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: 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 for an overnight stay. 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.
Day 3: Eisenach
The Germans weren’t a people until Luther (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe who in 1777 spent five weeks in the Wartburg Castle).
This morning we drive up a steep forested slope to 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. Of the experience, Luther said “I fought the Devil with ink.” 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. A private worship service can be organized in the chapel of the Wartburg Castle. Eisenach was home to Martin Luther as a child, and it was also the birthplace of Johann Sebastian Bach. We will visit the Bachhaus, the first worldwide museum to be dedicated to the life and work of Johann Sebastian Bach, and also visit the Lutherhaus, one of the oldest and most picturesque half-timbered buildings remaining in Eisenach and now a museum featuring multimedia exhibits relating Luther’s teachings. We will also explore the Marktplatz with the Georgenkirche (the Church of St. George) where Bach was baptized and where the Gothic baptismal stone still stands.
Day 4: Erfurt
Superstition, idolatry, and hypocrisy have ample wages, but truth goes a-begging (Martin Luther, Table Talk, 67).
Today we travel to Erfurt, nicknamed “Thuringian Rome” because of its many churches, chapels and monasteries. Erfurt flourished in the Middle Ages thanks to the woad plant (a source of valuable blue dye), but perhaps more importantly to us, the city 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. As the day draws to a close, we return to Eisenach for dinner and another overnight stay.
Day 5: 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).
Martin Luther was born and died in the small city of Eisleben (Luther had a special affection for this city now officially known as “Luther-City Eisleben” Lutherstadt Eisleben), where today’s journey takes us. During our walking tour, we’ll have the honor of seeing Luther’s birth house and death house which are both now well-preserved museums. We’ll also 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 fountain 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 before we continue on to Halle, birthplace of George Friderich Handel and site of Germany’s oldest chocolate factory. Our tour includes Händel House, built in 1558 and now a museum housing a collection of historic music instruments and an exhibition about the composer’s life. (To celebrate the composer, Halle stages an annual Handel festival every June.) We will also visit the Markt Kirche (Market Church) and the 300 year-old “Francke Foundation,” a center of Lutheran Pietism, which included an orphanage, school and Bible society. In the late afternoon we drive to Wittenberg for dinner and overnight.
Day 6: 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 Schlosskierche or “Castle Church” and 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), and possibly attend a worship service in English (Saturday’s only), Luther’s well-preserved house where he and his family lived (it 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 another overnight stay in Wittenberg.
Day 7: Berlin
To know of someone here and there whom we accord with, who is living on with us, even in silence—this makes our earthly ball a peopled garden (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship).
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 which after WWII, the victorious powers divided 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, (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 only remaining gate of a series through which Berlin was once entered). We will also see what remains of “the wall,” and “Checkpoint Charlie” 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 8: Leipzig
Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but—more frequently than not—struggles against the divine Word (Martin Luther, Table Talk, 353).
After breakfast, we leave Wittenberg to visit enchanting Leipzig which means “settlement in the linden trees” and about which Goethe said: I praise my Leipzig! It is a small Paris and educates its people! We take part in a walking tour where we will see Altes Rathaus, St. Nicholas Church, with its undistinguished outward façade but interior soaring Gothic choir and nave (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. Martin 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. Interesting to note that the remarkable music Bach wrote during his Leipzig years commanded little attention in his lifetime. When he died, he was given a simple grave, without a headstone. We will also visit the Bach Museum before continuing to Coburg for dinner and overnight.
Day 9: Coburg
A theologian is born by living, nay dying and being damned, not by thinking, reading, or speculating (Martin Luther, Table Talk, 352).
This morning we visit one of Germany’s largest castles, the mighty Veste Coburg citadel, where in 1530, Martin Luther lived for about six months under the protection of Elector John the Steadfast. Luther intended to attend the Diet of Augsburg (a representative assembly) but ended up working on his German translation of the Bible because of his status as an outlaw of the Holy Roman Empire. Philip Melanchthon attended in Luther’s place and participated in the drawing up of the Augsburg Confession. Today the Veste Coburg is home to three museums: the Ducal Palace (Fürstenbau), with many furnished rooms of the Dukes of Coburg, including the apartment where Martin Luther lived, the Armory (Rüstkammer), containing the largest collection of medieval armor and weaponry in Germany, with over 10,500 items, and the Art Collections (Kunstsammlungen), which contains a world class collection of engravings, coins, documents, and glassware (Gläser-Sammlung). After lunch, we’ll continue on to Rothenburg.
Day 10: Rothenburg ob der Tauber & Augsburg
We are beggars: this is true (Martin Luther).
Today, as we climb Rotheburg’s medieval walls and ramparts, and leisurely walk the quaint cobbled lanes of old town, we’ll feel like we’ve been transported to an earlier century. However, Rothenburg is in many ways a normal, modern German town with stores and hotels, a Town Hall Square, and several major thoroughfares. There are also some interesting concessions to the tourist trade, like a criminal museum, containing various punishment and torture devices as used during the Middle Ages. We’ll then take the Romantic Road to Augsburg, founded under Emperor Tiberius in 15 B. C. with ruins from the 4th century A. D. beneath its cathedral. In 1518, Martin Luther was summoned to Augsburg to recant his 95 Theses before a papal emissary. The city is home to several notable churches, including a cathedral with the oldest stained glass windows in the country, where in 1530, the Augsburg Confession was adopted. Toward day’s end, we’ll head some 42 miles southeast to Munich for dinner and an overnight stay.
Day 11: Munich
A mighty fortress is our God/A bulwark never failing. Our helper He amid the flood/Of mortal ills prevailing (Martin Luther, Ein’ Feste Burg ).
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 many of the rulers of Bavaria and now one of the most famous sights of Munich. We’ll also see the City Museum, the Frauenkirche, 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 9.9 miles northwest of Munich. We will tour Hitler’s infamous camp and see the museum. The day’s experiences and our last night in Germany 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 our last overnight stay in Munich.
Day 12: Depart for Home
We will let the power of the holy places and priceless experiences 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 Munich airport to return to the US.
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