At just over half an hour away by train, the city of Augsburg makes an easy day trip from Munich. As well as being a must-see destination in its own right, Augsburg is also a major stop on the Romantic Road which takes in some of southern Germany’s most important historic sites on its route from Würzburg to the Austrian border. And while it’s barely a fifth the size of the Bavarian capital, it has over a millennium of seniority, having been founded by the Romans in 15 BC.
Despite wartime bombing the city center is largely unchanged, and the skyline bristles with spires rather than skyscrapers. All roads lead to the Rathausplatz which is dominated by the towering Perlachturm and the enormous Renaissance-era Rathaus, recalling a time when finance and trade made Augsburg one of the largest and most important cities in Europe. At Christmas the square is transformed into a glittering Christmas market.
Leading away from the square, Maximilanstrasse contains many of the city’s most prestigious buildings, including the Rococo jewel-box of Schaezlerpalast and the imposing Renaissance palace built for the Fuggers, a hugely wealthy and influential family. They were also responsible for the city-within-a-city known as Fuggerei, the oldest social housing development in the world.
Further afield, there’s a Catholic cathedral which dates back to the 9th century, long enough for it to absorb both Gothic and Neo-Gothic elements. Remnants of the original Roman city wall stand adjacent to the cathedral; for more Augsburgian antiquities head to the Römisches Museum (incongruously housed in a 16th century church). Another recommended destination is the Brechthaus, childhood home of Bertolt Brecht. The writer had little love for his conservative hometown, claiming the best thing about it was “the train to Munich.” As you make your own way back after a day in Augsburg, you may beg to differ.