For Berliners, Wittenberg is probably the best day trip destination of them all, especially if they have a 9 Euro Ticket. The town is all about one historical figure: Martin Luther. It also offers an overdose of beauty.
Berlin, August 9th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — Hamburg has its sexy Elbe Philharmonic, Munich is known for a nice surfing location at its English Garden, and Berlin is proud of its Brandenburg Gate. Wittenberg’s main landmark is a door. To be precise: It is the door to All Saints’ Church. So, why would a door be so important, you ask? No, you already know. None other than Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses at it on October 31st, 1517.
This moment was a lot more than just a man nailing some messages at some door somewhere in today’s federal state of Saxony-Anhalt. From the perspective of historians and theologists, it marked the beginning of the Protestant (or Lutheran) Reformation. Exactly 505 years after Luther made this door the most famous one in Germany, and possibly in the world, Wittenberg still is all about him. But it is also a truly beautiful place with countless medieval buildings.
The trip from Berlin to Wittenberg on Deutsche Bahn’s regional train no. RE3 takes only 1:21 hours. This is one of the aspects that make the ‘Lutherstadt’, as the Germans call it, such a perfect day trip destination. No, you do not have to spend the entire day on the train when you go to this town of 45,000 inhabitants. On a Sunday in early August of 2022, Wittenberg was surprisingly quiet. Maybe it was the heat that kept many tourists away, or maybe they preferred the Baltic Sea or their balconies in Kreuzberg.
Walking from Wittenberg’s central station to the beginning of its beautiful pedestrian zone takes about 10 minutes. This is where visitors will first run into Martin Luther, the ambivalent man who was the main ‘Reformator’, but also a Jew hater. When his efforts to convert Jews to Christianity failed, he became a staunch antisemite. The Lutherhaus, where he lived and studied when it was a monastery, is an important location in the history of the Reformation, and a beautiful one too.
The main pedestrian zone from Lutherhaus to All Saints’ Church is 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) long. Walking it up and down is a good experience. First of all, it will take tourists from one historic site to the next. Secondly, there is a lot of beauty at every corner. Martin Luther, the man himself, has the best spot. Right in front of Wittenberg’s City Hall, his statue shows his importance, also in the history of this town. City Hall itself was completed in 1541, five years before Luther died in his birth town of Eisleben, located 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Wittenberg.
A short walk from Lutherhaus will take the motivated Berlin tourist to the Town and Parish Church of St. Mary’s. Martin Luther himself, and other Reformation heroes, preached right here five hundred years ago. And no, this is not the only church tourists definitely should enter when they go to Wittenberg. Yes, the ‘Schlosskirche’, All Saints’ Church, is the other one. There, the door Luther nailed his theses at can be admired, but it is a replica. The original got destroyed a few hundred years ago.
From the mid-1800s, Wittenberg has been working on its Reformation culture. Since, Luther has been omnipresent. Those two churches, the Luther Statue, the Lutherhaus, the Luther Yard, the Luther Oak and Luther’s grave in the ‘Schlosskirche’ are just some examples that show whom Wittenberg is all about. But there is more. Interesting-looking restaurants in Schlosstrasse and Collegienstrasse, the nice pedestrian zone, offer great dishes. This is a message to the owners of the “Mexican restaurant”. It is not ‘Loco Gringo’, but ‘Gringo Loco’.
The ‘Wittenberg Experience Night‘ is coming up on August 13th, 2022. “Experience unusual things at unusual times in unusual places in Lutherstadt Wittenberg”, the organizers are telling us. Sounds intriguing. ‘Kinky Summer’ is the title of a comedy festival Wittenberg organizes. Besides, the entire town is a great photo object, including all buildings and items that are connected to Martin Luther, but also the Wittenberg Globe in front of City Hall, the University Park and absolutely everything else. At some point, it will be time to get back to the train station, after a nice day down there.
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