Friday, March 4, 2016

The Baroque Road in Germany is a half century old

Riedlingen, Germany is a typical village along Germany's Baroque Road which celebrates its 50th birthday this year  (wikipedia)
UPPER SWABIA, GERMANYRemember the old saying “All roads lead to Rome”? That may have changed in the new century with Germany as the new leader.

Whatever your traveling desires may be, Germany just may be the most creative country in the world at finding ways to immerse visitors into its culture.

With no less than three popular major travel routes that encompass various historic and folkloric themes, it is easy for people who long to get far from the madding crowds to lose themselves in Germany.

The Baoque Road meanders along the Danube in places (wikipedia)
The Romantik Road journeys through the quaint villages and majestic castles of Bavaria, while the Fairy Tale Road retraces the footsteps of the Brothers Grimm and the children’s stories everyone knows so well.

This year, the Baroque Road, another of Germany’s legendary cultural pathways, turns 50 meandering through Upper Swabia along the Danube and Lake Constance. Here the storybook landscape comes alive with Baroque castles, palaces, abbeys and churches.

Actually the Baroque Road is not a single route, but four different courses for visitors to enjoy. If you happen to be in Germany on June18th of this year, the actual anniversary date, numerous attractions will celebrate the event with a program called “Long Night of the Baroque.”

The cathedral in Ulm dominates the surroundings while overlooking the river  (wikipedia)
Baroque architecture came into vogue in the late 16th century and for the next hundred years or so the embellishments of gold and marble made their way through Europe and on to the New World.

Germany was a little late to the party, due in large part to the Thirty Years War and the counter-reformation by the Catholic Church, but once the Baroque movement began, it didn’t take long to catch up.

The largely depopulated regions within Upper Swabia soon became overwhelmed by immigrants to the area who contributed heavily to an economic upturn that provided considerable funding for the restoration of existing buildings. With the Baroque period in full swing combined with nobility whose territories were mostly small or, at best, modest in size, dwelling places were quickly renovated into the Baroque style.

The building frenzy lasted from approximately 1650 to the French Revolution with the result for travelers today being a magnificent concentration of Baroque architecture that can be experienced along the 300 miles of Germany’s backroads and countryside.

The Main route is circular, beginning and ending in Ulm with its famous cathedral. Along the way, the road passes through Bad Wurzach where the castle features the most beautiful Baroque-style staircase in Upper Swabia.

A Baroque ceiling in Bad Wurzach  (wikipedia)
Many towns along the quartet of roads are spa villages. You can easily recognize them because they have the German word Bad in front of their name, which means “bath” or “spa.”

Beginning in Riedlingen, the West route terminates on Lake Constance.

Travelers wishing to sample a taste of other countries may want experience the South route which travels around Lake Constance from Kressbronn am Bodensee before passing through Austria and Switzerland ending in Meersburg which is home to the oldest castle in Germany.

For those with limited time, the East route is the shortest, but no matter which path you choose, each is filled with a treasure trove of interesting villages and stunning Baroque architecture.

Mention the Baroque period and typically architecture comes to mind, but remember the Baroque style is not limited to buildings. It can also include art, gardens and other cultural manifestations that grew out of the movement.

Germany alone has 140 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which means it is practically impossible to travel the country without stumbling upon something unique and interesting. With countless villages and towns along the Baroque Road, of which there are too to list, a visitor cannot help but encounter something that appeals to even the most hardened sensitivities.
The castle in Erbach is an impressive site for travelers  (wikipedia)

The tiny village of Erbach, for example, which nestles along the Main route, features a shop where travelers can observe artisans sculpting ivory.
Interior view of the ancient Meersburg Castle, the oldest castle in Germany  (wikipedia)
While the Romantik Road, the Fairy Tale Road and the Baroque Road may among Germany’s best known touristic routes, travelers will also discover a Wine Road, a Clock Road and even a Timber-Frame Road.

Want to be a “Roads Scholar.”? Just head to Germany. There’s a path suitable for just about every traveler’s desires.