In 2023, Aachen Cathedral celebrates its 45th year as a UNESCO Site, but its history goes back much further than that. This year is the perfect time to discover one of the oldest cathedrals in Europe for yourself. The architectural wonder was first built around the 8th century before being enlarged in the Middle Ages and in that time, 30 kings have been crowned here. Highlights include the mosaic stonework, the opulent stained-glass windows and the Treasury which is considered one of the most important of its kind. It contains a treasure trove of sacred gold and silver objects including chalices and alterpieces.
Discover 150 years of the Völklingen Ironworks
Aachen Cathedral isn’t the only UNESCO Site celebrating a big anniversary this year, with 2023 marking 150 years since the Völklingen Ironworks first opened. The site opened in 1873, and in 1994, it became the first industrial monument of the industrialisation heyday to be inscribed by UNESCO and is the world’s only fully preserved ironworks from this era. A tour here will reveal the fascinating iron and steel production history, from the founding of the factory and its position as the biggest producer of iron girders in Germany to the economic boom and the steel crisis of 1970. But it’s not all about the past here, and the UNESCO site has an exciting calendar of exhibitions, art displays and even music festivals.
Explore Bamberg in its anniversary year
It has been 30 years since imperial Bamberg was inscribed by UNESCO, a status it undoubtedly deserves. Set on the River Regintz, the charming town boasts wonderfully preserved timber houses and cobbled streets, and walking around here you get the feeling that not much has changed since the medieval times. Exploring its baroque and medieval architecture, art galleries and local eateries is always a fine experience, but will be even more magical this year as the town is putting on a whole programme of events to help celebrate the anniversary.
Listen to the Bavarian State Orchestra
Established half a millennium ago, the Bavarian State Orchestra is one of the very few cultural institutions that spans almost the entire history of European music, an impressive accolade worthy of celebration. Also worth celebrating is the orchestra’s incredible success over that era: it has staged several world premiers, boasts a history of some of the most important artists as music directors including Richard Strauss and Wolfgang Sawallish, has won numerous awards and today performs in almost every single Bavarian State Opera.
In 2023, various events will be centred around its 500 year anniversary, so you have the chance to not only hear the orchestra perform but to learn about the members and some the orchestra’s most fascinating stories. In addition to a large number of concerts (some of which see past conductors invited back to perform) there are off the stage events too such as an exhibition at the National Theatre about the history of the Bavarian State Orchestra and participatory workshops on singing, voice and movement.