The Reformation left behind many traces – and sometimes they can be found in the places you would least expect. It is not only Wittenberg and the other official Luther towns that bear witness to this time but also Eisenach and Erfurt and many smaller locations in the Thuringia region. Artistic and architectural highlights enhance the route and create a sense of great authenticity.
Starting in Lutherstadt Eisenach, this route offers deep insights into the culture of the era.
Martin Luther spent several years at school in Eisenach. Years later, he took refuge at nearby Wartburg Castle. Fortuitous perhaps, as it was here that he found time to translate the New Testament into German. In 2017, Eisenach and Wartburg Castle will provide a fascinating backdrop to the “2017 National Special Exhibition”.
Today, it is possible to visit the Luther family home in Möhra. The town of Schmalkalden, famous for the "Schmalkaldic League", is also well worth seeing for its romantic mediaeval architecture and Wilhelmsburg Palace. The reformer and leader of the peasants’ revolt Thomas Müntzer was executed in Mühlhausen in 1525. It is worth making a detour to the Müntzer memorial in St. Mary’s Church, the second-largest hall church in Thuringia. Our next stop is Gotha. Luther’s first documented stay here was in May 1515 and his last – possibly to meet Lucas Cranach – was in 1540.
Luther was a student at the university in Erfurt, the ‘Rome of Thuringia’, and entered the Augustinian monastery here in 1505. Luther often stayed in Weimar and preached sermons in the town. Even more significant, however, is the famous portrait by the great Renaissance painter Lucas Cranach the Elder at Weimar Palace, which remains our definitive image of Luther. Altenburg, where Luther’s ally Georg Spalatin exerted great influence, was a focal point during the Reformation. The palace there is now a popular visitor attraction.
Cranach’s ‘Damnation and Redemption’ is among the works on display at the Herzogliches Museum in Gotha. This impressive testimony to the deep religious belief of the time was probably created in consultation with Luther.
Distance: around 370 km
Starting point: Eisenach
Waypoints: Eisenach, Möhra, Schmalkalden, Gotha, Mühlhausen, Erfurt, Bad Frankenhausen, Weimar, Jena, Altenburg
Airports: Erfurt-Weimar, Leipzig-Halle, Dresden
ICE train stations: Eisenach, Gotha, Erfurt, Weimar, Jena