Photos courtesy of German National Tourist Board & Polish National Tourist Office North America
This 11-day custom itinerary showcases the highlights of Northern Germany and Poland taking in the historical cities of Dresden, Berlin, Potsdam, Warsaw, Krakow and Auschwitz.
Your local guide escorts you on a walking tour to see the Old Town, taking in the impressive Zwinger complex and its baroque fountains. Should you wish, you can see the exhibition of priceless porcelain and Old Masters paintings. Continue on to marvel at the Frauenkirche, a stunning baroque church that was painstakingly reconstructed, the story of which can be seen in the crypt. At Dresden Castle, a former royal palace and powerhouse of Saxon royalty, you also have the opportunity to tour the New Green Vault, with its varied collections of treasures.
Depart Dresden and drive along the Elbe valley, resplendent with vineyards as you head to medieval Meissen, a town famous for its porcelain. Visit Albrechtsburg Castle, thought to be Germany’s oldest castle, where the town’s, and Europe’s, ceramic heritage really began with the world-famous Meissen porcelain manufactury, which began production in 1710. Time-permitting, step inside the Nikolai Church, which has the largest figures ever made of Meissen porcelain, which are part of a memorial to the victims of the First World War.
The reminder of the day is at your leisure in Berlin.
This afternoon explore some of Berlin’s Jewish history. Some places stand as a stark reminder of the obliteration of what was once vibrant Jewish life. Visit the Jewish Museum, founded to document the history of Berlin’s Jewish community, life before and after 1933, and the role played by a number of important Jewish figures.
Continue to the New Berlin Synagogue, today the Centrum Judaicum, which is one of the most important locations for Jewish life in Berlin. It functions as a synagogue with egalitarian worship. Finally, see the unusual and yet powerful Jewish Memorial that remembers those that lost their lives in the Holocaust.
Once in Potsdam, you start your visit with the Cecilienhof Palace. Built in the early part of the twentieth century, the palace served as an important venue in world history, when the Potsdam Agreement was signed here in 1945 by Truman, Stalin and Churchill. It is said that each had a private entrance to the castle so that no one party would know the arrival time of the others. Discover Potsdam’s attractive Dutch Quarter and its distinctive architecture; there are numerous restaurants ideal for your lunch at leisure.
Afterwards, you continue to the Sanssouci Gardens, the grounds of the royal residence of Frederick the Great. Strolling through the gardens you come upon the Chinese teahouse housing a small but elaborate porcelain collection, a Dutch mill, a Greek temple and even Roman ruins, erected on a hill opposite the rococo-style dream palace of Sanssouci. The rococo-style Sanssouci is the best-known palace in the complex; it rests on a hilltop of vineyards and the inside has a fine display of original furnishings.
Spend the rest of the day at leisure in Warsaw.
This morning your tour of the city will include the Royal Castle, the symbol of Polish statehood, and the 14th century Cathedral of Saint John. Afterwards you will follow the Royal Route from Castle Square to the 180 acre Lazienki Park. See the Chopin Monument and visit the magnificent neoclassical Lazienki Palace, the summer residence of the last Polish king, Stanislaw August Poniatowski. The palace was faithfully reconstructed after the war and now houses fine 18th century furnishings.
Your tour will include the Royal Castle and the Cathedral, located on Wawel Hill. The Cathedral is the main church of the former Cardinal Wojtyls, Archbishop of Krakow, known to the world as Pope John Paul II. The centerpiece of Krakow is the magnificent Market Square which is the largest such medieval example of its kind in Europe.
You may also enjoy a visit to St. Mary’s Church with its famous 15th century altar by Wit Stwosz. Travel out of central Krakow to Kasimierz, the former Jewish Ghetto area. You will see many of the locations for the filming of Schindler’s List including Otto Schindler’s factory. Your day ends with a tour of the impressive medieval University complex.
You will then continue to the infamous Auschwitz Concentration Camp. The camp has been preserved as a memorial for the 1 million people of 28 nationalities who perished here. After sightseeing you will return to your hotel in Krakow.
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