Germany Holidays: Travel along the Museum and Architecture Route

Where top architects are given free range.

Germany is a real playground for the world’s best architects. Museums in particular are often housed in bold 21st century buildings, becoming as much of an attraction as the content displayed within them. Modern architecture buffs can now wind their way through Germany on a newly established Museum and Architecture Route that includes six museums in northern Germany in Osnabrück, Bielefeld, Herford, Berlin, and Wolfsburg.

Apart from Berlin, none are very high up on the list of top city break destinations, so travellers following the route will get to see some of Germany’s lesser known locations. Anyone heard of Herford before, for example?

Bold museum buildings for the 21st century

Incidentally, this nondescript mid-sized city in North Rhine-Westphalia, about two hours north-east of Düsseldorf, features the most spectacular of the buildings on the route, Frank Gehry’s MARTa Herford design temple for contemporary art of the 21st century, hailed as one of the most innovative museum buildings worldwide. It certainly looks intriguing, to say the least. To quote its own description “the deconstructivist spatial sculpture, with its choreography of volumes, falling and towering, whirling shapes, houses a ‘creative system’ of exhibition rooms, event forum, café, shop, seminar rooms and offices.” Questions,anyone?

Meanwhile the equally nondescript city of Wolfsburg has won a special place in the heart of UK star architect Zaha Hadid. who struggled for years to get her designs built at home but was very much welcomed in Germany where her ground-breaking Phaeno science centre opened in Wolfsburg in 2005.

Apart from Phaeno and MARTa, further stops on the route are the Felix-Nussbaum-Haus in Osnabrück by Daniel Libeskind, Kunsthalle Bielefeld by Philip Johnson, the Jewish Museum in Berlin by Libeskind and the annex to the Historical Museum in Berlin by Ieoh Ming Pei. All offer special tours talking about their architecture, and visitors to more than one museum receive discounted entry. All are fantastic examples of cutting-edge architecture and worth a visit for anyone interested in design.

Getting There: International airports are at Osnabrück, Paderborn, Hanover and Berlin. International rail connections are via Cologne from Brussels (Thalys), which connect with the Eurostar from London. See our Travel page for airlines, rail and tour operators.

Staying There: our recommended hotels are here for Niedersachsen, and here for Berlin.

Looking for more? See other destinations in Northern Germany

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