Explore the natural beauty and surroundings of Bonn
Bonn, Cologne's neighbour, served as west Germany's capital from 1949 until the unification of 1990, when Berlin was restored to its former status. Although Bonn's administrative role has faded, it still remains an important cultural centre and, despite its provincial reputation it is a surprisingly interesting place to visit, not least for its superb museums - and for being the birthplace of Beethoven.
The small Altstadt is now a pedestrianized shopping area centered on two spacious squares. The square to the east is named after the huge Romanesque Munster, whose central octagonal tower with its soaring spire is the city's most prominent landmark.
The pink, chocolate-box Rococo Rathaus adds a touch of colour to the other square, the Markt, which still hosts a market everyday except on Sundays. A short walk north from here is the Beethoven-Haus one of the few old buildings in the centre to have escaped wartime devastation. Beethoven served his musical apprenticeship at the Electoral court, but left the city for good at the age of 22, though this hasn't deterred Bonn from building up the best collection of memorabilia of its favourite son.
To the east is the Baroque Schloss, an enormously long construction that was formerly the seat of the Archbishop-electors of Cologne and is now used by the university. Bonn's government quarter, a mile south of the centre, was saddled with a temporary status. As a result nothing was custom-built, but rather government offices utilized existing buildings, such as the Villa Hammerschmidt and the Palais Schaumburg. These now serve as the second residences of the President and Chancellor correspondingly.
The Museumsmeile, planned as a cultural accompaniment to the government quarter, is home to the superb Kunstmuseum, with a fine Expressionism collection. Next door is the Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle, a monumental postmodern arts centre for important temporary exhibitions.
Bonn has enough attractions and activities to entertain even the pickiest tourists. But don't take our word for it get on a plane, book you hotel in Bonn now and come see for yourself.