I continued 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 in the spring, but autumn “at home” in Germany* solidly confirmed a 16th consecutive year in the country.
As motivation to trace Martin Luther’s footsteps for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 and to learn more about the impact of the Bauhaus art and design movement for the centenary in 2019, I embarked on a press-trip to the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt to visit these five cities:
• Dessau – Bauhaus headquarters from 1925-1932;
• Eisleben – where Luther was born and where he died;
• Halle an der Saale – Luther’s death mask and hands;
• Mansfeld (Südharz) – Luther’s formative years in his parents’ house; and
• Wittenberg – where Luther spent a large part of his career.
The following glimpses offer a preview of my upcoming coverage for each of the five towns.
"Das Bauhausgebäude (the Bauhaus building)." 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 Bauhaus after moving from Weimar in 1925. This place served as the home to architects, artists, and designers from 1925 to 1932. Dessau-Rosslau, Germany – 28 Oct 2016. #Bauhaus #Bauhaus100 #BauhausDessau #SaxonyAnhalt #SachsenAnhalt #GERnow #JoinGermanTradition #Dessau #DessauRosslau #UNESCO #WorldHeritage #Weltkulturerbe #GermanyTourism
I'm still a big nerd for physics, astronomy, and history. German amateur astronomer Samuel Heinrich Schwabe (b. 1789 / d. 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. Located just off "autobahn" (highway) A-9 in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, the city of Dessau is about 70 km northwest from Leipzig, and about 130 km southwest from Berlin. Dessau, Germany – 28 Oct 2016. #SaxonyAnhalt #SachsenAnhalt #GERnow #Dessau #DessauRosslau #Schwabehaus #GermanyTourism
Eisleben (Lutherstadt Eisleben)
"The town where Luther was born, and the same town where he died." At the town's Marktplatz (Market Square), the Martin Luther memorial stands at centre with Rathaus (City Hall), St. Andreaskirche, and Stadtturm (city tower) standing behind. Lutherstadt Eisleben, Germany – 26 Oct 2016. #LutherCountry #Luther2017 #MartinLuther #Luthergedenkstaetten #SaxonyAnhalt #SachsenAnhalt #GERnow #Eisleben #LutherstadtEisleben #GermanyTourism #Reformation500
"Making waves." 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. Peter-Pauli-Kirche (Peter and Paul Church), Lutherstadt Eisleben, Germany – 26 Oct 2016. #LutherCountry #MartinLuther #Luther2017 #Luthergedenkstaetten #saxonyanhalt #sachsenanhalt #GERnow #Eisleben #LutherstadtEisleben #GermanyTourism #Reformation500
"Education begins with the young." Steffen Kohlert is the museum's general manager and is dressed in the traditional clothing of the "Halloren," master craftsmen of the salt-making process. Here, he's 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. 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). Technisches Halloren- und Salinemuseum: Halle an der Saale, Germany – 1 Nov 2016. #SaxonyAnhalt #SachsenAnhalt #GERnow #JoinGermanTradition #SalzstadtHalle #VisitHalle #HalleSaale #Haendelstadt #SalineMuseum #GermanyTourism
"The sun shines on the Händelstadt." 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 is the free-standing Gothic Roter Turm (Red Tower, built 1418-1506) with clock and bells. Marktplatz, Halle an der Saale, Germany – 3 Nov 2016. #LutherCountry #Luther2017 #MartinLuther #SaxonyAnhalt #SachsenAnhalt #GERnow #JoinGermanTradition #SalzstadtHalle #VisitHalle #HalleSaale #Haendelstadt #GermanyTourism
"Home of Hans and Margarethe Luther: parents to Martin Luther." Shortly after Martin was born, his parents moved from Eisleben to Mansfeld (about 10 km to the northwest) to take advantage of the multitude of local mines. 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. I'm fairly confident he eventually did okay for himself. Mansfeld, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany – 27 Oct 2016. #LutherCountry #Luther2017 #Luthergedenkstaetten #SaxonyAnhalt #SachsenAnhalt #MartinLuther #MansfelderLand #MansfeldSuedharz #GERnow #Mansfeld #MuseumLuthersElternhaus #GermanyTourism #Reformation500
"From the top of the heap." 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. Haldenlandschaft Otto-Schächte: Wimmelburg, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany – 27 Oct 2016. #LutherCountry #Luther2017 #SaxonyAnhalt #SachsenAnhalt #MansfelderLand #MansfeldSuedHarz #GERnow #GermanyTourism
Wittenberg (Lutherstadt Wittenberg)
"St. Mary's, illuminated." The town is in a buzz for October 31. That's Reformation Day: the day before All Saints' Day, a religious holiday in 5 federal states including Saxony-Anhalt, and also marks in 2016 the 499th anniversary of the Reformation. The Stadtkirche St. Marien (St. Mary's Town Church) is 1 of 4 locations for the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Wittenberg. Kirchplatz, Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany – 29 Oct 2016. #LutherCountry #SaxonyAnhalt #SachsenAnhalt #GERnow #Luthergedenkstaetten #MartinLuther #JoinGermanTradition #Luther2017 #Wittenberg #LutherstadtWittenberg #UNESCO #WorldHeritage #Weltkulturerbe #GermanyTourism #Reformation500
"October 31 : Reformation Day, holiday observed in 5 eastern states." On the 499th anniversary of the Reformation, a cold foggy morning greeted residents and visitors to the "Luther town" of Wittenberg in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt. From today, various events throughout the region, state, and country began marking the quincentennial anniversary of the Reformation. Obscured in the mist stood the over 80-metre (260-feet) high tower of the Schlosskirche (Castle- or All Saints'-Church). Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany – 31 Oct 2016. #SaxonyAnhalt #SachsenAnhalt #GERnow #LutherCountry #Luther2017 #Luthergedenkstaetten #MartinLuther #ReformationDay #ReformationsTag #Reformation500 #Wittenberg #LutherstadtWittenberg #UNESCO #WorldHeritage #Weltkulturerbe #GermanyTourism
"499. Reformationstag, 0800h Englischer Gottesdienst (499th anniversary of the Reformation: 8am service in English)." This church is the final resting place for Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon. Schlosskirche (All Saints' Church), Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany – 31 Oct 2016. #SachsenAnhalt #SaxonyAnhalt #MartinLuther #Luther2017 #LutherCountry #Luthergedenkstaetten #GERnow #JoinGermanTradition #Wittenberg #LutherstadtWittenberg #UNESCO #WorldHeritage #Weltkulturerbe #ReformationDay #ReformationsTag #Reformation500 #GermanyTourism
Click on the arrow-window icon in the upper-left corner in the map’s green-bar above for the legend. The star marks the location of Magdeburg, the capital city of the state of Saxony-Anhalt.
*Rail travel across Germany
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.
More on the consecutive streak …