Day 1: Departure from the USA
A great adventure awaits us as we begin our Reformation Tour of Germany on an overnight flight to Frankfurt, Germany. Welcome to Das Land der Dichter und Denker (the land of poets and thinkers)!
Day 2: Frankfurt & Marburg
“Hoc est corpus meum” (“This is my body”) (Words Luther wrote in chalk on his table at the Colloquy of Marburg, to indicate his firm stance regarding the Eucharist or sacrament of the Lord’s Supper).
In Frankfurt, our friendly Faith Journeys representatives will assist us to our motor coach for a journey north to Marburg. It was in Marburg (which is still an unspoilt, spire-dominated Gothic/Renaissance city on a hill) that the Colloquy of Marburg met in 1529, in which Luther, Oecolampadius, Melanchthon and Zwingli all participated in an assembly of German and Swiss theologians to establish doctrinal unity in the emerging Protestant states. Martin Luther drew up the “Articles of Marburg”, which embodied the most important points of doctrine so that the colloquy could arrive at a degree of unanimity. Agreement was achieved on fourteen of fifteen points, the exception being the nature of the Eucharist— the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper—an issue crucial to Luther. Welcome dinner and overnight in Marburg.
Day 3: Marburg, Eisenach, Wartburg Castle & Erfurt
I fought the Devil with ink (Martin Luther of his experience in Wartburg Castle).
This morning we leave Marburg and make our way through portions of what used to be East Germany to the day’s final destination, Erfurt. But first we will visit the oldest church in Germany (822 A.D.), St. Michael’s, then stop to see one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Germany, Wartburg Castle, which was founded in 1067, and which looms over the city of Eisenach. It was at Wartburg Castle that Martin Luther, disguised as “Knight George,” translated the New Testament into German. At the castle there is a museum containing mainly Reformation artifacts, including paintings, sculptures, weapons, furniture and tapestries, and the Lutherstube, the room where Luther did the translating and upon whose wall hangs a portrait of him disguised as Junker Jörg (Knight George) by Lucas Cranach. While none of the furnishings are original to Luther’s time, the stove and desk approximate what Luther’s room would have looked like during his 10-month stay, and behind the stove is a hole going through to the bare masonry which is associated with the legend that Luther threw his inkpot at the devil. Eisenach was home to Martin Luther as a child, and it was also the birthplace of Johann Sebastian Bach. We’ll continue on to Erfurt, nicknamed “Thuringian Rome” because of its many churches, chapels and monasteries. Erfurt played a significant role in the life of Martin Luther—for it is here he spent six years studying at the University then living as a monk in the Augustinian Monastery. We will enjoy a walking tour through this richly beautiful, medieval city, to explore some unforgettable sites including the Augustinian Monastery wherein is housed a Luther Exhibition showing restored monastic cells as they might have looked in Luther’s time. We will also see where Luther was ordained at St. Mary’s Cathedral (Dom, Mariensdom, or Domberg St Marien), an impressive Gothic cathedral perched on a hillside and containing some art masterpieces including the world’s largest medieval free-swinging bell and a small altar of The Madonna and Child with Saints Catherine and Barbara by Lucas Cranach. Before we enjoy dinner and an overnight stay in “Thuringian Rome,” perhaps we can take pause to consider the intensity and dedication of the Reformers.
Day 4: Leipzig & Eisleben
Come to me, all of you who weary, and I will give you rest (Luther’s last sermon in St. Andrew’s Church. He finished with the words: “I am able to say many more things about this text, but I feel very weak and sick today. I hope I can do it later.” The following Thursday he died.).
We’ll have much to see when we arrive in Leipzig today, including Altes Rathaus, St. Nicholas Church where Martin Luther is said to have preached from the ornate 16th-century pulpit, and St. Thomas Church which was originally built as part of a 13th-century monastery and which was heavily restored after World War II. Luther preached here in 1539 heralding the arrival of Protestantism in Leipzig. Bach’s 12 children and the infant Richard Wagner were baptized here in the early 17th-century, and both Mozart and Mendelssohn performed here. Bach was choirmaster at this church for 27 years and served in St. Nicholas Church as well. We will also visit the University of Leipzig, one of the oldest in Europe, and not only the site of Luther’s momentous disputation in 1519, but also the school of such notables as Goethe, Nietzsche, Wagner and several Nobel Prize winners. We’ll travel a short distance to see the small city of Eisleben, where Martin Luther was born and died. Here we’ll visit the Church of St. Peter and Paul (also known as the Taufkirche or “baptism church”), where Martin Luther was baptized on November 11, 1483. The remains of the original baptismal font whose Latin inscription reads, “Rudera baptistierii, quo tinctus est b. Martinus Lutherus 1483, can still be seen inside the church. We’ll also see the very pulpit from which Luther preached his last sermon in St. Andrew’s Church. After a memorable day, we’ll enjoy dinner and an overnight stay in Wittenberg.
Day 5: Wittenberg
Justice is a temporary thing that must at last come to an end; but the conscience is eternal and will never die (Martin Luther).
Wittenberg is of such importance in Luther’s life that its official name is Lutherstadt-Wittenberg (Luther City Wittenberg). In this city in 1517, on the doors of All Saints’ Church (also known as the Schlosskirche or “Castle Church,” built 1496–1506) Luther nailed his 95 Theses, sparking the Reformation. The church, including the doors, were seriously damaged by fire in 1760 but were later restored. Our tour will take us to see the Bronze doors (which replaced the wooden doors and which are among the most photographed in Europe) that now bear the Latin text of the 95 Theses, and the restored burial church of the Reformers. We will also visit City Church (a twin-towered Gothic church in which Luther preached during the Reformation, was married (1525) and baptized his six children), Luther’s well-preserved house where he and his family lived (contains many Reformation relics, including Luther’s desk, his pulpit, and first editions of his books) and the Renaissance mansion of Philip Melanchton (Luther’s right-hand man), now a museum commemorating his life and containing statues of Luther and Melanchton. We will have much to think about as we gather for dinner and enjoy an overnight stay in Wittenberg.
Day 6: Berlin
Therefore, it is clear and certain that this faith alone justifies us… Nothing of this article can be yielded or surrendered, even though heaven and earth and everything else falls (Martin Luther).
Today’s excursion to Germany’s largest city, Berlin, will do much to help us understand the notion of Zeitgeist, a wonderful German term referring to the general cultural, intellectual, spiritual, and/or political climate or mood of a city or even a nation. We will visit the recently reunited city (after WWII, the victorious powers divided the city into sectors analogous to the occupation zones into which Germany was divided; the sectors of the Western Allies formed West Berlin, while the Soviet sector formed East Berlin). We will see the eastern sector with its famous Unter den Linden Strasse, (an iconic boulevard of linden trees which formerly led directly to the city palace of the Prussian monarchs), the Russian War Memorial, and the Brandenburg Gate (a former monumental entry to Unter den Linden and the only remaining gate of a series through which Berlin was once entered). We will also see what remains of “the wall,” and “Checkpoint Charley” as we pass into the western sector to experience Kurfurstendamm Strasse, home to some of Berlin’s most luxurious stores. At its eastern end we will see Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, and lastly, we will visit the Olympic Stadium, on a site originally intended for the aborted 1916 Summer Olympics but finally built for the 1936 Summer Olympics. The afternoon will provide ample opportunity to walk, shop and further explore the distinctive character of this unforgettable city before returning to Wittenberg for another overnight stay.
Day 7: Bayreuth & Nuremberg
One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe).
Through the fertile plains outside Berlin and into the rolling hill country of middle Germany, we drive south today to Nuremberg. En route, we’ll stop at Bayreuth, where composers Wagner and Liszt are buried. Bayreuth is famous for its month-long Wagner Festival, commonly known as the Bayreuth Festival. The Festival, drawing thousands, has persistently been sold out each year since its inauguration in 1876 (waiting lists for tickets can stretch for 10 years or more!). Our final destination is lovely Nuremberg, the center of the German Renaissance, and a city that in 1525, accepted the Protestant Reformation. Nuremberg is also known for its contributions to the science of astronomy. It was here in 1515 that one of its natives, Albrecht Dürer, mapped the stars of the northern and southern hemispheres and produced the first printed star charts. Perhaps most famously, the main part of Copernicus’s work was published here in 1543. The oldest art academy in central Europe is in Nuremburg. With its toys and gingerbread, handmade ornaments and delectable delicacies, the city is also known for its charming and popular Christkindlesmarkt (Christmas market), which draws well over a million shoppers each year. It is in this beautiful medieval city that we enjoy dinner and an overnight stay tonight.
Day 8: Rothenburg & Augsburg
A mighty fortress is our God (Martin Luther).
When we arrive in Rothenburg today, with its cobbled lanes and quaint shops, it won’t be hard to imagine why it was the inspiration for the little village in Walt Disney’s 1940 movie, Pinocchio. Rothenburg also held a special significance for Nazi ideologists who felt it was the epitome of the German ‘Home Town’, representing all that was quintessentially German. Throughout the 1930s the Nazi group “Strength through Joy” organized regular day trips to Rothenburg from all across the Reich. After enjoying a walking tour of Rothenburg, we will take the Romantic Road to Augsburg, named after and founded by Augustus Caesar in 14 B.C. Augsburg is the only German city with its own legal holiday: August 8th to mark the Peace of Augsburg (in which the rights of religious minorities in imperial cities were to be legally protected). It was also in Augsburg where in 1530 the Augsburg Confession was adopted. The Augsburg Confession, also known as the “Augustana” from its Latin name, Confessio Augustana, is the confession of faith of the Lutheran Church and one of the most important documents of the Reformation. We continue to Munich for dinner and an overnight stay.
Day 9: Munich
Faith is that which brings the Holy Spirit through the merits of Christ (Martin Luther).
We’ll awaken in Bavaria’s capital, Munich, whose motto is München mag Dich (Munich Likes You)! Here we’ll visit the Nymphenburg Palace, “Nymph’s Castle”, a Baroque palace which was the main summer residence of the many of the rulers of Bavaria and now one of the most famous sights of Munich. We’ll also see the City Museum and the Frauenkirche, the most famous building in the city centre. And we won’t want to miss Peterskirche (St. Peter’s), the oldest church in the inner city first built during the Romanesque period before the city’s official foundation in 1158. Later, we’ll travel to the Dachau concentration camp, the first Nazi concentration camp opened in Germany (22 March 1933), located on the grounds of an abandoned munitions factory near the medieval town of Dachau about 10 miles northwest of Munich. We will tour Hitler’s infamous camp and see the museum. On our return to Munich, we’ll stop at the Olympic Stadium. Munich was the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics during which Israeli athletes were assassinated by terrorists in what is called the Munich Massacre. The day’s experiences might find us in a contemplative mood; we’ll have some time to ourselves this evening to walk, think, browse or even enjoy the old original Hofbrau and famous Glockenspiel. We’ll have dinner together and enjoy an overnight stay in Munich.
Day 10: Heidelberg
There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage (Martin Luther, Table Talk, 292).
Today, we follow the Neckar River northward to the popular city of Heidelberg, known for its romantic and picturesque cityscape, from its Heidelberg Castle to the baroque style Old Town. Here we’ll have time to explore on our own. We might stroll through the long and narrow old town, hike up the wooded side of the Königstuhl (King’s chair or throne) hill to wonder at the castle ruins (among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps), take photos from the old stone bridge (from 1786) over the Neckar River, or attend an open-air theatre performance. We can share our Heidelberg adventures over dinner then look forward to an overnight stay in this charming, beautiful city.
Day 11: Worms & Mainz
Know that no one can have indulged in the Holy Writers sufficiently, unless he has governed churches for a hundred years with the prophets, such as Elijah and Elisha, John the Baptist, Christ and the Apostles. Do not assail this divine Aeneid; nay, rather revere the ground that it treads. We are beggars: this is true (from Martin Luther’s last statement).
Worms is an ancient city whose roots trace back to one of the earliest civilizations in the area. Here Martin Luther arrived under less than desirable circumstances when he was called to appear before the Imperial Diet (“dee-it”). After refusing to retract his views (with the legendary words, “Here I stand, I can do no other”), he was declared an outlaw. While in Worms, we will see a large monument to Luther and other giants of the Reformation erected in the city and now a popular stop along the popular “Luther Trail.” We will also see the majestically Romanesque St. Peter’s Cathedral, which for nearly 1000 years has towered over all the other ancient buildings of the city, and the Church of the Holy Trinity, with its baroque façade and interior modeled to commemorate the Lutheran Reformation. In the afternoon, we will travel a short distance away to Mainz, where, in the old part of town, we’ll find the Gutenberg Museum, one of the oldest museums of printing in the world with its amazing collections of printing equipment and printed materials from all over. It is named after Johann Gutenberg, the inventor of printing from moveable metal type. His truly epochal invention allowed the mass production of printed books and was a great impetus in the Reformation. Located opposite the museum is the Cathedral of Mainz, a 1000 year-old Roman Catholic Cathedral which we will also explore. As we return to Heidelberg for a farewell dinner and last overnight stay. Perhaps we will reminisce about all we have seen and felt, and will marvel at the depth of the dedication of Martin Luther and the other Reformers.
Day 12: Depart for Home
We will let the power of the profound example of Martin Luther and other Reformers settle over us; then like other pilgrims of other times, go back to our lives with renewed faith and readiness.
We leave our hotel and head for the Frankfurt airport to return to the US.
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