During travels through Germany, many tourists focus on the cultural aspects of the country. The 30 UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites in Germany are an exhilarating way to see both natural and cultural "wonders."
The Sanssouci castle is one of the highlights in Potsdam
The admittance to the list of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites is by no means easy. Once a spot makes it onto the list, it is no guarantee that it will stay there. Cologne's mammoth, gothic-style cathedral, for example, finds its status endangered because of construction around the 157-meter high structure that could obstruct a visitor's view.
Nevertheless, it probably ranks as one of the most popular attractions on the German heritage site list. Cologne is also near to numerous other world heritage sites in the west of Germany, such as the cathedral in Aachen, where Charlemagne reigned over 1,200 years ago. Another sacral site is the cathedral in Speyer, a classical example of Romanesque architecture.
The Zeche Zollverein in Essen
Hanseatic wealth in the north
Bremen's City Hall
Further inland to the south, copper, zinc and lead ores were mined in Rammelsberg near the city of Goslar as far back as 1,000 years ago. So vital was the city for its natural resources, that German emperors, most prominently Frederick Barbarossa, conducted court here.
Parks, castles and Reformation in the east
The Wartburg in Eisenach
On Berlin's Museum Island, some of the world's greatest museums are clustered in the middle of the capital and are a must see for art and history lovers. If marble and concrete only cause blisters on visitors' feet, then the numerous parks in and around the palaces of Berlin and Potsdam can be a welcome source of relief.
In Saxony, 18 kilometers of the Elbe River valley in and around Dresden provide a beautiful mix of city and nature. On the Polish border in the southeast, Count von Pückler-Muskau mapped out an exceptional garden with the Muskauer Park.
Picturesque church in a meadow
One of Germany's most photographed locations -- the Wieskirche church in southern Bavaria
Far to the north yet still in Bavaria, the River Regnitz beautifies the city of Bamberg. The town was virtually unscathed by bombers in World War II so the 1,000 year architectural history of the Franconian city is a showcase.
The head of the Catholic Church has issued very strong words against the Vatican's bureaucracy. At a Christmas meeting, he said members of the clergy were "amassing material goods, not out of need, but to feel safe."
Nicaragua's canal project is intended to lift the country to greatness. But for this, paradoxically, President Daniel Ortega is prepared to surrender a degree of national sovereignty. The project also has many critics.
At least 10 people have been injured after a van drove into shoppers in Nantes, France. The driver is said to have shouted "Allahu Akbar" before carrying out the attack, the second such incident within days.