A wide variety of landscapes, a remarkable number of castles and palaces, extraordinary architectural and cultural diversity and a great range of leisure activities – that is the holiday region of Thuringia. Goethe summed up Thuringia's merits in his inimitable style: "Where else in Germany can you find so many wonderful things in such close proximity?"
Erfurt, Weimar, and other towns in Thuringia offer visitors an engaging mix of history and tradition, culture and leisure activities, the classical and the modern. In Weimar, the 1999 European City of Culture, there's hardly anywhere that doesn't in some way reflect the town's rich heritage. For many years, visitors from around the world have flocked to the statue of Goethe and Schiller in front of the German National Theatre and to a total of 27 museums. The UNESCO World Heritage site 'Classical Weimar' comprises 16 individual buildings. But towns such as Erfurt, Jena, Eisenach, Altenburg, Meiningen and Gotha also offer plenty of cultural highlights. Erfurt is blessed with a wealth of attractions, including St. Mary's Cathedral and the Church of St. Severus on Domplatz square, the Merchants' Bridge (the longest surviving bridge in Europe that is lined with buildings) and the long-established ega horticultural exhibition. Art and culture in Thuringia is closely linked to the work of important representatives of Germany's cultural and intellectual tradition. Museums, theatres, exhibitions and concert halls display the legacies of the writers Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, the composer Johann Sebastian Bach and the painters Lucas Cranach and Otto Dix.
Thuringia's best known castle and the most famous landmark of the town of Eisenach is Wartburg Castle, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999. Besides the famous Wartburg Castle, Friedenstein Palace in Gotha and the Dornburg palaces there are also a large number of other romantic palaces and medieval castles.
Many of these, together with monasteries and churches, authentically recall the Reformation and Martin Luther, with whose life Thuringia is closely associated. He lived as a monk in the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt from 1505 until 1512. At Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, he translated the New Testament into German and he spent time in Schmalkalden to forge the Protestant alliance against the Roman Catholic Emperor. 2017 sees the 500th anniversary of Reformation Day. The Thuringian Luther towns are offering themed guided tours, special exhibitions, festivals and lots more.
As a top destination for active holidays, Thuringia has more than the Rennsteig to attract hikers. 16,000 kilometres of marked hiking trails, 22 specially certified trails, and more than 80 quality providers of accommodation will delight every hiking enthusiast. There is plenty for cyclists too, with 13 long-distance cycling trails along rivers or through towns or magnificent countryside. Thuringia is, of course, also a winter sports centre, and not only because of its many famous top winter sports athletes. Clear winter air, snow-covered forests and mountains, ski trails, cross-country ski tracks and downhill ski pistes all contribute to turning the state into a small winter sports paradise.
Thuringia also has a long tradition as the home of spa towns, thanks to a wealth of natural remedies, such as brine and sulphur springs, mud for mudpacks, minerals and, of course, its favourable climate. With rehabilitation clinics, thermal baths, water parks and wellness programmes, together with hiking and cycling trails, 19 spas and health resorts provide everything guests need to recuperate and relax.
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