WartburgThe biggest tourist attraction in Eisenach is the Wartburg, a medieval castle that sits above the town. Well, basically, it’s the main reason visitors from overseas come to Eisenach at all. The Wartburg is one of the best-preserved castles in Germany. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site partially for this reason, but mainly because it’s got enormous historical significance.
The castle is most famous for being where Martin Luther hid after being excommunicated from the Catholic church (his reformation being a bit unpopular with church leadership...). During this time, he translated the Bible into German, which not only made the Bible available to the common people for the first time ever, but also created the German language as it exists today.
This castle is considered the birthplace of German unification in the 19th century (prior to this time, Germany consisted of multiple smaller kingdoms). The first big meeting of the unification movement - a student group/movement calling themselves the Burschenschaftler – was held at this castle.
On top of everything else, it is the setting of the legendary Sängerkrieg (which Wagner worked into his opera Tannhäuser, for those of you who are familiar with it), and the birthplace of Saint Elizabeth. The castle has certainly had a history!
Here’s a closeup of the drawbridge, which we thought was super cool. The “moat” (no water in it) goes quite deep into solid rock…I for one would not have wanted to risk falling down there, so I imagine it was still a good defense.
The drawbridge is now attached on both sides and stays open permanently, but the opening and closing mechanism is still present.
look at the outside wall (the white section you see in the first picture), with
arrow slits and a cannon. The arrow slits (and cannon spots) get narrower towards the outside of the wall - this would allow an archer to shoot at attackers from any number of angles while making it extremely difficult to fire in.
|Drawbridge mechanism! Very cool|
And, here's the dragon I promised in my last post! He hangs over a well in the first courtyard, near the gift shop.
The second castle courtyard is much bigger and well worth seeing. Highlight is the Medieval garden, shown below; you can't go in, but it's small enough that you can see the entirety from the outside.
|The promised dragon|
|Medieval garden in the castle courtyard. Pretty, isn't it?|
The weather wasn't at all cooperative the day we went there
|An actual bath! Such luxury.|
We decided to take a tour of the castle (you can’t see most of the interior without one). The tour talked about the history, of course, but also generally about what life would have been like in the castle in various eras. Tristan and I, being fantasy nerds, really liked that aspect :D.