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A Luther-Bach Pilgrimage in Germany

Author: Louise W.
Date of Trip: September 2006

We rode through Germany for two weeks this past September, and it was like riding through Grimms’ fairy tales! Starting out in the great and sophisticated city of Berlin, and visiting “Checkpoint Charley,” the remnants of the Berlin Wall, and several wonderful museums, we left after two days to start our ride through the splendid and clean German countryside.

We paid tribute to composers Mendelssohn, Mozart and Bach at Leipzig, and then visited several Martin Luther sites…Wittenburg, with its Castle Church and the famed door, where Luther nailed the historic theses that would revolutionize religious thought in Europe! Wittenburg was a charming town in itself. There is the site of the original Wittenburg University, and there Luther saw to it that women were admitted! We visited Erfurt, where Luther had studied as a young man. At Eisenach, in historic Wartburg Castle, Luther lived in protected seclusion for ten months and translated the New Testament from Greek into German, so that the common people would have access to it.

My favorite town…Eisenach, home of the Wartburg Castle! Inside were wonderful mosaics of the life of Elisabeth, the 15th century “Mother Teresa” of her day, who devoted her life to caring for the sick and the poor children. Many hospitals in Europe and the United States are now named “St. Elizabeth.” Another highlight was a stop in Rothenburg, the picturesque Roman walled city, where we climbed steep cobblestone streets to get the view from the top! Wherever we went in Germany, there was no litter. They drink a lot of beer, but no beer cans, no paper trash on the roads. The food, especially the hearty breads and light pastries, was wonderful, and not all brats and sausages! We had fish, pork, beef, and chicken many nights. The native and fruity good Reisling wine was in abundance.

Other memorable moments were the Bach house in Eisenach, where the curator played ancient harpsichords and organs for us, attending St. Thomaskirche for a Wednesday evensong service in German (Johann Sebastian Bach had been choirmaster there following 17 generations of Bachs in this profession), and hearing the magnificent organ pour out the soaring chords of Mendelssohn, on that particular night.

Other Luther sites visited were Augsburg and Worms, where Luther made his famous declaration that he could not recant his beliefs. (“Here I stand, and I can do no other, so help me God,” is the approximate translation.) We also went to Marburg, home of the German poet, Goethe, and the Grimm Brothers. Marburg also had its own resident and splendid castle.

We stopped by Eiselben, the town where Luther lived, worked and died, and visited a Luther museum there. Every area of Germany had its charm…red tiled roofs, beautiful rolling fields, well-tended livestock, including their beautiful and and sturdy Belgian work horses, and dogs, dogs, dogs! It is said that the Germans have more dogs and beer than babies, nd I am tempted to believe it. Their pets did not roam free, but were properly leashed and lovingly tended.

Final destination was Munich, with much bustle going on, in preparation for their world-famous Oktoberfest. We dined and roamed, and took a day trip down into the beginning of the Bavarian Alps. The reward was the magnificent Neufschwanstein Castle. It was a climb to get there, but well worth it. Inside were the glowing artistic murals depicting several of Wagner’s operas. Neufschwanstein was the model for the Disney World Castle here in The United States.

It was a memorable trip…from beer gardens to hushed sanctuaries, from seeing little frauleins calling out “OOM-pah,” to their daddies, from church history to a cruise down the Rhine in perfect weather. I do recommend it!

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