500 years and still counting
LutherCountry awaits visitors in 2018 with more events and smaller crowds
"One American visitor dropped to her knees when she stepped into the room, where Martin Luther translated the New Testament in 1522. She was moved to tears.” That stone-walled cell in Wartburg Castle is just one place, where visitors can still walk in the Great Reformer’s footsteps. Although the 500th anniversary of the Reformation made 2017 a jubilee year, it was just the start of commemorations for major events that Lutherans will mark for years to come.
One example is in Lutherstadt Wittenberg, where 2017’s must-see was the 360° “Luther 1517 Panorama”. This vast, life-like painting encircles viewers, putting them in the heart of medieval Wittenberg, where a defiant Luther has just posted his 95 Theses on the Castle Church. And this work is on display until October 31, 2021. Moreover, the Luther House - the former Augustinian monastery and home to Martin Luther - as well as the famous Castle Church will remain a permanent attraction for visitors.
Eisenach is popular for four important sites: the Luther House, with its "Luther and the Bible" exhibition; St. George's Church, where Luther was a choir boy; the Bach House, the world's first museum dedicated to the composer. A moving spot for many visitors is just outside town: Wartburg Castle. There, Luther’s work translating the New Testament was a catalyst in the Reformation movement.
Many Lutherans feel powerful connections to the Great Reformer in Lutherstadt Eisleben, where he was baptized at St. Peter and St. Paul Church. In 2017, singing Luther’s hymns here was special for American Lutheran choirs. So, too was attending services in St. Andrew’s, where Luther preached. Those experiences continue, as do tours of the houses where Luther was born and died. Both have been reconstructed; both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites; both have ongoing exhibitions, with original artifacts that provide insights into the faith and life of Martin Luther.
Off the beaten path are two fascinating towns. Luther grew up in Mansfeld-Lutherstadt and, in what was his parent’s home, a new museum reflects his childhood. In medieval Schmalkalden, the brightly-painted, half-timbered houses are lovingly preserved. Here, Luther introduced the Schmalkalden Articles of Faith, still used in the ordination of Lutheran priests.
The 500thjubilee year is over in LutherCountry, but the warm welcome continues. Locals appreciate visitors’ interest; crowds are smaller; tours more relaxed. And there are still special events. Travel back to the Middle Ages for the joyous re-enactment of Luther’s wedding to Katharina von Bora (June 8-10; Wittenberg); celebrate Reformation Day where history was made (October 31); enjoy the classical sounds of the Thuringia Bach Weeks throughout LutherCountry (March 21 until April 15; Thuringia).
And the anniversaries continue. 1519 marks 500 years since the Leipzig Disputation. These dramatic public debates between Luther and rival theologian, Johann Eck, led to Luther’s split from the Roman Catholic Church. Also in 2019, and also in LutherCountry, Weimar and Dessau host centenary celebrations for the Bauhaus design movement. Moreover, 1520 marks 500 years since Martin Luther burned the Papal Bull in Lutherstadt Wittenberg. And looking to 2020, LutherCountry visits could include side trips to the Oberammergau Passion Plays.
Visitor information and Where to Stay
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About LutherCountry: Where you can walk in Luther’s footsteps
Would you like to step inside the very room in which Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German, or admire the pulpits from which he preached and where pastors still preach today? Do you want to taste beer brewed the way Martin Luther liked it? Then come and visit LutherCountry, where you can explore Luther’s old stomping grounds and much more!
LutherCountry is situated in the heart of Germany and has so much to offer, from fascinating churches and museums for the believers and history or culture fans among you, to beautiful landscapes that could be straight out of a children’s picture book.
What do the places in LutherCountry all have in common? Centuries ago, they were the stage for Martin Luther’s tumultuous life and thus played a special role in the Reformation, which changed the way people thought about so many aspects of daily life. Martin Luther’s influence spread through Western Europe and, with European settlers, to the United States.
Although Luther lived five centuries ago, his presence is still tangible today. Grab your suitcase and come experience the unforgettable – LutherCountry is waiting to be discovered!