Learn about the man behind the name
“How do we know what Martin Luther looked like?” “Where did he go to school?” “What did he eat for dinner?” These are just some of the questions that tour guides in LutherCountry have fielded in the past few months. The 2017 celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation have renewed interest in Luther, the German monk, who changed world history. And the full story lies in the German federal states of Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt, just south of Berlin.
Start with what he looked like. Luckily, his good friends included the famous painters Lucas Cranach the Elder and Younger. In Weimar, the St. Peter and St. Paul Church features the Cranachs’ dramatic winged altarpiece. On the right, the Great Reformer, pointing to an open Bible, challenges visitors to think about the words written there. You can almost hear him say, “Here I stand…”. Rotund and gray-haired, he looks like a real person, like a local.
As for where Luther went to school, the answer is Mansfeld-Lutherstadt, a town south of Magdeburg. As a student at the Latin School, he learned to read, write, count and sing; he learned parts of the Latin Bible by heart. On the first Saturday after Easter, Mansfeld’s community celebrates little Martin’s first day of school with a fun re-enactment and festival (April 27th, 2019).
LutherCountry commemorates its famous son throughout the year. The most joyous event recreates Luther’s wedding to Katharina von Bora in June, 1525. For three days, Lutherstadt Wittenberg is transformed into a medieval town, with market stalls, costumed entertainers, artisans, knights and musicians. The highlight is the wedding procession, with 2,000 extras and locals accompanying the couple, who play the former monk and former nun (June 14th to 16th, 2019).
In Erfurt, Luther is also remembered on his birthday (November 10th), which is on the eve of St Martin’s Day. Very much a family occasion, the Saint Martin’s Festival attracts families to the vast main square (Domplatz), where children carry homemade lanterns, sing songs and hope to receive candy as a treat (November 10th, 2019).
Then, there is music. Another of LutherCountry’s famous sons was the composer, J. S. Bach. Celebrating his Baroque music, the annual Thuringia Bach Festival hosts 50 concerts in places directly associated with Bach: Erfurt and Wechmar (where he lived); Eisenach (at the Bach House and his baptismal church); Dornheim (in the church where he was married), plus Muehlhausen, Arnstadt and Weimar, where he composed many early works (April 12th to May 5th, 2019).
At the end of the year, when Advent begins, so do LutherCountry’s famous and authentic Christmas markets, too, with their tempting gingerbread and grilled sausages, mulled wine and special cakes. But what exactly did Luther eat? Find out at one of the entertaining and delicious “Luther meals". These recreated medieval menus and dishes in atmospheric settings in towns such as Lutherstadt Eisleben, Eisenach, Erfurt and Lutherstadt Wittenberg.
Find out about all events and annual highlights in LutherCountry.
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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!