It was a long journey from Martin Luther’s 95 theses to the widespread acceptance of the Reformation by the people and rulers. Luther managed time and time again to win over towns and regions for himself and his ideas. This usually called for long and arduous journeys. This route takes in many of the places he visited, including some in present-day Hessen, before finally returning to the well-known Luther sites in Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Saxony.
This route also starts in Frankfurt, the birthplace of another great German: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
It’s then on to Worms, venue of important imperial diets and location of the largest Reformation memorial in the world. Marburg in Hessen witnessed a meeting of giants in October 1529: at the Marburg Colloquy, Zwingli and Luther debated their differing interpretations of the role of The Last Supper. In nearby Bad Hersfeld, Luther held a sermon on 1 May 1521 at the collegiate church, whose striking tower is the town’s most famous landmark. Heinrich Fuchs, the pastor at the time, is said to have been the first priest ever to marry. Events come to life on the “Luther Trail 1521” — not just in Bad Hersfeld but across the state of Hessen too.
We head back to Thuringia via Eisenach, where you’ll find the Luther Room at UNESCO World Heritage site Wartburg Castle. Our route then takes us to Erfurt with its Protestant Augustinian monastery and cathedral, and on to the UNESCO World Heritage town of Weimar. In Weimar you can visit the palace with its Cranach galleries and the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul (Herderkirche) with its Cranach altar.
Via Leipzig, where Luther preached at St. Thomas Church in 1539, Halle (Saale) with its Martin Luther remembrance walking trail, and Torgau, where the first Protestant church was built and where Katharina von Bora is buried, we continue to the Luther towns of Eisleben and Wittenberg. Melanchthon’s House, Luther’s House and the UNESCO World Heritage Cranach Courtyards provide the backdrop for Wittenberg’s annual Luther’s Wedding festival. This route culminates in the crowning glories of Potsdam and Berlin, both home to cultural, architectural and historical highlights.
Leipzig and St. Thomas Church are of particular interest because of their associations not only with Martin Luther but also with Johann Sebastian Bach, who lived and worked in the city for many years. The annual Bach Festival is also held in his honour. Directly opposite St. Thomas’ Church, the Leipzig Bach Archive invites visitors to discover more about the life and work of the master.
Distance: around 1,000 km
Starting point: Frankfurt
Waypoints: Frankfurt, Worms, Marburg, Bad Hersfeld, Eisenach, Erfurt, Weimar, Leipzig, Eisleben, Halle, Torgau, Wittenberg, Potsdam, Berlin
Airports: Berlin, Leipzig-Halle, Erfurt-Weimar, Frankfurt, Dresden
ICE train stations: Frankfurt, Worms, Bad Hersfeld, Eisenach, Erfurt, Weimar, Leipzig, Halle (Saale), Wittenberg, Berlin
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