Seven Great Milestones

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in SouthWest Germany

Das Felsmassiv Hohlenstein am Neandertalerweg im Lonetal gehört zum Welterbe.
40,000 Years of Human History from the Stone Age to the Modern Age

BW-Story - Hirsch & Greif

40,000 Years of Human History from the Stone Age to the Modern Age

SouthWest Germany, the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg, is rich in cultural monuments. In fact, seven of Germany’s 50 or so UNESCO World Heritage Sites are between Lake Constance in the south and northern Baden-Württemberg. They span some 40,000 years, from caves with the oldest Ice Age art to Stuttgart’s modernist houses designed by architect Le Corbusier. In between are recreations of lakeside Stone Age pile dwellings and the Limes, which marked the border of the Roman Empire, plus medieval monasteries and the spa culture in Baden-Baden.

Caves and Ice Age Art of the Swabian Alb

1# Discoveries from the Ice Age

Caves and Ice Age Art of the Swabian Alb

Eingang einer Höhle. Durch das Loch im Felsen scheint die Sonne herein. Vor dem Höhleneingang stehen Bäume.
The Vogelherd Cave within the Vogelherd Archaeopark is one of six caves at the UNESCO World Heritage Site 'Caves and Ice Age Art of the Swabian Alb'. | © Schwäbische Alb Tourismus, Günther Bayerl
Auf einer Metallstele liegt oben ein nachgebildeter kleiner Mammut aus Stein. Der Hintergrund ist schwarz.
The "Venus vom Hohle Fels" , which is exhibited in the Prehistoric Museum in Blaubeuren, is considered the oldest representation of a female figure to date. She was carved from mammoth ivory about 40,000 years ago. | © Christina Bleier für Archäopark Vogelherd
Ausstellungsstück Löwenmensch
The 'Lion Man' was discovered in the Hohlenstein Stadel Cave. The ivory sculpture is exhibited in the Museum Ulm. | © Museum Ulm

In 2017, six limestone caves in the Lone Valley and the Ach Valley were designated as World Heritage Sites. Why? Because of the astonishing artworks created by the people who lived there some 35,000 to 40,000 years ago. Unearthed after decades of research by archaeologists, these treasures include around 50 small sculptures. Made of mammoth ivory, they are among the world’s oldest examples of figurative art. Also discovered were eight flutes carved from bone, which are some of the world's oldest musical instruments. These fascinating Ice Age artefacts are exhibited in various museums in SouthWest Germany. Ninety minutes southeast of Stuttgart, the Blaubeuren Museum of Prehistory is home to the so-called "Venus from the Hohle Fels". The University of Tübingen museum showcases the 40,000-year-old Vogelherd horse, found in the Vogelherd cave, which is part of the Archäopark in Niederstotzingen. And in Stuttgart, the state museum (Landesmuseum Württemberg) houses a little lion's head, also from the Vogelherd cave, as well as a mammoth figure and a bone flute from the Geissenklösterle archaeological site, near Blaubeuren. 

Venus_Hohle_Fels©Urgeschichtliches Museum Blaubeuren

History museum Blaubeuren

Urgeschichtliches Museum

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Museum of the University of Tübingen Ancient Cultures

History museum Tübingen

Museum of the University of Tübingen MUT Ancient Cultures

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Hohle Fels near Schelklingen

Cave Schelklingen

Hohle Fels

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Bocksteinhöhle near Öllingen

Cave Bissingen ob Lontal

Bocksteinhöhle

Geissenklösterle cave near Blaubeuren

Cave Blaubeuren-Weiler

Geißenklösterle

Lionman sculpture

Cave Asselfingen

Hohlenstein

Sirgensteinhöhle bei Blaubeuren

Cave Blaubeuren

Sirgensteinhöhle

Reichenau Island at Lake Constance

2# The devout island

Reichenau Island at Lake Constance

Luftaufnahme der Klosterinsel Reichenau
Reichenau Island is the largest island in Lake Constance. | © TMBW, Foto: Raatz
Luftaufnahme der Klosteranlage Reichenau. Die Anlage ist von Wohnhäusern umgeben und im Hintergrund ist der Bodensee.
The island of Reichenau at Lake Constance has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. | © TMBW, Foto: Oliver Raatz
Der Klostergarten mit unterschiedlichen Pflanzbeeten in denen verschiedene Kräuter angebaut werden. Im Hintergrund stehen große Bäume und das Kloster Reichenau.
The herb garden was newly laid out in 1991 according to the historical model of Walahfrid Strabo, a monk from Reichenau, within the old monastery grounds. | © TMBW, Foto: Oliver Raatz

After the Roman era, Christianity spread across Western Europe. At the western end of Lake Constance, the island of Reichenau has insights into the early Middle Ages and the everyday life of Benedictine monks. Notable are three churches dating from the 9th to the 11th centuries: the atmospheric abbey church of St Mary and St Mark in Mittelzell, the church of St Peter and St Paul in Niederzell, and St George’s Church in Oberzell, with its well-preserved 1,000-year-old murals. Taken together, they are like a time machine. As for the Reichenau Museum, this provides an overview of the art and cultural history of this very special monastery island that was listed by UNESCO in 2000.

Insel Reichenau Luftbild 202A0799 Foto Achim Mende

The Monastic Island of Reichenau

Only 3 miles/5 km long, this tiny island of Lake Constance is notable for its Benedictine Monastery.
Insel Reichenau Museum Reichenau F hrung Foto Ulrike Klumpp 3

History museum Reichenau

Museum Reichenau

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Maulbronn Monastery

3# Entirely unchanged

Maulbronn Monastery

Maulbronn Monastery has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993. | © Joachim Negwer
Innenraum des Klosters im gotischen Stil
The monastery church was built in Romanesque style, consecrated in 1178 and supplemented with Gothic elements. | © TMBW
Ein großer Brunnen steht im Innenhof des Klosters Maulbronn.
Enjoyable in sunny weather: Maulbronn monastery | © TMBW

One hour northwest of Stuttgart, the Cistercian monastery of Maulbronn, founded in 1147, is considered to be one of the most complete and best-preserved medieval monastery complexes north of the Alps and provides rare insights into monastic life in the Middle Ages. No wonder it has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1993 and is often used as the backdrop for historical films. Although the monks left after the Reformation, the buildings were not left empty. A school and seminary were set up, and famous graduates include Johannes Kepler and Nobel Prize winning author Hermann Hesse. The school still exists with girls as well as boys; the monastery is open to all.

Le Corbusier's Houses in the Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart

4# An architectural revolution

Le Corbusier's Houses in the Weissenhof Estate in Stuttgart

Architectural works by Le Corbusier have been designated World Heritage Sites in seven countries. Two of his sites are located in Stuttgart: the semi-detached house and the detached house in the Weißenhofsiedlung. | © Weißenhofmuseum Brigida Gonzalez
Modernes weiß gestrichenes Gebäude mit Säulen am Eingang. Verschiedene Bereiche des Hauses sind beleuchtet.
The semi-detached house of the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier is located in the Weissenhofsiedlung in Stuttgart. Since 2006, guests can visit the Weissenhof Museum in the Le Corbusier House. | © Gregor Lengler

In the 1920s, modern architecture was sweeping across Europe. And Stuttgart was one of the centres of avant-garde design. On a walk through the Weissenhof Estate (Weissenhofsiedlung) on the Killesberg hill, it is easy to see how the leading architects of the modern era changed the way we live. Built in 1927 as part of a national exhibition, the houses were examples of new ideas and new technology. Of the original 33 houses, 22 still stand and several are still homes. A century later, houses designed by Mies van der Rohe and Hans Scharoun look remarkably contemporary. Since 2016, two of Le Corbusier’s homes have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One has as an exhibition about the history of the estate; the other recreates what Le Corbusier called a “transformable dwelling”. Together they make up the Weissenhof Museum, a fascinating way to understand how the early 20th century viewed the future.

Weissenhofsiedlung

Special museum Stuttgart

Weissenhof Estate & Weissenhof Museum

Lakeside Prehistoric Pile Dwellings at Lake Constance and in Upper Swabia

5# The lives of our ancestors 

Lakeside Prehistoric Pile Dwellings at Lake Constance and in Upper Swabia

Die Pfahlbauten bei Unteruhldingen am Bodensee sind prähistorische Siedlungsreste.|© Florian Trykowski
The lake dwellings are prehistoric settlement remains in lakes around the Alps. The pile dwellings in Unteruhldingen have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011. | © Florian Trykowski
Das Pfahlbautenmuseum bei Uhldingen am Bodensee ist eines der ältesten Freiluftmuseen in Deutschland.|© Florian Trykowski
The 23 reconstructed lake dwellings provide an insight into the life in the Stone and Bronze Ages. | © Florian Trykowski
Bei den Pfahlbauten in Unteruhldingen am Bodensee gibt es viel zu entdecken: zum Beispiel die Wandmalerei an den Lehmwänden in den Pfahlbauhäusern.|© Florian Trykowski
There is much to discover at the lake dwellings in Unteruhldingen on Lake Constance, for example the murals on the mud walls in the lake dwellings. | © Florian Trykowski

The Pile Dwelling Museum (Pfahlbaumuseum) in Unteruhldingen at Lake Constance is one of the best living history museums dedicated to the Stone Age. It recreates the life of the Neolithic hunter-gatherers, whose homes were on wooden piles, over water on the edge of lakes. Among the important finds are the oldest wheels in Europe as well as the oldest textiles in Europe, which date from around 3000 BC. Dugouts, wheels and carts provide important insights into trade and mobility in early settlement communities. In 2011, the pile dwellings at Lake Constance were among the Stone Age pile dwelling settlements in six Alpine countries that were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

Nearby, in Upper Swabia, there are more well-preserved traces of pile dwellings at Federsee lake. In Bad Buchau, the Federsee Museum has archaeological finds and 12 reconstructed houses from the Stone and Bronze Ages. Visitors can take a guided tour and watch archaeologists at work during the excavation season (July to September).

Local history museum Uhldingen-Mühlhofen

Unteruhldingen Prehistoric Village

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Frontiers of the Roman Empire: Upper German-Raetian Limes

6# The everyday lives of the Romans

Frontiers of the Roman Empire: Upper German-Raetian Limes

Rekonstruktion des Limes bei Großerlach-Grab in der Region Stuttgart.|© Verein Deutsche Limes-Straße, Michael Schneid
The Upper Germanic-Raetian Limes has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005. | © Verein Deutsche Limes-Straße, Michael Schneid
Das Ostkastell in Welzheim ist noch gut erhalten. |© Verein Deutsche Limes-Straße, Erik Dobat
The Limes runs for over 800 km through four federal states of Germany. | © Verein Deutsche Limes-Straße, Erik Dobat
© Verein Deutsche Limes-Straße
In the footsteps of the Romans: Cycling along the Limes Cycle Path. | © Verein Deutsche Limes-Straße, Foto: Erik Dobat

The Roman Empire is one of the greatest empires that ever existed. The Upper Germanic-Raetian Limes is part of the Roman border fortifications with castles, watchtowers, walls and palisades with which the former world power demarcated its empire from free Germania. Back in 2005, Britain’s Hadrian's Wall and SouthWest Germany’s Limes were added to the UNESCO World Heritage lists. Ninety minutes east of Stuttgart, the former border of the Roman Empire runs for 164 km / 100 miles through Baden-Württemberg. This is Europe’s largest archaeological monument, and it passes through the wooded landscapes of the Neckartal-Odenwald nature park, the Swabian-Franconian Forest nature park and the Hohenlohe region. Follow the border on foot or by bike on the well-marked Limes Cycle Path. For information on the numerous reconstructions and museums, stop at the Limes Information Centre in Aalen.

Limes Museum Aalen

History museum Aalen

Limes Museum Aalen

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Limestor Rainau-Dalkingen

Archaeological site Rainau-Schwabsberg

Limestor Rainau-Dalkingen