Located in central Germany, Luther Country is a well-promoted tourist region dedicated to Martin Luther, leader of the Protestant Reformation. Filled with intriguing churches, museums and villages throughout Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia, Luther Country is a prime pilgrimage destination for Protestants, especially Lutherans.
In Eisleben, experience the beginning and end of Martin Luther’s life at the Martin Luther Birth House and Martin Luther Death House. His birth house, a museum since 1693, contains artifacts from Luther’s time. Inside, visitors can see the swan statue, a symbol of the Reformation, and an antique portrait of Martin Luther. On display are many books and artwork from the time of Luther’s childhood. The Birthplace Visitor Center, opposite the house, has 250 exhibits, including “I’m So-Martin Luther and Eisleben,” that give visitors a taste of the social conditions and living environment of the Luther Family.
Luther’s Death House, renovated and reopened in February of 2013, is a museum with rooms significant to Luther’s death. Must-see sights include Luther’s death mask, a plaster cast made of his face and hands made shortly after his death, and the original pall (cloth) spread over his coffin.
The village of Wittenberg, known as “Cradle of the Lutheran Reformation,” is said to be where the Reformation began. Here Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the All Saints’ Castle Church door, sparking the Reformation. This church now holds the tomb of Martin Luther.
Wittenberg is also home to the Luther House, once an Augustinian monastery and home to Martin Luther for over 35 years. Now the largest Reformation history museum in the world, it highlights Luther’s life as a monk, student, priest, father and reformer. The Luther Living Room contains his original desk and centuries-old furnishings. Other noteworthy artifacts are the Lutheran Bible, a letter of indulgence and a Ten Commandments painting.
After posting the 95 Theses, Luther was declared an outlaw and went into hiding. One place he took up shelter was Wartburg Castle, which overlooks the town of Eisenach. Here Luther translated the New Testament into German. Visitors can view the room where he wrote and the first edition of the New Testament, kept in a case on the desk. Guided tours are conducted through the main building of the castle. Visitors can stay at the Wartburg Hotel, located on the northwest side of the castle.
Luther devoted much of his life to preaching. In 1537 Luther spoke to the Schmalkalden Union and famous Protestant theologians at St. George’s Church in Schmalkalden. This address is considered one of his most noteworthy speeches. Guests should visit the Luther Room, where there is a small church exhibit, as well as the southern tower with a view of the city. From July through September the church has a free organ concert every day at 11am.
Luther Country offers many unique dining experiences. Enjoy an authentic medieval-style feast in a candle-lit cellar at Lutherkeller in Erfurt while watching live entertainment including jugglers and minstrels. Luther’s Garten, located in the Luther House, is a café that serves small meals, pastries and Katharinenbier (a beer recipe originated by Luther’s wife).
Luther Country’s location makes it easy to access from all directions. Erfurt Airport is centrally located near such Luther Country sites as Eisenach and Wartburg Castle. Other airports that are a four-hour drive or less include those in Frankfurt, Berlin, Hamburg and Hanover Airport.
Many tour operators are available to help make the most out of your visit to Luther Country. A few of these operators include Luther Tours, Reformation Tours, Educational Opportunities and Globus.
For more information on Luther Country visit http://www.visit-luther.com/home/home.html
– By Susan DiLillo