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City Breaks: Online Travel Guide for Erfurt
Erfurt, capital of Thuringia and university town from the middle ages to the present day, offers numerous cultural highlights
Martin Luther studied in Erfurt.
The far branching out Lutheran protestant musician's family Bach is from Erfurt. Johann, Heinrich and Christoph Bach, grandsons of the baker, miller and zither-player Veit Bach from Wechmar near Gotha, worked as musicians in Erfurt. Heinrich Bach went to Arnstadt, Christoph Bach to Weimar, Christoph's son Ambrosius married Elisabeth Laemmerhirt in Erfurt's Kaufmannskirche - Merchants' Church - and moved with her from Erfurt to Eisenach, his son Johann Sebastian ...
On the Kraemerbruecke bridge you still find the house "Zum Schwarzen Ross" - the black horse - where Johann Bach lived. In Erfurt's Kaufmannskirche church 61 Bach children were baptized and 12 Bach couples were married. For 200 years members of Bach family dominated Erfurt's music.
In the 'Alt-Bachische Archive' the music of Johann Sebastian's relatives survived up to today.
Napoleon clarified in the Ballhaus spheres of influence and political interest with Tsar Alexander and the rulers of the Confederation of the Rhine. Goethe was present, too: With him Napoleon conversed about the Sorrows of Young Werther.
Paganini gave concerts in the Erfurt Ballhaus, Clara Schumann did, too, and so did Franz Liszt.
Half a century after Napoleon's visit, the Erfurt Ballhaus was named Kaisersaal - the Emperor's Hall. In succession to socialist conventions in Eisenach and Gotha, it was in the Kaisersaal where the delegates of the Social Democratic Party of Germany and their chairman August Bebel passed the Erfurt Program and finally were agreed on today's name.
Upon leaving the train station continue along "Bahnhofstrasse" street: you reach the historical market place of Erfurt, the Anger. The buildings on the Anger show architectural history from the 13th century to Art Nouveau and New Objectivity.
The Anger Museum displays art from the middle ages and landscape paintings from the 19th and 20th century. On the first floor, there are expressionist mural paintings Erich Heckel painted in 1922.
From the Anger, via "Schloesserstrasse", you arrive at the river Gera. On the northern shore of the river Gera, in the Gothic Prediger-Kirche - Church of the Preachers, here, around 1300, the Dominican mystic Meister Eckhart clashed with official doctrine: To him every creature was inane but lived in spiritual relationship with God.
Follow the Gera to the North. You reach the Begegnungsstaette Kleine Synagoge - the Small Synagogue's Meeting Place. From 1840 to 1884, the building was Erfurt's synagogue. Today, you find an exposition about Erfurt's Jewish history.
Further down Kraemerbruecke - Merchants' Bridge - crosses the river Gera. Two narrow rows of houses are built along both sides of the bridge. The Kraemerbruecke is one of the very few preserved historical living bridges in Europe. Its history goes back to the 12th century; the stone structure was built in 1325.
Passing the Kraemerbruecke you follow Michaelis Street to the historic Gothic Erfurt university building, the Collegium Maius und the adjoining church - the Michaelis-Kirche. Martin Luther studied in the Collegium Maius, he preached in the Michaelis-Kirche.
Augustiner Street crosses the river Gera from the Georgenburse to the Augustinian cloister - the Augustiner-Kloster. Martin Luther lived here between 1505 and 1511. The cloister shows an exposition on the life and work of Martin Luther - and like Martin Luther, you can spend the night here.
In the Middle Ages East-West and North-South trade routes crossed in Erfurt. The merchants of the Erfurt region specialised in trading Thuringinan dyers-weed used for indigo blue.
On your way through Erfurt you pass many medieval representative family homes and business buildings. Especially beautiful is the Kulturhof zum Gueldenen Kronbaecken: a Gothic building that went through changes during Renaissance times. Today the Gueldene Kronbaecken is used as a culture club.
On the citadel Petersberg you have a very good view over the old town. In the 8th century, Erfurt was founded by Christian missionaries as the seat of the diocese. They were part of the group around the Anglosaxon missionary Bonifatius from Devonshire. On the citadel Petersberg, you still see the remains of the early Romanesque Benedictine Saint Peter and Paul Church. Relics of Saint Severus were brought here in 836.
The Gothic cathedral in front of the Petersberg still contains parts of a Romanesque basilica.
The Gothic Severi church next to the cathedral also has Romanesque predecessor buildings. Today you find the sarcophagus with the relics of Saint Severus here.
Close to the cathedral you relax in the old town's Bruehler garden.
A number of parks are situated along the river Gera and the western flood ditch that causes the water from the river Gera to flow around the city center, e.g. the Stadtpark at the central train station, or the parks in front of the Cyriaks castle.
The Cyriaks castle is a fortress from the 15th century. You have an excellent view over the city from the platform on top of the fortress. There is a Gardening Museum in the castle. In the amusement park and garden show premises around the castle, you find tropical greenhouses and wide-area gardens, including a Japanese garden.
Goethe formed the Park an der Ilm in Weimar, half an hour from Erfurt by train or car.
Erfurt has a lively cabaret and club scene.
Over the entire year, the historical streets, churches, buildings and parks, serve as a stage for a colorful variety of events, concerts and markets.
On Sunday before Shrove Monday, the traditional carnival parade takes place.
End of March to the end of April you visit the Erfurt concerts of the Thuringian Bach Weeks.
In the beginning of May not only students have fun at the university street party, the Hochschul-Strassenfest.
Mid June, the Kraemerbruecken Festival includes a medieval market with musicians, street artists and traveling entertainers.
During the Domstufenfestival from Mid-August to the beginning of September you listen to music sitting on the stairs of the cathedral.
In August you enjoy yourself at the Wine Festival, the Zoopark Festival on the grounds of the zoopark or at the Festival of Lanterns on the garden show premises of the Cyriaks castle.
At the beginning of October, you are invited to take part in Erfurt's Oktoberfest.
In December, a large Christmas market takes place in Erfurt.
The puppet theater in the Waidspeicher offers programs for children from 6 years and for adults from 16 years onwards.
There is a children's farm with playgrounds and a wading pool with a giant water slide in the amusement park and garden show grounds at the Cyriaks castle.
In the zoopark you see animals from all continents, there is an exhibition farm and a fenced in area, for children to stroke the animals.
Half an hour from Erfurt at the artificial lake Hohenfelden, the Avenida Therme, an extensiv indoor swimming pool, offers a slide park with "Crazy River", "Black-Hole", "Kamikaze" and "Vulcano" slides.
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