Lyubomira is a travel enthusiast, who at the age of 19 moved from her home in Bulgaria to Vienna, Austria to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism. Her interest in discovering the world and seeing the most of it has been growing ever since.
For this project she is choosing to focus on visiting and learning more about the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in primarily German-speaking countries, such as Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg. Led by her interest in the language and the culture around it, she aims to find out as much as possible about cities, that are on the UNESCO World Heritage List, but are not amongst the top tourist destinations in Europe.
And so we’ve arrived at the final destination of this journey – Goslar. Once again, when friends asked me where I am going and I told them about my choice of destinations, they were all surprised why would I go to these unknown places. And indeed, Goslar wasn’t full of tourists. But it was full of beautiful architecture and lovely views.
I only had one day to experience Goslar, but if I were to go again, I would have planned two. Unlike the previously visited cities, it’s not just Goslar’s Old Town that’s on the UNESCO World Heritage list, but also the Mines of Rammelsberg. The reason I’d recommend two days for visiting is so that you have enough time to see and enjoy both parts of the world heritage. Sadly, I only managed to explore the Old Town – but it was still worth it!
The Old Town of Goslar was named a UNESCO World Heritage thanks to its 1,500 extremely well-preserved half-timbered houses, dating back to different eras in time. The town is famous for gaining its wealth from mining and at one point it became the seat of the German Emperor. The historical old-town vibes can be experienced at every corner of Goslar’s narrow and cobbled streets.
Finding your way around the streets and figuring out what to see in which order can be tricky, so my biggest recommendation would be to grab yourself a map with pre-described routes from the Tourist Information Centre (it costs 1.50 euros). This map was my best friends for the whole time I was in Goslar, and it helped me see all the important and historical sights in a timely matter.
As sad as it is, we have come to the end of my journey and it is time to go back to where it all began – Vienna.
My second-to-last stop on this trip of discovering hidden UNESCO gems is Quedlinburg – a beautiful little town in Germany, full of typical half-timbered houses and medieval streets. I chose Quedlinburg as part of my itinerary for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I had never heard of this place before, and neither had any of my friends. So my curiosity to discover the undiscovered arose. And secondly, the city looked absolutely stunning when I looked it up.. And it was even better in person, if I have to be honest.
Quedlinburg’s Old Town has been put on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994 and this year the city celebrates a few occasions, one of which is 25 years since becoming a world heritage. Quedlinburg also marks 1100 years since the return of King Henry I’s reign to become the first German king, as well as 30 years since the peaceful revolution.
I had two days in this little paradise and it was more than enough to see everything Quedlinburg has to offer. Since I had never seen the typical German half-timbered houses before, I honestly thought I was walking in a fairytale. My eyes just couldn’t believe how beautiful this city actually was.
Amongst the main tourist attractions in Quedlinburg are the Schlossmuseum and Stiftskirche, Münzenberg, the main square with the city hall, and, of course, the cobbled streets of the Old Town.
An interesting fact is that the government doesn’t usually finance the renovation of the old houses, but instead encourages citizens to buy them and renovate the facades themselves. Even though most of the old town has now been renovated, there are still a few houses here and there that do not look as new as the rest – this means they are still waiting to find their new owner.
Quedlinburg is a lovely getaway for a day trip for everybody, interested in history and heritage. And an absolute must-see if you’re in the region of Saxony-Anhalt in Germany.
After three days spent in beautiful Regensburg, it was time to head west. After a long overnight bus journey, I found myself in one of the smallest countries in Europe – Luxembourg. Yet again, I was greeted with rainy weather. Are we surprised? – Definitely not! Thankfully, I had three days there as well, so the weather eventually turned out to be perfect.
The very first thing on my agenda for Luxembourg was to meet up with the lovely Claudine who works for OWHC and agreed to greet me and show me Luxembourg City through the eyes of a local. We went on a tour around town and I got to see all the major attractions in one go – this is how small the capital actually is! I made a long list of all the places I wanted to go back to and explore even further, but a quick tour was exactly what I needed in the very beginning, just to get a feel of the place.
Fun fact – Luxembourg is the only Grand Duchy in the world. In the city centre you can see the Grand Ducal Palace, and only during the summer months you can visit it. Luxembourg is also where many European institutions are seated. They even have a whole area dedicated to European Union buildings.
The fortress and the old city centre of Luxembourg have been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1994. Because of its strategic position, Luxembourg had one of Europe’s greatest fortifications between the 16th and 19th century. Despite its compactness, the Old Town offers plenty of sites to visit, such as the Notre Dame Cathedral, The Bock and the City casemates, the Lower part of the city (Grund) and much more.
Luxembourg’s population is just about 600 000 people. Did you know that most of the inhabitants are foreigners, mostly Portuguese? The country has an incredibly high standard of living, which makes it the perfect place to settle. On top of that, most locals speak at least 4 languages fluently – Luxembourgish, French, German and English, which makes Luxembourg one of the easiest countries to get around.
One last important thing you shouldn’t miss when visiting Luxembourg – checking out the view from the Chemin de la Corniche, also called “the most beautiful balcony of Europe”. It is definitely not surprising with a view like this.
The third city on my list happened to also be the place where The Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) Regional Secretariat for Northwest Europe and North America is seated – Regensburg. This place cannot be described with anything less than immensely rich history, medieval remains and large heritage. Regensburg was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2006 because of three major criteria.
First of all, the architecture of the Old Town in Regensburg represents and proves the city’s important role as a trading centre in medieval times. Thank to the Danube river, which runs through the city, Regensburg was a transition point for traders between Italy, Bohemia, Russia and Byzantium. The look of the city has also been largely influenced by different cultures and architecture styles throughout the years.
Secondly, Regensburg was part of the Roman Empire, and roman remains are still to be seen around the city. People can also see the remains of two Palatine palaces from the 9th century, as well as numerous other historic buildings, which showcase the importance and wealth of this are and its community.
Thirdly, the centre of Regensburg was lucky enough to survive the period of the Second World War, and thus preserve its authenticity and medieval vibes. The UNESCO listed part of Regensburg – The Old Town with Stadtamhof, exemplifies what a medieval central-European trading town used to look like.
Now a bit about my adventure in Regensburg..
Despite the rain being my company throughout almost my whole journey until now, Regensburg still greeted me in an extremely warm and welcoming manner.
At this point of the journey, realising I still have a long time ahead to spend roaming around Europe completely by myself, gave me a certain level of anxiety. Luckily, I got to meet up with one of the other scholarship winners – Klara, who currently lives in Regensburg. Experiencing the city through the eyes of a local, as well as the night life, was exactly what I needed at this point. Did you know that Regensburg is home to over 500 bars in the city centre alone, which makes it the largest concentration of drinking establishments in all of Germany!?
The next day was spent learning a lot about Regensburg’s history and heritage from the lovely Monika – the organisator of this whole amazing project. Thanks to the fact that she is also a tour guide, Monika was able to tell me so much about her city.
Visiting the UNESCO Information centre is an absolute must for everyone who wants to learn more about Regensburg’s history and importance. The centre consists of many interactive displays and ways of learning, suitable even for children. In the same building you can find the stairs, leading up to the top of the clock tower and revealing a fascinating view over the Old Town and the Stone Bridge.
One of the highlights of my visit in Regensburg was a boat tour along the Danube river. And when I say boat, it is more like a decently sized ship. There were three major reasons why this boat ride turned into an exceptional experience. On one hand, you get to see the city from a different perspective. Observing the beautiful Old Town and Stadtamhof from the water should be on your list of things to do in Regensburg. On the other hand, during the 1-hour trip (one way) I got to make friends and talk with some locals and tourists about why we all chose to visit Regensburg and what other places around the country are worth visiting. And thirdly, the boat took me to one of the biggest attractions of Regensburg – Walhalla – a hall of fame, that honours distinguished people in German history. Walhalla may look impressive in photos, but once you see it in person, you get a completely different feeling for how large and spectacular it is.
I spent 3 days in total in Regensburg and this time was perfect to see pretty much everything and also be able to feel and enjoy the vibes of the city.
On the 9th August, my adventure took me to Augsburg – the third largest city in Bavaria, and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2019. Augsburg is also Germany’s third oldest city, after Neuss and Trier.
The city welcomed me with a heavy rain, which lasted throughout the whole time I was there, but this didn’t stop me from seeing the reason why Augsburg was listed as a World Heritage Site. The numerous canals and water management systems in the city are impressive, to say the least.
The water system of the city is first mentioned in historical writings in 1276. The city’s first dam was built seventy years later. It is documented that the waterworks at the Red Gate is the oldest existing building of its kind in Germany, perhaps even in Central Europe.
Using a highly advanced hydraulic method for that time, engineers pumped the water into water towers and led it from there. Constructors then used this type of water elevation system in other cities too, such as Vienna, Brussels and Munich. This way of separation of drinking and waste water was considered unique in 1545. The waterworks at the Hochablass, built in 1879, was also regarded as the model and origin of today’s modern water supply. The water management system includes 22 stations in and around Augsburg, including 190 kilometers of Lech Canal.
Apart from its impressive water management, Augsburg also surprised me with beautiful architecture, lovely streets to roam around and interesting sights to visit.
Walking around town, one cannot just miss the building of the City Hall, as well as Perlach Tower right next to it.
A must-see, in my opinion, is the ‘Goldener Saal’ in the Town Hall, which is a ceremonial room, famous for its ceiling paintings, murals, and golden wall decoration. It was finished in 1643 and is considered one of the most important cultural monuments of the late Renaissance.
Another point of interest is the beautiful baroque palace Schatzlerpalais. The palace is home to dozens of magnificent rooms, courtyards and gardens, as well as an impressive art collection.
Last but not least, I got the chance to visit the Botanical Garden of Augsburg. The place was incredibly peaceful and full of beautiful flowers of all kinds, that I spend a couple of hours just wandering around.
Welcome to Vienna – the ‘heart’ and the ‘musical capital’ of Europe. There are many reasons why I chose this city not only to be my first destination for my UNESCO adventure, but also to be my second home.
I had previously visited the city when I was very young, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with it. This is when I knew that I wanted to move here for at least some time and spend my students years in this beautiful place. I have been in Vienna for 4 years now, and I knew I wanted my journey to start exactly here. Behind its gorgeous castles and facades, Vienna has so much more to offer.
The historic centre of Vienna was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001 and is considered one of the most beautiful city landmarks in Europe. The city presents an unreplicable mixture of old and new, ancient and modern. Vienna is also extremely rich in beautiful architecture, stunning castles and churches, and historic monuments.
I was very lucky to get the chance to explore the Vienna City Hall closely and meet Ernst Woller – the first president of the Landtag. Getting to see some of the halls in the Rathaus, that are normally closed for visitors, was a surreal experience. And let me tell you – the building is gorgeous, not only on the outside, but also on the inside. An interesting fact is that the hallways of the City Hall are open for visitors for free.
My warm welcome in the City Hall was a great beginning of my day and my trip as a whole. I then went on a walk around the historic centre and took some photos of my most favourite places around town.
One of the iconic places is the Maria-Theresien-Platz and the twin museums. The Natural History Museum and the Museum of Art History are situated across from each other, and the buildings are just one of the many examples of how stunning the architecture in Vienna is.
Right next to the museums, you will find Hofburg – the former principal imperial palace of the Habsburg dynasty rulers. Nowadays, it serves as the official residence and workplace of the President of Austria. The National Library is also situated in the same building.
If you keep walking, you will find yourself at Michaelerplatz – the place with the many horses and carriages. Here you can see a display of excavated ruins of a Roman wall.
Continuing straight ahead of Michaelerplatz, in just a few minutes you will see the gorgeous Graben Street – a place where many locals and tourists love walking around, sitting down for a coffee and admiring the view.
At the end of Graben Street is located one of the most symbolic and impressive buildings in all of Vienna – St. Stephen’s cathedral (Stephansdom). The cathedral was built in Romanesque and Gothic style and impresses just as much on the outside, as well as on the inside.
Many people visit Vienna because it’s among the popular capital cities in Europe. But only few realise why is this place so special and important. On one hand, the urban and architectural qualities of the historical center of Vienna are testimonies of a constant change of values during the 2nd millennium. Secondly, three main periods of European culture and political development – medieval, baroque and early days – are presented in an exceptional way by the urban and architectural heritage of the historical center of Vienna. And last but not least, Vienna has been recognized worldwide as the musical capital of Europe since the 16th century.