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  Home > Europe News > Germany offers religious, historical, and cultural destinations and events in 2005

Germany offers religious, historical, and cultural destinations and events in 2005

Whether you choose to follow in the footsteps of the recently elected Pope (Pope Benedict XVI) in Bavaria, or to visit the northern towns of Wittenberg and Eisenach where Luther preached or to visit the memorials honoring the Jews who died in World War II, Germany offers significant religious and cultural tourism destinations. The pilgrimage site of Altoetting; the spires of Dresden's newly rebuilt Frauenkirche; the turrets of Wartburg Castle; the church art and architecture; the festivals for Bach and Handel; the recently completed Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe; and the upcoming World Youth Day in Cologne are but a few examples of the important role Germany has played in religious history.

Roman Catholicism in Germany traces its origins back to the eighth century missionary work of Saint Boniface while Luther changed the course of history in 1517 when he challenged Papal authority and established Protestantism. Jews have been living and worshiping in Germany for 2,000 years. And despite the horror of the Nazi dictatorship, there are today more than 100,000 Jews in Germany with 83 local Jewish communities -- the fastest growing Jewish community today.

In the Alpine hills of Upper Bavaria, childhood home of the new Pope, between Munich and Passau, lies Altoetting, the pilgrimage site of the Black Madonna. For over 500 years, the Black Madonna has been one of the most important Roman Catholic pilgrimage sites associated with the Virgin Mary. On par with Lourdes or Santiago de Campostela, the Mercy Chapel and the graceful baroque buildings are an attraction for non-Catholics as well.

The splendor of Bavarian baroque church architecture is kept alive in towns, such as Wuerzburg, Bamberg, Nuernberg and Landshut. The Wies Church, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a rococo jewel lying in the Bavarian fields, and Kloster Ettal is another gem nestled in the Bavarian foothills. Munich houses a richness of religious art. The newly renovated Alte Pinakotek Museum in Munich, where the Pope was Archbishop for four years, is home to some of Europe's finest religious masterpieces from the 14th to 19th centuries, including work by Fra Angelico, Botticelli, da Vinci, Raphael, D|rer, Rubens, Rembrandt, El Greco, and Goya.

Berlin, Germany's new capital, is a tribute to Jewish history highlighted by cutting edge design and architecture. One only need visit Daniel Liebeskind's Jewish Museum modeled on the broken Star of David to be silenced by the horror of the past. On May 10th, Peter Eisenman's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, 2,751 concrete blocks of different sizes, set in a wave-like pattern wave-like pattern on a five-acre field, will be unveiled. This opening coincides with the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, on May 8, 1945.

From August 16 to 21, Cologne will be abuzz with over 80,000 young people participating in the World Youth Day in Cologne, and it is hoped the new Pope will give a mass on the opening day. For three days, groups will talk about faith and celebrate together in and around Cologne's Cathedral, Germany's most popular tourist destination. The Youth Festival will bring music, dance and performances from around the world to stages in D|sseldorf, Bonn and Cologne.

Dresden will roll out the red carpet for international visitors on October 30th for the consecration of the Frauenkirche, the Church of Our Lady, which fell during the firebombing in February 1945. The Frauenkirche is the largest German Baroque and Protestant church and also the world's largest centrally planned Protestant church.

Throughout the entire country, Germany's history, culture, art and architecture is steeped in religious history.

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