14 March 2011

Where to go in Germany part 10: Thüringen & Sachsen-Anhalt

In the interest of finishing this series this year, I've combined these two states into a single post. Sadly, eastern Germany has a lot of cities of historic interest, and lovely scenery, but not as dense as western. Much has been written about the exodus of east Germans to the west, as well as the reasons for it, and I won't get into it here. (A twitter friend of mine has this exploration of how reunification has affected football.)

Thuringia (Thüringen) is to the west of Sachsen, bordering Bavaria to its south and Hessen to the west. Its northern edge includes the Harz Mountains. The official tourism council has more information.

Erfurt is the largest city and state capital, and it's the approximate geographic center of Germany. (Fun facts!)

Weimar was home to Goethe and Schiller and various artists and composers, and birthplace of the Bauhaus art style. A day trip to Buchenwald, if you're so inclined, is possible.

Jena is home to a glass industry, including Carl Zeiss lenses, and a thriving university-research community. It's been home to philosophers and poets, from Goethe to Hölderlin to Hegel, over the centuries.

Eisenach was also home to people you may have heard of, including Martin Luther, whose half-timbered house still stands in the town, and Bach. The Wartburg has seen a lot of history in its almost-thousand years of existence.

Saxony-Anhalt lies to the northeast of Thüringen. Its southwest includes the Harz Mountains. The official tourism council has information on the state and its UNESCO World Heritage sites, as well as suggestions for themed excursions, such as the Romanesque Road.

Magdeburg has also been home to famous people, but it's noted more for being the state capital and its architecture.

Dessau is the current home of the Bauhaus architectural college, after it was forced to move from Weimar, and played home to the composer Kurt Weill.

Halle (Saale) is the largest city in SA and neighbors Leipzig. There is a sizable research industry, as well as remnants of a chemical industry from the Soviet era.

If you want to visit the church to which Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses, a trip to Lutherstadt Wittenberg is worth your while.

Next up: the final installment: Berlin-Brandenburg

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