(( The description of this trip would be a continuation of a consecutive annual streak going back to 2001. I’ve set foot inside Germany at least once every year since 2001. I’d already claimed another consecutive year with a short stint at “home” in the HD earlier in the spring, but autumn in-country* solidly confirmed a 16th consecutive year in the country. ))
The following offer glimpses to additional coverage for each of the five towns.
Wittenberg – where Luther spent a large part of his career
Located just off autobahn (highway) A-9, the city of Dessau is about 70 km northwest from Leipzig, and about 130 km southwest from Berlin, and easily accessible by rail from the two latter cities.
Much of 21st-century day-to-day living owes a great deal to the Bauhaus movement in Germany and subsequently in the U.S. Designed by Martin Gropius (Bauhaus director at the time), this building housed the Bauhaus headquarters after moving from Weimar in 1925. This place served as the home to architects, artists, and designers from 1925 to 1932. Photo on 28 Oct 2016.
In the southern part of the city, the Siedlung Törten (Törten settlement) includes the Laubenganghäuser or balcony-access apartment buildings constructed in 1929-1930. These set of apartment buildings were added as an extension in 2017 to the listing for the Bauhaus UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo on 29 Oct 2016.
German amateur astronomer Samuel Heinrich Schwabe (1789-1875) lived and worked in this house studying the sun for over four decades from 1830 to 1875. Based on his observations published in the “Astronomische Nachrichten,” Schwabe is credited for discovering the sunspot cycle which is 11 years on average. The Schwabehaus is in the foreground at right; the plaque on the building exterior reads as “Schwabehaus: von hier endeckte Schwabe die 11-jährige Sonnenfleckenperiode.” In the distance at lower-left is the Catholic St. Peter and Paul church. Photo on 28 Oct 2016.
The town of Eisleben is about 80 km northwest from Leipzig, or about 40 km west from Halle an der Saale.
In Eisleben’s Marktplatz (Market Square), the Martin Luther memorial stands at centre with Rathaus (City Hall), St. Andreaskirche, and Stadtturm (city tower) standing behind. Photo on 26 Oct 2016.
In the Peter-Pauli-Kirche (Peter and Paul Church), the font in which Martin Luther was baptized on 11 Nov 1483 appears at centre-left. Next to the famous font, the modern baptistry with pumps underneath to simulate the constant flow of water is a focal point from which circular waves emanate. Underneath the Luther Rose on the ceiling lies a second focal point (at lower centre) representing the impact of Luther/Protestantism. The church here was built between 1447 and 1513, although a previous church dedicated to Peter had already been present by the end of the 13th-century. Photo on 26 Oct 2016.
Halle next to the Saale river lies about 40 km northwest from Leipzig. The city name Halle is derived from the Celtic word for salt, and the name of the river, Saale, is derived from the German word for salt (Salz).
In Halle’s historical Halloren and salt museum, Steffen Kohlert is the museum’s general manager (2016) and is dressed in the traditional clothing of the “Halloren,” master craftsmen of the salt-making process. In this image Mr. Kohlert is leading and teaching a local group of children (4-6 years of age) about the city’s history of salt production. The importance and prominence meant that salt was “white gold” for the city. Staff continue to produce a modest 70 metric tons of salt annually not only for local purchase and consumption, but also as a means to continue the tradition going back over 1200 years. Photo on 1 Nov 2016.
Two landmarks are prominent on the west side of the city’s Marktplatz. The four towers at left (Gothic) and centre (Romanesque) are part of the Marktkirche St. Marien (St. Mary’s Market Church, built 1530-1554). Martin Luther’s death mask and hands (apparent molds) are located in the church. At right-centre is the free-standing Gothic Roter Turm (Red Tower, built 1418-1506) with clock and bells. Photo on 3 Nov 2016.
Mansfeld (in the Südharz or southern part of the Harz region) is only 10 km to the northwest of Eisleben.
Shortly after Martin was born, his parents moved from Eisleben to this house in Mansfeld to take advantage of the regional mining activity at the time. Although Martin Luther eventually would emphasize more humble means to living, his parents ensured he and his siblings were well cared. Archaeological digs of centuries’-old waste piles in the area around his parents’ house have shown the Luther family lived and ate well during Martin’s formative childhood years. Evidence of Mansfeld life in the late-15th/early-16th century is housed across the street in a new museum, Museum Luthers Elternhaus, whose displays also highlight Martin’s life as a young lad. His parents were devastated Martin had applied himself to religion, turning away from becoming a lawyer and the potential for upper-class status. Photo on 27 Oct 2016.
The Luther family and local wealth derived from centuries of mining are connected in this area called “Mansfelder Land.” These mounds or “pyramids” are mine heaps (also called spoil banks, spoil tips, or pit heaps), created by accumulated “waste” rock dug and removed during coal- and ore-mining. The rock composition here is mostly linear flaky shards of shale. Some “fresh” hills are decades old, while others centuries old are more rounded in shape and topped green with trees. At far-right are solar panels; along with wind turbines, the area now delivers some small fraction of sun- and wind-power to the grid. Photo of Haldenlandschaft Otto-Schächte in Wimmelburg, on 27 Oct 2016.
I’m inside the Castle Church on this 499th anniversary day of the Reformation for the “0800 Uhr, Englischer Gottesdienst” or 8am mass in English. This is the view of the (east-west) central nave, facing east to the apse at the far end. Near the front altar are the final resting places for Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon. Photo on 31 Oct 2016.
A cold foggy morning greeted residents and visitors to the “Lutherstadt” on 31 October 2016 (499th anniversary of the Reformation). After attending the 8am mass in the Castle Church, I was back outside in the fog which stuck around to the early-afternoon. Partly obscured in this image is the 80-metre (260-feet) high tower of the Schlosskirche (Castle- or All Saints’-Church). Photo on 31 Oct 2016.
I took advantage of the special 20% discount on the 7-day German Rail Pass and headed out on the following autumn-2016 itinerary:
• 25 October : arrival in Frankfurt
• 26-27 Oct : Eisleben and Mansfeld
• 27-29 Oct : Dessau
• 29-31 Oct : Wittenberg
• 31 Oct-3 November : Halle an der Saale
• 3-5 Nov : Leipzig
• 5-8 Nov : Prague, with Deutsche Bahn’s IC Bus service from Leipzig
• 8-16 Nov : Berlin
• 16 Nov : Frankfurt
• 17 Nov : departure from Frankfurt.