89 nights: 3,357 miles travelled : Countries visited: 5
“It is the devil in us that makes us want more” Martin Luther
So far, Germany is the country that most reminds us of England and it certainly shares our strong sense of history. The most visible evidence is in the striking buildings including many castles set high looking over the surrounding landscape. The big daddy of these is Wartburg in Central Germany.
Originating in 1067, it was greatly restored in the 19th century and is now a major tourist attraction. In the 12th century, it was the venue for a medieval singing competition (the first Germany’s got talent?) that later inspired Richard Wagner to write the opera Tannhauser. Martin Luther translated the New Testament whilst sheltering in the Wartburg in 1521 and the great fortress was one of the inspirations for Ludwig II who built iconic palaces in Bavaria.
The Wartburg stands majestically over the town of Eisenach, the birthplace of J. S. Bach. Bachhaus is the largest museum dedicated to his life and works. It is an innovative mixture of traditional displays and opportunities to listen to his music.
It was only when I reached the third room that it became clear that the 17th century house we were in probably had nothing to do with Johann. His father had rented somewhere overlooking the garden before he was born. A tenuous link at best!!
However, Eisenach was certainly the birthplace of the Wartburg car and Graham had great fun spotting vintage treasures visiting the town. We later regretted not making time to visit the factory which is now a motor museum. The other major museum in the town celebrates the links with Martin Luther and was due to reopen following refurbishment soon after we left. Another good reason to return.
We had spent a lot of time in what had been East Germany and there are still ghosts of the past like grey lego brick apartment blocks thrown up wherever needed, whether in a town or a scenic rural village. There is also much evidence of the vast investment in the East after reunification. The road we took south to Bamberg was breathtaking with long flyovers and viaducts that left you soaring above gorgeous Thuringian forests.
We visited Bamberg because a wax plaque depicting the town hung on my mother’s kitchen wall for years. My brother had run there competitively and I always wondered what the rooftops and spires really looked like. They look amazing! Bamberg is by far the best town or city we have visited so far.
At the heart lies the ‘Island City’ and ‘Little Venice’ with magnificent merchants houses and halls, half timbered former fishermen’s houses and small boats edging a river and a canal, with a variety of bridges linking them all.
Bamberg is often described as the city built on seven hills and Cathedral hill was historically the centre of power. There are many imposing buildings in this part of town but we enjoyed the relative peace and tranquility in the Prince Bishop’s rose garden which was also a great place to look out over the red rooftops.
A lot of other people had heard about what an amazing place this is, but whilst the city was busy, that created a great atmosphere, especially on the buzzing Saturday evening. As if things can’t get any better, Bamberg has a diverse selection of breweries!
Unbelievably, the temperatures were too hot to do the walking tour of the city’s breweries!! So Martin Luther may be correct in believing it is the devil that makes us want more, but there is definitely more that we want to come back to in Central Germany.
So is it Berg or Burg? We often debate which suffix to use for the many towns that end this way. Having checked, a fortified town was a burg and a mountain (hill?) is a berg. However, many fortresses were built on a hill so I guess we’ll still have to check!