Dating back to the sixth century, Germany's Bavaria is one of the oldest European states. Fiercely proud of its identity, it's today perhaps best known for its beer - more than forty types and forty thousand brands - and for being the home of BMW.
Did you know that Bavaria is also home to the Fuggerei, one of the oldest social housing complexes in the world?
A marked uptick in the fortunes of the Fugger merchant family of Augsburg, in Bavaria, can be traced to the late fourteenth century. The Fuggers made their money trading across Europe, as far as Spain. By the 1500s, they were quite wealthy, and had become recognized as a German noble family.
For the Fuggers, material wealth and the respect of their peers was not enough. The family wanted to leave its mark in history. They established what has today become one of the oldest social housing complexes in the world.
The "Fuggerei" complex houses approximately one hundred and fifty elderly people for the annual rent of just €0.88 (little more than a dollar).
Augsburg is certainly worth a visit.
We recommend the Dorint hotel, for its varied, full-flavored continental breakfast.
Land in Munich. The 1972 Olympic grounds are a forty-five-minute drive away. There, you'll also find BMW Welt ("BMW World") and the BMW museum.
Then, drive an hour west to Augsburg, a picturesque city to say the least.
Areas of the Fuggerei housing complex are open to visitors who might be interested in the way people lived four hundred years ago. There's even a WWII bomb shelter.
As of May 2017, Augsburg is also home to the only Mazda museum outside Japan.
Don't forget to stop by the Mozarthaus. Augsburg is the birthplace of Leopold Mozart, the father of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Incidentally, Mozart's great-grandfather, the mason Franz Mozart, lived in the Fuggerei complex between 1681 and 1694. He is commemorated today by a stone plaque.