In 1508 the monk Martin Luther arrived in Wittenberg. In 1517 he published his famous 95 theses and the Reformation began. During the Luther Decade from 2008 to 2017, the broad spectrum of topics for the Reformation will be addressed and revealed.
The work of Martin Luther, the events of his time and its effects can still be experienced today in one form or another in each of the original places where they occurred.
The Luther Rail Tour guides you on the paths of Martin Luther through a significant part of German history and some of the most beautiful country sides and cities like Berlin, Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Erfurt, Nuremberg, Augsburg, Munich and Heidelberg.
Day 1: Berlin to Lutherstadt Wittenberg
It just takes about 40 minutes on the High-Speed train from Berlin to Lutherstadt Wittenberg. Check into your hotel which is located in the City Center. A “must see” in Wittenberg is, of course, the Schlosskirche (Castle Church) where texts of the 95 Theses are cast in bronze on the door. Next you can tour the Lutherhalle (Luther House) Museum. In 1508, when Martin Luther came to Wittenberg, he lived here with other Augustinian monks. Later, Luther and his wife, Katharina von Bora, raised six children here and hosted many guests. You may also want to visit the Stadtkirche St. Marien (St. Mary's church) where Luther preached and where his children were baptized. (A private English-speaking City tour in Wittenberg can be arranged.)
Day 2: Erfurt
By High-speed train you will get to Erfurt. See where Martin Luther studied, bow heads where he prayed and walk the same medieval streets. At almost every turn, there's a reminder of the man who launched the Reformation. Erfurt was the young Luther's spiritual home. In 1505 he graduated from the University with a Masters in philosophy. It is said that a violent storm close to Erfurt that same year prompted him to become a monk at the Augustinerkloster (Augustinian Monastery) in gratitude for his survival. Martin Luther stayed there until 1511 and was ordained as a priest in St. Mary's Cathedral. Even after he had left the city, he often returned to preach to enthusiastic crowds, in the university church (St. Michael's) for example. It has been more than 500 years since Luther was a student at the collegium maius, the old Erfurt University’s main building, which is now being restored.
The Augustinian Monastery, dating back to 1277, houses an exhibition that shows the life and work of its most renowned resident. You can visit Luther's cell in addition to its impressive library with many rare books. Another important structure in Erfurt is the Barfüsserkirche, or the blackfriars' "Church of the Barefooted." Most of the church was destroyed in 1944, but even in the present condition the church is one of the greatest examples of German ecclesiastical architecture of the 14th and 15th centuries. Luther also preached here in 1529 before the Franciscan monastery was discontinued. Other significant sites for those interested in the Reformation and its leader are the Luther monument (next to the Merchants' Church on the Anger road) and the "Haus Zum Schwarzen Horn" at Michaelisstrasse 48. This building housed Mathes Maler's printing workshop, where many of Luther's pamphlets were printed. (A private English-speaking tour in Erfurt can be arranged.)
Day 3: Day trip to Wartburg Castle and the City of Eisenach
Today you will take make a day trip to nearby Eisenach, then take the bus up to Wartburg Castle. In 1521, while fleeing from the wrath of the Pope, Luther took refuge in here after a fake kidnapping staged by his friend and protector, Frederick the Wise. Visit the Castle which for many is the most impressing Castle in Germany and stand in the very room where Luther translated Jerome’s Vulgate into the German New Testament. There are guided tours in English at the Wartburg. When you are finished, you can take the bus back into Eisenach and visit the sights in the city center like the Luther House Museum with its fascinating displays about the time & culture of Luther and St George's (Georgenkirche) Church connected with both Martin Luther and Johann Sebastian Bach. Speaking about Bach: the Bach House Museum is a must-see! (A private English-speaking tour in Eisenach can be arranged.) In the evening you will take the train back to Erfurt where your hotel is located.
Day 4: Nuremberg
The High-Speed train (ICE) will take you from Erfurt to Nuremberg. The Nuernberg Reformation history shows that Martin Luther’s ideas found fertile soil here. Motivated by a great majority of the citizens, the Nuremberg Council decided as early as 1525 to reform the city. The city's history reaches back to the year 1050, its name "nourenberc" translating into "rocky hill". Nuremberg's famous landmark, the "Kaiserburg" (Imperial Castle), towers above the Old town, which is protected by the five kilometers long city wall with its many towers.
When exploring the beauty of Nuremberg's mediaeval Old Town one can start at the Koenigstor ("Kingsgate"), from where the timber framed buildings, the Gothic Church of St.Lawrence and the Church of St.Sebaldus can be easily reached by foot. Right next to the Koenigstor is the Handwerkerhof (craft center), here you will feel like you are back in the mediaeval times, there are craft workshops like they used to have a long time ago as well as a gingerbread bakery. Make sure to enjoy a Nuremberg Bratwurst (grilled sausage) along with a beer or a glass of Frankenwein (Wine from the Franconia Wine Region).
Day 5: Augsburg
The High-Speed train (ICE) will take you from Nuremberg to Augsburg. Augsburg is the city most famous for the Augsburg Confession, the Religious Peace Treaty and the celebration thereof. The theological-historical museum “Lutherstiege” of St. Anna’s Church displays valuable early Luther writings, documents books and paintings. But there is more to see in Augsburg: founded in the year 15 B.C. by the roman emperor Augustus, the city became a "mediaeval metropolis" due to its ideal location at the crossing of the most important continental merchandise routes. The families of the "Fugger" and the "Welser" elevated Augsburg to one of Europe's most important commercial towns.
Augsburg's Town Hall is the most important Renaissance structure north of the alps, together with the Perlach Tower it is the town's landmark. Visit the "Fuggerei", also known as "The Town within a Town", founded in 1516 by Jakob Fugger, it was the first settlement for hardworking but impoverished catholic citizens. The city's cathedral has records reaching back to the year 823 AD, the oldest section probably being the crypt beneath the west choir. Here one can marvel at Romanesque and gothic frescoes and four panel paintings by Holbein the Elder. There are only very few German cities which combine bygone prosperity and contemporary life the way Augsburg does.
Day 6: Day trip to Munich
In the morning, the train will take you to the capital of Bavaria. Munich, famous throughout the world, is the Bavarian metropolis, close to the Alps and in the heart of Europe. Where to begin when one wants to name places to see and things to do in this extraordinary city which like few others combines modern life with lively history. There is Munich's old town where 850 years of history are showing off, there is the Marienplatz (Marien square) where 3 times each day thousands of people are spell bound when the world famous Glockenspiel (carillon) starts it's beautiful song.
Visit and marvel at the Frauenkirche, the town's landmark, do not miss the Hofbräuhaus and find out why the Münchner (inhabitants of Munich) don't want to miss out on their "Brotzeit" (a meal or snack consisting of bread, cold cut, cheese and so on, usually enjoyed between breakfast and lunch). Take the Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing bus on to the Grand Circle, visit the Residence, Nymphenburg Palace and Park, Hall of Fame and all the other sights in Munich which are included in the sightseeing package. In the evening you will take the train back to Augsburg.
Day 7: Heidelberg
The High-Speed train (ICE) will take you from Augsburg to Heidelberg. In Germany’s oldest University, research is being done on the highest levels of science. Famous names dictate the history of Heidelberg. The royal residence of the German princes and for many centuries the focus of German history, was visited by Martin Luther in 1518. As he did in Wittenberg, he let his 95 Theses be known in Heidelberg. Influenced by Rome, he was invited to a disputation (the so called Heidelberg Disputation) by the Augustinian order. He used this occasion to deliver his theological cruces instead, a reformed version of Christian theology. The “Luthertafel”, a plaque on the university grounds, can be seen, in the location where once the Augustinian Monestary stood.
There is more to visit in Heidelberg. With its idyllic location on the river Neckar, the beautiful Heidelberger Schloss (Heidelberg Castle) is towering above the city. Heidelberg, both historic and young, will capture you with its easygoing charm, will remain unforgettable for those who stood in the castles gardens, overlooking the town and the river, will make you feel history while roaming through cobbled alleys…
Day 8: Heidelberg to Frankfurt Airport. At your convenience take the train to Frankfurt Airport (or Frankfurt Main Station).
Note: The tour can be extended or combined with one of our other tours (e.g. the 4-Day Castle Road & Rhine River Cruise tour).
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