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Countries Information & Lifestyle
 Germany Germany

Country Information & Lifestyle

 At the heart of cultural Europe

At the heart of cultural Europe

The Federal Republic of Germany is a country in central Europe situated between The Netherlands, Poland and Denmark, and borders the North and Baltic Seas.

Germany is the birthplace of Johann Sebastian Bach, Richard Wagner, Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein to name just a few famous Germans. So come with us and see just what makes their beautiful country so amazing.

The Rhine Valley is beautiful with castles, cathedrals, woods and vineyards, and of course the romantic River Rhine. The Middle Rhine is a river valley straight out of a picture book, with precipitous cliffs, steep vineyards, a castle perched on virtually every hilltop and pretty villages lining the river banks on either side. The scenery is the stuff of dreams, and villages and towns like Bacharach, Boppard, St. Goar and Linz epitomise the charm of this remarkable area with its rich cultural heritage.

Bavaria prides itself on its uniqueness and the climate is similar to the Austrian Alps, especially in the neighboring Tirol where winters can be cold with frequent snowfalls. It is here there are some of Germany's highest peaks and deepest valleys offering winter sports opportunities. Bavaria has beautiful lakes, forests and the towering summits of the Alps.

Take a boat trip into the Rhine Valley,sipping a glass of wine from the vineyards you are passing along the way. Majestic castles can be visited along the way before you end up the Lorelei Rock where the legend lives on, high above the Rhine on a mighty cliff the Burg Eltz Castle invites you like a well-preserved fairy-tale castle in an unspoiled landscape.

Where Rhine and Moselle join, lies the city of Koblenz � the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage Upper Middle Rhine Valley. Koblenz is an adorable city that is definitely worth living in. It mixes its historic heritage with the modern present. From the Ehrenbrietstein Fortress you have impressive panoramic view over the town, the Rhine, and the Moselle.

A romantic atmosphere persists in the city of Heidelberg that has been adored by many poets and painters. The city of nine Nobel prize winners, a philosophers and authors favourite from Goethe to Mark Twain, sits on the Neckar River and has the oldest university in Germany, the most famous castle ruins in the world and an Old Town so well preserved over the last centuries. Heidelberg lures you with more highlights than any other city. Discover the most beautiful monuments and churches, cosy student pubs, wine bars and exclusive boutiques.

Munster is enchantingly old, excitingly young and has dozens of attractions. A trendy bar in medieval surroundings, the Picasso-Museum behind the facade of an old court, gems of baroque architecture next to icons of contemporary art... It is this exciting mix that makes Munster so charming: the co-existence of antique history and cosmopolitan internationally.

On the stunning Prinzipalmarkt Square the gabbled merchant houses from the 13th century form a splendid silhouette, and exclusive boutiques are waiting for you underneath their archways. Under a romantic light filled sky, on the inner courtyard of the Town hall is where the oldest and largest Christmas Market is staged. Munsters' Christmas Market in the Prinzipalmarkt is festively illuminated and the aroma of mulled wine and roasted almonds meanders through the fairy-tale streets.

Rostock is the gateway to Scandinavia and is a refreshing mix of urban life, marine flair and beach culture. As the most important member of the Hanse (Hanseatic League), the city gained great wealth in the past and nowadays fascinates its visitors with impressive monuments: gorgeous gabled houses, great churches, enormous cellars, impressive gates and massive dams.

Rostock retained a lot from its former charm of a medieval merchant's town. Part of this charm is the Seaside Resort Warnemende. It is more than just the "Alte Strom" (Old Stream) that still shows Warnemende's character of a fishing village. You can buy fresh fish straight off the fishing cutters. Warnemende's promenade presents itself with noble seaside resorts, villas, hotels, restaurants, bars and boutiques.

Osnabruck, city of peace, the only German city right in the midst of a national park. Osnabruck's historic and modern sites incorporate both past and future. Nowadays, people still come together where merchants used to meet in the old days - the Marktplatz was, and remains, the heart of the city. With the first rays of the sun, the cafes and restaurants put their furniture outside and serve you all kinds of treats, from sweet cakes to savoury Mediterranean food. The old trade roads of the former Hansestadt turned into pleasant streets with attractive shops.

One of the city's greatest highlights are its Steinwerke (Vault Houses). While half-timbered houses actually were the norm in medieval times, Osnabruck already started to build its houses with brick 800 years ago which gave the city its extraordinary silhouette. Around 35 of these remnants of medieval and early modern age architecture may still be found in Osnabruck, which is unique in Germany.

Trier is the oldest city in Germany. Walking through Trier is an overwhelming journey through the millennia. Trier's UNESCO World Heritage includes eight monuments. European cultures and cuisines meet one another. Restaurants, cafes and shops form a nice contrast to the World Heritage Sites. Come and enjoy the wonderful Christmas market

Freiburg is a picturesque city that lies on the outskirts of the Black Forest. Spoilt by the sun and favoured by a warm climate, Freiburg is a young university city with a positive southern flair. You can cool down your tired feet in one of the numerous Buchle (little waterways) that are unique to Germany. They meander through the Old Town and pass charming cafes and outdoor restaurants. Here you can sit among locals and students, enjoy the regional cuisine and experience the relaxed mentality of Southern Germany.

Mainz is Germany's wine capital and combines wine, culture and lifestyle in an extraordinary manner. The city lies right in the middle of Rhine-Hesse, the largest wine-growing district in Germany. Mainz has a wonderfully restored Old Town with a large number of traditional wine bars that serve regional delicacies. On the outskirts of the Old Town you can find the 1000 year old Mainz Cathedral that combines different styles of architecture from Romanesque to Baroque. In front of the cathedral lies the picturesque "Marktplatz" (Market Square).

Take your time to discover the most beautiful sites of Potsdam. Huge parts of the artwork were honoured with the title UNESCO World Heritage. Magnificent castles and parks left behind by its Prussian monarchs. Right in the middle is the summer residence of Friedrich the Great. The last castle of the Hohenzollern family, Schloss Cecilienhof in the Neuer Garten is where the Allies came to the Potsdam Agreement in 1945. The historic Old Town is best discovered by foot. Streets, courts, baroque buildings, impressive churches and an entire Dutch Quarter.

Kiel is located on Germany's northern coast, along the Baltic Sea and not far from Denmark. Because of its location, it has long been a maritime centre for Germany, and "Kiel Week," an annual festival held in June, is the world's largest sailing event, and each year draws over 5,000 sailors and 2,000 sailing ships of every sort.

Lubeck is Germany's largest Baltic sea port and a city with a long history. It was the first German city to sustain serious damage from allied bombing. Today, Lubeck may not have reclaimed its status of "Glory of the Empire," but it is certainly a beautiful city that is an excellent destination for history buffs. Despite enduring warfare and bombing, much of the original medieval city of Lubeck remains or has been restored.

Almost 1300 years of heritage make Erfurt a picture book example of German history. Erfurt has one of Germany's best preserved medieval Old Towns with wealthy patrician houses, charming half-timbered houses and numerous churches which gave the city the nickname of "Thuringian Rome". One of the historic highlights is the unique Kromerbrocke (Merchants' Bridge), the longest European bridge covered with inhabitable buildings. All around this exceptional bridge beats the heart of a modern regional capital. Have a stroll through small shops and large department stores and enjoy the charming cafes and cosy restaurants Erfurt has to offer.

Berlin has many undiscovered charms. The buzzing district of Kurferstendamm has plenty to offer and caters for all tastes. The area is a true shopper's paradise with everything from elegant boutiques to discounted designer stores. Take in an opera at the German Opera House, a performance in the Schaubahne theatre, stroll the banks of the River Havel or the shores of Lake Leietzensee and of course visit the Charlottenburg Palace and its many museums.

Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg is one of Berlin's most fascinating and interesting districts. Here you will experience urban buzz, vibrancy and diversity at every turn. The streets and buildings have retained their very special atmosphere. The district's most well-known landmark is the listed Oberbaumbrocke bridge with its striking towers. A must for any visitor to Berlin is a stroll along the East Side Gallery, the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall. The Jewish Museum in Kreuzberg is one of the most frequently visited museums in Germany.

The district of Lichtenberg stretches for more than 13 kilometres from the border with Brandenburg in the north to Karlshorst in the south and Rummelsburg, close to Berlin's city centre. It features a combination of big-city, modern housing developments, older quarters and exclusive residential areas, as well as villages and wide open fields.

The village of Marzahn in the Freizeitofrm Marzahan district stands unchanged with its farmhouses amidst the high-rise tower blocks. Visit the old trestle windmill which is still fully functional.

The Neukolln is a melting pot of cultures and there is plenty to discover from highly respected Neukolln opera house and the Puppet Theatre Museum to Britz Garden and Britz Castle. Not to mention the legendary Turkish market at Maybachufer.

Between Karl-Marx-Strasse and Sonnenallee is Rixdorf the historical center of the district with Richardplatz at its heart. History is brought to life around every corner here. Along Kirchgasse as far as Richardplatz you can still see the remains of the Bohemian village dating from the middle of the 19th century. The winding streets of Alt-Rixdorf with their small shops and courtyards with flowers and vegetable patches are more reminiscent of a village than a big city.

Situated in the leafier north-west of Berlin the district of Reinickendorf offers a rural idyll as well as big city atmosphere. With Lake Tegel and Tegel Forest, the district has a wealth of waterways and green spaces covering more than a quarter of its area. Greenwich Promenade is one of the most popular and prestigious of Berlins excursion destinations from here you can even explore the centre of Berlin by boat.

Known for its citadel, Berlin-Spandau is a veritable treasure trove of history. The Gothic House was built as a dwelling in the second half of the 15th century and is the best preserved Renaissance fortification in northern Europe. In the old quarter is Fort Hahneberg, once situated in a strip of no man's land right by the Berlin Wall.

More than any other German square, Potsdamer Platz reflects the history and fate of Germans in the 20th century. With its incredible architecture, it attracts tourists from all over the world to the political, cultural and economic center of Berlin. Nearby are the government quarter and the monument to the murdered Jews in Europe. Also not far away is Checkpoint Charlie, the legendary border crossing that once separated the Soviet from the American sector. Situated right on the former border is the private 'Haus am Checkpoint Charlie' museum one of the city's most popular attractions.

Situated in Berlin's south-west, the district of Steglitz-Zehlendorf is a leafy district full of recreation areas with forests and lakes, cultural highlights and the famous Glienick Bridge, where spies were once exchanged connects Steglitz-Zehlendorf to Potsdam on the other side of the River Havel.

In nearby Glienicke Palace Park and on the idyllic Peacock Island, which can only be reached by ferry, you can follow in the footsteps of the kings and princes of Prussia. The House of Wannsee Conference memorial centre looks at the holocaust. The museum village of Duppel contains an incredible number reconstruction of an excavated medieval village.

Treptow-Kopenick stretches from the city centre to the surrounding countryside. Take refreshment at the Zenner Inn with its riverside beer garden. On an island is the historic old quarter of Kopenick with its baroque Hohenzollern moated palace which houses the Arts and Crafts Museum.

There is so much more to see in Germany a trip is your next step to see just where you would like to live. Every area has superb local cuisine, international restaurants, excellent hotels, plenty of castles, palaces, rivers and of course amazing historical sites.

Purchasing a Property

There is no restriction on foreign ownership so when you have found the property you wish to purchase and agreed a selling price a lawyer or notary is required to carry out the legal work and contract obligations, checking that no liabilities exist on the property.

A private contract is drawn up and 35% deposit is required. On completion of the sale the title deeds are registered with the local land registry enabling the title to transfer to the new owner.

A public notary has to be used for the conveyance on all real estate contracts.

Fees & Taxes

The total cost of the fees should be around 6-7% of the buying price and is comprised of the following :-

Transfer tax 3.5%

Notary fees of about 1.5%

Legal fees 1.2-1.5%

Purchase tax 3.5%

Registration fees 0/8-1/2%

Agents fees vary up to 5-6% and would normally be split between the buyer and seller.

Land tax is charged to cover local services and is rated usually below the current market value and would be around 1% of the rate-able value.

Non-residents are subject to wealth tax on property owned in Germany of around 0.5%

Capital gains tax is charged at normal income tax rates on property sold within ten years of purchase.

Visas

US nationals, Canadian, Australians, New Zealanders and Irish nationals require a passport for travel to Germany. A visa is not required for a stay of up to 90 days per half year. If the stay exceeds 90 days a visa can be obtained after arrival.

South African nationals require a passport and a Schengen visa which must be obtained prior to departure. Entry is not allowed on a temporary passport.

UK nationals require a passport. No visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days in six months if the passport is endorsed British Citizen, British National (Overseas), British Overseas Territories Citizen with the right of abode in the UK, or British Subject with the right of abode in the UK. If the intended stay exceeds 90 days, British Citizens can obtain a visa after arrival. In all other cases a visa is required.

Passport/Visa Note: The border less region known as the Schengen area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option that allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all.

Also required for non-EEA members are onward or return tickets, sufficient funds to provide financial support, and documents for further travel. Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, USA and New Zealand do not need to hold onward or return tickets.

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