Ask your average Tourist where in Germany they’d like to go on holiday and a few cities would quickly spring to mind. Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Cologne. The castles of Bavaria, such as Neuschwanstein, Ludwig II’s masterpiece, are another option, while a knowledgeable few might express interest in the beaches of the Baltic Sea in Mecklenburg-Pommern, or the Black Forest.
For the Chinese, however, one destination rises above the rest: Trier. Around 150,000 visit the city every year, making it the most sought-after German destination for travelers from China.
Why is it so popular? This city in southwest Germany, not far from the border with Luxembourg, oozes history. Founded as “Augusta Treverorum” in 16BC, in its prime it was as thriving and important as Rome. Pomponius Mela, the earliest Roman geographer, called it “urbs opulentissima” (most wealthy city) and the Emperor Constantine made it his base for a decade. Remnants of its golden age can be found at its amphitheatre, where up to 20,000 people at a time were once entertained by bloody combat, its fourth century basilica, and its Roman bridge across the Moselle (still in use). Its nickname today? Rome of the North.
And then there’s the wine. The surrounding countryside is dotted with vineyards producing some of Germany’s finest plonk (riesling being the most common variety).
So important is the city to China that to mark the bicentenary of his birth, on May 5 this year, Trier unveiled a new statue of Marx – paid for by Beijing.
The birthplace of Karl Marx is located just off today’s pedestrian zone, in Brückenstrasse 10.
The permanent exhibition “Karl Marx (1818-1883), Life – Work – Influence up to the Present” introduces Karl Marx as a historical person, the development of his philosophical and economic ideas, and their influence on the course of history, even to the present. The front part of the birthplace of Karl Marx was built in 1727, the façade of which was completely restored to its original form from older models in 1930/31. The annexes in the rear of the house date from the 19th century.
serves as a museum today and is administered by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.
It’s all a little difficult for many Germans to digest, of course. Marx’s theories inspired the repressive communism practiced in the old East Germany (under the watchful eye of the Soviet Union) and the idea of celebrating his legacy feels ridiculous to many.
Germany’s answer to Bicester Village is Outletcity in Metzingen, the town in Baden-Württemberg, close to Frankfurt, where Hugo Boss was founded. It has little to lure anyone beyond scores of factory outlets. Hugo Boss was the first, but Prada, Nike, Burberry, Armani and Gucci, to name a few, have since followed suit. There is an irony to the fact that many items bear “Made in China” labels, but high taxes and duties mean prices are around 40 per cent lower than those found in Beijing.
The former West German capital, rarely visited by most tourists, is another popular port of call. Chinese love classical music – particularly Beethoven – making his birthplace an obvious highlight of any trip to Europe. The city’s tourist board offers maps in three foreign languages: English, Chinese and Japanese.
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