Celebrations are taking place across Germany, as the country prepares to observe 25 years of reunification since the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) united in 1990 to form the reunited nation of Germany. The German Unity Day, on Oct. 3, marked the end of the unifications process and the addition of six states—Brandenburg, Berlin, Thuringia, Saxony, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, and Saxony-Anhalt—that are ripe for exploring.
Modern Day Berlin
Brandenburg is a German state best known for surrounding Berlin, yet there is much to discover just beyond the famous city. For example, Spree Forest is a protected UNESCO biosphere reserve replete with small waterways, meadows, and traditional farmhouses. Guests can go on a forest tour with the Sorbs (Western Slavic people of Central Europe) and try the popular Spree Forest gherkins (pickled cucumbers). On the 160-mile-long Gherkin Cycle Route, guests can follow the snacks production process from field to jar.
Visitors will also want to visit Berlin, which after World War II was divided into East Berlin—the capital of East Germany and West Berlin. Nearly 30 years of division ended in 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell and family, friends, and fellow countrymen reunited for several days of celebrations. Today, guests can relive that history with a walk or bike along the Berlin Wall Trail or a visit to the East Side Gallery, a 4,265-ft.-long section of the former wall covered in more than 100 paintings that commemorate the occasion. The 158-guestroom Mandala Hotel, located a short distance away from the gallery, is a perfect example of Berlin’s modernization since the country’s reunification. Situated on the junction between former East and West Berlin, the five-star hotel features contemporary styling; FACIL, a two Michelin-starred restaurant in the hotel’s fifth-floor courtyard; and QIU Restaurant & Bar, a gourmet restaurant club lounge. On the top floor, guests can luxuriate at ONO Spa, a holistic retreat specializing in unique treatments, such as the Iyashi Dome, body-firming, muscle-relaxation, and detox therapy. Rates start at $162 per night. For more information, visit themandala.de/en.
Thuringia Then and Now
Thuringia may be a lesser known state, however, it does offer guests a wealth of outdoor activities and historical destinations unique to the area. The popular city of Weimar was home to the birthplace of the 1919 Bauhaus architectural movement and is home to the residences of several great artists, including German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and German composer Johann Sebastian Bach.
Visitors to Weimar can stay at the 99-guestroom Hotel Elephant. The 319-year-old hotel overlooks the Marktplatz square and is a located a few minutes’ walk from the Goethe National Museum and the Bauhaus Museum. Its elegant interior features Art Deco and Bauhaus styles, as well as onsite dining, including Anna Amalia, a gourmet one Michelin-starred Italian restaurant; Elephantenbar, a stylish bar serving draft beer, wine, and homemade pastries; and Elephantenkeller, a classic restaurant that serves traditional Thuringian specialties, such as crispy duck and Thuringian dumplings. Rates start at $168 per night. For more information, visit hotelelephantweimar.com/en.
Retrace History in Saxony-Anhalt
In the state of Saxony-Anhalt, guests can dive into the history of German theologian Martin Luther with a visit to his birth house in the town of Eisleben, and the Castle Church in the city of Wittenberg, where he posted his 95 thesis in 1517. Saxony-Anhalt is also home to the Dessau-Worlitz Garden Realm, one of the first and largest English gardens. Guests can tour the palaces, woods, and meadows on the grounds via bicycle or a horseback riding tour, or they can take a gondola or ferry ride along the lakes and rivers.
At the end of their busy day, guests can kick-back and unwind at the four-star resort and wellness hotel Naturresort Schindelbruch, where relaxation is the focus. The hotel features a 26,909-sq.-ft. wellness area with a private pool for the entire family, a bathhouse with a separate pool for guests under 14, and four different saunas, as well as 10 treatment rooms and a sun terrace. In the Waldkoje relaxation room, guests can sunbath, read, or rest while looking out over the forest. At the Treetop Nest relaxation room, guests can swing on ergonomic rocking chairs that float in mid-air. Additional amenities include a fitness center, a hotel bar and four restaurants. Rates start at $148 per night. For more information, visit schindelbruch.de.