Culture in German states has been shaped by major intellectual and popular currents in Europe, both religious and secular. Historically, Germany has been called Das Land der Dichter und Denker ("the land of poets and thinkers"), because of the major role its writers and philosophers have played in the development of Western thought.
Germany is well known for such folk festival traditions as Oktoberfest and Christmas customs, which include Advent wreaths, Christmas pageants, Christmas trees, Stollen cakes, and other practices. As of 2016 UNESCO inscribed 41 properties in Germany on the World Heritage List. There are a number of public holidays in Germany determined by each state; 3 October has been a national day of Germany since 1990, celebrated as the Tag der Deutschen Einheit (German Unity Day). Prior to reunification, the day was celebrated on 17 June, in honor of the Uprising of 1953 in East Germany which was brutally suppressed on that date.
In the 21st century Berlin has emerged as a major international creative centre. According to the Anholt–GfK Nation Brands Index, in 2014 Germany was the world's most respected nation among 50 countries (ahead of US, UK, and France). A global opinion poll for the BBC revealed that Germany is recognised for having the most positive influence in the world in 2013 and 2014.
German classical music includes works by some of the world's most well-known composers. Dieterich Buxtehude composed oratorios for organ, which influenced the later work of Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Friedrich Händel; these men were influential composers of the Baroque period. During his tenure as violinist and teacher at the Salzburg cathedral, Augsburg-born composer Leopold Mozart mentored one of the most noted musicians of all time: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Ludwig van Beethoven was a crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras. Carl Maria von Weber and Felix Mendelssohn were important in the early Romantic period. Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms composed in the Romantic idiom. Richard Wagner was known for his operas. Richard Strauss was a leading composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. Karlheinz Stockhausen and Hans Zimmer are important composers of the 20th and early 21st centuries.
Germany is the second largest music market in Europe, and fourth largest in the world. German popular music of the 20th and 21st centuries includes the movements of Neue Deutsche Welle, pop, Ostrock, heavy metal/rock, punk, pop rock, indie and schlager pop. German electronic music gained global influence, with Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream pioneering in this genre. DJs and artists of the techno and house music scenes of Germany have become well known (e.g. Felix Jaehn, Paul van Dyk, Paul Kalkbrenner, and Scooter).
German painters have influenced western art. Albrecht Dürer, Hans Holbein the Younger, Matthias Grünewald and Lucas Cranach the Elder were important German artists of the Renaissance, Peter Paul Rubens and Johann Baptist Zimmermann of the Baroque, Caspar David Friedrich and Carl Spitzweg of Romanticism, Max Liebermann of Impressionism and Max Ernst of Surrealism. Such German sculptors as Otto Schmidt-Hofer, Franz Iffland, and Julius Schmidt-Felling made important contributions to German art history in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Several German art groups formed in the 20th century, such as the November Group or Die Brücke (The Bridge) and Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), by the Russian-born Wassily Kandinsky, influenced the development of Expressionism in Munich and Berlin. The New Objectivity arose as a counter-style to it during the Weimar Republic. Post-World War II art trends in Germany can broadly be divided into Neo-expressionism, performance art and Conceptualism. Especially notable neo-expressionists include Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, Jörg Immendorff, A. R. Penck, Markus Lüpertz, Peter Robert Keil and Rainer Fetting. Other notable artists who work with traditional media or figurative imagery include Martin Kippenberger, Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, and Neo Rauch. Leading German conceptual artists include or included Bernd and Hilla Becher, Hanne Darboven, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Hans Haacke, Joseph Beuys, HA Schult, Aris Kalaizis, Neo Rauch (New Leipzig School) and Andreas Gursky (photography). Major art exhibitions and festivals in Germany are the documenta, the Berlin Biennale, transmediale and Art Cologne.
Architectural contributions from Germany include the Carolingian and Ottonian styles, which were precursors of Romanesque. Brick Gothic is a distinctive medieval style that evolved in Germany. Also in Renaissance and Baroque art, regional and typically German elements evolved (e.g. Weser Renaissance and Dresden Baroque). Among many renowned Baroque masters were Pöppelmann, Balthasar Neumann, Knobelsdorff and the Asam brothers. The Wessobrunner School exerted a decisive influence on, and at times even dominated, the art of stucco in southern Germany in the 18th century. The Upper Swabian Baroque Route offers a baroque-themed tourist route that highlights the contributions of such artists and craftsmen as the sculptor and plasterer Johann Michael Feuchtmayer, one of the foremost members of the Feuchtmayer family and the brothers Johann Baptist Zimmermann and Dominikus Zimmermann. Vernacular architecture in Germany is often identified by its timber framing (Fachwerk) traditions and varies across regions, and among carpentry styles.
When industrialisation spread across Europe, Classicism and a distinctive style of historism developed in Germany, sometimes referred to as Gründerzeit style, due to the economical boom years at the end of the 19th century. Regional historicist styles include the Hanover School, Nuremberg Style and Dresden's Semper-Nicolai School. Among the most famous of German buildings, the Schloss Neuschwanstein represents Romanesque Revival. Notable sub-styles that evolved since the 18th century are the German spa and seaside resort architecture. German artists, writers and gallerists like Siegfried Bing, Georg Hirth and Bruno Möhring also contributed to the development of Art Nouveau at the turn of the 20th century, known as Jugendstil in German.
Expressionist architecture developed in the 1910s in Germany and influenced Art Deco and other modern styles, with e.g. Fritz Höger, Erich Mendelsohn, Dominikus Böhm, and Fritz Schumacher being influential architects. Germany was particularly important in the early modernist movement: it is the home of Werkbund initiated by Hermann Muthesius (New Objectivity), and of the Bauhaus movement founded by Walter Gropius. Consequently, Germany is often considered the cradle of modern architecture and design. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe became one of the world's most renowned architects in the second half of the 20th century. He conceived of the glass façade skyscraper. Renowned contemporary architects and offices include Hans Kollhoff, Sergei Tchoban, KK Architekten, Helmut Jahn, Behnisch, GMP, Ole Scheeren, J. Mayer H., OM Ungers, Gottfried Böhm and Frei Otto (the last two being Pritzker Prize winners).
Literature and philosophy
German literature can be traced back to the Middle Ages and the works of writers such as Walther von der Vogelweide and Wolfram von Eschenbach. Well-known German authors include Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing and Theodor Fontane. The collections of folk tales published by the Brothers Grimm popularised German folklore on an international level. The Grimms also gathered and codified regional variants of the German language, grounding their work in historical principles; their Deutsches Wörterbuch, or German Dictionary, sometimes called the Grimm dictionary, was begun in 1838 and the first volumes published in 1854.
Influential authors of the 20th century include Gerhart Hauptmann, Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, Heinrich Böll and Günter Grass. The German book market is the third largest in the world, after the United States and China. The Frankfurt Book Fair is the most important in the world for international deals and trading, with a tradition spanning over 500 years. The Leipzig Book Fair also retains a major position in Europe.
German philosophy is historically significant: Gottfried Leibniz's contributions to rationalism; the enlightenment philosophy by Immanuel Kant; the establishment of classical German idealism by Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling; Arthur Schopenhauer's composition of metaphysical pessimism; the formulation of communist theory by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels; Friedrich Nietzsche's development of perspectivism; Gottlob Frege's contributions to the dawn of analytic philosophy; Martin Heidegger's works on Being; Oswald Spengler's historical philosophy; the development of the Frankfurt School by Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse and Jürgen Habermas have been particularly influential.
The largest internationally operating media companies in Germany are the Bertelsmann enterprise, Axel Springer SE and ProSiebenSat.1 Media. The German Press Agency DPA is also significant. Germany's television market is the largest in Europe, with some 38 million TV households. Around 90% of German households have cable or satellite TV, with a variety of free-to-view public and commercial channels. There are more than 500 public and private radio stations in Germany, with the public Deutsche Welle being the main German radio and television broadcaster in foreign languages. Germany's national radio network is the Deutschlandradio while ARD stations are covering local services.
Many of Europe's best-selling newspapers and magazines are produced in Germany. The papers (and internet portals) with the highest circulation are Bild (a tabloid), Die Zeit, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Die Welt, the largest magazines include Der Spiegel, Stern and Focus.
The German video gaming market is one of the largest in the world. The Gamescom in Cologne is the world's leading gaming convention. Popular game series from Germany include Turrican, the Anno series, The Settlers series, the Gothic series, SpellForce, the FIFA Manager series, Far Cry and Crysis. Relevant game developers and publishers are Blue Byte, Crytek, Deep Silver, Kalypso Media, Piranha Bytes, Yager Development, and some of the largest social network game companies like Bigpoint, Gameforge, Goodgame and Wooga.
German cinema has made major technical and artistic contributions to film. The first works of the Skladanowsky Brothers were shown to an audience in 1895. The renowned Babelsberg Studio in Berlin's suburb Potsdam was established in 1912, thus being the first large-scale film studio in the world (today it is Europe's second largest studio after Cinecittà in Rome, Italy). Other early and still active studios include UFA and Bavaria Film. Early German cinema was particularly influential with German expressionists such as Robert Wiene and Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau. Director Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927) is referred to as the first major science-fiction film. In 1930 Josef von Sternberg directed The Blue Angel, the first major German sound film, with Marlene Dietrich. Films of Leni Riefenstahl set new artistic standards, in particular Triumph of the Will.
After 1945, many of the films of the immediate post-war period can be characterised as Trümmerfilm (rubble film). Such films included Wolfgang Staudte's Die Mörder sind unter uns (The Murderers are among us, 1946) and Irgendwo in Berlin (Somewhere in Berlin, 1946) by Werner Krien. Notable East German films were largely produced by DEFA and included Ehe im Schatten (Marriage in the Shadows) by Kurt Maetzig (1947), Der Untertan (1951); Die Geschichte vom kleinen Muck (The Story of Little Muck, 1953), Konrad Wolf's Der geteilte Himmel (Divided Heaven) (1964) and Frank Beyer's Jacob the Liar (1975). The defining film genre in West Germany of the 1950s was arguably the Heimatfilm ("homeland film"); these films depicted the beauty of the land and the moral integrity of the people living in it. Characteristic for the films of the 1960s were genre films including Edgar Wallace and Karl May adaptations. One of the most successful German movie series of the 1970s included the sex reports called Schulmädchen-Report (Schoolgirl Report). During the 1970s and 1980s, New German Cinema directors such as Volker Schlöndorff, Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder brought West German auteur cinema to critical acclaim.
Among the box office hits, there were films such as Chariots of the Gods (1970), Das Boot (The Boat, 1981), The Never Ending Story (1984), Otto – The Movie (1985), Run Lola Run (1998), Manitou's Shoe (2001), the Resident Evil series (2002–2016), Good Bye, Lenin! (2003), Head On (2004), The White Ribbon (2009), Animals United (2010), and Cloud Atlas (2012). The Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film ("Oscar") went to the German production Die Blechtrommel (The Tin Drum) in 1979, to Nirgendwo in Afrika (Nowhere in Africa) in 2002, and to Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others) in 2007. Various Germans won an "Oscar" award for their performances in other films.
The annual European Film Awards ceremony is held every other year in Berlin, home of the European Film Academy. The Berlin International Film Festival, known as "Berlinale", awarding the "Golden Bear" and held annually since 1951, is one of the world's leading film festivals. The "Lolas" are annually awarded in Berlin, at the German Film Awards, that have been presented since 1951.
German cuisine varies from region to region and often neighbouring regions share some culinary similarities (e.g. the southern regions of Bavaria and Swabia share some traditions with Switzerland and Austria). International varieties such as pizza, sushi, Chinese food, Greek food, Indian cuisine and doner kebab are also popular and available, thanks to diverse ethnic communities.
Bread is a significant part of German cuisine and German bakeries produce about 600 main types of bread and 1,200 different types of pastries and rolls (Brötchen). German cheeses account for about a third of all cheese produced in Europe. In 2012 over 99% of all meat produced in Germany was either pork, chicken or beef. Germans produce their ubiquitous sausages in almost 1,500 varieties, including Bratwursts, Weisswursts, and Currywursts. In 2012, organic foods accounted for 3.9% of total food sales.
Although wine is becoming more popular in many parts of Germany, especially close to German wine regions, the national alcoholic drink is beer. German beer consumption per person stands at 110 litres (24 imp gal; 29 US gal) in 2013 and remains among the highest in the world. German beer purity regulations date back to the 15th century.
The 2015 Michelin Guide awarded eleven restaurants in Germany three stars, the highest designation, while 38 more received two stars and 233 one star. German restaurants have become the world's second-most decorated after France.
Twenty-seven million Germans are members of a sports club and an additional twelve million pursue sports individually. Association football is the most popular sport. With more than 6.3 million official members, the German Football Association (Deutscher Fußball-Bund) is the largest sports organisation of its kind worldwide, and the German top league, the Bundesliga, attracts the second highest average attendance of all professional sports leagues in the world. The German men's national football team won the FIFA World Cup in 1954, 1974, 1990, and 2014, the UEFA European Championship in 1972, 1980 and 1996, and the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2017. Germany hosted the FIFA World Cup in 1974 and 2006 and the UEFA European Championship in 1988.
Other popular spectator sports include winter sports, boxing, basketball, handball, volleyball, ice hockey, tennis, horse riding and golf. Water sports like sailing, rowing, and swimming are popular in Germany as well.
Germany is one of the leading motor sports countries in the world. Constructors like BMW and Mercedes are prominent manufacturers in motor sport. Porsche has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race 19 times, and Audi 13 times (as of 2017). The driver Michael Schumacher has set many motor sport records during his career, having won seven Formula One World Drivers' Championships, more than any other. He is one of the highest paid sportsmen in history. Sebastian Vettel is also among the top five most successful Formula One drivers of all time. Also Nico Rosberg won the Formula One World Championship.
Historically, German athletes have been successful contenders in the Olympic Games, ranking third in an all-time Olympic Games medal count (when combining East and West German medals). Germany was the last country to host both the summer and winter games in the same year, in 1936 the Berlin Summer Games and the Winter Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. In Munich it hosted the Summer Games of 1972.
Fashion and design
German designers became early leaders of modern product design, with the Bauhaus designers like Mies van der Rohe, and Dieter Rams of Braun being essential pioneers.
Germany is a leading country in the fashion industry. The German textile industry consisted of about 1,300 companies with more than 130,000 employees in 2010, which generated a revenue of 28 billion Euro. Almost 44 per cent of the products are exported. The Berlin Fashion Week and the fashion trade fair Bread & Butter are held twice a year.
Munich, Hamburg, Cologne and Düsseldorf are also important design, production and trade hubs of the domestic fashion industry, among smaller towns. Renowned fashion designers from Germany include Karl Lagerfeld, Jil Sander, Wolfgang Joop, Philipp Plein and Michael Michalsky. Important brands include Hugo Boss, Escada, Adidas, Puma, Esprit and Triumph. The German supermodels Claudia Schiffer, Heidi Klum, Tatjana Patitz, Nadja Auermann and Toni Garrn, among others, have come to international fame.