Eastern Germany: Culture, Castles & Gardens
7th May - 16th May 2011
with Anthony Earl
PROVISIONAL COST: including flights, transfers, travel by coach & river steamer, accommodation with bed and breakfast in comfortable hotels, 4 dinners & 1 lunch, most entrance charges, guided visits: £1378
EXTRAS: Holiday Insurance, Single Room £340, additional meals, personal items, tips.
The five Lander of the former communist German Democratic Republic are now ready for the millions who wish to see them, and rightly so. Despite the devastation of war and repression, many cities and towns have held on to their history and to their great beauty, or in some cases have painstakingly restored it to its original appearance. The gently flowing landscape, brilliant and verdant in spring, shines with fresh trees, and silver rivers, and opens to wide enticing views, which landscape designers from the eighteenth century onwards, were keen to exalt further. Brandenburg was the province favoured by the junkern, the aristocracy who undergirded the Hohenzollerns. Noble families in their hundreds built palaces and manor houses, and surrounded them with parks and gardens in the Romantic taste. The Kings of Prussia turned Potsdam into their de facto capital, endowing it with five major residences and parks looking onto rivers and near-lakes. Sans Souci was the preferred residence of Frederick the Great, who perhaps more than any other ruler is responsible for the German psyche. Dresden, now the capital of Sachsen, was in the eighteenth century the capital of the rival kingdom to Prussia. Its ruler, Augustus the Strong, was elected King of Poland, enjoyed an indulgent lifestyle and amassed immense wealth, of which the artistic treasures of the city bear testimony. Dresden was destroyed in the Second World War in retaliation for the bombing of Coventry. Its centre, now deemed iconic in its renewed beauty, has been restored in every detail.
In both Potsdam and Dresden, there are very likely to be opportunities to attend concerts and recitals and in Dresden some of the group will feel the temptation to attend the Semper Opera House. Advice will be available on obtaining tickets.
The elegant centres of these German cities are intended for public enjoyment. Cafes and eating places abound, at reasonable prices, and quiet strolls around the avenues or walls form some of the pleasures of a stay. British visitors generally adapt more readily to the German diet than to any other in Europe.
Please note that in these towns, although we shall use local transport where reasonable, walking is the best way to see them. Distances are not strenuous and hotels are centrally placed.
Saturday 7th May
Depart Heathrow arr Berlin Tegel, coach transfer to Potsdam: Best Western Park hotel (four star). Dinner included
The major palaces and gardens of Potsdam: Sans Souci, Cecilienhof, and Marmorpalais. All these buildings require our time and need a leisurely walk round their parks. Dinner will be at your own choice, perhaps in the Italian Quarter
The New Palace, Belvedere on Pfingsberg Hill and the Friedenskirche; in the afternoon, a river trip. Dinner at your own choice
We travel by public transport to Brandenburg an der Havel for its medieval cathedral and monastery buildings. In German style, main Lunch is included.
A tour by coach of some of Land Brandenburg’s stately homes will take us to the Schlosser and Parken of Paretz, and Petzow and by contrast to the new Optical Park, a museum of the science of optics laid out in spacious gardens. Dinner is included this evening,
We take a three hour coach journey to Dresden diverting to see the huge eighteenth century park of Worlitz. In Dresden: VHC-Hotel Martha Hospitz (three-star). Dinner in a restaurant is included
We take a walking tour of the sumptuous baroque buildings of Dresden, including the Frauenkirche, the Altmarkt and the Hofkirche. In the afternoon we shall spend time in the Albertina ( gallery for 19th and 20th century French and German paintings) and the Grunes Gewolbe, which houses Augustus the Strong’s dazzling collection of jewels. Dinner. is at your choice.
The parks and gardens of Saxony call us to Pillnitz, Moritzburg and Weesenstein and we shall see the porcelain manufactory of Meissen.. We travel by coach. Dinner is at your choice,
We spend the morning in the Zwinger, the baroque place built specially to house six museums, of which the Old Masters Gallery and the Porcelain museum both deserve a long stay.
In the afternoon we take a boat trip, in an ancient paddle steamer, on the Elbe, which flows under the city walls. Some will want to attend the deeply moving commemoration of the destruction of the city in the Second World War held every Sunday evening in the Frauenkirche. Dinner is included for us.
We transfer by coach to Leipzig for our return flight to Heathrow.
Included: transfers to and from airports and from Potsdam to Dresden; two coach tours and trip by river steamer; four dinners and one lunch; main museum entrances
Not included: single room supplement; insurance; drinks at meals and refreshments en route; lunches other than on Tuesday 10th May.