Large, imposing and steeped in history: high above the town of Eisenach sits Wartburg Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1999. One of the best-preserved medieval German fortresses and almost 1,000 years old, it is possibly Germany's most famous castle, and certainly one of its most important.
With its impressive ceremonial hall, the surviving 12th century Palas – a perfect example of late-Romanesque architecture – still bears traces of the Wartburg's former glory. To enter this extensive site today is to experience an entire era of German history. Courtly art from the Middle Ages, St. Elisabeth's life and work, the German student fraternities' festival, the contest of the minnesingers and Wagner's romantic opera Tannhäuser – all these are an integral part of the Wartburg. As is Martin Luther, who in 1521-22, posing as 'Squire George', sought and found refuge here. He used his enforced confinement to steel himself for future theological conflicts and to write his German translation of the New Testament. At the Hotel auf der Wartburg and its restaurant you'll enjoy a more comfortable stay than Luther in his spartan cell. You'll be able to spend the night in authentic historical surroundings and enjoy breathtaking views of the stunning Thuringian countryside. Beauty of a musical kind is on offer during the MDR Summer of Music, which for the past 18 years has seen concerts taking place within the ancient walls of the Wartburg. Every year, this two-month festival invites visitors into the castle to experience a series of special concerts in a unique and extraordinary atmosphere.
April to October: tours daily 8.30am to 5pm; tour in English at 1.30pm. Castle gate closes at 8pm.
November to March: tours daily 9am to 3.30pm (Christmas Eve: last tour at 11am; New Year's Eve: last tour at 2pm); tour in English at 1.30pm. Castle gate closes at 5pm.
Further information: www.wartburg-eisenach.de
Wartburg Castle is part of the 'Visionaries and pioneering thinkers' UNESCO route. Other stops on the route are:
UNESCO World Heritage sites: