Discovering the “barrierefrei” Germany

Germany is one of the most accessibility-oriented countries and, for years, has been investing resources to make cities, public transport, offices and touristic attractions increasingly “barrierefrei” (literally: barrier-free), to enable everyone to fully use them, no matter what your physical condition is. Unfortunately, total accessibility is still a mirage, but, compared with other countries, Germany is a safe haven for people with movement issues or sensory deficit.

The most important German cities, from Berlin to Frankfurt and Munich, provide both citizens and tourists with very detailed info services (also available online), allowing to plan and live a holiday without worries.

Germany - Berlin

Berlin

Let’s start our virtual tour from Berlin, the capital city of Germany and one of the most desired destinations for travellers from all around the world, mostly young people, thanks to its modernity, its cultural and economic ferment (Berlin is one of the most important start-up incubators), vivacity of its night life and much more. Its public transport network is totally accessible, both as regards the surface transit and the subway lines, both for motoric and sensory disabled people. If we talk about monuments and touristic attractions, you say “Berlin” and think about the Brandenburg Gate and the ruins of the wall that, for more than fifty years, divided the city and Europe in two. But Berlin has much more to offer, also to travellers with motoric limitations. For instance:

  • the Pergamon Museum, hosting three permanent exhibitions devoted to ancient art, Islamic art and Asian art, respectively;
  • the Reichstag palace, equipped with entrances and itineraries reserved to people with motoric disabilities, but also Braille signage in the whole structure and scale models of the building enabling blind people enjoying the experience using touch and, for deaf people, sign language interpreters;
  • the Friedrichstadt-Palast, the biggest variety theatre in Germany; Potsdamer Platz, where past and present meet and represent the International Film Festival’ backdrop; Alexander Platz, with its majestic TV tower, from the top of which (reachable using an elevator) you can enjoy a breath-taking view over the city, and a lot of museums, allowing you to live again the light and dark past of Germany.
Germany - Frankfurt

Frankfurt

Frankfurt, besides being the financial heart of Germany, is an important cultural center and nodal point of the national transport network. But, above all, it’s among the world cutting-edge cities for accessibility. Maybe this is also since many of its historic buildings were destroyed during the World War II. But even the surviving ones, over time, have increasingly become “for all”. To mention just some of many things to see:

  • Goethe’s house, where he also wrote “The sorrows of young Werther”, isn’t, unfortunately, accessible to who uses a wheelchair; in compensation, it provides blind people with dedicated guided tours, plus the chance to access with guide-dogs.
  • Römerberg, the historical center of the city that hosts the municipality, and Paul’s Church are more accessible. The latter is the place where German democracy arose and has a dedicated access for motoric disabled people.
  • All the city museums and parks have at least an accessible entrance.

Would you like visiting Frankfurt, but aren’t sure how to orient yourself among the things to see? The city offers a website and a PDF brochure in English, which can be downloaded for free, with constantly updated info.

Germany - Munich

Munich

But you can’t talk about Germany without thinking about Oktoberfest, that takes place yearly between the end of summer and the beginning of fall in Munich, another city that’s at the forefront about the accessibility of its spaces. Here, public transport is totally accessible and – hear ye! – free for those presenting a card certifying their disability. Furthermore, there are also guided tours of the city supported by a sign language interpreter, to make them accessible to deaf people as well.

Must-see attractions include:

  • the Rathaus, the city hall, with the Glockenspiel, the carillon clock with animated characters that move during the day, at the clock’ sound;
  • the Residenz, the royal palace, one of the most majestic in Europe, with an entrance inspired to the Florentine Palazzo Pitti;
  • the Frauenkirche, the gothic cathedral of Munich, heavily damaged during the war, but come back to its old splendour, after years of restoration, at the end of the Twentieth Century.

Also in this case, there’s a PDF brochure providing with accessibility info, but, unfortunately, just in German.

Do you need more info before planning your journey? Check the accessible tourism website (partially available into Italian as well) created by the German National Tourism Authority!