Writer and Nobel laureate Thomas Mann called his chosen home of Bavaria "notoriously wonderful". He was right:

The Free State of Bavaria has a lot to offer: both world-renowned and unknown sights, culture and nature. In the heart of Europe, Bavaria wins people over as an endearing place to live and innovative business location.

Who would be surprised that Bavaria is the favourite state among Germans, a beloved travel destination for Bavarians themselves and tourists from all over the world, as well as a coveted investment destination for international companies?

Neuschwanstein Castle, built by King Ludwig II, impresses visitors on the outside with is setting as well as on the inside with its magnificent furnishings.
Neuschwanstein Castle, built by King Ludwig II, impresses visitors on the outside with is setting as well as on the inside with its magnificent furnishings. © iStockphoto.com/veratomankova

Higher, bigger, older - Bavaria

Bavaria is not only the oldest, but also the largest state in the Federal Republic of Germany, with an area of more than 70,500 square metres. There are currently over twelve million people living in Bavaria - and, in contrast to the trend found in other industrialised regions, the population continues to grow. There are already more people living in Bavaria than in Austria, Belgium, Hungary or Greece.

One can ascend to Germany's highest point in Bavaria: At 2962 metres, the Zugspitze near the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen is the highest mountain in the Federal Republic of Germany.

And there is yet another superlative found in the State of Bavaria: the largest and most famous fair in the world. The Oktoberfest has been held at Munich's Theresienwiese annually since 12 October 1810.

A state with tradition: Bavarian history

Bavaria is among the oldest states in Europe, with a history reaching back to the 6th Century B.C. The region that is the Free State of Bavaria today was a powerful Duchy for a long time. In the 19th Century, Bavaria was a constitutional monarchy experiencing a period of cultural and political prosperity. Numerous political and social reforms were a consequence of this time. After the First World War, the political landscape in Bavaria was initially controlled by a soviet-style republic. A constitution with a parliamentarian democracy first came into effect for a brief period in 1919. Just a short time later, Bavaria lost its independence again under the National Socialists. After the end of National Socialism, the Bavarians accepted the state's current constitution in a 1946 referendum. Alongside German Basic Law, it continues to govern co-existence in Bavaria still today.

You can find further information on Bavarian history on the website of the Centre of Bavarian History.

Bavaria's famous daughters and sons - some examples.

Bavaria has many famous daughters and sons. Be they artists, politicians or researchers - here is an overview.

Empresses, kings, Church heads

The best known Bavarian in the world is surely the Fairytale King, Ludwig II (1845 – 1886). In addition to many other architectural monuments, he built the world famous Neuschwanstein Castle.

Only few people are familiar with Elisabeth Amalie Eugenie, Duchess of Bavaria (1837 - 1898). However, she is world famous under her nickname: Sissi. At the age of 16, she wedded Franz Joseph, Emperor of Austria and (after 1867) King of Hungary. Elisabeth was adored for her beauty, and the people placed great hopes in her due to her liberal nature.

From 19 April 2005 to 28 February 2013, the over 1.1 billion Catholics had a Church head from Bavaria: Pope Benedict XVI (born 1927). He comes from the idyllic Lower Bavarian village of Marktl, on the banks of the Inn river.

Athletic, innovative - or both

NBA title winner and MVP (most valuable player) of 2011 - Dirk Nowitzki has achieved what every basketball player dreams of. This 2.13-metre tall Franconian was born in Würzburg. In America, they simply call him the "German Wunderkind".

"Adidas" and "Puma" - these two sports brands actually come from the same home - or to be more precise: their founders do, the brothers Adolf (1900 - 1979) and Rudolf Dassler (1898 - 1974) from Herzogenaurach in Franconia. At the start, they worked together at "Gebrüder Dassler" (Dassler Brothers), but the company split after the Second World War. Today, both Adidas and Puma are among the most famous brands in the world.

His name stands for jeans: Levi Strauss. Without this Bavarian from the Franconian town of Buttenheim, there would be no jeans. A revolutionary idea occurred to him when he noticed that the pants gold miners wore were frequently tattered.

Thinkers, researchers, inventors

The role model and eponym of the Fraunhofer Society is the Lower Bavarian Joesph von Fraunhofer (1787 - 1826). At the beginning of the 19th Century, he started making scientific telescope objectives. Fraunhofer combined precision scientific work with practical applications for new, innovative products.

Werner von Siemens (1816 – 1892), founder of the global Siemens group, was not only a Bavarian entrepreneur, he also wrote industrial history with inventions like electroplating and the pointer telegraph.

The first Nobel laureate for physics lived in Bavaria: In 1895, Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (1845 - 1923), who chose Munich to be his home, discovered x-rays. Modern radiology continues to use his invention as its foundation.

Poets, musicians and painters

Albrecht Dürer (born 21 May 1471 in Nuremberg) was the first artist to mark his prints with a monogram in a systematic manner. Soon, there were many artists imitating this painter, printmaker, mathematician and art theoretician. His world famous works include the "Young Hare", "Praying Hands", "Knight, Death and the Devil" and "Melencolia I".

Be it "Salome", "Elektra", "Der Rosenkavalier" or "Adriane auf Naxos" - opera-goers know the works of Richard Strauss (1864 - 1949) - one of the most important composers of the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Augsburg is the city where dramatist Bertold Brecht (1898 - 1956) was born. He is considered to be the founder of epic theatre. His most famous work is "The Threepenny Opera". Bertold Brecht lived in exile during the period of National Socialism.