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The German cultural landscape

Beacons and defining influences

Germany’s reputation as a major cultural nation within Europe is founded on well-known names and formats of international importance.
Berlinale
© Getty Images

Germany’s reputation as an important cultural nation is founded on the great names of the past, such as Goethe, Schiller and Thomas Mann in literature and Bach, Beethoven and Brahms in music. The year 2020 was designated “Beethoven Year” to mark 250 years since the composer was born.

The year 2019, meanwhile, saw celebrations commemorating 100 years since the foundation of the Bauhaus movement, which successfully developed an influential and style-forming design language during the 1920s that continues to have an impact today. Artistic positions of the present day also feature renowned names spanning all genres of art – most significantly in painting with artists like Gerhard Richter, Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer and Rosemarie Trockel, and in photography with Andreas Gursky, Wolfgang Tillmanns and Candida Höfer.

International events

The most important cultural events in Germany include the Berlin International Film Festival, Frankfurt’s international Book Fair, the Bayreuth Festival, the Berlin Theatertreffen, Rock am Ring, and the Ruhrtriennale.

In Germany there are 46 monuments under UNESCO protection – within Europe, only Italy has more Cultural Heritage Sites. The Humboldt Forum taking shape in Berlin is to be a new cultural centre, with its aim being to foster international knowledge exchange and cultural dialogue – all with an internationally open-minded approach. In the spirit of the brothers Alexander and Wilhelm von Humboldt – two important researchers and thinkers of the Enlightenment – the Humboldt Forum will shine a light on global interrelations. To do so, the newly designed exhibition space will combine inventories from multiple museums, also with the involvement of the Humboldt University. The Forum is being developed on a historically important site within the reconstructed Berlin Palace, according to a design produced by Italian architect Franco Stella. The project has been the subject of heated debate in Germany with regard to both its content and design, and in relation to its costs.