Monday, October 8, 2012

Discover the Bachhaus with Incantato Tours

The Bachhaus in Eisenach (Bachhaus Eisenach) is the oldest museum devoted to the composer Johann Sebastian Bach, who was born and baptized in Eisenach and lived in the city until he was 10 years old. Today, Eisenach is home to the Bachhaus, which is the world's leading museum about the great composer and his works. It is located in a 550 year old half-timbered house on the Frauenplan that was purchased by the Neue Bachgesellschaft (New Bach Society) in 1906 and reopened as a museum in 1907. It contains original documents by Bach and provides a specialist library for researchers. In the summer, visitors to the museum can also visit a small Baroque garden behind the house. A modern wing, called the Penkues Building (after the architectural firm that designed it) opened in 2007. The exhibits will lead you through the life in Bach's time, musical instruments from the Bach era, the composer's works, and a few surprises (such as the step-by-step forensic reconstruction of Bach's head), or a movie that shows a rehearsal of the Thomaskirche Boys Choir in Leipzig, which Bach directed from 1723 to 1750.
As a bonus, you'll be treated to a mini-concert of Bach's music on a clavichord, a harpsichord and an organ during your visit to the museum. If you have time, you can sit in a "bubble chair" and listen to recorded music with headphones.
The Bachhaus also has a shop that sells recordings, books and posters. The "Café Kantate" will provide snacks and drinks after you've had your fill of history.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Buzzing Berlin: an Incantato Favorite

More than 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and thus reunification of Germany, Berlin has evolved into a young, dynamic and cosmopolitan city at the heart of Europe that is constantly re-inventing itself. The special mix of historic sights and modern architecture of the 20th and 21st centuries is what fascinates visitors from around the world. Whether museums or galleries, gastronomy or entertainment, music or fashion, there are so many new things to experience in the German capital. It is this diversity, the contrasts between the eastern and western parts of the city and the inexhaustible potential of the German capital that make this city so attractive. There is a broad spectrum of art, culture, music, entertainment and shopping. Currently, the "City West" around the zoo is reconstructed and the Kurfuerstendamm, Berlin's most famous shopping boulevard, celebrated 125 years in 2011. 
Historical highlights of the city include
Brandenburg Gate, the most famous trademark of Berlin.
Reichstag, the German Parliament, with its glass dome roof and panoramic view is a popular visitor destination to catch a great birdseye view of the city.
Museum Island, a complex of five world-renowned museums and also a UNESCO World Heritage site. 
Potsdam Square, one of the most popular attractions of Berlin. 

Weimar is Wunderbar with Incantato Tours

Ask anyone who’s been there and they’ll tell you the place is a gem. Weimar has a unique classical heritage and an air of elegance, but is also a very vibrant modern Thuringian town, on the river Ilm southwest of Leipzig, where enjoying life is as much a priority as celebrating culture.

Historically, Weimar is a bit of an overachiever, punching well above its weight. It may have only 65,000 inhabitants today but boy, has it left its mark.
One UNESCO World Heritage listing wasn’t enough, so the city has been given two: one for classical Weimar with 13 buildings and architectural ensembles, and one for its Bauhaus sites.

The Weimar classic period from 1775 to 1832 flourished under the reign of Duchess Anna Amalia, and her library with the exquisite Rococo Hall is probably the most famous in the collection of eminent classical buildings. And while on the subject of libraries, Weimar is still best known around the world for its associations with Germany’s ‘national poets’ Goethe and Schiller who lived and worked in the town during the classic age. Goethe’s Home, part of
the classical Weimar collection, also houses the Goethe National Museum. In August 2012, a new permanent exhibition was opened to honor the über-author, entitled ‘Floods of life, storm of deeds”’.

Fast forward into the 20th century and Weimar was again the birthplace of a movement, this time of the world’s most influential art and design school. In 1919, Walter Gropius established the Bauhaus School and assembled the whole of the European avantgarde of the time in Thuringia to teach at the new school of design. ‘Haus am Horn’, the most famous example of Bauhaus architecture, was built as a model house for the first architecture exhibition in 1923 and is one of three Bauhaus sites in Weimar.
As befits an institution that is dedicated to the roots of Modernism, the Bauhaus Museum, currently in a neoclassical building opposite the National Theatre, will finally get a new home. The winners of an international architectural competition for the new museum were announced in summer 2012 and the design sounds spectacular; a geometrically clear shape forming a dominant solitaire at the edge of the Weimarhallen park in the town centre.

Apart from all its elegant palaces, museums and beautiful parks, Weimar is also a very liveable town, keen on letting its hair down now and then. Every October since 1653 the Onion Festival (12 to 14 Oct 2012) celebrates the humble plant, and it is the biggest such festival worldwide. Onion garlands, decorated with colourful dried flowers, are popular souvenirs, there are stands selling handicrafts, food and drink, music and an Onion Market Queen who reigns for one year. The whole historic town centre is one big party and 350,000 visitors make this the biggest festival in Thuringia. Not quite UNESCO World Heritage material yet, but another reason why Weimar is more than worthwhile.

Welcome to Germany with Incantato Tours!

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland) with its capital Berlin is located in Central Europe. The North Sea, Denmark, and the Baltic Sea border Germany to the north; Poland and the Czech Republic lay on the eastern border; Austria and Switzerland border on the south, and France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands on the east. There are over 82 million persons living in Germany, a country about the size of Montana, U.S.A. (Germany is 357,021 km2, slightly less than Montana), making it one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Even though there are that many people living in Germany, the Germans have succeeded in keeping almost 1/3 (31%) of the country covered with forests and woodlands. And, as you rarely see buildings on top of the mountains, you have the feeling of being surrounded by green vegetation and of wilderness close by, which makes Germany one of the most beautiful countries in Europe.
Historically nicknamed Das Land der Dichter und Denker, “The Land of Poets and Thinkers,” Germany’s history has been shaped by major intellectual and popular European trends of both religious and secular influence. The strength of German culture has produced such historical figures as Johann Sebastian Bach, novelist Franz Kafka, and poets such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Germany’s sixteen states offer 240 subsidized theaters, hundreds of symphony orchestras, thousands of museums, and over 25,000 public libraries. The abundance of culture attracts throngs of tourists each year, resulting in an annual average of 91 million museum visits, 20 million theater and opera attendees, and 3.6 million symphony concert-goers. Germany claims many of the world’s most renowned classical music composers, including Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms, and Richard Wagner. Since 2006, Germany has been recognized as the fifth largest music market in the world.
There are hundreds of castles in Germany, such as the stunning Neuschwanstein Castle. Some are still inhabited by aristocratic families, others have been transformed into hotels and restaurants, and still others are in ruins. 

German cuisine varies according to region. The southern areas of the nation share a culinary culture with Switzerland and Austria. Pork, beef, and poultry are the main sources of protein consumption. Meat is often eaten in sausage form. Germany produces more than 1,500 varieties of sausage. You would have to try one kind of German bread per day for almost a whole year in order to be able to taste them all! There are over 300 different kinds of bread in Germany. 
With Germany's newly established comprehensive system of social security, the country continues to develop a very desirable higher standard of living. Germany holds a key position in European affairs as the government strives to perpetually strengthen international relations. Germany is recognized as a leader in many scientific and technological advancements.