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Road trip in Germany – Castles, Gardens, History and UNESCO sites in Eastern Germany

Germany is an incredible nation to go to and a enjoyable nation to go to by way of a highway trip. The highways are world-class. The drivers are competent and the sites are wonderful. The following highway trip begins in Berlin and visits a number of the greatest sites in what was East Germany heading west. I took this highway trip across the 2017 five hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. While the theme of this trip began with the reformation, it then become a scavenger hunt for German UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I visited quite a lot of sites which might be key components of the final 500 years or so of German History. I visited largely the states of Berlin, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia.

Erfurt, Germany

Erfurt, Germany

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Road trip in Germany - Castles, Gardens, History and UNESCO sites in Eastern Germany | Things to do in Germany #travel #germany #luther #road-trip #berlin #things-to-do-in #wartburg #erfurt #eisenach #wittenburg #dessau #weimar


The 3 best cities to achieve by worldwide flights in Germany are Frankfort, Munich, and Berlin. For this trip, I flew to Berlin. I used to be solely in Berlin for twenty-four hours (see 24 Hours in Berlin, Germany) however in case you have not spent a lot time in town I might advocate including on a number of days.

gates of Babylon (Pergamon Museum) - Berlin, Germany

For museum lovers, Museum Island is likely one of the high locations in the World. Where else are you able to see such sites because the gates of Babylon (Pergamon Museum) or the bust of Queen Nefertiti of Egypt?

For historical past buffs, I extremely advocate a strolling tour of Berlin. There are free strolling excursions which might be an excellent begin for first-time guests that begin close to the Brandenberg Gate. But there are additionally Cold War themed excursions, hipster excursions, or meals excursions in Berlin.

Christmas Markets Gendarmenmarkt - Berlin

I’ve visited Berlin in December when you may fall in love with the Christmas Markets. It is a particular time of yr when the stalls promoting ornaments, crafts, and gluhwein (scorching spiced wine) are arrange in metropolis squares just like the Gendarmenmarkt. The metropolis is a bit much less crowded however the days are a lot shorter. If you might be coming for the concert events and museums, that is nearly as good a time as any to return to town.

Park by the River Spree - Berlin

I’ve additionally visited Berlin in Summer when all the metropolis is outside. Beaches open up alongside the Spree River. The cities parks and inexperienced areas are full of joggers and bicyclists. If you might be Looking for strolling excursions, events, and parks then that is the most effective time of yr to go to Berlin.

Don’t trouble selecting up a automotive till the day you intend to depart Berlin as there isn’t any level driving in town when public transportation is a greater solution to get round.

We have coated Berlin in far more element on the Amateur Traveler podcast in such episodes as Travel to Berlin – Episode 684



It is lower than an hour from Berlin to Wittenberg. Wittenberg has a good looking medieval core. The metropolis was made traditionally important when the native pastor Martin Luther, who was additionally a professor of ethical theology on the native University, nailed an inventory of 95 points he had with the Roman Catholic church to the church door. His intent was to have a scholarly debate. The textual content was, in any case, posted in Latin not German. But as an alternative, this become the spark that ignited the Protestant Reformation.

Luther Wedding Festival - Wittenberg

Luther Wedding competition

A good time to go to town is in the course of the Luther Wedding competition that they maintain each June. The excuse for the competition is the commemoration of Luther marrying former nun Katharina von Bora as the brand new protestant church rejected that clergymen couldn’t be married. This competition is half historical past, half renaissance truthful, and all enjoyable. There are concert events, parades, costumes, crafts, and reenactments. There are numerous good issues cooking and beer and spiced wine obtainable liberally.

Luther Wedding Festival - Wittenberg

There’s a giant parade on Saturday, however the tourism board organized my schedule to get there for a youngsters’s parade on Sunday. It is cute.

Luther Wedding Festival - Wittenberg

The entire city is become this medieval village. Even for those who don’t care something for Luther and you don’t care something for historical past, you continue to will in all probability take pleasure in this competition… until, in fact, you hate renaissance gala’s.

Luther House - Wittenberg

Luthor House and Melanchthon House

The primary sights to see in Wittenberg are the Luthor home, which was an previous monastery that he then lived in as a home along with his giant household. He and his spouse had six youngsters of their very own and in addition they raised the youngsters from two totally different sisters who had died. The home has quite a lot of items of paintings that depict the lifetime of the reformer.

You can even go to the home of the reformer Philip Melanchthon. Both homes are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Both are very properly introduced. The Luther home in all probability did the most effective job of getting extra English obtainable for vacationers in phrases of the entire historical past of the Reformation. It’s not a nasty start line for those who don’t know that story.

Melanchthon House - Wittenberg

Melanchthon was a up to date of Luther’s. He was youthful than Luther. He wrote the Augsburg confession that claims what Lutherans consider. The Melanchthon home is rather well arrange for visiting with youngsters. Kids get an previous key. And as you stroll round the home, you get to open up these secret compartments the place you get garments which you can placed on that might be like that point interval, or the place you may see what they might have had in their cabinets. It is the higher expertise of the 2 in case you are touring with youngsters.

Luther and Melanchthon continued to be acknowledged when this space was East Germany though the communists didn’t encourage faith. Luther was remembered for his significance in German nationalism. Melanchthon was remembered because the one who opened the primary German public faculty. He is typically known as the “Teacher of Germany”, so the emphasis on youngsters on the Melanchthon House is sensible.

Luther's 95 Theses - Wittenberg

Castle Church

The different attention-grabbing sight is the fort church. The entrance doorways of the church have been changed with commemorative bronze doorways with the 95 theses on them. The Castle Church additionally comprises the graves of Luther, Melanchthon, and Frederick the Wise. Frederick the Wise was the elector of Saxony. The seven electors in Germany have been excessive-rating princes who selected the Holy Roman Emperor so Frederick had lots of political energy which he used to guard the fledgling protestant church. Frederick was succeeded by his brother Johann the Constant. I really like the names.

Castle Church Tower - Wittenberg

One attention-grabbing factor concerning the fort church is the tower you may discover from throughout city. It is a really tall tower inscribed with the phrases ‘Ein Festus Burg” or “A Mighty Fortress”. A Mighty Fortress is the most effective identified of the hymns written by Luther.

Dessau / Wörlitz

My subsequent cease was Dessau and close by Wörlitz. Between them have three totally different UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Bauhaus, Dessau


If you’re a fan of structure you may be aware of the Bauhaus motion in Germany. It was an architectural faculty that began in Weimar and then was compelled to maneuver to Dessau is in the pre-struggle years. It begins in 1919, after World War One in its fashionable structure, whenever you see the Bauhaus constructing and you assume, oh, that simply appears like in constructing from the Nineteen Fifties. It is a really fashionable type of structure, besides that was constructed in the Nineteen Twenties. You can tour the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation in addition to a number of the close by Bauhaus-styled buildings.

Elbe River - Dessau

Then there’s additionally UNESCO bio protect on the Elbe River there in Dassau, preserving that entire space alongside the Elbe. If you had additional time, this could be a fantastic place to get out on a canoe on the river into the wetlands.

Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Realm

Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Realm,

My favourite of the UNESCO sites close to Dessau is the Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Realm. You don’t must be a selected fan of gardening to take pleasure in these. The backyard kingdom is a group of seven totally different gardens constructed in the course of the Age of Enlightenment in the 1700s. They have been constructed throughout a time when English gardens have been coming to Germany.

Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Realm

These are lovely, actually great gardens constructed by individuals who clearly had approach an excessive amount of cash. There’s a palace in Wörlitz, which is the primary of what Germans would name classicism, what Americans would name neoclassical. If you’re aware of the type of the White House, this home is constructed in the identical type. So it’s reflecting the Greek kinds. Behind the palace, is that this wonderful backyard.

Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Realm

This is a backyard for exploration and getting misplaced in. Here there’s a statue of Venus. Over there’s a faux volcano with grottoes beneath which you can undergo. If you’ve got youngsters, skip the Bauhaus web site and come right here and set the children free to roam. It takes not less than half a day to stroll by these gardens and keep in mind that it’s one in every of seven totally different gardens. As you go strolling by right here, there are little backyard homes which you can keep in. I perceive it’s not all that low cost, but it surely’s an incredible, lovely place. Sometimes they carry out reside theatre on the stone island that has the faux volcano and in addition they have faux volcano eruptions. It can be an ideal setting for a play like A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

You can even lease a ship are take a ship experience by the canals that bisect the gardens.

Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Realm

In WWII, town of Dessau was closely broken as a result of that they had a manufacturing unit for making the German Junkers bombers. After reunification, a couple of third of the folks in the world, many younger folks left for jobs in the west. This is true of lots of the cities in the previous East Germany (GDR).


I didn’t cease in Leipzig on my trip, but when I had had extra time I might have added this important metropolis to my itinerary. Leipzig was the positioning of one of many main battles of the Napoleonic Wars and was additionally the place the motion that finally tore down the Berlin Wall began in Germany. Leipzig is know for its music and has the most effective opera homes in Germany.



Weimar is the following place I went. The drive from Dessau is a few hours. Students of historical past will recognizer town from the Weimar Republic. After WWI a brand new structure was drafted for Germany in Weimar. But in Germany Weimar is best identified for occasions that occurred a lot earlier.

Remember these German electors from Wittenberg Frederick the Wise and his brother John the Constant? John’s son John the Magnanimous loses his electorship when he’s defeated by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in one of many first counter-reformation wars. He and his household then come to town of Weimar.

Weimar turns into the Center for the German enlightenment in the 1700s. And so there’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Weimar, concerning the German Classicism motion. It’s folks just like the poet Goethe, who I’ve heard referred to on this trip because the German Shakespeare, who writes issues like Faust, and Johann Sebastian Bach writes lots of his work right here in Weimar, in addition to Friedrich Schiller and Franz Liszt. The Classical Weimar UNESCO web site consists of buildings owned by a number of the composers in addition to Belvedere Castle and Park.


Weimar is a good looking metropolis. Much of town was destroyed in the struggle however some huge cash has gone into rebuilding Weimar due to its significance. It was a European Capital of Culture in 1999 and that introduced some huge cash into Weimar for rebuilding. The metropolis has lovely cobblestone streets with cafes alongside the sidewalks. It actually modified my image of those previous GDR cities in the east. If you wish to make historical past extra enjoyable for your loved ones think about a historical past scavenger hunt in Weimar.

For a darker time in German historical past go to the Buchenwald Memorial close to town that marks the situation of the most important of the WWII focus camps in Germany.



The metropolis of Erfurt’s title derives from the German phrase meaning muddy ford of the river. The metropolis is far more lovely than the title would counsel. Erfurt is the capital and largest metropolis of Thuringia. It was largely undamaged from the bombing in WWII so town has quite a lot of lovely medieval buildings.


The greatest identified of those is the Krämerbrücke or Merchants Bridge which is roofed in half-timbered buildings. Erfurt was a market city and to this present day is a giant buying metropolis for the area. Erfurt has a Merchants Bridge Festival, which additionally occurs in June which is why my photographs present quite a lot of truthful cubicles.

I did a strolling tour with the Tourism Board. Many of the cities that I visited in Germany had these strolling excursions, typically without spending a dime. Erfurt additionally has a vacationer practice tour.

St. Augustine's Monastery - Erfurt

St. Augustine’s Monastery

Road trip in Germany - Castles, Gardens, History and UNESCO sites in Eastern Germany | Things to do in Germany #travel #germany #luther #road-trip #berlin #things-to-do-in #wartburg #erfurt #eisenach #wittenburg #dessau #weimar

One of my tour guides had the final title Luther. Luther in fact, having had quite a lot of youngsters, would nonetheless have descendants in the world. This is town the place Martin Luther studied each as a regulation scholar and later as a monk.

I toured St. Augustine’s Monastery which was his monastery. You can go into his little area of interest the place he would examine or pray. It’s very barren as you’d count on. Local tour guides will level out a stained glass window in the monastery chapel which depicts a rose with cross in the middle which Luther will later use as an emblem for his new church.

One ironic piece of historical past is that earlier than he turned a monk Luther would have spent an evening mendacity prostrate earlier than the altar on this chapel flooring. That would put him just about proper on high of the grave of Johannes Zacharias, bishop of Erfurt. Bishop Zacharias was greatest identified for his denunciation of the reformer Jan Hus 100 years earlier on the Council of Constance in Germany.

Cathedral Hill - Erfurt

Cathedral Hill has the dual church buildings of Erfurt Cathedral and St Severus’ Church.

Petersberg Citadel - Erfurt

Petersberg Citadel

But for the most effective views of town hike as much as Petersberg Citadel which is likely one of the greatest-preserved metropolis fortifications in Germany. The fortress was utilized by the native navy for 300 years. beginning in the mid-1600s. It is a star fortress.

Old Synagogue and Mikveh

With all this protestant and catholic historical past, the one UNESCO World Heritage web site in town is Jewish (Although St. Augustine’s Monastery is a part of the proposed assortment of Luther sites for UNESCO designation). The Old Synagogue and Mikveh (ritual bathtub) in Erfurt protect a number of the structure and historical past of a neighborhood Jewish neighborhood that dates again not less than to the eleventh century. The Synagogue is likely one of the oldest and greatest-preserved in Europe.

Thuringian Food

One native restaurant that I might advocate is Faustus. This feels like a spot the place you would need to promote your soul to get an excellent meal, however the German phrase Faust means “fist”. So that is German “fast food” or meals you may maintain in your hand. Thuringia is thought for his or her bratwurst. You get a fist-sized bun with a sausage 3 instances so long as a bun. Thuringians love their brats. You eat a brat with mustard. There is even a Mustard Museum and store in Erfurt.

Hainich National Park

After Erfurt, I visited the third of the locations that I might actually advocate for households with youngsters and that’s Hainich National Park. There is a UNESCO bio protect inside this nationwide park that preserves one of many beech tree forests in Europe.

Hainich National Park

The spot that you just’re actually going to take pleasure in is an commentary tower and a cover stroll that has been constructed in the cover of this deciduous forest. It is beech bushes and elm bushes, and maple bushes. You are strolling up in the cover and it is rather, very properly introduced. There are lovely views from the tower, but additionally great actions for youths.

There are rope bridges that go throughout from one in every of these metallic walkways to a different one. There are little rope ladders that youngsters can climb down in that I don’t even assume adults would match in, in addition to academic info in each German and English.

Hainich National Park

There are additionally some nice displays in the museum there on the park entrance that has the walkways and the viewing tower though that info proper now continues to be solely in German in the reveals there. If you occur to have a German-speaking child will actually take pleasure in it. It could be very a lot focused in the direction of youngsters in faculty teams. If you don’t perceive German then you will want your translation app. There are fashions of you de Fledermaus (bats), in addition to the opposite animals in the world like foxes and wild cats. Wild cats appear like a fats home cat, however it’s a wild animal. It appears like the closest relative to your own home cat.

Hainich National Park

Hainich National Park is a tiny nationwide park however it’s a good spot if you wish to hike.



The subsequent cease, which is close by, is Eisenach. While we’re on the subject of climbing, Eisenach has a multi-day climbing path that goes all the best way down into Hungary There are quite a lot of attention-grabbing lengthy-distance climbing and biking trails in Germany.

The final place I finished at is Eisenach, together with Wartburg Castle. Eisenach is the house for a few attention-grabbing historic folks. This is the place the Bach household received their begin because the musical administrators. Johann Sebastian Bach is born in Eisenach when his father was the musical director of the native church there. Both he and Luther go to the identical native faculty devoted to St. Elizabeth, though in totally different time durations.

Bach House - Eisenach

There are a few small museums in Eisenach. There is the Luthor home (the place he moved when he was there as a younger man and supported himself by being a cantor by seeing in the church) and the Bach House the place Johann Sebastian Bach was born. There’s additionally a museum there to a Wagner as a result of Wagner has connections to this metropolis as properly.

Wartburg Castle

Wartburg Castle

The hottest web site is Wartburg Castle which is on a hill simply outdoors town. This was the house for a time of St. Elizabeth who was a neighborhood princess. It was additionally the place Luther hideafter he was condemned by the Emperor on the Diet of Worms. He was “kidnapped” by the elector, Frederick the Wise, and he’s introduced in hiding to Wartburg Castle underneath the disguise of his being a knight in coaching. This is the place the interpretation of the New Testament into German occurs. And that is important for non secular causes, clearly, in the direction of the reformation.

Luther Cell - Wartburg Castle

The German New Testament was can be celebrated in the GDR time as the start in a approach of German unification. In Luther’s time there are not less than 18 totally different languages. High German is unified by the interpretation of the Bible into German, beginning right here in Wartburg with the New Testament, which occurs solely over the course of 11 weeks. The Luther Bible turns into for German what the King James Bible, as an example, turns into for English a centralizing standardizing doc that everybody is aware of.

Germany will not be a single nation till the late 1800s. Also at Wartberg, simply after the Napoleonic Wars 1817 a bunch of scholars met from throughout Germany and fashioned the coed fraternity motion, which proposed German unification. They have been responding in half to the Napoleon Wars. If they have been one German-speaking folks, they argued, then they might be extra highly effective subsequently safer.

Concert Hall Wartburg Castle

The fort itself is attention-grabbing. I did an English-speaking tour. You can see the components of the fort have been redone in the Age of Enlightenment or the romanticism interval. They are these wonderful, lovely, very stylized romantic rooms. There’s additionally a live performance corridor the place the ceiling acoustics have been designed in half with the assistance of Franz Liszt.

Wartburg Song Contest - Wartburg Castle

Wagner wrote an opera about Wartburg Castle and the Wartburg Song Contest. The story of the Wartburg Song Contest is probably going a fantasy. The concept is {that a} group of minstrels are gathered collectively to see not who’s the most effective minstrel, however who’s the worst. The worst one can be executed. Periodically in Wartburg Castle, they may stage that Wagner Opera in the live performance corridor.


Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe

I did make one different transient cease in Kassel, which has one more UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe is a palace that’s greatest identified for its waterworks. It has a sequence of synthetic cascades and waterfalls and fountains which might be gravity-pushed from a hill from the Hercules monument on the highest of that. Inside of the fort is likely one of the higher collections of Dutch masters work in such in Germany.

Ending Your Trip

I drove from Kassel to Düsseldorf to fly residence however you possibly can additionally drive to Frankfurt am Main which is a significant German transportation hub.

Before You Go

Here are another articles that will help you plan your trip:


I coated this trip in considerably extra element on the Amateur Traveler podcast in Road Trip Through Luther Land and the Heart of Germany – Episode 519

Road trip in Germany - Castles, Gardens, History and UNESCO sites in Eastern Germany | Things to do in Germany #travel #germany #luther #road-trip #berlin #things-to-do-in #wartburg #erfurt #eisenach #wittenburg #dessau #weimar

 Road trip in Germany - Castles, Gardens, History and UNESCO sites in Eastern Germany | Things to do in Germany #travel #germany #luther #road-trip #berlin #things-to-do-in #wartburg #erfurt #eisenach #wittenburg #dessau #weimar 

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