Augsburg’s History Coming Alive

Tomas Haupt - Feb 28, 2011
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Two thousand years of glorious history have sculpted the face of Augsburg, where past eras come alive. Follow the trail of the Romans, whose Emperor Augustus had the city founded to immortalize his fame. Immerse yourself in the world of the powerful Fugger and Welser families, who made medieval Augsburg a nexus of the Holy Roman Empire and a home to famous artists.

The Oldest City

Founded by the Romans in 15 BC it is the oldest city in Bavaria and second oldest German town. Augsburg's cityscape developed over two millennia and was shaped by all the great stylistic epochs. The Renaissance in particular flourished here – and Rococo became known as "the Augsburg style." Great buildings, monumental fountains, lavishly laid-out streets and ultramodern architecture attest to the city's cosmopolitan bounty.

Feel the overwhelming beauty of the Renaissance, which is still very much alive here in the majestic architecture of the monumental Rathaus (City Hall), an imposing Renaissance masterpiece built 1615-20 by Elias Holl as an expression of the Free Imperial City's civic pride.

Adjacent is the Perlachturm, the tower from which one enjoys an impressive panoramic view of the city's architectural gems.

The magnificent Augustusbrunnen fountain was erected in honor of the Roman Emperor from whom the city derives its name. It is only one of many Renaissance fountains which survived intact. Maximilian Street, framed by the historic façades of stately patrician homes, attests to the city's affluence in the days of the famous Fugger and Welser merchant dynasties.

The Fuggerei, built by Jacob Fugger the Rich, banker to kings and emperors, is the world's oldest social settlement for the poor. Even today its residents pay an annual rent of less than a dollar. Of Augsburg's numerous glorious religious edifices, the Dom (Cathedral) with five windows of the oldest figured stained glass in Germany, St. Ulrich-Münster and Protestant Ulrichskirche constitute a splendid architectural ensemble.

Concerts in splendid halls, opera and operetta in open air theaters, art exhibitions, magnificent churches, the Fuggerei and the Schaezler Palace draw tourists from the entire world.

Museums and Landmarks

Maximilian Museum – cultural gems of the old trading town date from classical antiquity through the 20th century. The Römische Museum exhibits archaeological finds from the founding of the city at the time of Christ's birth, and from later centuries when the Roman ruled the land.The Deutsche Barock-Galerie in the Schaezler Palais, contains works of German Old Masters, among them Hans Holbein the Elder, Hans Burgkmair, Lucas Cranach and Albrecht Dürer. The Maximilian Museum helps visitors trace the history of Augsburg. Also featured are numerous exhibits from the era of the city's great silver- and goldsmith masters.

The Leopold Mozart Family Memorial reminds us that the great Wolfgang Amadeus had forefathers from the region. Representing literature is Bertolt Brecht. The memorial in his name houses a documentation of the writer's Augsburg years. The Naturmuseum exhibits flora and fauna of the Alpine foothills dating back 8-12 million years, while insights into the expanses of the universe are gained in the Planetarium. The Stadttheater is a mecca for music and theater lovers. Widely acclaimed are performances of opera and operetta in the Freilichtbühne (open air theater).

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