Erfurt: The Most Intact Medieval City in Germany
I am totally sure that the best thing we all can do in Germany is to go on a road trip there! This country has the biggest number of charming and interesting stops that you could make on a road. And they are almost every 10 kilometers! That’s why we – you and us, Dear Reader, don’t have to make a long analytical research to find awesome places which to visit while driving through Germany. Actually, in Germany it’s even enough to follow the road signs – choose the interesting sign and leave the highway for that town. I bet that 9/10 times you will be pleasantly surprised, as we were not once. Nevertheless, today’s story is about the city – the city of Erfurt – which we passed through for several times, but never made a stop there. Well, until several days ago, when we were driving back to Belgium after winter holidays.
Our decision to visit Erfurt wasn’t made on the spot. It was influenced by Mrs. I (P.‘s mother), who visited this city back in 1980s. Back in the day Erfurt was a part of Eastern Germany and was probably one of the most Western points an ordinary student from Soviet Union could travel to. As Mrs. I remembers, though she and her friends were under a lot of restrictions, they always found a way to have a great time, and Erfurt remained as one of the nicest places she visited back in her days of being a student.
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So we followed Mrs. I’s recommendations and we weren’t disappointed. Quite opposite, actually. Modern Erfurt is as much wonderful, as it was in Mrs. I’s story from 37 years ago.
The most intact medieval city in Germany
Erfurt is the capital and the largest city in Thuringia region, Central Germany. City isn’t big, there are just a little bit more than 200 thousand residents here, but it offers activities for you to be occupied whole day. What is more, it is said, that Erfurt is one of the most intact medieval cities in Germany. Seems that it was lucky enough to go through both of the World Wars without any major damage. And considering that Germany is famous for its medieval heritage, I think these words are the main argument for you to visit Erfurt.
Among all the beautiful and interesting medieval sites in Erfurt, there are several that are probably the most unique spots in Europe. Here, in the heart of the city stands a extraordinary – Krämerbrücke – bridge, which is considered to be one of the kind in whole continent. What is more, Erfurt can rightly be proud to have the oldest still standing synagogue in Europe. And that’s not all! For me, Erfurt Domplatz, the main square of the city, is the most majestic among all the other small cities that we visited in Germany so far.
In addition to this, city has a long line of cultural impact towards whole world. The medieval town of Erfurt was the birthplace of one of the most famous philosophers and sociologists – Max Weber. Also Erfurt’s University was the school of Martin Luther, the major figure of Protestant Reformation. Here grew up the father of Johann Sebastian Bach, here lived philosopher Meister Eckhart, and many other well-known philosophers, musicians and artist. Once again, it proves how much Erfurt can offer for its visitors.
Wandering around authentic Merchant’s Bridge
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The main site about which we were very excited before going to Erfurt was the Krämerbrücke, also known as the Merchant’s Bridge. The thing that makes this bridge so intriguing is that it is lined up with authentic timber-framed houses. And they are all inhabited! It’s one of the kind in Europe! And it’s first mentioned back in the start of 12th century! How long ago was that? So after our breakfast in the awesome Italian cafe which serves an awesome buffet for the breakfast, we rushed towards that bridge. Turns out that it not only offers a beautiful view from the outside, but it also holds a very charming street which is full of authentic German souvenir shops. And it is on the bridge, surrounded by those timber-framed houses!
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Though Gera River, which floats under the bridge, isn’t big, wide or swift, and the bridge isn’t high, but still – Krämerbrücke is a very authentic place to see. What is more, with those shops and cafes around it this seemed like the coziest part of the city. But it’s just there our journey started – there is more, Dear Reader.
Domplatz – the crown of the city
We have already shared our personal technique to explore cities by walking alongside the rivers or canals. As it turned out well those other times, we decided to do the same here, in Erfurt. After spending some time around Krämerbrücke we returned to Gera River and started our stroll alongside it. Though the walk was really nice and even a bit relaxing, we didn’t find any mind-blowing points of interest there. But! We noticed that most of the people were walking towards one direction, so we decided to do the same. And BAM! The next thing we know, we’re standing in one of the most majestic central squares that I have ever seen in Germany.
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Majestic Erfurt Cathedral is located on the hill next to the Domplatz. It’s 1200 years-old and it’s an astonishing example of Gothic architecture. So when we turned around the corner of those small and cozy medieval streets, and saw a spacious central square with a spectacular cathedral on the hill – my jaw dropped. I think it’s the most picturesque part of the city. Though from below Erfurt Cathedral left me the bigger impression, but it’s necessary to climb up the stairs too. There you will find a nice paths and panoramic overlook to the city. And, of course, the beautiful cathedral!
Now and then: 37 years ago
Do you still remember how we got the idea to visit Erfurt in the first place? Yes, we came here under the recommendations of Mrs. I. So, the day we came to Erfurt Mrs. I sent us a pic made from her trip back in 1980s. It was taken on the Cathedral Hill, just outside Cathedral’s door. While being there, we went to the right exact spot where P.’s mom stood 37 years ago to capture this moment of different generations of travelers. And we both agree that it’s the best shot that P. have made in this charming city.
Let’s make some conclusions
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All in all, I think that Erfurt is a great stop for a day. We stopped here to rest for the night, and we spent here half of the next day. We had a very pleasant stroll, totally awesome breakfast, discovered one authentic German bridge, and were charmed by the main city square. You won’t find mind-blowing sites here, Dear Reader, but you will definitely find a lot of charming streets, squares, bridges and river cascades. And they will definitely be the reason of why your day is awesome!
But this is just my thoughts. What do you think about Erfurt, Dear Reader? Waiting to hear your thoughts in the comments!