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When Miss Sarah and I were in Eisenach for the 500th Anniversary of the Luther Reformation, we were lucky to visit the Eisenach Wartburg Castle where Martin Luther took refuge after the Diet of Worms. This historic place is where he was incredibly productive! Among the many letters and books he wrote here, it is also where he created the first translation of the New Testament into the German language. In 2017 the Wartburg will be the place for the National Exhibition “Luther and the Germans.”
A Tour of Eisenach Wartburg Castle
Historic Eisenach Wartburg Castle
Large, very imposing and steeped in history – that is how we would like to describe the historic Wartburg Castle. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999 and one of the well-kept medieval German fortresses. It is more than 1000 years old and easily the most famous and most important castle in Germany. A number of historians have described the Wartburg castle as the most German in character among all castles. But if you want to see this famous castle, you must be ready to endure an arduous climb up a very steep road that leads right to the historic castle. The view from the castle is, however, worth every time and effort.
Sitting majestically in the Thuringian Forest, the Castle is perched at a height of 400m overlooking Eisenach, a beautiful town in the erstwhile East Germany. It is said that with its century old history this medieval castle can actually look back at a past that is quite tumultuous in nature.
The Eisenach Wartburg Castle Legend
The legend says that Knight Ludwig founded this beautiful castle way back in 1067 AD but the very first historical records was done only in 1080 AD when then Bishop of Merseburg did mention the structure in his writings. Historians now believe that the main construction of this majestic castle began only in 1155. During that time, the castle was considered to be very unique in nature. Today the experts proudly say that the historic Wartburg Castle is one of the best preserved and well-kept Romanesque castles in the Alps.
What was Wartburg Castle used for?
The actual reason behind the construction of this stupendous castle is subject of many speculations. But the most accepted theory is that it was the centre for the Singers War that took place in 1206 when as many as six musicians had come to show their skills to the Lord of this castle. Many believe that the War of the Singers did not end peacefully and a scuffle broke out and the least musical was given the punishment of death through hanging. But as we said these are stories and some portions are vastly exaggerated.
How Wartburg and its castle did come into prominence?
The city of Wartburg is best known for its valued connection to Martin Luther, the reformer of German Church. He decided to hide and live in the castle in 1521 after being outlawed by the then emperor. During his hiding, he fully translated the New Testament into German language and even today this document is the basis for the German Bible. Even today, a lot of visitors flock to the castle to have a glimpse of the parlour where he lived.
Eisenach Wartburg Castle Restored
It is disheartening to note that the castle deteriorated gradually over the years as it was almost forgotten. It was only in the 1950s an extensive reconstruction work was carried out inside this beautiful castle. The communist Democratic Republic of Germany oversaw the renovation work so that it was proudly restored to the Romanesque style. Nowadays, the oldest building in the castle is mainly used for various music concerts. There is a museum on the grounds of the castle that displays various art works collected over the centuries including valuable silverware and the unique but medieval musical instruments. It was only in 1999 that the UNESCO declared the castle as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.