Cultural life in Germany: An Overview


Gutenberg, Dürer, Goethe & Schiller, Bach & Beethoven, Kant & Hegel, – the cultural life of Germany has a long, vigorous and exuberant tradition.

Shooting star 'Sibel Kekilli' - a German actress of Turkish origin
Shooting star 'Sibel Kekilli' - a German actress of Turkish origin© dpa

Gutenberg, Dürer, Goethe & Schiller, Bach & Beethoven, Kant & Hegel, – the cultural life of Germany has a long, vigorous and exuberant tradition. Nowadays, names like painter Gerhard Richter, film director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, actress Sibel Kekilli, or fashion icon Heidi Klum, just to name a few examples, stand for a lively, many-faceted cultural scenery. Its diversity and dynamism emanate from the fruitful and liberal coexistence of all the citizens of Germany, who often come from diverse backgrounds. An outstanding highlight was the Nobel Prize of Literature awarded to German writer Herta Müller in 2009.

Musicals in Hamburg, modern ballet in Wuppertal, contemporary paintings in Berlin or theatre in Weimar – art and culture are there to be experienced all over Germany. The level of interest is high: around 35 million spectators attend more than 100,000 theatre productions and more than 7,000 concerts year by year. And if you do not want to see Goethe’s ‘Faust’ or hear Beethoven’s symphonies, you could step into pre-history, wonder about the world of crafts and design, or dwell on the latest artistic trends in one of the 630 art museums. After Düsseldorf and Munich, Berlin is becoming an important fashion hub of Germany.

Germany is the custodian of a rich cultural heritage

In all parts of the country, testimonies to a rich cultural heritage can be found. These include not only the works of the great German ‘poets and thinkers’ and the castles and stately homes that pepper the whole country, but also modern product design, historical city parks and housing developments from the nineteen twenties.

In Germany there are many large and small cultural centres. A varied cultural life is played out even in the small towns. This is because of the federal structure of the country. The Basic Law confers upon the federal states the right and responsibility to promote culture. For this reason there has never been a Ministry of Culture at national level. A State Minister for Culture coordinates activities in the field of cultural policy. Only since 1999, State Minister for Culture and Media has been a part of the Federal Chancellery.

Monika Grütters has been Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media since 2013

Forty cultural sites in Germany have been declared world cultural heritage sites by Unesco. This includes Aachen cathedral, the Würzburger Residence and classical Weimar, the city of Goethe and Schiller. As centres of unique atmosphere and great historical value, they provide the opportunity to learn more about the life and culture of the German people in past centuries.

Die Zimtschnecken - Konzert am 03.03.2018 in Hamburg, Mehr! Theater
Die Zimtschnecken - Konzert am 03.03.2018 in Hamburg, Mehr! Theater© JAZZ ARCHIV HAMBURG
A vibrant music and theatre scene

Music has always been a number-one priority in Germany. Nowadays more than 130 professional orchestras vie for the attention of countless music fans. Opera houses, even in small towns, offer an extensive repertoire. Festivals like the Bayreuth Festspiele and the Bach Festival in Leipzig constitute further examples of large-scale events that attract international audiences. The modern music scene is equally vibrant: Musicals, rock-pop events or jazz concerts are on the programme just about everywhere.

Literature, too, can be experienced ‘live’ in many places. And not merely at the Frankfurt Book Fair, that has developed into the main springboard for the works of young men and women authors. Readings can be heard everywhere: in bookshops, at literature festivals and on small and large stages. In addition to the works of contemporary authors, it is there that the classical literature flame is kept burning, in particular. And with great success: Goethe’s ‘Faust’ is still the play that is performed most often in Germany.

Germany is one of the major book nations, with around 94,000 new books and re-editions each year. Hundreds of dailies and thousands of magazines go to show how lively the German media world is. Moreover, German films are once again a great success at home and abroad.

Additional content

Germany celebrates the centenary of the founding of the Bauhaus, together with partners all over the world. Bauhaus is the most important and most influential school of design of the 20th century.

Bauhaus in Thuringia - Opening Celebrations April 2019

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