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10 top monuments in Germany

Klaus Krämer db
September 7, 2018

The Day of the Open Monument offers a chance for a guided tour of unusual, often off-bounds architectural monuments. But are you aware of these 10 German public monuments, all of them top tourist attractions?

Deutschland Touristen am Holocaust-Mahnmal in Berlin
Image: DW/N. Wojcik

The Europe-wide event Heritage Day, which takes places every year on the second Sunday in September, is also known as Day of the Open Monument in Germany. The German Foundation for Monument Protection has been coordinating the event for the past 25 years.

This year, about 7,800 historical buildings at more than 2,500 locations in Germany will open their doors on Sunday. Some of these monuments may not even be perceived as such in everyday life. Visitors have the chance to get to know locations usually never or rarely accessible to the public: disused railway stations, former places of work, churches, historical and technical installations as well as old fortifications. 

A memory jolt

Heritage Day does not focus on the huge historical monuments that tower over the landscape throughout Germany, commemorating various events or great minds.

stairwell in Hamburg
This stairwell in Hamburg drew crowds at past Heritage Days Image: picture-alliance/dpa/C. Charisius

The 19th century US journalist Ambrose Bierce defined a monument as "a structure intended to commemorate something which either needs no commemoration or cannot be commemorated" — and he is only partially right as quite a few historical events need more remembrance these days.

One of the founders of French literary romanticism, Francois-Rene Vicomte de Chateaubriand (1768-1848), also described great monuments as an "essential part of the glory of every human society."

Click on the above gallery for 10 of Germany's most important monuments, memorials and statues. They come in various shapes, sizes and ages but they all have one thing in common — they commemorate either horrific or grand human enterprises.