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Morning light on Krämerbrücke, Erfurt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Erfurt: 12 stations on a walk through the Old Town

(Erfurter Stadtführung)

Located along the Gera river near the centre of Germany, Erfurt is an historical hub of east-west trade, a stop on the historical road “Via Regia” dating back to the Middle Ages, and is considered a spiritual home for Martin Luther. He left behind plenty of traces throughout the city which is now the capital city for the German state of Thuringia (Landeshauptstadt Thüringens).

Each of the following locations in addition to the Erfurt’s Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) is indicated with an icon in the map below. All 12 stops can be reached with tram routes 3, 4, or 6 (common segment as solid back line), with stops at Anger, Fischmarkt/Rathaus (Fish Market/City Hall), and Domplatz Süd (Cathedral Square South). Click on the arrow-window symbol at the upper-left corner of the map below for additional clarification.


1.     Alte Synagoge (Old Synagogue)

Alte Synagoge, Old Synagogue, Erfurt, Thüringen, Thuringia, fotoeins.com

Dating back to 1270, this is the oldest surviving synagogue in Central Europe with its roof intact. The building contains a treasury with Jewish artifacts which survived the 14th-century pogrom, including one of three last surviving Jewish wedding rings. The site and the Mikwe as important elements of Jewish life in the Middle Ages are a part of the city’s application for status as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

2.     Anger (village green or commons)

Anger, town green or commons, Erfurt, Thüringen, Thuringia, Germany, fotoeins.com

‘Anger’ is the German word for a town’s open common space; e.g., village green or commons. The town was once the centre of woad production and trade. Kaufmannskirche (Merchants’ Church) and ANGER 1 commercial complex are at left and right, respectively.

3.     Augustinerkloster (Augustinian Monastery)

Augustinerkloster, Augustinian Monastery, Erfurt, Thüringen, Thuringia, Germany, fotoeins.com

Built around 1300, the Augustinian Monastery became home for Martin Luther as a monk from 1505 to 1511. Rooms are available for visitors for overnight stays in a quiet comfortable environment. The site underwent post-war reconstruction after suffering heavy bombing damage.

4.     Domplatz (Cathedral Square)

Domberg, Mariendom, St. Mary's Cathedral, Erfurter Dom, Erfurt Cathedral, Severikirche, St. Severus Church, Domplatz, Cathedral Square, Erfurt, Thüringen, Thuringia, Germany, fotoeins.com

In this southwest view from Domplatz to the top of Domberg hill sit respectively Mariendom or Erfurter Dom (St. Mary’s Cathedral or Erfurt Cathedral, left) and Severikirche (St. Severus’ Church, right). Most of the Cathedral is Gothic by construction from the 14th- and 15th-centuries. Martin Luther was ordained as priest at the Cathedral in 1507.

5.     Fischmarkt / Rathaus (Fish Market / Town Hall)

Fischmarkt, Old Fish Market, Rathaus, City Hall, Erfurt, Thüringen, Thuringia, Germany, fotoeins.com

16th-century buildings around the Fischmarkt highlight the wealth brought into the city from trade. With the first hall erected in the 11th-century, the Rathaus (shown at right) was constructed in the neo-Gothic style of the late 19th-century.

6.     Kaufmannskirche, Luther-Denkmal (Merchants’ Church, Luther Memorial)

Kaufmannskirche, Luther-Denkmal, Merchants' Church, Luther Memorial, Anger, Erfurt, Thüringen, Thuringia, Germany, fotoeins.com

The Protestant Kaufmannskirche (Merchants’ Church) was built in the 11th-century by Frisian merchants. Martin Luther preached here in 1522; Johann Sebastian Bach’s parents exchanged wedding vows here in 1668.

7.     Kollegium Maius

Kollegium Maius, Alte Universität Erfurt, Erfurt, Thüringen, Thuringia, Germany, fotoeins.com

After post-war reconstruction, this site is where the main building of the old university stood. Erfurt’s university is either the oldest (1379) or third oldest (1392) university in Germany. At the age of 17, Martin Luther enrolled here as university student in 1501, first in the “seven liberal arts”, and subsequently in law. This location is opposite the Michaeliskirche.

8.     Krämerbrücke (Shopkeepers’ Bridge)

Krämerbrücke, Shopkeepers' Bridge, Erfurt, Thüringen, Thuringia, Germany, fotoeins.com

Lying along the “Via Regia”, the Krämerbrücke over the Gera river is Europe’s longest bridge entirely covered with inhabited houses.

Krämerbrücke sign on Kreuzgasse, ehem. Unter den Juden, Erfurt, Thüringen, Thuringia, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Krämerbrücke: Älteste urkundliche Erwähnung als Holzbrücke im Jahre 1117, durch Brand mehrere Male zerstört. In Stein erbaut im Jahre 1325. Die Brücke lag auf der Wegstrecke der Ost-West-Handelstrasse Kiew-Breslau-Erfurt-Frankfurt/Main.”

Mentioned in oldest documents as wooden bridge in 1117, destroyed several times by fire. Built with stone in 1325. The bridge lay along the East-West trade route: Kiev, Wroclaw, Erfurt, Frankfurt am Main.


9.     Michaeliskirche (St. Michael’s Church

Michaeliskirche (ehem Universitätskirche), St. Michael's Church, Erfurt, Thüringen, Thuringia, Germany, fotoeins.com

Built at the end of the 12th-century, St. Michael’s Church was also once the university’s church. Once enrolled as a university student, Martin Luther gave a sermon here in 1522. This location is opposite the Kollegium Maius.

10.   Mikwe (Mikveh)

Mikwe, Mikveh, Jüdisches Tauchbad, Jewish ritual baths, Erfurt, Thüringen, Thuringia, Germany, fotoeins.com

A mikveh is a Jewish immersion bath used for ritual purification. Found near the Krämerbrücke, the baths were discovered and excavated between 2007 and 2011. The baths’ construction and first written record go back to the middle of the 13th-century. As the Mikveh and Synagogue are important elements of a Jewish community, the historical sites are a part of the city’s application for status as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

11.   Neue Mühle (New Mill)

Neue Mühle, New Mill Museum, Erfurt, Thüringen, Thuringia, Germany, fotoeins.com

Erfurt has traditionally been a city of water mills, with up to 50 along the river Gera. With the first mill constructed at the location in 1255, the building seen here was built in 1826. The present-day site is home to the Neue Mühle Technisches Denkmal und Museum (New Mill Technical Monument and Museum).

12.   Zitadelle Petersberg (Petersberg Citadel)

Zitadelle Petersberg, Mainzer Rad, Petersberg Citadel, Wheel of Mainz, Erfurt, Thüringen, Thuringia, Germany, fotoeins.com

As one of the finest preserved fortresses in Europe, Zitadelle Petersberg (Petersberg Citadel) provides examples of Romanesque, Baroque, and neo-Prussian construction from the 12th through to the 19th century. The Mainzer Rad (Wheel of Mainz) represents the city’s historical, religious, and political association and rule from Mainz.

More on Erfurt (in English):

•   The City of Erfurt
•   Thuringia State
•   Historic Highlights of Germany
•   (Martin) Luther Country
•   Germany Tourism

Thanks to Germany Tourism, Thüringen Tourismus, and the Erfurt Tourism and Marketing Board for support and access to places and activities; and to Mercure Hotel Erfurt Altstadt for their generous hospitality. Special thanks to Matthias Gose from Erfurt Tourismus for an excellent guided tour. I made these photos on 26 and 29 April 2015. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-6ZX.

11 Responses to “Erfurt: 12 stations on a walk through the Old Town”

  1. corinnevail

    I always love your photos. I’ve never been to Erfurt except to their Christmas market. Your photos remind me I’ve got to go back. It’s a beautiful city!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • fotoeins

      Thanks for your very kind compliment, Corinne! How did you manage to visit the city’s Christmas market but not the city itself? Were you on your way elsewhere later that evening?

      Like

  2. Eloise

    That’s a fantastic town review! It’s incredible all these historic places that can be found in Europe. Thank you for sharing, great pics and great itinerary!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • fotoeins

      Hi, Eloise. I had a very informative stay and visit to both Erfurt and Weimar, separated by a short 15-minute journey on the train. Thanks for reading and for your comments!

      Like

    • fotoeins

      Hi, Vlad. You might have heard of Weimar; from that city with two UNESCO World Heritage Site classifications, Erfurt is only 15 minutes away with the train. I’m really glad to have visited these two cities and the state of Thuringia. Thanks again for reading; I hope you’ll visit Thuringia.

      Like

  3. Rosemarie Herrmann

    I think my great grandfather may have emigrated from Erfurt. I’m only now learning a bit about it. His family were farmers, though, so I’m guessing they may not have lived in the city itself. Thanks for these beautiful pictures, giving me a taste of what the city is like.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • fotoeins

      Hi and you’re welcome, Rosemarie. Erfurt and Weimar were a real joy to discover, and I hope to return, especially as I’d like to also go back to Eisenach and to go farther east to Jena. There’s still a lot of farming in the area, as seen in the products sold in the outdoor markets. The “central” part of Germany in the state of Thuringia is a beautiful and historic part of the country, though many might forego what was once the former “east” (GDR/DDR). Thank you for reading and for taking the time to leave your comment!

      Like

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