Frankfurt and Leipzig, both waypoints on this route, were among the most important cities in the Holy Roman Empire. Yet time and time again, Luther sought out smaller towns and even villages to give powerful expression to his ideas. Alongside the ‘classic’ Luther sites, this route also includes lots of ‘insider tips’ – places with vital importance for our understanding of the Reformation.
The starting point for this remarkable route is again Frankfurt, a very popular destination for cultural trips thanks to its unique museum embankment.
We journey on to Marburg, where the Swiss reformer Ulrich Zwingli met with Martin Luther, and then to Bad Hersfeld, home to the largest Romanesque church ruins in the world. At Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, Luther translated the New Testament into German in only eleven weeks. The new, permanent exhibition, “Luther and the Bible”, gives an insight into the thinking and action of the reformer in Luther’s House, which has recently been reopened following careful restoration.
Zwickau is a waypoint on the Luther Trail in Saxony. You can visit the town's key Reformation sites on a circular walking tour. In Zeitz, where Luther also preached important sermons in 1542, 1544 and 1545, be sure to see the abbey church and Lutheride library, as well as the cathedral and St. Michael’s Church with its original print of Luther’s theses. In 1523 Katharina von Bora, who later became Luther’s wife, fled from a convent near Grimma where she had spent her childhood and adolescence. In Leipzig, in 1519, Luther took part in the Leipzig Disputation at Pleissenburg Castle. Just a year after Luther’s birth in Eisleben, his family moved to Mansfeld. His family home is now a museum, and St. George’s Church contains the only full-length Martin Luther portrait. Torgau was the political centre of the Reformation and is where Katharina Luther died. The final highlight on this route is Wittenberg, perhaps the most Lutheran of all the Luther towns.
For a Luther site with a difference visit the Lutherkeller in Zwickau, located directly beneath the Luther Church, right by the train station. Bar, band rehearsal room, table tennis cellar, bicycle repair and carpentry workshop, live venue, preaching room: so much is possible here that would be impossible elsewhere. A blues church service is also held here five times a year – Bible readings, live bands and bread rolls are just as much a part of the place as Martin Luther.
Distance: around 800 km
Starting point: Frankfurt
Waypoints: Frankfurt, Marburg, Bad Hersfeld, Eisenach, Zwickau, Zeitz, Grimma, Leipzig, Eisleben, Mansfeld, Torgau, Wittenberg
Airports: Frankfurt, Leipzig-Halle, Erfurt-Weimar, Berlin, Dresden
ICE train stations: Frankfurt, Bad Hersfeld, Eisenach, Leipzig, Wittenberg