This city of steeples is indeed what German writer Arnold Zweig once described as a “picture book of German history”. By Don Heimburger
Theologian and reformer Martin Luther once said that Erfurt is “in the ideal location, there just has to be a city there”. Little did he know some 500 plus years later that Erfurt, the capital of Thuringia, with a population of 200,000 and centered in “modern” Germany, would attract large crowds of visitors…some to see where this famous monk lived.
Nicknamed the “Rome of the North” for its profusion of some 30 spires and steeples, Erfurt is unquestionably one of Germany’s most beautiful and well-preserved cities. The old heart of the city with its half-timbered buildings, curved cobble stoned alleys and cozy squares looks like something out of the movies from years ago. Although the city was bombed in 1945, little of Erfurt was destroyed and today offers a mixture of medieval, Baroque, Neoclassical, and modern architecture. Its 25 parish churches, 15 religious foundations and 10 chapels with magnificent architectural motif, inspired historians such as Ernst Stida (1585–1632) to refer to the city as the “Thuringian Rome”. Most of Erfurt’s churches are still intact and blend in beautifully with the restored half-timbered houses of the Andreas quarter and with the brightly colored façades of Renaissance buildings.