A Bavarian city with an intriguing history
So, you’re toying with the idea of heading off to Bavaria in southern Germany, why not try something different and visit Augsburg. Often when you think of Bavaria, after you dismissed the thought of bratwurst and steins of beer from your mind. You may choose the historic cities of Munich or Nuremberg, (which are both great by the way, particularly at Christmas time).
Storm clouds brewing over the Rathaus
However, we thought on this Lakes and Lederhosen revival road trip, we’d try somewhere slightly different. And Augsburg was ticking a lot of boxes for us it had, history, charm and culture.
Augsburg is also one of Germany’s oldest towns and was founded in 15 BC by the Romans and named after the emperor Augustus.
Augsburg was furthermore a Free Imperial City from 1276 to 1803.
Herrengasse in the Fuggerei
What to see in Augsburg?
What better place to start than the Rathausplatz, the heart of so many German towns and cities? Just within this square, we have the Perlachturm, which is a 70-metre-tall tower. The Perlach Tower was originally built as a Watchtower in 989.
Just next to the Perlach Tower is eye-catching Renaissance-style Town Hall, which was built in 1620.
However, due to an air-raid in February 1944 causing extensive damage, the Rathaus and its beautiful façade were restored to their former glory in 1955.
Perlachturm at night
You have to head inside, as there’s more to this Rathaus that meets the eye.
So close to Munich
Augsburg is only around 50 miles (80km) from Munich, so, you could easily make it into a day trip.
A reference guide
I love nothing more than planning a trip and so often I use the DK Eyewitness books. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
We used a previous version of this book to plan our Germany road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.
Golden Hall, Augsburg
As the Goldener Saal (Golden Hall) succumbed to the same fate as the exterior of the Town Hall, the painstaking restoration was not fully completed until 1996.
Ceiling of the Golden Hall
The magnificent golden ceiling and replacement of the marble floor were completed from 1980 to 1984. The wall frescoes posed more challenging and were completed in 1996.
Intricate detail within the Golden Hall
The incredible amount of care and detail in bringing the Golden Hall back to its previous splendour is impressive. The entrance fee for the Goldener Saal is just €2.50.
Maximilianstraße, as it’s correctly written, runs through the heart of the Old Town in Augsburg. It’s along this road that so many of Augsburg’s historical buildings, fountains and churches can be found.
Hercules Fountain, Maximilianstraße
Mercury Fountain, Maximilianstraße
St. Ulrich’s and St Afra’s Abbey
We started at the south end of this notable street and visited St. Ulrich’s and St Afra’s Abbey. One of two dual denominated churches in Augsburg, St. Ulrich’s and St Afra’s Abbey being Catholic and Lutheran.
St. Ulrich’s and St Afra’s Abbey
Inside St. Ulrich’s and St Afra’s Abbey
Take a peek inside the church as it’s rather beautiful and very ornate. Also, I noticed an inordinately large number of confessional boxes, not too sure what that’s all about, perhaps they had a lot to absolved for years ago.
Take a stroll
Prior to heading north along Maximilianstraße, take a wander around the cobbled lanes of Spitalgasse. Around this area of Augsburg, you’ll find some lovely old buildings, churches, towers and also the Augsburger Puppenkiste. This puppet theatre has been entertaining folk young and old since 1948.
Rotes Tor (Red Tower)
Another structure to be found along here is the Red Tower (Rotes Tor) which was renovated in the 20th-century; however, was once a gate forming part of the original fortifications.
Something to make your travels easier?
Back on Augsburg’s “The Imperial Mile”
As you head north along Maximilianstraße, also known as the “Imperial Mile” you can see Schaezlerpalais. A beautiful Baroque Palace, beyond its walls, are lovely gardens, courtyards and a Rococo ballroom.
Strolling further along past the Hercules Fountain, one of three eye-catching fountains along this stretch of road, you’ll see the Fuggerhäuser (Fugger houses). The Fugger’s were a wealthy banking family that became extremely prominent within Augsburg. The original buildings were destroyed during WWII, they were rebuilt in 1951 by Carl Fürst Fugger-Babenhausen. Although it still houses beautiful courtyards and gardens, it is now the Fürst Fugger Privatbank.
Doorway to the Fürst Fugger Privatbank
A short hop further along and you’ll stumble upon the colourful Weavers House (Weberhaus) on the corner of Moritzplatz. Opposite here is the second fountain, the 'Mercury Fountain'.
Weavers House (Weberhaus)
North it is
Passing through Rathausplatz, you’ll see the third fountain along this stretch, which Emperor Augustus stands aloft.
As I’ve already given you a taster of what can be found in this square, keep heading north.
Top of the Augustus Fountain
We’ve now reached Augsburg Cathedral, built in the 11th-century in Romanesque style. This church was lucky enough to escape the WWII bombings that struck so many other buildings in this Bavarian city.
In comparison to St. Ulrich’s and St Afra’s Abbey, at the other end of the “Imperial Mile”, I found Augsburg Cathedral a lot more subdued inside.
The fountain in front of Augsburg Cathedral
Augsburg Cathedral has some of the oldest stained-glass windows in Germany, dating from the late 11th and early 12th centuries. Underneath the cathedral below the western choir is a Romanesque crypt dating from 10th-century.
The door knocker of Augsburg Cathedral
Did someone say, Mozart?
Just along from Augsburg Cathedral is where Leopold Mozart was born, the father of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Leopold was renowned in his own right as he was a conductor, composer and teacher.
The Fuggerei, Augsburg
The Fuggerei is a quaint social housing settlement in Augsburg and was the first of its kind in the world. Founded in 1521 by “Jacob Fugger the Rich”, it is still occupied by Catholic residents, although it is also now a museum.
Picturesque homes in the Fuggerei
This little complex is home to 150 residents who continue to pay the original annual rent of a Rhine Guilder, (which today is 0.88 Euros).
I thought to pay €6.50 was reasonably cheap to visit, but 0.88 Euros for year’s rent is a bargain.
Ochsen in the Fuggerei
All the little manicured homes are so uniformly laid out, in the exact same colour. With Wisteria clinging to the walls and climbing roses clambering over the doorways.
Welcoming street in the Fuggerei
Some of the original homes dating from 16th-century were numbered with Gothic numerals. One of the Fuggerei’s most prominent residents was the great-grandfather of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was also a master builder. He moved into apartment no.14 Mittlere Gasse in 1681 and died there in 1694.
Exploring Fuggerei, Augsburg
It is such a lovely tranquil place to wander around, it incredible to believe that this social housing complex is still occupied. Cute little pedestrian streets, tiny plots planted like a traditional English country garden.
Cute little gardens in the Fuggerei
While we wandered through the little streets, I noticed chalk numbers marked above the house doors. I have since found out that it is a blessing that some people have carried out on their homes on either the Twelfth Night (January 5). Or the twelfth day on the eve of the feast of the Epiphany. The patterns we saw were "20*C+M+B+19".
Blessing of a home, the Fuggerei
Cast iron fountain from 1744
Within the little settlement is the small chapel of St. Markus, where residents come to pray at least three times a day.
St. Markus Church in the Fuggerei
WWII bunker in the Fuggerei
Also constructed within the grounds, shortly after WWII began is an underground bunker. The housing estate experienced quite a significant amount of damage during the war, and within the air-raid shelter, an exhibition now exists.
Wander the cobbled lanes
Strolling around the Old Town of Augsburg is such a pleasure, you’ll easily find some quiet spots to relax and enjoy the scenery.
With all the exploring you’ve done; you’ll undoubtedly have earned a nice ice-cold German beer.
Quiet street in Augsburg
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