A few months after the proclamation of the 95 Theses, in April 1518, Martin Luther was received in Heidelberg, to defend them. In 1537, the castle located further up the mountain was destroyed in a gunpowder explosion. The duke's palace was built at the site of the lower castle.

Right Wing Castle Castle Palace
View to the East View to the West

During the Thirty Years' War, in 1622, after a siege of two months, the armies of the Catholic League, commanded by Count of Tilly, captured Heidelberg. He gave the famous Bibliotheca Palatina from the Church of the Holy Spirit to the Pope as a present. The Catholic Bavarian branch of the House of Wittelsbach gained control over the Palatinate and the title of Prince-Elector. In 1648, at the end of the war, Frederick V's son Charles I Louis, Elector Palatine, was able to recover his titles and lands.

In 1685, after the death of Charles Louis' son Elector Charles II, Louis XIV of France laid claim to his sister-in-law's inheritance. The Germans rejected the claim, in part because of religious differences between local Protestants and the French Catholics, as the Protestant Reformation had divided the peoples of Europe. The War of the Grand Alliance ensued. In 1689, French troops took the city and castle, bringing nearly total destruction to the area in 1693.

Heidelburg street Heidelburg street II

In 1720, religious conflicts with Protestant citizens of Heidelberg caused the Roman Catholic Prince-Elector Charles III Philip to transfer his residence to nearby Mannheim. The court remained there until the Elector Charles Theodore became Elector of Bavaria in 1777 and established his court in Munich. In 1742, Elector Charles Theodore began rebuilding the Palace. In 1764, a lightning bolt destroyed other palace buildings during reconstruction, causing the work to be discontinued.

Church in Heidelberg Inside the Church

In 1810, the French revolution refugee Count Charles Graimberg began to preserve the palace ruins and establish a historical collection. In 1815, the Emperor of Austria, the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia formed the "Holy Alliance" in Heidelberg. In 1848, the German National Assembly was held there. In 1849, during the Palatinate-Baden rebellion, Heidelberg was the headquarters of a revolutionary army. The city was defeated by a Prussian army and then it was occupied until 1850. Between 1920 and 1933, the University of Heidelberg became the center of notable physicians Czerny, Erb, and Krehl; and humanists Rohde, Weber, and Gundolf.

Heidelberg facade Heidelberg facade II Heidelberg Kathedral Heidelberg Cafe sign

Heidelberg features in the 1968 film The Girl on a Motorcycle, the University being the ultimate destination of Marianne Faithfull's character. Heidelberg is the home of a professional Quidditch team operating within the fictional Harry Potter universe: the Heidelberg Harriers have been described as “fiercer than a dragon and twice as clever”. Heidelberg is also the residence of fictional character Nina Fortner/Anna Liebert in the anime/manga series, Monster, by Naoki Urasawa.

Magdeburg

Magdeburg is the largest city and the capital city of the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt. It is situated on the Elbe River and was one of the most important medieval cities of Europe. Emperor Otto I, the first Holy Roman Emperor, lived for most of his reign in this town and was buried in its cathedral after his death. Magdeburg's version of German town law, known as Magdeburg rights, spread throughout Central and Eastern Europe. The city is also well known for the 1631 Sack of Magdeburg, which hardened Protestant resistance during the Thirty Years' War.

Panoramic view Magdeburg

Founded by Charlemagne in 805 as Magadoburg, the town was fortified in 919 by King Henry I against the Magyars and the Slavs that were living on the east side of Elbe. In 929 the city went to Edward the Elder's daughter Edith, through her marriage to Henry's son Otto I. Edith loved the town and often lived there. After her death she was buried in the crypt of the Benedictine abbey of Saint Maurice, later rebuilt as the cathedral. In 937, Magdeburg was the seat of a royal assembly. Otto I also continually returned to it and was also buried in the cathedral. He granted the abbey the right to income from various titles including hard labor from the surrounding countryside.

Magdeburg view from Elbe site Magdeburg view from Elbe site to the east
Magdeburg view to the west Magdeburg entrance to the old city

The Archbishopric of Magdeburg was founded in 968 at the synod of Ravenna and Adalbert of Magdeburg was consecrated as its first archbishop. The archbishops played a prominent role in the German colonization of the Slavic lands east of the Elbe River. In 1035 Magdeburg received a patent giving the city the right to hold trade exhibitions and conventions, which form the basis of the later family of city laws known as the Magdeburg rights. These laws were adopted and modified throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Visitors from many countries began to trade with Magdeburg.

Magdeburg - rebuilt houses Kathedral - view from the river side
Kathedral - view from the grand market Kathedral - view from the south

In the 13th century, Magdeburg became a member of the Hanseatic League. With more than 20,000 inhabitants it was one of the largest cities in the Holy Roman Empire. The town had an active maritime commerce on the west with the countries of the North Sea (mainly towards Flanders), and maintained traffic and communication with the interior. The citizens constantly struggled against the archbishop, becoming nearly independent from him by the end of the 15th century.

Makiet of the Kathedral Insde Kathedral of Magdeburg
Main altar  of Kathedral Inside Kathedral

In 1524 Martin Luther was called to Magdeburg, where he preached and caused the city's defection from Catholicism. The Protestant Reformation had quickly found adherents in the city, where Luther had been a schoolboy. The city, by the emperor's commands, was besieged (1550–1551) by Maurice, Elector of Saxony, but it retained its independence. The rule of the archbishop was replaced by various administrators belonging to Protestant dynasties. In the following years Magdeburg gained a reputation as a stronghold of Protestantism. Matthias Flacius and his companions wrote in Magdeburg their anti-Catholic pamphlets in which they argued that the Roman Catholic Church had become the kingdom of the Anti-Christ.

Grand market place

In 1631, during the Thirty Years' War, imperial troops stormed the city and committed a massacre, killing about 20,000 inhabitants and burning the town in the sack of Magdeburg. The city had withstood a first siege in 1629 by Albrecht von Wallenstein. After the war, a population of only 400 remained. According to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, Magdeburg was assigned to Brandenburg-Prussia.  In 1680 it became the semi-autonomous Duchy of Magdeburg.

Grand Market place view to the northe Building from Napoleon times
Old church 1 Old church 2

In the course of the Napoleonic Wars, the fortress surrendered to French troops in 1806. The city was annexed to the French-controlled Kingdom of Westphalia in the 1807 Treaty of Tilsit. King Jérôme appointed Count Heinrich von Blumenthal as mayor. In 1815, after the Napoleonic Wars, Magdeburg was made the capital of the new Prussian Province of Saxony. In 1908, the municipality Rothensee became part of Magdeburg and in 1912, the old city fortress was dismantled.

Gaudi city 1 Gaudi city inside 1
Gaudi city inside 2 Gaudi city 2

Magdeburg was heavily bombed by the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. The RAF bombing destroyed much of the city. The official death toll was 16,000 - however, it is now believed that between 2000 and 4000 citizens have been killed.

Near the end of World War II, the city of about 340,000 became capital of the Province of Magdeburg. The impressive Gründerzeit suburbs were destroyed as well as the city's main street with its Baroque buildings. From 1949 Magdeburg belonged to the German Democratic Republic and the area was part of the Soviet Zone of Occupation. Many of the remaining pre-World War II city buildings were then destroyed. In 1990 Magdeburg became the capital of the new state of Saxony-Anhalt within reunified Germany. The city centre was rebuilt almost exclusively in a modern style.

Potsdam

Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, 24 km southwest of the Berlin city centre.

The name "Potsdam" originally seems to have been "Poztupimi" from a West Slavonic name meaning "beneath the oaks", highlighting the area's many grand oak trees. Around the city there are a series of interconnected lakes and unique cultural landmarks, in particular the parks and palaces of Sanssouci, the largest World Heritage Site in Germany. Potsdam developed into a centre of science in Germany from the 19th century. Today, there are three public colleges and more than 30 research institutes in the city.

Panorama Potsdam

The area around Potsdam shows occupancy since the Bronze Age and was part of Magna Germania as described by Tacitus. After the migrations, Slavs moved in and Potsdam was probably founded after the 7th century as a settlement of the Polabian Slavs(Hevelli) centred on a castle. West Slavic tribes ("Wends") had settled in the Germania Slavica region from the 7th century onwards. By 1317, Potsdam was mentioned as a small town. It gained its town charter in 1345. In 1573, it was still a small market town of 2,000 inhabitants. Due to the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), Potsdam had lost nearly half of its population.

Potsdam bridge Potsdam University

A continuous Hohenzollern possession since 1415, Potsdam became prominent, when it was chosen in 1660 as the hunting residence of Frederick William I, Elector of Brandenburg, the core of the powerful state that later became the Kingdom of Prussia. It also housed Prussian barracks.

After the Edict of Potsdam in 1685, Potsdam became a centre of European immigration. Its religious freedom attracted people from France (Huguenots), Russia, the Netherlands and Bohemia. The edict accelerated population growth and economic recovery. Later, the city became a full residence of the Prussian royal family.

Potsdam University Einstein Tower

The Einstein Tower was built in 1921 to house research on the theory of relativity
In 1991 the Fachhochschule was founded as the second college; it now has 2,400 students. In addition there is a College of Film and Television (Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen "Konrad Wolf" HFF), founded in 1954 in Babelsberg, the foremost centre of the German film industry since its birth, with currently 600 students.

Sansusi 1 Sansusi 2
Sansusi 3 Sanssusi 4

In 1815, at the formation of the Province of Brandenburg, Potsdam became the provincial capital until 1918, however, interrupted and succeeded by Berlin as provincial capital between 1827 and 1843, and after 1918. The province comprised two governorates named after their capitals Potsdam and Frankfurt upon Oder.

Sanssusi 5 Sanssusi 6
Sanssusi Chinski 1 Sanssusi Chinski 2

Berlin was the official capital of Prussia and later of the German Empire, but the court remained in Potsdam, where many government officials settled. In 1914, the Emperor Wilhelm II signed the Declaration of War in the Neues Palais. The city lost its status as a second capital in 1918, when Wilhelm II abdicated at the end of World War I. Potsdam was severely damaged in bombing raids during World War II.

Sanssusi 14 Sanssusi 15
Sanssusi 16 Sanssusi 17
Sanssusi 18 Sanssusi 19

The majestic buildings of the royal residences were built mainly during the reign of Frederick the Great. One of these is the Sanssouci Palace designed by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff in 1744 and famous for its formal gardens and Rococo interiors. Other royal residences include the Neues Palais and the Orangery.

Sanssusi 20 Sanssusi 21
Sanssusi 22 Sanssusi 23

In 20th century Potsdam became a university town. The University of Potsdam was founded in 1991 as a university of the State of Brandenburg. Its predecessor was the Akademie für Staats- und Rechtswissenschaften der DDR "Walter Ulbricht", a college of education founded in 1948 which was one of the GDR's most important colleges. There are about 20,000 students enrolled at the university.

Rastatt

Rastatt is a city and baroque residence in the District of Rastatt, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is located on the Murg River, 6 km above its junction with the Rhine and has a population of around 50'000 in 2011. Rastatt was an important place of the War of the Spanish Succession (Treaty of Rastatt) and the Revolutions of 1848 in the German states.

City Hall Market

Until the end of the 17th century, Rastatt held little influence, but after its destruction by the French in 1689, it was rebuilt on a larger scale by Louis William, margrave of Baden, the imperial general in the Austro-Ottoman War known popularly as Türkenlouis. It then remained the residence of the margraves of Baden-Baden until 1771.  It was also the location of the First and Second Congress of Rastatt, the former giving rise to the Treaty of Rastatt.

Coffieshop Museum
Backery Street of Ratstatt

For about 20 years previous to 1866, the fortress of Rastatt was occupied by the troops of the German Confederation. The Baden revolution of 1849 began with a mutiny of soldiers at Rastatt in May 1849 under Ludwik Mieroslawski and Gustav Struve, and ended there a few weeks later with the capture of the town by the Prussians. For some years, Rastatt was one of the strongest fortresses of the German empire, but its fortifications were dismantled in 1890.

Schloss Rastatt

The Schloss Rastatt is the most interesting historical building in Rastatt, to be visited. The palace and the Garden were built between 1700 and 1707 by the Italian architect Domenico Egidio Rossi as ordered by Margrave Louis William of Baden.

Schloss 1 Schloss 2

During the Palatine war of succession the residence of Margrave Louis William of Baden-Baden had been burnt by French troops. A rebuild of the destroyed castle would not have suited the representative needs of the count of Baden. Since he also needed a home for his wife Sibylle Auguste of Saxe-Lauenburg, whom he had married in 1690, he had built a new residence in place of the former hunting lodge.

Schloss 3 Schloss external building

The village of Rastatt was promoted to city status in 1700 and the Margrave moved here with his court. The residence in Rastatt is the oldest Baroque residence in the German Upper-Rhine area. It was built according to the example of the French Palace of Versailles. During the 19th century the castle was used as headquarters.

Scloss garden 1 Schloss garden 2

The castle was not damaged during World War II. Today the castle is home of two museums, the "Wehrgeschichtliche Museum" (Museum of military history) and Erinnerungsstätte für die Freiheitsbewegungen in der deutschen Geschichte (Memorial site for the German liberation movement).

Scloss Favorit

Another interesting castle is Schloss Favorite, located on the outskirts of Rastatt-Förch in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Built by Johann Michael Ludwig Rohrer between 1710 and 1730, it was a pleasure and hunting palace used by Margravine Franziska Sibylla Augusta of Sachsen-Lauenburg, widow of Louis William, Margrave of Baden-Baden ('Türkenlouis'). It is the oldest of the German so-called 'Porcelain Palaces' and the only to survive intact to this day. The castle was only used for several weeks a year as a summer residence. The castle houses a large collection of Chinese porcelain, black lacquer work and Schwartz Porcelain.