The thousand-year-old castle of Wartburg is in Eisenach, Germany and has been a UNESCO heritage site since 1999.
This castle is the second most visited site in the province of Thuringia.
From afar, even from the motorway, you can see how the imposing castle stands out from the forest. It was built a thousand years ago on a hill 411 meters high.
Wartburg is a castle with German history and legends:
- Luther translated the first Bible into German
- Wagner was inspired by one of his operas
- Goethe adored and visited the place frequently
- The pianist Franz Liszt made the concert hall famous with his works.
How to get to Wartburg Castle
As with most points of interest in Germany, it is easy to reach by public transport.
The first thing to do is to take the train to Eisenach (1 hour from Erfurt).
Once in the town of Eisenach to climb the castle:
On foot, it’s 2.7 km from the train station with about 180 meters of positive unevenness. In total less than 1 hour walking quietly. In addition, the road is friendly and beautiful surrounded by nature. I recommend going up for a walk.
Bus line 10 departs from the train station (Hauptbahnhof) and the last stop is the castle. The bus ticket is 1.70€ and the Thüringen-ticket or Schönes Wochenende ticket is not valid.
Traditionally the castle has been climbed by donkey. Now with the theme of tourism you can still climb on donkey, but only the last stretch and I think only for children.
If you travel by car, you can go up to the top, but you have to go to the parking with a one-off payment of 5€ per car.
Visiting Wartburg Castle
The castle was first built at the beginning of the year 1.000, but was expanded and rebuilt throughout its history.
In total there were 2 towers, of which only 1 of them is from medieval times. The “newest” tower, known as the homage tower, was built in the 19th century on top of the original foundations.
The south tower, the oldest, is believed to have been reconstructed on the structure of an older one around the 14th century. The southern part was the most vulnerable, and therefore the most shattered and at the same time fortified. In it, I found a dungeon in the lower part.
During my visit (July 2018) the medieval tower was being restored.
Price and castle tickets
Admission is free, yes, free. I was surprised because in all these UNESCO sites, the first thing they do is ask you for money…
Although you will have to pay to access the museum. There are 2 types of tickets, the long course (10€) and the short course (6€).
We paid the price for students, and they didn’t ask much. (Although I’m still a student, I had my card at home..)
Is it worth entering the museum?
I think the most beautiful thing about Wartburg Castle is the exterior view, the walls, the gates, the king’s baths, and the inner courtyard. You can get to all these places without paying.
The museum is interesting, but omittable if you want to save.
There were some wooden and ivory chests, several musical instruments, a score of paintings and portraits, the printed bible of Luther of 1541, several books of the time, a pair of armours, a 15th century gate, a couple of furnished rooms, and something else I will have forgotten….
Plus good views through the small windows.
During the tour one of the most famous points is the room where Luther translated the bible, with the desk, chair and a whale vertebra.
Martin Luther translated the bible from Hebrew and ancient Greek into German for 10 months between 1521 and 1522. Shortly afterwards, a new aspect of Catholicism was created, known as “The Protestant Reformation”. That’s how the Protestant branch was born.
In 1534 the first whole Bible was published in German, with much diffusion. This, together with the recent invention of the printing press, helped to unify the German language.
Since Martin Luther was excommunicated by Pope Leo X, he hid in the castle under another identity (Junker Jörg) so as not to be captured by the church.
I was struck by the figure of Luther that Playmobil marketed on the occasion of the five centuries since Martin Luther’s reform.
Why was this first translation of the Bible so important?
Until then the bible could only be read in Hebrew and Greek. So only the clergy and some nobles could read it.
Luther brought the Bible closer to the people and tried to avoid government influence on people’s religious beliefs.
Already in the early nineteenth century the castle was used as a museum and housed an extensive collection of armour from the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, works of art and other relics.
After the Second World War in 1946, the Soviet army confiscated the collection of armor. In the 1960s they returned some, and others were found in a material warehouse.
At present the Russian government is still being asked.
The village of Eisenach
Eisenach is a small town of 41,000 inhabitants, noted for its small historic centre and its car industry. It is very close to Erfurt, the small medieval town and capital of the province.
The market square (Marktplatz) and some streets in the centre are nice to see, take a walk or sit down to have a drink on the main street.
In Eisenach, the birthplace of Johann Sebastian Bach also stands out. He was born there in 1685, although he lived only 7 years.
I haven’t visited it yet, but they say there is live music every hour with historical instruments, as well as a museum with instruments, scores, paintings, etc.
The entrance fee is 9€. More info on the web.
Sleeping in Eisenach
Romantik hotel auf der Wartburgdirectly in the castle, in one of the buildings, is a hotel. It was built during a renovation in the 19th century. It’s not exactly cheap (~180€), but the experience is surely very good. There are 37 rooms
In the city of Eisenach not many affordable accommodation can be found, because the type of cars that visit the city is more national profile more adult. Most options are 3 or 4 star hotels:
- Jugendherberge Junker Jörg (€), one of the few youth hostels in the area.
- Schlosshotel Eisenach (€€), in the centre of Eisenach. The hotel is a former reformed monastery from 1280. It has a small spa inside the hotel.
- Glockenhof (€€), close to Bach’s house (a little outside) and easy to reach by car.
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