Germany


The coolest site I visited in Germany was the Greifswald location of the Max Planck Institute, famous for hosting the Wendelstein 7-X reactor. The W 7-X is an experimental nuclear fusion reactor used to advance science and technology towards a future nuclear fusion power plant (which could happen sometime in the 2050s); the particular design used here is called a stellarator, a cool-sounding name roughly meaning star generator. The reactor is also one of the most complex machines ever built and a very impressive sight.

The tour includes a detailed presentation on nuclear fusion and the reactor (made by a very enthusiastic PhD student) followed by a site visit to the reactor itself. The reactor looks like it's taken from a sci-fi movie and is mind-bogglingly complex from up-close. A really fascinating and informative experience. Visiting information is available here. You can check out two cool videos on the reactor's construction process here and here.

In the same general area (North-Eastern part of the country) you'll find another fascinating point of interest: the Peenemunde Historical Technical Museum located on the site of the Peenemunde Army Research Center. One of Hitler's most terrifying weapons was developed and produced here: the V-2 rocket.

The V-2 was the world's first guided ballistic missile and was used by the nazis against London and other European cities; it was also the first man made object to cross the conventional 100km barrier of space. Wernher von Braun worked at Peenemunde before taking on a pivotal role in the US space program.

The Peenemunde museum includes the base's beautifully-preserved power station, a V-2 rocket replica, a V-1 flying bomb replica, as well as an exhibition with lots of cool tech and WW2 rockets gear; the exhibition also includes some more recent space-related stuff (including copies of Playboy photos smuggled aboard the Apollo 12 mission).

There's obviously lots of history to experience in Germany. You can start in Berlin which has a number of fascinating points of interest such as the Topography of Terror exhibition on Nazi history and its attrocities, or the fascinating Jewish Memorial; interesting sites related to the city's former divided status such as Checkpoint Charlie or segments of the Berlin Wall (Topography of Terror includes one such segment); cool monuments such as the Berlin Victory Column, the Brandenburg Gate or the Berlin Tower (Berlin Fernsehturm) - the second tallest structure in the EU at 368 metres; or the statues of Marx and Engels who helped bring another catastrophe upon humanity, Communism. Berlin, like other large German cities, is clean and nice (but not particularly exciting for my tastes). Get some tasty currywurst while in the area together with some quality German beer. Also, don't forget to tour the dome of the Reichstag building - a fascinating piece of architecture (reservations here).

Frankfurt is home to one of the world's largest securities markets, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (operated by Deutsche Borse), which can be toured. Frankfurt also hosts the European Central Bank (you can take a picture of the Euro logo located in front of the ECB, a well known landmark appearing in many news reports).

Additional info:
- country entry on Wikipedia
- country profile on Wikivoyage

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Germany

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