It’s a great time for city breaks and short holidays in Europe, and with flight tickets so readily available at good prices through various media there’s nothing stopping you heading out for the likes of Germany or France for a welcome change.
Germany in particular offers a wealth of different cultural and geographical experiences, and anyone with a penchant for dramatic history will be delighted at the old cities here and revel in the romance of old castles and palaces set in exquisite surroundings of mountain and forest.
In Western Bavaria you’re really spoilt for choice. The riches of this part of Germany were only rediscovered in the 19th century by a new generation of travellers who had started to appreciate the romance of mountains and ravines, half-timbered houses and walled towns as a part of the Victorian Gothic revival. Today, the ‘Romantic Road’ is clearly laid out for the modern traveller who continues to revel in such things. It leads from Ludwig II’s fairytale castles in the southern region of Bavaria to Wurzburg in the north, and from the road are visible numerous church spires and castle towers, before you head into the great towns along the route and start really immersing yourself in an unrivalled cultural heritage.
Despite the throngs of tourists heading for these towns during the peak season they still retain that distinctive air of sleepiness that often clings to medieval towns across Europe. They’re effectively just too old and have seen too much to get over-excited by a few thousand tourists, which they nonetheless tolerate with admirable dignity.
Augsburg is a case in point. This magnificent city was founded by the Romans in 15BC and has been a major presence in these parts ever since. It was even described as long ago as that by Tacitus as a ‘most splendid colony’ and it has never lost its ability to charm and delight successive generations of visitors. Augsburg really flourished during the Renaissance, when it became a centre for gold and silversmithing. Despite being practically flattened by Allied bombing during the Second World War it has made a remarkable recovery, and now its ivy-draped city walls and narrow canals are tourist magnets and commercially it has become a modern urban centre for business.
The Rathaus or Town Hall is the best place to start a tour of Augsburg, as it is at the centre of the city’s road system, and whether you’re on foot or taking a car around the sights you’ll be able to access everything most conveniently from here. The Rathaus itself dates from 1620 and has that distinctive Habsburg facade that is seen all across Europe as far as Prague to the East, and you can climb the nearby Perlach Tower to get great views across the city.
With many ornamental fountains, formal gardens and of course its own medieval castle, Augsburg is just one of the towns and cities that line the Romantic Road like a string of pearls and continue to charm visitors from around the world.
David Elliott is a freelance writer who loves to travel, especially in Europe and Turkey. He’s spent most of his adult life in a state of restless excitement but recently decided to settle in North London. He gets away whenever he can to immerse himself in foreign cultures and lap up the history of great cities.