While not often recognised as a major artist nation, Germany’s creative population has made some major contributions to international culture, especially over the course of the 18th century when the Saxon courts attracted some of the greatest minds in Europe. Even with the upheaval in the country’s recent history, the artists of the country have never been in short supply of inspiration and buildings from all eras have some striking architecture.
The sheer range of German architecture over the centuries is so incredible that a trip to the country could be made up entirely of exploring it. During the Roman period of the country, 800-1200, there was the construction of some great buildings still standing today, such as the Trier Cathedral, the church around the region of Cologne and the chapel of Charlemagne’s palace in Aachen.
After the Roman’s had fallen from power, changes in the architecture on the buildings can be seen. Gothic styles become more apparent after the 1200’s, especially in buildings such as Freiburg’s Munster cathedral, Cologne’s cathedral and Marienkirche in Lubeck. The north of the country is littered with red brick gothic structures should you wish to explore that particular architectural theme more.
Slowly, the gothic architecture faded out and was replaced by baroque design which is evident in various buildings such as Balthasar Neumann’s Residenz in Wurzburg, the stunning cathedral in Passau and much of the old centre in Dresden.
The Renaissance came late to Germany and its artists, but as with every other country it touched, it flourished quickly there. One of the world’s finest portraitists was German, Albrecht Durer of Nuremburg, as was Lucas Cranach the Elder whose works are everywhere in Wittenberg.
Germany is home to some of the most efficient motorways and road systems in the world. Travelling around Germany and exploring its art and architecture is much more interesting when you can stop off at any point you wish and see different attractions at your own pace. This makes having your own car extremely useful and you can rent a car in Germany now from various online rental services. Helping you get your culture hit a little bit easier!
During the early 20th century, Walter Gropius attempted to tackle some of the problems facing artists and craftspeople through the Bauhaus movement. He hoped to recapture inspiration some of the architectural wonders that were created in the past had, but while initially the movement was successful, it was halted with the rise of the Nazi’s and Gropius left Germany for Harvard University.
With his departure, Alter Speer came to prominence as he was Hitler’s favourite architect. He focused largely on neoclassical buildings and had many grand plans to change Berlin. Luckily, many of his designed buildings were either not constructed or destroyed from the Allied bombings of the city.
As with most major countries in the world today, Germany has its fair share of high rise buildings and Frankfurt shows the German take on the new modern style. To have a look into the future for German architecture, head over to Potsdamer Platz, Leipziger Platz and the government area north of the Reichstag in Berlin.