10 Tips for Augsburg
Augsburg, the third largest city of Bavaria, is located in the administrative district of Swabia. It is ancient but still modern and offers a lot of attractions. A visit to this city, which is probably the oldest city in Germany after Trier, is a journey into the past, but at the same time it is also young and modern. After all, more than 25,000 students study here, there are international trade fairs, with Augsburg’s Plärrer, the largest folk festival in Bavaria and Swabia, and twice a year a huge “Dult”. For an interesting Augsburg trip, here are ten to-do tips you shouldn’t miss.
Tip 1: The best-known religious buildings of Augsburg
Those who visit Augsburg should definitely visit the Augsburg Cathedral. The High Cathedral Church of Our Lady’s Visitation is the cathedral of the diocese and originates in parts from the 9th century. The five-nave basilica in the Romanesque-Gothic style characterizes the townscape and is located within the city walls of the former Roman town of Augusta Vindelicorum.
Particularly famous are the huge representation of St. Christopher in the southern transept, the Stone Bishop’s Throne from the 11th century in the western choir and the bronze altar table (1447) in the eastern choir. The Basilica of St. Ulrich and Afra, the Catholic parish church is also very interesting. Here the sarcophagi are kept, in which the remains of the bishopric saints Ulrich, Afra and Simpertus lie. The church of St. Anna in the pedestrian street of the same name, which is situated a little off the beaten track, has a special feature. It was built in the 14th century by the Carmelite order as a monastery church. Because the Carmelite order joined the Reformation, St. Anna became Protestant Lutheran in 1545. Martin Luther, the great reformer lived here for some time and therefore there is a Luther museum in the church, the so-called Luther staircase. But St. Anna also has a Catholic burial place and memorial chapel, the Fugger Chapel, donated in 1512 by the merchant family Fugger, when the church was still Catholic. This makes St. Anna a very rare inter-confessional church in the world.
Tip 2: The Fuggerei
In 1521, Jakob Fugger, a member of the world-famous Augsburg merchant family, founded a housing estate for Augsburg citizens in need, the world’s oldest social housing estate. Today there are still about 150 needy people from Augsburg living in the “city in the city”. In a Fuggerei museum you can experience the way of living in earlier times and learn many interesting details about the Fugger and the Fuggerei.
Tip 3: The Augsburg doll’s chest
Who knows the stories of “Jim Knopf and the locomotive driver Lukas” and of the “Urmel” not already from childhood days. They were born here in the small but fine puppet theatre in Augsburg’s Old Town, founded in 1943. Even today, children and adults still enjoy the beautiful stories told by the dolls on their strings. In addition to fairy tales and children’s stories, theatre plays for adults and cabaret programmes are also performed here. The museum of the “Puppenkiste” is home to the most famous “Stars at Threads”, which are also known to millions of TV viewers.
Tip 4: The Schaezler Palace in Maximilianstraße
It was once the city palace of the Augsburg banker Baron von Liebert, nobleman of Liebenhofen, and today houses municipal and state art collections with valuable paintings by Dürer, Canaletto, van Dyck and well-known contemporary artists. The interiors are extraordinarily splendidly designed. According to legend, the two-storey banqueting hall is said to have been used for dancing a pair of red shoes in 1770 by the King Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, daughter of the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa.
Tip 5: The Augsburg City Hall, the Perlach Tower and the Prince-Bishop’s Residence
The city hall in Augsburg is the most important secular building of the Renaissance north of the Alps. In the “Golden Hall” emperor and chancellor, presidents and potentates were received, today you can visit it. The 70-metre-high Perlach Tower was once a watch tower of the city and later the bell tower of the church of St. Peter. Today you can climb it and for this effort you will be rewarded with a wonderful panoramic view over Augsburg and, if you have a good view into the Alps. The former prince-bishop’s residence is located right next to the cathedral. Until 1802 the bishops of the Augsburg diocese resided here and since the secularization the building complex has been the seat of the district government of Swabia. For special occasions, visitors can visit the rococo hall and the magnificent staircase. The former courtyard garden, designed by Johan Caspar Bagnato from 1739 to 1744, is very beautiful. It is home to tulip trees, gingham trees, hibiscus and blue rainforest bushes, countless flower beds and a water lily pond with ornamental fish and turtles. A very pretty fountain provides cooling on hot summer days. In the so-called Fronhof, the very popular open-air summer concerts often take place.
Tip 6: The Lechviertel
Augsburg lies on three rivers, the Wertach, the Singold and the Lech. The Lech is the largest flowing water body and the so-called Lechviertel is a beautiful old town landscape. On steep paths, the path leads east of Maximilianstrasse down to the countless lech canals that run through the quarter. They were once used to maintain the city’s water supply and provide energy to the medieval craftsmen’s businesses by means of water wheels. Today, the many gurgling brooks and canals, the small bridges and footbridges give the quarter a very special charm.
Tip 6a: The Augsburg Zoo and the Botanical Garden
The 80-year-old animal park of Augsburg is located on the edge of the recreational area “Siebentischwald” on the northern outskirts of Augsburg and borders on the Botanical Garden. It is home to about 1200 animals and is one of the 20 largest zoological gardens in Germany. Worth seeing are the tropical hall, the 1000 square meter aviary and the three hectare panorama of Africa. The botanical garden covers 10 hectares and contains over 3000 plant species. There is a special rock garden, a rose garden, a natural garden, a pharmacist’s garden and a very remarkable Japanese garden, as well as plant showrooms and greenhouses.
Tip 7: The Augsburger Plärrer and the Augsburger Dult
This is the biggest folk festival in Swabia and takes place twice a year, at Easter and the end of summer. It has been around for more than 1000 years and the name Plärrer goes back to the “ploughing” of the music of the individual rides and stalls. The Plärrer is a funfair of superlatives, there are also a number of large beer tents and roasting houses a la Oktoberfest on the huge fairground and a big fireworks display. The Dult, a former church festival, also takes place twice a year. Then the area at the old city wall between Jakobstor and Vogeltor is a fair with countless stalls and carousels.
Tip 8: The Augsburg Christmas Market
It is one of the oldest and most famous Christmas markets in Germany and has been taking place since 1963, mainly on the Rathausplatz. It is decorated in the Advent season Christmassy and smells of gingerbread, mulled wine and bratwurst. For the opening and closing of the market there is the famous “Engelesspiel”. 24 angels appear on the splendid balcony of the town hall and perform a Christmas concert in old costumes.
Tip 9: Catering and nightlife in Augsburg
Augsburg is a fantastic place to eat, because traditional Bavarian cuisine is mixed with international cuisine and you can find something to suit every taste and budget. Typical culinary specialities of the region are, apart from the beloved Bavarian veal sausage, also the Schupfnudeln, the Spätzle and the pork roast with cabbage. The “Zwetschgendatsch”, a yeast cake covered with plums, is also very popular. Augsburg’s nightlife is largely centred around Maximilianstraße in the city centre. There are many bars and clubs, as well as several discotheques. But also traditional student pubs can be found everywhere in Augsburg.
Tip 10: Sporty Augsburg
Augsburg has a football team that has been playing in the Bundesliga since 2011 and whose stadium, the WWK-Arena in the district of Göggingen, offers 50,000 seats. The Augsburg Panthers are a quite successful ice hockey team and the city is also successful in water sports. Since the 1972 Olympic Games, the town has had a white-water facility on an ice channel fed with water from the river Lech. Many canoeing events are held here.