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Opinion

Discovering some of Germany’s most precious jewels

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez - The Freeman

COLOGNE, Germany — Not only is Germany one of the world's top three nations in economic development, political savvy, and military strength, it’s also one of the best global centers of excellence in arts, music, history, culture, and philosophy. Its greatest living icon is Angela Merkel, my ideal leader in vision, passion, and dynamism. I honor Germany because it welcomed Dr. Jose Rizal when Spain persecuted him.

I love Germany for its BMW, Siemens, Daimler, Allianz, and Volkswagen, but more than that because of the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Sebastian Bach, Carl Von Weber. I love Immanuel Kant's philosophy and appreciate what Konrad Adenauer did to help our country. Apart from that, I really appreciate Germany's beautiful tourism sites. For lack of time, I have only seen nine of them but I have to write about the others I still have to see. First, a stone’s throw away from our hotel is the famous Cologne Cathedral, the official residence of the archbishop of Cologne in Rhine Westphalia. Its construction started in 1248, halted in 1473, and restarted in 1840. Less than 50% of Germany's 82 million people are Catholic, and this cathedral is the greatest symbol of their Catholic faith.

Of course, I have seen the popular Neuschwanstein Castle, visited by over a million tourists every year. It is Romanesque in style, and the official home of the king. After the last king died in 1886, more than 61 million tourists have visited this castle. The Disneyland Castles are patterned upon its design and style. It is now Germany's number one tourist destination. I saw the Brandenburg Gate, an 18th-century neoclassical monument in Berlin, built on orders of Prussian King Frederick, and completed in 1791. I also viewed the regal Reichstag Building, the seat of the Germany's lower legislative chamber located near the Spree River.

The Museum Islands is the site of three great museums. It’s a pity that I didn’t have enough time to scrutinize the ancient relics, paintings, statues, monuments, and other evidence of Germany's genius in arts and music. I strolled around the wide Marienplatz in the center of Munich. The Berlin Tower, 368 meters in height with a revolving restaurant at 203 meters is also a tourist favorite. Of course, in terms of historical landmarks, the Berlin Wall Memorial draws a lot of visitors each day. It is recalled that after World War II, Germany was divided into the west (allied with the US, UK, and France, it became the Federal Republic of Germany) and the east (controlled by Russia which was German Democratic Republic). The wall dividing it was built in 1961 and demolished in 1989.

Checkpoint Charlie was the name given by the Western Allies to the portion of the Berlin Wall which is the best-known point of crossing when the suffering poverty-stricken people of East Germany would escape into West Germany. Near the Brandenburg Gate is the Holocaust Memorial to honor the Jews murdered during Hitler's holocaust. Another site I admire is the Linderhof Palace, the smallest but most beautiful of three palaces built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Also, the Nymphenberg Palace is a baroque palace in Munich. It was intended as the main summer residence of Bavarian rulers. Lastly, I saw the Europa Park, the largest theme park in Germany, as well as the Englisher Garden in Munich.

Germany is a country not all Filipinos truly know, much less appreciate. Rizal, in 1886 to 1887, travelled widely in over 20 cities in Germany. He loved this country who sheltered him when the Philippines was oppressed and exploited by Spain. There are some Germans married to Filipinos who are here to return the favor. I hope the friendship between the two countries shall blossom by means of travelling and research.

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