German Technology Route
The 'Made in Germany' experienceThe German Technology Route connects several hundred technology hotspots spread over the whole country. The brainchild of the VDI Verein Deutscher Ingenieure [German Engineers’ Association], this themed route showcases the variety and tradition behind the quality seal “Made in Germany”.
We thoroughly recommend a trip through the many different worlds of German technology, starting on the Belgian border in the west then following country roads for 450 kilometres across the country to Thuringia. You will witness physical phenomena, enjoy underground adventures, observe gigantic radio telescopes, and see stunning scenery in the Eifel, Westerwald and Thuringian Forest.
In short, this heady mix of technology, natural beauty and pure driving pleasure is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, one you are sure to remember for years to come.
It goes without saying, but any wine stops detailed on this page are for the benefit of hire car passengers ... designated drivers must confine themselves to drinking in the scenery. Book a rental car and explore Germany
Weiss Printing Museum: MonschauClose to Aachen on the Belgian border lies the spa town of Monschau, famous for its fresh air. This charming little town of 12,000 in the rural Eifel region nestles along the sloping banks of the river Rur where you can enjoy a relaxing stroll through winding lanes lined by pretty half-timbered houses. The annual Monschau Christmas market is hugely popular and attracts many visitors.
The Weiss Printing Museum is less well known, but absolutely worth a visit to take a journey through time, back to the origins and development of writing techniques and materials and in particular, printing technology. Set on two levels, revolving panels explain the common printing techniques and the key inventors, such as Johannes Gutenberg. The museum also showcases some fascinating original machines, such as newspaper presses and offset printing machines.
Effelsberg Radio Telescope: Bad MünstereifelTake the B266 for around 50 kilometres through the scenic Eifel National Park, then follow country roads to Bad Münstereifel. Admire the impressive medieval city wall which is still mostly intact and visit the Kurhaus which is a further highlight in this pretty spa town. You may like to try a Kneipp method spa treatment offered by some of the local hotels.
Thoroughly relaxed after your spa experience head for the Effelsberg. Deep in the woods on the mountain one of the largest radio telescopes in the world rises, fully steerable and with a diameter of 100 m. The Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie [Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy] has used the telescope since 1972 to better understand cosmic events which as their website states, “inspire our imagination at least as much as any Hollywood production”.
From inside the visitor centre you can virtually “hitchhike through the galaxy” thanks to the excellent view you get of the radio telescope from the viewing platform.
Travel tip: Across the Eifel to WetzlarYou are about to set off on a two and a half hour road trip from Nordrhein-Westfalen through Rheinland-Pfalz to Hessen. To be more precise, across the Eifel to Koblenz, then via Limburg an der Lahn to Wetzlar. It's time for some fun driving as you cruise along the curves through stellar scenery and pretty towns where you’ll be tempted into making the occasional pit stop or three.
Leaving Effelsberg, take the L76 to Kreuzberg. Then follow the B276 and the B9 along the Rhine to Koblenz. The Deutsche Eck is the spit of land where the Moselle flows into the Rhine. The Forum Confluentes is a recently-opened architectural attraction featuring the Romanticum, an exhibit that brings the mythical “Romance of the Rhine” to life.
Leaving Koblenz take the B49 and the E35 via Montabaur to Limburg with its amazing cathedral in a pretty setting between the Taunus hills and Westerwald forest. Taking the E44 and the B9 again you arrive at your next stop, Wetzlar.
Optikparcours and Viseum: WetzlarWhen you get to Wetzlar head for the Optikparcours, a science discovery trail which teaches the science of optics. It’s a walking trail of exhibits with different phenomena from optics and mechanics, starting in the Forum shopping centre, to the old town and the Klostergarten near the Lahn. 24 separate exhibits deal with optical awareness and the tricks it plays. Number 11, for example, is in a back lane near the river and illustrates how what our eyes tell us can strongly influence our sense of balance. You have to cross a narrow walkway leading through a large tube covered in dots. The tube starts to revolve and the moving dots cause your eyes to completely misjudge your position – so you lose your balance.
In the Wetzlar Viseum visitors are exposed to light and colour from unusual directions. You follow a beam of light which guides you through the eleven exhibition rooms. At the beginning it’s about physics and the basics of light: in terms of physics, what in fact is light? Starting from this premise, Viseum examines the human eye in detail, explaining how our vision functions and enables us to see objects. Then you can see how many ways optics are used in our daily lives and try some of them out. One example is how any of us can bundle beams of light together, or separate each one into the colour spectrum.
It’s all about the natural sciences: GießenSurveys indicate that most Germans do not rate mathematics as one of their favourite subjects. But even traumatised trigonometry students might enjoy the Gießen Mathematikum, a science museum which brings a light-hearted and fun approach to the subject. The Mathematikum is very much hands-on, with 150 or so experiments designed to help kids and grown-ups appreciate maths and physics in a different way.
While you are in Gießen, the Liebig Museum is well worth a visit; it’s dedicated to the renowned chemist Justus von Liebig, a former student at the local university.
Below ground, above ground: Merkers Adventure Mines and Monte CaliAfter scaling the heights of intellectual prowess, our next stop is deep underground. In Merkers Adventure Mines a lift takes you down 500 metres in 90 seconds. But not to worry: experienced miners are with you every step of the way. First stop when you arrive at the bottom is a one-room museum that starts by explaining about potash mining: you then go into a huge bunker with the largest underground bucket wheel excavator in the world and a crystal grotto that was only discovered in 1980. You also get to pay a visit to the gold strongroom. At the end of WWII, the gold and currency reserves of the German Reichsbank were stored here, as well as valuable items from the Berlin museums.
Near Heringen, a few kilometres from Merkers and visible for miles around, is the so-called Monte Cali – a spoil heap made of 180 million tons of salt piled up to a height of 200 metres. You can even climb this artificial mountain: the Potash Mining Museum in Heringen give tours of Monte Cali, but you need to book in advance.
Legendary vehicles: Simson and SuhlThe town of Suhl has been inextricably linked with the manufacture of motor vehicles for more than 100 years. The Simson brand started making bicycles in 1896 and was the main employer in the town for many decades. The company went out of business in 2002, but the Vehicle Museum keeps the legacy of the company alive. A total of 220 items are on display from all types of vehicles. The main focus is on products produced under the Simson brand name including bicycles, mopeds, motorbikes and automobiles, which were produced from 1911 to 1934. One of the highlights is the sporty Simson Supra SS.
In addition to the many two-wheelers manufactured by Simson, models from other marques are also on display such as a DKW 500 sport and BMW R3. A special room is dedicated to the successful motor sports era in Suhl. The museum showcases Simson motorbikes used by European and World Champions, as well as the now legendary BMW “Greifzu” Formula 2 racing car. Paul Greifzu from Suhl drove this car to victory in a 1951 race on the Avus circuit in Berlin, among other wins.
Recommendations for hungry and weary travellers
- Alte Herrlichkeit, Monschau
- Ambienta Wellness Hotel, Bad Münstereifel
- Hotel, Kurhaus Uhlenberg, Bad Münstereifel
- Pegelhaus, Koblenz
- Deinhard’s, Koblenz
- Domhotel, Limburg
- Landhotel Naunheimer Mühle, Wetzlar
- Ristorante Geranio, Wetzlar
- Weinlounge Tandreas, Gießen
- Die Letzte Instanz, Suhl