Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

Throughout the world Bavaria and its capital city Munich is known for Oktoberfest, weißwurst sausages and folk music. Here too numerous medieval castles and Baroque churches are to be found in the picture perfect settings of forests and snow-capped mountains. This German state has seven UNESCO World Heritage sites, and estimates suggest there are over 1,200 museums to visit. From the city art and archaeology museums with their vast local and international collections, to smaller speciality museums such as the Medieval Crime Museum in Rothenburg. And, at the end of the year the Christmas markets in Nuremberg are among the finest in Germany.

Find Places to Visit in Bavaria

Featured Destination

The Pregnitz River and the water tower in Nuremberg.

From Imperial Seat to City of Human Rights

Bavaria’s second largest city has been the centre of historical events in Europe for many hundreds of years. Dominating the skyline is the Nuremberg Castle from where the Holy Roman Empire was administered. This central position in the Middle Ages would go on to shape the city for centuries to come. Cultural developments put Nuremberg at the centre of the German Renaissance. Political history made it a symbolic choice for the Nazi Party and their annual rallies until the start of World War Two. As the ceremonial birthplace of the Nazi Party and the racist Nuremberg Laws, it was a fitting city to host the Nuremberg Trials.

Create Your Bavarian Itinerary & Travel Lists

Archaeology & History Sites in Bavaria

Albrecht Dürer's House

From 1509, this is where one of Germany’s most celebrated artists, Albrecht Dürer, lived for 20 years. And where he made some of his most celebrated paintings. Now open to the public, with optional guided tours lead by an actress in the part of Dürer’s wife. The beautiful half timbered house is not only one of a few remaining houses from Nuremberg’s golden age,  it is also the only surviving house of a 15th century artist in northern Europe. Temporary exhibitions make use of the city’s important art collection, and often include examples of Dürer’s own paintings.

Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site

The memorial site for the Dachau concentration camp was established in 1965. Initially intended for Hitler’s political prisoners, the camp in the medieval village of Dachau was set up in the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory in March 1933. Dachau would become a model for all other concentration camps as well as a school for SS men. American troops freed the survivors on April 29 1945.  In the twelve years of its existence more than 200.000 people from all over Europe were imprisoned in Dachau and its 100 sub camps, of which some 41,500 were murdered. Immediately after the war the facility was used to house SS members waiting trial.

Eagle's Nest - Kehlsteinhaus

Completed in 1938, and run as a mountain restaurant since 1952, Kehlsteinhaus is an inn with a dark past. The location has spectacular views of the Berchtesgaden mountains towards Salzburg. But many people visit because of its history. It was built for the Nazis for government and social meetings. With the aid of text and historical photographs, a series of information panels tells the story of the site. The restaurant is closed in winter, and it is only possible to visit from May to October – weather conditions permitting. Access is only possible using a bus service that starts in the Obersalzberg car park.

Mödlareuth Memorial & Museum

In the early 1950s the rural medieval village of Mödlareuth became known as ‘Little Berlin’.  Like the city, the village was physically divided in 1952, at first by a wooden fence, then later by the  same concrete barrier system that divided the two German states. Mödlareuth lies on the border between Thuringia (then in the Soviet Occupation Zone) and Bavaria (American Occupation Zone), hence the partition of the village into East and West Germany, where social and familial ties were forcibly broken. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, residents bulldozed most of the dividing wall, but a section was retained and is now a memorial and a museum recounts this period of the village’s history.

Nazi Party Rally Grounds

For both symbolic and logistic reasons Nuremburg was chosen by the Nazis as the venue for their part rallies. A total of six rallies were held between 1933 and 1938. The site covered an area of 11 square km and vast structures were specifically build to glorify the leadership and the party. Some of these, such as the Congress Hall, were never completed before the war, others were damaged. But a number of landmarks remain. Part of the Congress Hall houses the Documentation Centre. From where it possible to start a self guided tour of the party grounds.

Nuremberg Imperial Castle

The castle in Nuremberg comprises a series of fortified buildings and a city wall. Together they are one of the most formidable medieval fortresses in Europe. Earliest mention of the castle dates back to the mid 11th century. The castle was one of the Imperial residences of German kings as Holy Roman Emperors, as they moved about their realm. And it was here that they held their Court assemblies and Imperial diets. During WWII the castle suffered considerable damage, taking 30 years to fully restore. Exhibitions in the castle, designed to appeal to all ages, outline the historical context of the fortress, as well as the role of Nuremberg in the Holy Roman Empire.

Nuremberg Trials Memorium

Courtroom number 600, in the east wing of Nuremberg’s Palace of Justice is where the trials were held by the Allies against former members of the Nazi regime. Nuremberg was chosen partly for symbolic reasons, but also because the courthouse had a sufficiently large prison attached and most crucially was undamaged by Allied bombing. An exhibition outlines the history of the trials, and as Courtroom 600 is no longer used for trials it is possible to see that as part of your visit (if not being used for events).

Porta Praetoria, Regensburg

Casta Regina was the Roman name for a 2nd century AD military fort on the Danube River, a city we know today as Regensburg. Very little of this fort has survived. One feature being a gate from the northern walls of the fort; one of the few surviving Roman gates north of the Alps. The stone from much of the Roman fort, like elsewhere, was used in the construction of later buildings. The reason the north gate survived is because it was partly integrated into the Bishop’s court in the mid 17th century. The distinctive Roman masonry can still be seen from the street.

Schöner Brunnen - Beautiful Fountain

Nuremberg’s Hauptmarkt square is dominated by the façade of the Frauenkirche and the ‘Beautiful Fountain’. One urban legend has it that the Gothic fountain, which looks very much like a spire, was intended for the top of the Frauenkirche’s tower. But it could not be lifted up there. Built between 1385 and 1396 (four decades after the church), the fountain is decorated with 40 coloured figures spread over four levels that represent the world view of the Holy Roman Empire. The fountain was spared destruction during WWII because it was encased in concrete. Find the two rotatable rings, one bronze, the other iron, set in the decorative filigree above the lattice of the fence.

St Bartholomew's Church, Berchtesgaden

On the western shore of the Königssee is the pilgrimage church of St Bartholomew. In 1134 a chapel was built by the Provosts of Berchtesgaden. This was rebuilt in a Baroque style in 1697. Near the church is a hunting lodge. When in 1810 Berchtesgaden became part of Bavaria, the lodge became a favourite of the Bavarian kings. Today the lodge is an inn. Each year on the Saturday after 24 August pilgrims set off from the Austrian municipality of Maria Alm, crossing the Berchtesgaden Alps for the church. Otherwise, the church can only be reached by ferry from Königssee Seelände.

Museums & Art Galleries in Bavaria

Archäologische Staatssammlung, München

Founded in 1885, the State Archaeology Collection of Bavaria is one of the largest and most important archaeological collections in Germany. There are five collections: prehistory, Roman, medieval, the Mediterranean and numismatics. The museum, with extensive permanent exhibits is located in central Munich in walking distance of the Marianplatz, and is normally open to the public everyday except Mondays.

Bamberg Historical Museum

Today the Bamberg Historical Museum is housed in the city’s old court, the Alte Hofhaltung, next to the Bamberg Cathedral. The museum has its origins in a local vicar’s art collection that was bequeathed to the city in 1838. Since then the museum has grown significantly with collections representing all periods from prehistory to the 21st century. Two permanent exhibitions of note are “In the Flow of History. The River Regnitz as Bamberg’s Lifeline”, a history of the city and its surroundings, and “Jewish Life in Bamberg”.

Celtic Roman Museum, Manching

The Bavarian town of Manching is situated on what was a large, late Iron Age city-like settlement – the Oppidum of Manching. Excavations have recovered spectacular Celtic artefacts, including a hoard of 483 Celtic gold coins. The Iron Age settlement was founded in the 3rd century BC and abandoned in the mid 1st century BC. The strategic position made the site attractive to the Romans. Today, the Kelten Römer Museum Manching showcases the best artefacts from the Iron Age and Roman periods of the area.

Documentation Center at Nazi Party Rally Grounds

In the north wing of the unfinished Nazi Congress Hall is the Documentation Centre, a museum that explores the history of the National Socialist’s part rallies held in Nuremberg from 1933 to 1938. The exhibition “Fascination and Terror”, which opened in 2001, closed at the end of 2020 and a new permanent exhibition is currently being constructed. While the Documentation Centre is undergoing refurbishment an interim exhibition has been staged: “Nuremberg – Site of the Nazi Party Rallies”. The remodelled museum is expected to open in 2025.

Dokumentation Obersalzberg

Close to the Austrian border, Dokumentation Obersalzberg is a museum that opened in 1999 to tell the story of the use of the mountainside retreat on Obersalzberg in the Berchtesgaden Alps by Nazi leaders, including Adolf Hitler. Hitler spent a lot of time at his home Berghof. The area was developed to accommodate the Nazi leadership, to serve as a remote location of the German Chancellery. The museum is currently in the final stages of a major redevelopment and it is hoped it will open gain in October 2023.

Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg

With 26 different collection areas, all represented in the permanent display, this is the largest museum of culture history in the German speaking region. Displays range from early Stone Age artefacts to the art of 20th century – with an impressive set of the so-called ‘degenerate artists’. There are an estimated 25,000 artefacts on permanent display. Some of these are of international significance. For example, the Behaim Globe made in 1492 is the oldest surviving terrestrial globe in the world. Other objects of note include the Bronze Age gold cone from Ezelsdorf-Buch and the exquisite Roman parade helmet found in Middle Franconia.

Glyptothek, Munich

Built for Ludwig I, the Glyptothek housed the Bavarian king’s collection of Greek and Roman sculpture, and is Munich’s oldest public museum (opened in 1830). Outstanding pieces of Greek and Roman marble statues are displayed in galleries modelled on a Roman bath house, with bare brick walls and high vaulted ceilings. The objects range in date from the from the archaic age at 650 BC to the end of the Roman era around 550 AD. Highlights include the Barberini Faun and the temple figures from Aegina.

National Museum of Bavaria

The Bayerisches Nationalmuseum is one of the largest museums in Germany, and one of the most important Decorative Arts museums in Europe. The museum was established in 1855 by King Maximilian II of Bavaria to showcase the collections of the Wittelsbah dynasty. Artefacts range in date from the 5th century AD to the early 20th century, with fine examples from the Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Art Nouveau periods. The building is itself one of the most important examples of museum architecture in the historicism style.

Staatliche Antikensammlungen

Based on the collections of the Bavarian King Ludwig I, the State Collections of Antiquities displays art and everyday objects of ancient Greek, Etruscan and Roman origins. The earliest objects are from the Aegean islands of the 3rd century BC, Cycladic culture, and the most recent from Late Antiquity in the 5th century AD. The collection, and display, is particularly well known for its fine collection of Athenian painted vases, but there are also jewellery and glass, portraits and gems on show.

State Museum of Egyptian Art

What the museum lacks in numbers of artefacts it more than makes up for in the quality and significance of objects on display. In displaying some 5,000 years of art in Egypt, the following periods are included: the early, middle and late kingdoms, as well as Hellenistic, Roman and Coptic era of Egypt. Rather than a chronological presentation, displays cover a range of themes in Egyptian art and culture. Since 2013 the museum has been at the centre of the Kunstareal, along with the other major museums in Munich.