Germany off the beaten track

Almost 1300 years of heritage make Erfurt a picture book example of German history. © Bjoern Rudek

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Amazing landscapes and impressive venues

/assetimage_3027_200w200.jpgMartin Luther once commented that Erfurt is "in the center of the center", which means that visitors have a vast and interesting region to explore, complete with parks, gardens, woodlands, castles and historic cities and tow.

The Steigerwald (Steiger Forest) is a 1,650-acre area of deciduous woodland within the city limits, with more than 20 miles of hiking trails. The Thüringer Freilichtmuseum (Thuringian Open-Air Museum) near Hohenfelden shows 30 museum buildings with representations of rural life over the centuries on display.

The area around Erfurt is also dotted with castles. The little Schloss Molsdorf (Molsdorf Castle), built in the 16th century, belonged to the Earl of Gotter and is surrounded by an English garden. The late-Baroque palace with its beautiful park - also known as the "Thuringian Versailles" - is situated less than 10 miles from Erfurt. The Wasserburg Kapellendorf (Wasserburg Kapellendorf Castle) is the biggest moated castle of central Germany, with origins in the 9th century. One of the most impressive Thuringian castles is the Runneburg  (Runneburg Castle) built in the 12th century. It used to be one of the strategically most important strongholds of the landgraves of Thuringia.

Nearby tow are also worth visits. In Eisenach, you can visit the Wartburg (Wartburg Castle), a UNESCO World Heritage site, where Martin Luther translated the New Testament. Weimar, the city of Schiller and Goethe, is also nearby, as is Arnstadt, Thuringia's oldest city, with the "Bachkirche" (Bach Church) where the teenage composer served as organist.

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