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Towns in Thuringia - culture in the heart of Germany

The Free State of Thuringia lies in the geographical centre of Germany. It has an impressive history with 30,000 listed architectural monuments and a variety of towns covering various eras from the Romanesque to art nouveau with palaces, patrician town houses and half-timbered buildings. Illustrious individuals such as Luther, Goethe and Schiller made their home here and helped to shape the region's culture. As a result of the successive bequeathing of land, Thuringia became a prime example of the profusion of minor principalities in Germany with its 400 castles and palaces.
Eisenach - a town of historical figures
"The area is simply magnificent" said Goethe, describing the countryside around Eisenach. The town of Eisenach and Wartburg Castle both owe their fame to individuals of world renown. Wartburg Castle - a UNESCO world heritage site - was Saint Elisabeth's home and the inspiration for Richard Wagner's opera Tannhäuser. It is also where Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German. Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach and Martin Luther was at school here for three years. Among the town's many attractions are Bach's House, Luther's House and the Reuter Wagner Museum.
A natural paradise - the Thuringian Forest
Thuringia has a variety of beautifully diverse countryside, ranging from plateaus such as Eichsfeld to deep valleys such as the Saale and Unstrut. But the most spectacular features of all are the hills such as the Rhön and, in particular, the Thuringian Forest, an internationally acclaimed walking and winter sports area. The region is also home to Germany's most famous hiking trail - the Rennsteig. Running for a total of 168 km, it links up three hill ranges and covers the many different facets of the Thuringian countryside. A hike along the Rennsteig trail, whether you want to cover just one or two individual sections or the entire route, is a must for your itinerary.


Goethe and Schiller in the towns of culture- the Classics Route
This tourist route runs for 300 kilometres, connecting eight of the foremost towns in Thuringia. In addition to Erfurt, the state capital, with its cathedral, Church of St. Severus and Merchants' Bridge, other highlights along the way include Weimar, a small town with international appeal on the River Ilm. Both Goethe and Schiller worked in this enchanting town with its winding lanes and attractive squares. Together, they created one of the most important literary movements, Weimar Classicism. Germany's foremost writers, they are both buried in the historical cemetery in Weimar. Two of the most important reminders of this period are the Goethe National Museum and Goethe's House, a baroque residence where the writer lived for almost 50 years.

Other attractions include Goethe's summer house and the house where Schiller lived for the last three years of his life. Belvedere Palace, a small elegant summer residence, houses an exquisite collection of arts and crafts dating from the 17th to the 19th century. Just outside Weimar is the memorial on the site of Buchenwald concentration camp. Jena is in an idyllic setting in he meadows on the banks of the river Saale, surrounded by hills of an unusual fossil-flecked limestone where many orchid species thrive. Founded in 1558, Jena University still attracts students from all over the world. Napoleon's famous battle against Prussia took place at Jena and Auerstedt in 1806. In addition to the Goethe memorial and Schiller's summer house, Jena's botanical gardens and the world's oldest planetarium are not to be missed.

The former ducal town of Gotha, renowned for its publishing industry, is also well worth a trip - Friedenstein Palace, Germany's largest early-baroque palace, is famous for its art collections and Ekhof Theatre.
Culinary delights of Thuringia - bratwurst sausage and dark ale
The Thuringians are renowned for their warm hospitality. Originally inhabited by people from many different Germanic tribes and influenced over the centuries by long periods of territorial segmentation and its central geographical position with large numbers of people passing through, the region has a diverse cultural heritage with a variety of customs and traditions. This has also had an impact on the regional cuisine, which consists largely of good old-fashioned dishes. The Thuringians love their rostbratwurst (barbecued sausage) and potato dumplings. Other specialities include roast pork, Schmöllner Mutzbraten (pork spit-roasted over birch wood), Schmandkuchen (cheesecake), Zwiebelkuchen (bacon and onion flan), a range of sausage and game specialities, and the traditional St. Martin's Goose. This hearty fare should be accompanied by a tasty Köstritzer, the famous local dark ale and followed by a herb-flavoured liqueur that has been used for centuries to aid digestion, Neudietendorf Aromatique.

Tradition and history

  • "Drei Gleichen" Castles
  • Petersberg Citadel in Erfurt
  • Thuringian Porcelain Route
  • Goethe trail
  • Weapons Museum in Suhl
  • Iwein frescoes in Schmalkalden, the oldest secular wall paintings in Germany
  • Luther Church in Apolda

Hospitality and gastronomy

  • Nordhäuser Doppelkorn, a rye spirit
  • Traditional Distillery Museum
  • Town festival in Meiningen in honour of the Thuringian dumpling
  • Christmas markets in the region
  • Zwiebelmarkt Fair in Weimar

Romanticism and charm

  • Rococo castle in Dornburg
  • Weddings in the Saalfeld Fairy Grottoes, the most colourful show caves in the world
  • Skat card festival in Altenburg
  • Cathedral Steps Festival Plays in Erfurt
  • "Mon Plaisir" dolls' town in Arnstadt
  • Heidecksburg Palace

Countryside and scenery

  • Hainich National Park with treetop walkway
  • Hörselberge hills
  • Kyffhäuser hills
  • Thuringian Rhön hills and Vesser Valley biosphere reserves
  • Eichsfeld-Hainich-Werratal nature reserve
  • Thuringian Vogtland
  • Bleiloch reservoir
  • Health resort of Bad Salzungen
  • "Towns of Thuringia" long-distance cycle route