It was five hundred years ago on October 31, 1517 that a pious monk known as Martin Luther posted a challenge to church hierarchy on the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany. It was one of those rare events in history that has a dramatic effect on everything that follows.
And now, with celebrations going on throughout the land of Luther, the time is right to follow the steps of the man who shook the world of western religion at the end of the Middle Ages. Here are some highlights you don’t want to miss.
Wittenberg. Luther was given a permanent post at Wittenberg University in 1512. Here, he grew more and more disturbed by the selling of indulgences by the priesthood, leading ultimately to the posting of the 95 theses. To his surprise, Luther’s pamphlets on faith and salvation by grace quickly went viral due to the latest technology, the printing press. Ironically, the early financial success of the printing press came from the printing of thousands of indulgences for the church.
By 1522 the Reformation could no longer be contained, and Luther made Wittenberg his permanent home. He lived here with his wife and children, relatives and staff. The house is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Besides the castle church, you’ll also find the town church here, where Luther preached on many occasions.
Eisleben. This is the place where Luther was born and also ended his days. The house where he died is now a museum that depicts German lifestyles between the Middle Ages and the modern era. This house, and the one where he was born, both enjoy UNESCO World Heritage status. But Eisleben was also home to other influential scholars and artists, waiting to be discovered as you visit.
Wartburg Castle. This imposing castle, high on a precipice overlooking the town of Eisenach, is the place where some friends brought Luther secretly to escape a wrathful sentence following his trial at Worms. In the months Luther remained in hiding he translated the New Testament into German. This not only allowed common people to read scripture for themselves (rather than hearing it read in Latin), but also helped to unify the German states into a nation with a common language. Wartburg is another important World Heritage site to check off on your bucket list.
Anyone interested in European history, especially church history, would benefit greatly from one of the many tours being offered in this anniversary year of the Reformation. Let us use our many industry contacts to craft a visit that would perfectly fit your needs, whether you like to travel at your own pace or with a group. Germany will show you so many places that will surprise and amaze you that I’m sure you’ll find that one visit isn’t enough.