Augsburg, Germany was established by the Romans in 15 BC and has astounding history. Using Historic Highlights of Germany, I was able to connect with a guide, a Romantikhotel, and an itinerary that made this city come alive.
The Lufthansa flight was outstanding—even in coach! The 747 was clean and comfortable and had friendly attendants, and the meals were good. One checked bag is free, as was wine and beer. Nice first impression.
My husband “Highroad Cam” and I had no problem getting to the train station at the Frankfurt airport, even though there are two. The trains were on time and clean, and had waiters! Nothing like the American trains. The Deutsche Bahn trains are also pet-friendly. Pets are charged 50% of the normal ticket like a child. Large dogs need to be muzzled and small ones (and cats) need to be in a carrying case. They offer a 3-10 day pass that makes traveling simple and affordable.
My reluctant traveler husband seemed to be happy as we boarded our train southward toward Munich. It was still Oktoberfest, and he likes beer! We would be getting off an hour north of Munich to discover historic Augsburg this time.
At the Romantikhotel
We arrived in the lively Augsburg (pronounced Auxburg) train station at 4 pm and had to try a delicious wurst on a Kaiser roll with mustard before we caught a cab to our three-star hotel, the Romantikhotel Augsburger Hof, and the favorite of my week-long trip. Our room was cozy and decorated like a chateau. To unwind from the long trip from the northeastern U.S, we took a brisk walk around the town, made sauna reservations (we had it to ourselves), and decided to eat dinner in the Romantikhotel restaurant.
We definitely made a good choice! The dinner was outstanding and reminded me of my favorite U.S. state—Vermont—but with European flair. Farm-to-table offerings such as pumpkin and ginger soup with nutmeg and cream, sautéed wild mushrooms (cèpes), and walnut oil drizzled over beetroot and goat cheese on a micro-green salad—a vegetable lover’s dream. The beer in Germany is filtered and refined. Cam loved the pils and I liked the dark variety, which is lighter than stout but is more flavorful than the blonde pils style.
The beds in all of the hotels we stayed in were twins—put together to form a separated king, with twin bottom sheets, no top sheets, warm twin down duvets, and down pillows. Breakfast at the Romantikhotel was a culinary feast, with so many selections of whole grain breads, croissants, jams (local berries), cheeses, hams (more choices!), eggs, cappuccinos, and teas. The hotel felt more like an inn and the guests were all friendly and happy to be there. This Romantikhotel is pet-friendly with no charge for cats or dogs, but they need to be in a crate in their rooms.
Augsburg guided history tour
Our Historic Highlights of Germany guided tour began outside the hotel to Mozart House, the original home of Amadeus Mozart’s father—right across the street. Then, our guide Karen led us with our umbrellas a quarter of a mile down the road to the Dom-St. Mary (in German) church or the St. Mary’s Cathedral. This 11th-century Catholic church has so much history that you would be happy spending all morning here. Some think it actually dates back to the 4th century.
There are many different levels of constructions from different time periods, with crypts, chapels, tombstones, and phenomenal artwork. Fortunately it was not damaged too much in WWII. In the tombs, 5000 people are buried. There are four Holbein paintings and the oldest stained glass windows in Germany. Symbols of pinecones are everywhere—in bronze and marble statues and mosaics that date back to the Roman occupation—as a symbol of fertility.
The center of Augsburg is the Town Hall Square, where many shops and historic buildings converge around the open cobblestone Town Hall Square. Cafés are everywhere as the Germans are really into Italian coffee with interesting versions like Cayenne Cappuccinos. Of course the legendary pastries and cakes cannot be missed.
Our next stop was the most important building in the square: Town Hall. The grand seven-story Renaissance-style building with the two-headed eagle as its symbol and two onion domes was designed by Elias Holl in 1615. The top floor is the Golden Hall, devastated in WWII bombings, but fully restored to its former glory in 1985. The hall is 5,000 square feet with a 46-foot high gilded ceiling painted with murals. Get a bird’s eye view of Augsburg from the top. Here is a quick video:
The oldest social still-living settlement in the world, The Fuggerie, was established in 1521 and originally built for impoverished craftsmen and women. The Fuggers were a famously wealthy Augsburg family, known as the German Medicis because of their wealth and love of art.
Culinary and beer
Beneath the town hall (Rathaus) is the Ratskeller, a lively, popular restaurant and bar. The vaulted ceiling gives the feeling of being in a cave or wine cellar.
Around the corner and hidden down a long staircase is Die Ecke. “The Corner” has been serving drinks and food since 1577! Many celebrities have been here, including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Berthold Brecht (if these walls could talk!). The culinary specialties of this historic eating establishment include scallops over lentils with sweet potato puree, pumpkin soup with pumpkin seeds, and beet salad.
The waiters were very serious in their tuxedos, but the large collection of artwork on the walls set the tone for a relaxed and delicious evening.
Augsburg has so much to see and do and is a uniquely interesting European city. We only scratched the surface of its rich and deep history. With its snaking tram and modern shops, Augsburg is also much more than its past. It has something for everyone, from academics to shoe shoppers!