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Germany with Reformation emphasis


Jan 11th, 2014, 09:30 AM
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Germany with Reformation emphasis

My daughter and I are planning a summer trip to Germany -- we're both interested in history but not so much WWII history, more the German medieval and Reformation times. Our tentative plan is to stay in Berlin on our own for 3 days and then join an 11 day Globus tour that goes to Wittenberg, Leipzig, Erfurt, Worms, Guttenberg Museum (very important to me!), Nuremberg, Augsburg and Munich. Getting around in a major city on our own is doable but we're just not adventurous or experienced enough to coordinate transportation elsewhere. We'll spend at least one of the Berlin days in Museum Island. Does anyone have suggestions of what else we should do? Anyone else done a Reformation tour with Globus? Any alternative tours? One of our problems is that we're limited timewise to mid-June through end of July since we both work in education. We have taken 2 Globus tours in the past and been satisfied (although rushed!). Thank you.
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Jan 11th, 2014, 09:37 AM
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tour don't go to Eisenach and Wartburg Castle where Luther holed up and you can still see the ink stains on the tiny room's walls when he threw his ink pot at the Devil who appeared to him here. If tour don't go there - hard to imagine you may want to go yourself - right next door to Erfurt.
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Jan 11th, 2014, 10:06 AM
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Don't miss Torgau and Eisleben, both important Martin Luther/reformation sites.

I'm not a fan of tours, and I doubt they offer one that hits all the places you want to see. You can easily do this on your own with some planning in advance.
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Jan 11th, 2014, 10:16 AM
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Wartburg Castle is a picturesque castle located at the top of a mountain (hill?) It is not to be missed. You feel a sense of accomplishment just to make it up the hill to get there from the parking lot. Eisenach, Wittenberg, Leipzig, etc, are trivial to visit on your own. These cities are served by frequent trains. I downloaded a Deutsche Bahn on my phone, so I could sync getting to the station to match the actual train schedule. After visiting one site, you will probably get comfortable using German public transit to wonder why you ever thought about taking a tour. The destinations you mentioned are big cities and not small villages tucked in deep mountains.
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Jan 11th, 2014, 10:30 AM
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Why not do a tour with a reformation specialist rather than a general tour operator? For example:

The footsteps of Lutheran heritage tour seems most suited to your plans:
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Jan 11th, 2014, 12:09 PM
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What about Herrnhut with Zinzendorf/Moravian Brothers? Sorry, my history is not up to speed, but I think there is at least some sort of relationship with them and the Reformation. You can see the meeting hall and the grave sites of Zinzendorf and some of his family. We visited there when we were in Dresden this past Fall, albeit with a car.
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Jan 11th, 2014, 03:41 PM
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Herrnhut was founded more than 200 years after the beginning of the Reformation. The Herrnhuter brethren were and are Lutheran protestants but not part of the Reformation era.

However, I agree about Eisleben and Torgau and Wartburg - more important than for example Leipzig. Unless you get hold of a study trip with a very good, qualified guide who specializes in this field, I see no need for a tour to cover this topic. Getting around on your own is easy. I wonder what tour you picked, surely not one that focuses on Reformation history. Munich has no relation to this topic at all, Nürnberg and Augsburg were imperial cities which introduced the Reformation early but only Augsburg has Luther sites. Instead I miss Marburg in the list, the site of the important meeting of Luther and Zwingli.

Guttenberg was, by the way, the noble guy who lost his job as a minister because he cheated in his doctoral thesis. The one who invewnted printing was Johannes Gutenberg. The museum is in Mainz, next to the cathedral - again easy to reach.

In addition to Worms, also Speyer deserves a mentioning. And remember the other branch, the Swiss reformation in Zürich and Geneva, and the "second reformation", i. e. the introduction of Calvinism in some German territories, starting in Palatine in 1563.

If you are seriously interested in the topic, allow me to direct you to the central network which coordinates the Europe-wide activities around the reformation anniversary, both scientific and touristic, which firms as Refo500 and is based in the Netherlands: http://www.refo500.nl
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Jan 11th, 2014, 03:49 PM
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Veste Cobourg sheltered Martin Luther for a while.
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Jan 12th, 2014, 04:48 AM
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Thank you so much for the replies. We could/should coordinate trains and reach these places on our own but there are certain advantages to tours, I think (less stress for people who don't speak the language, who come from small towns & are not accustomed to traveling except by car and also the advantage of having travel companions). The frustrating thing is that tours all seem to go to the same places, usually including more touristy spots than I'm interested in. The more interesting specialized tours seem scheduled for times other than our travel window of mid-summer.
And we will be in Berlin on our own before tour starts so I welcome suggestions for that, too.
I think my interest in the Reformation is not extremely deep -- it is more an interest in history in general, just not wanting a concentration on WWII.
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Jan 12th, 2014, 05:04 AM
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I think my interest in the Reformation is not extremely deep -- it is more an interest in history in general, just not wanting a concentration on WWII.>>

CLB - there is a huge amount of history in Germany, no need to touch on WWII at all if you don't want to.

I agree however that you could do a better tailored tour yourselves, based on your own particular interests in history, even if you don't want to concentrate on the Reformation. It is very easy to get from Berlin to Dresden, for example, which is a lovely place with many opportunities for boat and bicycle trips. From there you could go to Leipzig, Halle [much to see there including the museum devoted to GF Handel] Erfurt, Weimar, and the places mentioned by quokka.

perhaps you could spend a few hours studying the german railway system before you make your mind up. www. bahn.de - there is an english version, and many germans now speak some english, especially those who have a lot to do with tourists.
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Jan 12th, 2014, 08:35 AM
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If you are interested in history, I have some special recommendations for you:

1) Trier is a Roman city with a huge Roman town gate, a Roman basilica which is in excellent shape, lots of Roman ruins and an excellent Roman museum. Besides, Karl Marx was born here and there is a little museum in the house where he was born. Trier is a charming town and in the vicinity you find vinyards and wineries and the lovely Mosel valley.

2) Aachen is Germany's most significant city, when it comes to history. The cathedral, built in 800 A.D., was the place where Charlemagne was crowned. His throne is still there. See also the rich treasury of the cathedral and the medieval city hall. Not far away from Aachen, you find Monschau, one of the most picturesque towns in Europe.

3) Köln (Cologne) is also full of history, starting from the Roman heritage with the ruins of the governor's palace under the gothic city hall and several remnants of the wall and the gates. The Roman-Germanic museums has breathtaking displays, including the finest works of glass that have been made during the Roman era. Also medieval history is strong in Cologne, which had been a very important city then. The cathedral is unique, because it is large, lavishly decorated and is one of the few gothic cathedrals with completed spires. In the cathedral you find the shrine of the three magi and also a very rich treaury.

4) For a different kind of history, you may visit the Neanderthal, a little north of Cologne. You can visit the site where your ancestor was excavated, you can walk through a lovely valley where ice-age animals roam and you can visit a state-of-the-art museum where the bones of the Neanderthal Man are on display, with many reconstructions of Neanderthal living and culture and with an excellent overview of the history of mankind.
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Jan 12th, 2014, 09:43 AM
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"Herrnhut was founded more than 200 years after the beginning of the Reformation. The Herrnhuter brethren were and are Lutheran protestants but not part of the Reformation era."

There are some inaccuracies here that need to be corrected. First, Moravians never were and are not now Lutherans. While most of their beliefs are shared and the two Protestant faiths are in "full communion", a Lutheran is not a Moravian and vice versa. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moravian_Church

Second, although Herrnhut was settled after Luther, the Moravian faith predates Luther by 50 years. If you trace it farther back to its origins with Jan Hus, the Moravian form of Protestantism actually predates Luther by an even wider margin. http://www.unitasfratrum.org/index.p...nitas-fratrum/

I've been to Herrnhut a few times and while, as a Moravian, I find it a very worthwhile experience (I have ancestors buried in the God's Acre cemetery), you do need a strong interest in the area to really enjoy it. Getting to Herrnhut from Dresden without a car is a slow business with infrequent connections, esp on a week-end. The village doesn't have a lot to see: there's the cemetery, the Herrnhuter (Moravian) star workshop, a local crafts shop, a bookstore, a small museum, and the main church. Very little in the way of cafes and restaurants. On my 2011 visit, I was there early one Saturday afternoon in December and could find only one open cafe/restaurant and I was the only customer.
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Jan 12th, 2014, 10:49 AM
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Quick correction to traveller1959 about Charlemagne.

He was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope in Rome, on Christmas Day, 800 A.D. The Aachen Cathedral was built for him, according to his specifications. He is buried here and his throne was here, but he wasn't crowned here. The cathedral began to be built shortly before he was crowned.

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