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NORTHERN GERMANY

Schleswig-HolsteinMecklenburg-Western Pomerania
City of HamburgCity of Bremen
Lower Saxony 

Schleswig-Holstein
Schleswig-Holstein is the only German state bordered by two seas, the North Sea and the Baltic. An ancient deed says that the region's two parts, Schleswig and Holstein, should remain 'forever undivided'. Consequently, they have long been linked as Schleswig-Holstein - unlike those regions which were 'hyphenated' by the occupying powers after 1945.

Schleswig-Holstein is thinly populated (2.6 million inhabitants). The state capital Kiel (246,000) and the Hanseatic City of Lubeck (215,000) owe their importance to their position on the Baltic. Lubeck-Travemunde is one of Germany's principal ferry ports.

Farming and commerce. In former times Schleswig-Holstein was an exclusively agricultural area (mainly livestock farming) and this branch of the economy is still predominant in the fertile marshlands along the western coast. The coastal fishing industry on the North Sea and the Baltic is also proud of its tradition.

In the Middle Ages and in early modern times Flensburg had one of the largest sail fleets in the North and dominated the route to the West Indies. Lubeck, on the other hand, owed its prosperity to the grain trade, whereas Kiel grew with the navy.

The region's seafaring tradition led to the development of a major shipbuilding industry. As a result of the crisis in this sector in the late 60s, some companies successfully switched to the construction of special vessels. Another solution was to develop a wide range of small and medium-sized industries.

Tourism - a growth industry. The North Sea island of Helgoland, where Hoffmann von Fallersleben composed his German anthem in 1841, as well as the North Frisian Islands, including the fashionable Sylt and Fohr, a popular family resort, have their regular visitors just like the resorts on the Baltic Sea, the modern Damp being no different from the dreamy town of Hohwacht in this respect. Inland, the area known as 'Holstein's Switzerland' with its lakes is another tourist attraction. Other towns worth visiting are Molln and the cathedral town of Schleswig, famous for its late Gothic Bordesholm altar created by Hans Bruggemann between 1514 and 1521, a masterpiece of woodcarving.

World cultural heritage and world literature. Lubeck, whose 500-year-old gate, the Holstentor, bears the inscription in Latin 'harmony at home, peace outside', has been entered in UNESCO's cultural list as a German contribution to world culture.

Thomas Mann (1885-1955), a writer of world fame, was born in Lubeck. He was awarded the 1929 Nobel Prize for literature. In May 1993 the house of the grandparents of Thomas and Heinrich Mann (1871-1950) was opened as 'Buddenbrook House', a memorial and place of scholarly research.

Kiel Week denotes the famous regatta which every year in June attracts yachtsmen from all over the world.

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Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
No other German state is as rural, no other has such a varied coastline, and no other is as thinly populated as Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Its greatest treasure is its untouched nature and hundreds of lakes.

Its striking brick architecture bears the unmistakable characteristics of the Hanseatic trade centres Stralsund and Wismar, and of the old university towns of Greifswald (founded in 1456) and Rostock. Rostock, an old Hanseatic town, is today the region's largest city (250,000). However, it is Schwerin (130,000) which became the state capital after Germany's unification.

Nature and art. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is a gently undulating region with hundreds of lakes, a patchwork of fields, woods and livestock enclosures. Mecklenburg's largest lake is the Muritz (117 sq km), which has an extensive nature reserve along its eastern shore. Throughout the region there are some 260 protected areas. There are countless testimonies to its rich cultural history and many of them, such as Schwerin's castle with its 300 towers, are being renovated.

A big attraction are the chalk cliffs of Rugen, Germany's largest island (926 sq km). Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840), the painter from Greifswald, captured the seascapes with romantic exuberance. The writer Fritz Reuter (1810-1874) vividly described the area and its people in his low German idiom. The sculptor and writer Ernst Barlach (1870-1938) spent his productive period in Gustrow. And Uwe Johnson (1934-1984) erected with his novels a literary monument to his native region and its people.

Tourism, the industry of tomorrow. The most important branches of the economy are farming and animal husbandry. The coastal and inland fishing industries are permanent sources of employment and are therefore being rapidly modernized and adapted to changing consumer demand. The coastal area is the location of eastern Germany's shipbuilding industry with its various suppliers. But the most promising industry is tourism. In 1995 Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania had about ten million visitors. Rambling and biking are extremely popular. The region is striving to develop its tourist infrastructure, but planners want to make sure that this constantly growing industry does not become a burden on the environment.

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The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg
Germany's gateway to the world. Hamburg is Germany's principal seaport and largest overseas trade and transshipment centre as exemplified by the fact that some 130 Japanese and more than 20 Chinese trading companies are represented there. The port's industrial area encompasses shipyards, refineries and processing plant for raw materials from abroad. In addition to these port-related activities, the aerospace, electronics, precision engineering, optical and chemical industries play an increasingly important role in this city-state.

Hamburg began to flourish as a commercial town in 1189, when it was granted customs and commercial rights. One of the first members of the Hanseatic League, it soon became the main transshipment port between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. In 1460, and then finally in 1510, Hamburg was raised to the status of an imperial city - an autonomous status it has retained to this day. However, the devastating fire of 1842 and the Second World War spared but few of this commercial centre's medieval buildings.

A green industrial city. Hamburg is Germany's second largest industrial centre with a population of 2.8 million. Nonetheless the spacious parks (e.g. 'Planten un Blomen') and gardens, woodlands, moors and heaths, have retained its character as one of Germany's 'greenest cities'. As a result of Germany's unification, the port of Hamburg, with its ramified links with the waterway network, has regained its old hinterland. This enhances the city-state's prospects of ecoming the hub of trade, services and communications between east and west as in former times. Hamburg is also the banking and service centre for northern Germany. The fact that it is the world's principal consular city after New York underscores its international status. The Congress Centre, venue for many international exhibitions, is one of the most modern conference centres in Europe.

Hamburg's role as a media city is uncontested. It is home to Germany's largest periodicals, the German Press Agency (dpa), and various television and radio networks and studios.

Civic pride and passion for art. Hamburg has always been an attractive cultural city as well. It was here that Germany's first permanent opera house was established in 1678, where Georg Friedrich Handel (1685-1759) staged his first opera ('Almira'). One of the city's famous sons was the composer Johannes Brahms (1833-1897). In 1767 the Deutsches Nationaltheater was founded. It was linked with the name of Lessing and achieved fame chiefly on account of its performances of Shakespeare. At that time Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1724-1803) and Matthias Claudius (1740-1815) were Hamburg's 'literary institutions'.

In the present century Rolf Liebermann, director of Hamburg's opera house, and Gustaf Grundgens the actor, gave to opera and the theatre respectively a strong international flavour with their avant-garde productions.

Unforgotten is the Hamburg-born actor Hans Albers, especially for his film role as Baron 'Munchhausen'. Today the city is also host to musical productions, such as Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Phantom of the Opera', for which a new theatre 'Neue Flora' was specially built. Public generosity stemming from civic pride, and a far-sighted buying policy, have given Hamburg's Kunsthalle, Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe and Volkerkunde museum, to name only three, outstanding collections.

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The Free Hanseatic City of Bremen
The two-city state. Two cities, one state: Bremen and Bremerhaven are 65 km apart but nonetheless belong together. They constitute the smallest German state in terms of both area and population. Yet this Free Hanseatic City of Bremen is, next to Bavaria, the oldest body politic in Germany, and after San Marino the second oldest city-republic in the world.

Bremen is also many centuries older than Bremerhaven. Founded as a bishopric in 787, it quickly flourished, thanks to the privileges bestowed upon it as a market town. In the 11th century it was described as the 'Rome of the North'. In 1358 Bremen became a member of the Hanseatic League, which dominated trade in the North and Baltic Seas until well into the 16th century.

Risk and win. 'Outside and in, risk and win', is the motto which tells of this city's growth and affluence. In 1827, when it seemed that the river Weser would be silted up, mayor Smidt founded a new port at the mouth of the Weser and named it Bremerhaven, which, together with adjacent townships, grew into a city.

Bremerhaven handles mostly (60%) container traffic and since 1983 has had the largest container terminal in the world. Bremen almost has a monopoly of imports of tea and coffee, tobacco and cotton.

Bremen has made itself less dependent on maritime trade and shipbuilding by developing a highly productive aerospace industry. It has also resumed car production and is making its mark in the electronics sector and in the food and beverages industry. Bremerhaven is the focal point of German polar research. Also afloat there are the old barges and men-o'-war of the German Maritime Museum.

Bremen's 'parlour'. On the market place stands the Gothic cathedral of St. Peter and the magnificent Renaissance town-hall with its very hospitable wine cellar. In front of it is Roland's column (1404), symbol of the city's freedom and a local landmark, like the nearby 'town musicians', a statue of the animals in a Grimms fairy-tale. From the market square the visitor enters the Bottcherstrasse, a narrow street of shops and museums built on the initiative of the merchant Ludwig Roselius (1924-31). It is a brick monument to Bremen's civic spirit. Every year, on the second Friday in February, Bremen's maritime community hold their traditional ,Schaffermahlzeit, in the Rathaus. Distinguished public figures are invited.

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Lower Saxony
A variegated landscape. This second largest state in Germany (47,349 sq km) can be subdivided into three main regions: the Harz, the Weserbergland (Weser Highlands) and the North German Lowlands around Luneburg Heath. A world to themselves are the moors of the Emsland, the marshland behind the North Sea dikes, and the East Frisian islands in the shallow coastal waters.

The major north-south and west-east autobahn and railway arteries intersect in Lower Saxony, and here too the Elbe Canal links up the Rhine, Elbe and Oder, the principal waterways of western and eastern Europe.

Mining tradition and Volkswagen. Nearly two thirds of this region is given over to farming. There is a wide-ranging food industry which produces such famous delicacies as bacon from the Oldenburg area or honey from Luneburg Heath. It also has a long mining tradition especially in the Harz. Even in medieval times the imperial town of Goslar owed its wealth to silver mining. In 1775 a school for miners and foundry workers was established in Clausthal which developed into a world-famous mining college. Luneburg gained prominence because of local salt deposits, and the potash industry is a major branch of Lower Saxony's economy. Salzgitter is the centre of Europe's third largest iron-ore deposit. Significant quantities of local oil and gas are also extracted, providing about 5% of the country's requirements. Brunswick is home to the Federal Institute of Physics and Metrology, the national authority for the testing, standardization and licensing of materials. It also determines the exact Central European Time (CET) per radio signal. Emden has Germany's third largest port on the North Sea. Famous companies produce container vessels and automobiles there.

But one town in Lower Saxony epitomises car manufacturing in Germany: Wolfsburg, home of the famous Volkswagen. Volkswagen is the biggest company in the region and its foundation the largest non-governmental scientific institution in Germany.

Hanover and the industrial fair, Gottingen and its university. Half a million of this state's 7.3 million inhabitants live in the capital, Hanover. It is the venue for the world-famous industrial fair and the 'CEBIT' exhibition of communications technology. Every year they show the present generation the world of tomorrow. Hanover is now looking forward to hosting the World Exhibition in 2000.

The university town of Gottingen has played an outstanding role in the country's political and scientific history. In 1837 a group of professors, the 'Gottingen Seven', protested against the sovereign's decision to annul the constitution. For this they were dismissed, but most of these liberal spirits met again in 1848 as deputies to the National Assembly in Frankfurt. Another famous name associated with Gottingen is that of the mathematician and astronomer Carl Friedrich Gauss (1771-1859).

In the 20th century Gottingen has been a source of major developments in the field of nuclear physics. Of all those who taught or studied in Gottingen one need only mention the Nobel Prize winners Max Born (1882-1970) and Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976).

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