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The land of fairytales: adventures in central Germany

Written by Life & Style, Travel

Hiking in the luscious Harz mountains (see also below). Image: Grace Dean

All coincidences can be explained rationally, but that didn’t stop me from finding it spooky that I stumbled across pictures of my trip to central Germany on my Facebook Memories just minutes before I sat down to write my article on it.

“Spooky” actually seems like a fitting word for it, given that our trip included a visit to Quedlinburg, a quaint village nestled in the Harz mountains which has a historic association with witches.

Erfurter Dom (cathedral) at night. Image: Grace Dean

That weekend away was undoubtedly one of the best weekends of my life. While on my year abroad studying in Germany, the International Student Office organised a trip to Thüringen for the bargain price of €80 which included lodgings, breakfast and all attractions. Thüringen is a Bundesland (federal state) in the centre of Germany which I had never previously visited, because as an exchange student my travel was generally limited to places with cheap public transport routes, but as a group trip we had the luxury of travelling by coach, which made lots of the smaller settlements in the area much more accessible.

We stayed in the state’s capital, Erfurt, which is dominated by a stunning raised cathedral in the central square, and surrounded by one of Germany’s best preserved medieval city centres.

En route to our destination, we stopped off at Wartburg, a twelfth century castle overlooking the town of Eisenach. The castle is best known as the place where Martin Luther translated the New Testament of the Bible into German from Latin, which made it much more accessible to the masses and influenced the first English translation too. Wartburg is surrounded by luscious green forest and situated at the top of 410-metre precipice, but for the views it is well worth the climb. Alongside stunning views of the extensive Thüringen Forest, Wartburg also boasts a beautiful interior oozing with antique collections that indicate just how regal the castle must have been at one point.

During the weekend we explored a range of sites, including climbing on the hill above Erfurt Cathedral late at night to look at the illuminated city from above, exploring the museums during a special event where they remained open til midnight, and visiting Buchenwald concentration camp. Internationally, however, Thüringen is perhaps most familiar as home to Weimar, which gave its name to the German Republic of the 1920s.

On our journey home after a wonderful weekend, we stopped off for a hike in the Harz mountains. Stretches of green forest, ponds and lakes shimmering in the scorching summer sunshine and the company of my amazing international friends made this the perfect finish to a delightful weekend.

Last modified: 15th June 2020

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