Bavaria’s Danube Limes becomes UNESCO world heritage site

The Danube Limes, which stretches through southern Germany to Slovakia and marks the borders of the Roman Empire, was added to the World Heritage List on Friday.

Bavaria's Danube Limes becomes UNESCO world heritage site
The Danube in Lower Bavaria in the district of Kelheim. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Armin Weigel

Welcoming the decision, heritage experts said ancient sites smattered along the meandering river Danube Limes were an “outstanding testimony” to Roman civilisation. 

Germany has now submitted six successful applications in the current series of UNESCO meetings, which has been running since July 16th and will continue until Saturday.

Four applications have previously been successful this year: the spa towns of Bad Ems, Baden-Baden and Bad Kissingen; the Lower Germanic Limes; the Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt; as well as Jewish sites in Speyer, Worms and Mainz.

Only cultural and natural sites of outstanding universal value are designated as world heritage.

Before the decision on Friday, tension had risen after Hungary left the joint application with Germany, Austria and Slovakia at short notice. The committee then postponed the decision that was actually planned for Monday and initially set up a working group for further deliberations.

READ ALSO: Travel: Five stunning UNESCO sites that tell Germany’s history

In pointed comments made after the announcement, Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State for International Cultural Policy in the Foreign Office, described the accolade as a sign of international cooperation.

A sign points the way to an old Roman defence frontier. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Armin Weigel

“The Danube Limes not only honours a special landscape of monuments, but also recognises the longstanding cooperation with Austria and Slovakia.” she said. “The task now is to add sites in the eastern section of the Danube to the western sections of the Limes.”

The Danube ‘connected different worlds’

“For the Romans, the Danube was not just a natural border, it was also an important connection route for goods and, above all, for ideas,” said Maria Böhmer, President of the German Commission for UNESCO. “The Danube Limes not only separated, but also connected very different worlds.

READ ALSO: UNESCO adds spa towns in France, Germany and Austria to World Heritage list

“It is an outstanding testimony to Roman civilisation, whose strength has always been to absorb external influences,” said Böhmer. “I am delighted that the World Heritage Committee has honoured the Danube Limes today.”

The remains of a roman fort near the Danube. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Armin Weigel

The registered section of the Danube Limes runs over 600 kilometres from Lower Bavaria via Austria to Slovakia. For centuries soldiers and their families were stationed there, working and living on the “wet Limes”.

The 77 sub-areas of the transnational world heritage site include ground monuments, such as the remains of legionary camps, forts and civil settlements. 

The Lower Germanic Limes was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List on Tuesday. The borders of the Roman Empire are thus recognized as World Heritage from Scotland to Slovakia.

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Living in Germany: Battles over Bürgergeld, rolling the ‘die’ and carnival lingo

From the push to reform long-term unemployment benefits to the lingo you need to know as Carnival season kicks off, we look at the highlights of life in Germany.

Living in Germany: Battles over Bürgergeld, rolling the 'die' and carnival lingo

Deadlock looms as debates over Bürgergeld heat up 

Following a vote in the Bundestag on Thursday, the government’s planned reforms to long-term unemployment benefits are one step closer to becoming reality. Replacing the controversial Hartz IV system, Bürgergeld (or Citizens’ Allowance) is intended to be a fair bit easier on claimants.

Not only will the monthly payment be raised from €449 to €502, but jobseekers will also be given a grace period of two years before checks are carried out on the size of their apartment or savings of up to €60,000. The system will also move away from sanctions with a so-called “trust period” of six months, during which benefits won’t be docked at all – except in very extreme circumstances. 

Speaking in parliament, Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) said the spirit of the new system was “solidarity, trust and encouragement” and praised the fact that Bürgergeld would help people get back into the job market with funding for training and education. But not everyone is happy about the changes. In particular, politicians from the opposition CDU/CSU parties have responded with outrage at the move away from sanctions.

CDU leader Friedrich Merz has even branded the system a step towards “unconditional Basic Income” and argued that nobody will be incentivised to return to work. 

The CDU and CSU are now threatening to block the Bürgergeld legislation when it’s put to a vote in the Bundesrat on Monday. With the conservatives controlling most of the federal states – and thus most of the seats in the upper house – things could get interesting. Be sure to keep an eye out for our coverage in the coming weeks to see how the saga unfolds. 

Tweet of the week

When you first start learning German, picking the right article to use can truly be a roll of the “die” – so we’re entirely on board with this slightly unconventional way to decide whether you’re in a “der”, “die”, or “das” situation. (Warning: this may not improve your German.) 

Where is this?

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

Residents of Frankfurt am Main and the surrounding area will no doubt recognise this as the charming town of Kronberg, which is nestled at the foot of the Taunus mountains.

This atmospheric scene was snapped on Friday morning, when a drop in temperatures saw Kronberg and surrounding forests shrouded in autumnal fog.

After a decidedly warm start to November, the mercury is expected to drop into single digits over the weekend. 

Did you know?

November 11th marked the start of carnival season in Germany. But did you know that there’s a whole set of lingo to go along with the tradition? And it all depends on where you are. First of all, the celebration isn’t called the same thing everywhere. In the Rhineland, it’s usually called Karneval, while people in Bavaria or Saxony tend to call it Fasching. Those in Hesse and Saarland usually call it Fastnacht. 

And depending on where you are, there are different things to shout. The ‘fools call’ you’ll hear in Cologne is “Alaaf!” If you move away from Cologne, you’ll hear “Helau!” This is the traditional cry in the carnival strongholds of Düsseldorf and Mainz, as well as in some other German cities.

In the Swabian-Alemannic language region in the southwest of the country, people yell “Narri-Narro”, which means “I’m a fool, you’re a fool”. In Saarland at the French border, they shout “Alleh hopp!”, which is said to originate from the French language. 

Lastly, if someone offers you a Fastnachtskrapfe, say yes because it’s a jelly-filled carnival donut. And if you’re offered a Bützchen? It’s your call, but know that it’s a little kiss given to strangers!