Luther's writings and his theses, which he published in Wittenberg in 1517, changed the religious world order for good. Even though, 500 years later, the Luther Trail snakes through five German federal states, it is in Saxony-Anhalt where pilgrims feel particularly close to Martin Luther the man, the monk and later reformer.
Figuratively speaking, it caused an earthquake and led to a schism in the church, but this was not what the professor of theology had planned. Luther wrote the theses that triggered the Reformation movement in Wittenberg. He settled there as a monk in 1508, living in the town with his family. He was also buried there when he died, in the place where he attracted the world's attention in 1517: the All Saints' Church. Wittenberg is now home to the world's largest museum dedicated to the history of the Reformation. When visitors enter Luther's Room, they could be forgiven for thinking he had just stepped outside for a moment...
Yet Wittenberg is just one of many stops on the Luther Trail through Saxony-Anhalt, which takes hikers north to begin with, and also has a route heading south. Pilgrims pass churches and take in Dessau, Eisleben (the reformer's home town, where visitors can see Luther memorial sites as well as the original font where Luther was baptised by the altar in the church) and Mansfeld, on the route which originally heads north.
Pilgrims can also find their way to Eisleben and Mansfeld on the southern route via Bitterfeld-Wolfen, where Luther was laid in state in the Old Chapel of the town's Protestant church on his last journey. The route then leads to Halle (Saale), a city devoted to Luther's heritage. This pilgrimage route includes many religious and spiritual moments and places where you can emulate Luther in other respects, for instance in Höhnstedt, where he wrote to his wife: "But here the wine is pure."
Total length of route: approx. 410 km
Route to the north via Coswig, then further south towards Dessau, Bernburg, Wettin, Eisleben and Mansfeld-Lutherstadt
Route to the south via Düben Heath Nature Park, Bitterfeld-Wolfen and Halle (Saale) to Eisleben and Mansfeld-Lutherstadt
Pilgrim hostels along the route?: Yes
Arrival options: Wittenberg Central Station
Departure options: Mansfeld
About the route: signposted with an "L"; pilgrims and hikers can start the route at any point along the circular trail
For an overview of all stops (in German), visit: www.lutherweg.de