Martin Luther and the Reformation changed Germany – and their impact can still be felt today in the locations where the events of that time played out. A great legacy is waiting to be discovered. Our first route takes us straight to the two most important places in Luther’s life: Eisleben and Wittenberg.
There is much to discover on this route, particularly in the cities of Berlin, a venue for the 2017 National Special Exhibition, and Potsdam. Berlin Cathedral and St. Nicholas’ Church in Potsdam are first-rate attractions in their own right and are an ideal starting point for a journey to the heart of the Reformation.
The history of the Reformation is very much alive in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg. It is home to the castle church, where Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door in 1517, Luther’s House, now a UNESCO World Heritage site and museum, and the town church where Luther preached on many occasions. The Prince George Library in Dessau- Rosslau also captures the spirit of the time. Part of the Anhalt Library of Dessau, it contains hundreds of prints and manuscripts from the time of the Reformation, including the three-volume Cranach Bible of Dessau with handwritten entries by Luther, Melanchthon and other reformers.
In Eisleben, Martin Luther’s life went full circle. The house where he died is now a museum and provides fascinating insights into the way people lived in the period between the Middle Ages and the modern age. This house and the house where Luther was born were granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1996. In early November, Eisleben hosts a festival to celebrate Luther’s birthday. After Luther died, his body was laid to rest overnight in Halle (Saale) before being taken to Wittenberg. In Halle, you can see Luther’s death mask and a cast of his hands, and the pulpit in the market church from which he delivered several sermons. As a schoolchild Luther lived for some time in Magdeburg. He visited again in 1524 – this time, however, as a dedicated and outspoken preacher in St. John’s Church and the Augustinian monastery church.
Along with Luther, many other notable figures of the day made their mark in Wittenberg: the scholars Philipp Melanchthon and Johannes Bugenhagen, for example, and the painter Lucas Cranach. Their houses and monuments can be seen along the historical street that encompasses Schlossstrasse and Collegienstrasse.
Distance: around 450 km
Starting point: Berlin
Waypoints: Berlin, Potsdam, Wittenberg, Torgau, Dessau-Rosslau, Eisleben, Halle, Magdeburg
Airports: Berlin, Leipzig-Halle, Dresden
ICE train stations: Berlin, Wittenberg, Halle (Saale), Magdeburg