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FEATURED DESTINATION: Central Europe

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Gate 1 Travel Brings Central Europe into Sharp Focus

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Central Europe is an astounding canvas of natural beauty. Dense forests blanket vast expanses, rolling rivers meander through a sloping terrain of granite, and colossal snow-capped peaks soar into a crisp, blue sky. Amidst these wonders, some of the world's most storied cities evolved, tiny villages at first that burgeoned into richly layered cultural capitals that today are the pride of the region.

The story of how Central Europe emerged into one of the most frequently visited places in the world is neither straightforward nor simple. And it's easy to become so enamored with the awe-inspiring architecture and welcoming people that all you feel is gratitude toward all that made its majestic cities and charming villages what they are today. But don't worry: Gate 1 Travel's tours and Tour Managers help you understand the complexities of local history and culture. After experiencing these six countries with our seasoned experts, you'll return home richly rewarded and breathlessly inspired.

Germany: Cities of Glorious Architecture and Medieval Treasures

Berlin ParliamentBehind Germany's place as an economic powerhouse is a nation that has tightly held onto its medieval past. Even in Frankfurt, modern Europe's largest financial center, the Altstadt, or Old Town, invites endless exploration through the Romerplatz—the historic square where the City Hall has stood watch for 600 years. Outside of Frankfurt, a more bucolic view of the Middle Ages unfolds along the banks of the Rhine River. Here, timber-framed houses and fairytale villages line the water's shores and stalwart castles cling to hillsides. Even the endless vineyards that blanket the riverside date back to the ancients.

Riverboats cruise from the city of Mainz—birthplace of Gutenberg's printing press—to the castle-dominated town of Heidelberg. Indeed, Heidelberg is one of the county's most romantic destinations, thanks to its pretty location between the hills of Odenwald and the Neckar River. But as far as authentic historic towns go, Rothenberg is Germany's best preserved. Untouched by the wars that have swept through Europe over the centuries, it provides a priceless snapshot of medieval life.

Other German cities, of course, were forever altered by war and stand today as triumphant testaments to the human spirit. Berlin marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 2014 and the celebrations were what you would expect from citizens who now live in a free and transparent democracy. Just how transparent is today's German government? It's enough to say that the Reichstag, Berlin's glorious Parliament building, is crowned with a see-through glass dome to symbolize the new openness. Arts are embraced here, too. The East Side Gallery comprises 105 paintings on a mile-long length of the old Berlin Wall, each one meant to convey the exuberance and euphoria of the newly united Germany. And the city's Museum Island in the River Spree is home to five cultural institutions. The past is also well-preserved in Berlin at the 18th-century Brandenburg Gate and at the remnants of Checkpoint Charlie.

DresdenDresden also rose from the ashes of World War II. So painstaking was its resurrection, you would never know today that it was completely decimated by Allied bombing. This city of Baroque art has been called "Florence on the Elbe River" for its rich artistic heritage and sheer beauty. From the rococo-style Zwinger Palace, to the wedding-cake exterior of the Semper Opera House and the stunning dome of Frauenkirche, the city's elegance is unmatched.

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Central Europe Deals

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13 Day Kaleidoscope of Central Europe
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All prices are per person based on twin occupancy. Prices are valid as of January 22, 2015 and subject to change without notice. Book by February 5, 2015. Not valid on existing reservations.