Germany: Ilmenau

Ilmenau is a picturesque Thuringian town that sits just on the northern edge of the Thuringian Forest. The town dates back to the 11th century and grew due to copper and silver mining in the Middle Ages. When the ore deposits were depleted by the 1700s, the town became a spa town given its beautiful location and therapeutic waters. The historic center is quite compact and more or less uniform in its look – a fire of 1752 burned almost everything down so most buildings date to that period, once rebuilt in late-Baroque style. The old town is mostly pedestrian and the central structure is the beautiful baroque Stadtkirche St. Jakobus (aka Church of St. James), built in 1752 – its bells ring loud throughout the entire Ilmenau every hour. A few blocks away is the Marktplatz with the historic Rathaus. The Ilm river runs through the heart of the town (and you can even see trout swimming in it). Oh, and the town’s symbol are two goats!