Experience the Germany Reformation
Upon arrival in Frankfurt, we are welcomed by our tour escort who will accompany us throughout the whole tour. We board our coach and drive to the nearby city of Mainz. We tour the birthplace of printing, the Gutenberg Museum where the evolution of printing is documented, and Gutenberg’s first Bible is on display. A tour of Reformation Germany has to start with how this invention changed the world. Then on to St. Martin’s Cathedral, built in the 8th century and towering in all its might and grandeur. Seven king’s coronations took place over the centuries in the Mainz Cathedral. Afterwards, we continue to Worms, thought to be one of the oldest towns in Germany. We see St Peter’s Cathedral, situated on the highest elevation of the inner city, and the place where Luther made his Here I stand declaration. Then, we walk to the Reformation memorial. Our last stop for today is Speyer, and we enjoy dinner at a local beer-garden. After breakfast we start for Heidelberg, a gorgeous town on the Neckar River where romanticism is both past and present. A ride with the Heidelberg Railway brings us up to Heidelberg Castle. We visit the castle and the Castle Church. After going down with the funicular, we continue to Rothenburg o.d. Tauber. We take a glimpse into the middle ages at perhaps the most famous town on the Romantic Road, a nearly intact medieval walled city without a single modern building within. With our tour escort, we will tour the city and view the Rathaus, the Glockenspiel, and St. Jakob’s Church with the famous altar carving by Tilman Riemenschneider, and the Medieval Crime Museum. Next, a visit to Kathe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas Village will get us in the Christmas Spirit. After visiting the German Christmas Museum, we have some shopping time. After dinner, the night-watchman takes us on a tour through the city. We drive to Ulm and visit the Lutheran cathedral. The Ulm cathedral is a Lutheran church started in the 14th century and finished in 1890. The tower reaches a height of 530 ft and is the tallest church tower in the world. Those who choose to climb the 768 steps to the top of the main spire as a rite of passage will be offered stupendous panoramas across Swabia and neighboring Bavaria. Others can shop and perhaps visit Fisherman’s quarter for lunch. Then we drive through picture-book scenery of the Allgäu, continuing to one of Mad King Ludwig’s elaborate fantasy palaces and surely the crown jewel of Bavarian castles: Neuschwanstein. Walt Disney used this “original” to model his Cinderella castle. After visiting the castle from the outside we walk down to have a look at another castle of King Ludwig, Hohenschwangau.
The World-Renowned Passion Play
This morning we head east and stop at Wies Church in Steingaden, Bavaria for a short visit. This 18th century pilgrim church built in rococo style is well kept, and very opulent and stands on the southern stretch of the Romantic Road. The frescoes are absolutely fantastic. Then we continue to a small, picturesque village in the Alps which is known all over the world: Oberammergau, the “Passion Play village with heart” Oberammergau is not only known for its World-Famous Passion Play, but also for its woodcarving craft and for its colorful and attractive frescoes known as Lüftlmalereien. In the late morning, we may have time to explore the lovely village, the museum, the parish church and a woodcarving workshop. Then we should take our seat at the Passion Play Theater for the early afternoon performance. All the actors, musicians, and singers as well as the backstage staff are either born in Oberammergau or have been residents for more than 20 years. Between the different scenes of the life of Jesus Christ we can admire “living pictures” – scenes from the Bible presented as still life. After 2.5 hours it is time for a dinner break, which is waiting for us in a local restaurant. After dinner, we have the opportunity to stroll around in the village and to do some shopping. Later this evening, the second part of the play starts and will end at approximately 11:00 pm. Today we visit Munich, the fun-filled capital of Bavaria. Our first stop is the Olympia Park to take some photos. Then we explore the historic city center’s most famous churches, monuments and squares, including the Old Town Hall with its famous “Glockenspiel”, St. Peter’s Church, Viktualienmarkt, Odeonsplatz and the Munich Residenz. We have time in the afternoon to stroll through the Marienplatz with its numerous shops or visit the fresh produce and flower markets. Then we have a visit to the Dachau. Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp, where over 200,000 prisoners were sent during World War II. In the evening, we come together for dinner at a typical Bavarian restaurant. Today we drive north with a stop at Nuremberg. According to Luther, Nuremberg was “the eye and the ear of Germany” in those days, because there were 21 printing houses to publish news. We take a walk through the Old Town including Albrecht Dürer House and the churches St. Lorenz and St. Sebald. Then we continue traveling further north to Coburg to visit the famous Veste Coburg, the fortress where Luther took refuge and lived during the Augsburg Confession and one of the largest and best-preserved medieval castles in Germany. While visiting the castle, we’ll see the Luther Room, the art treasures in the various collections, and the royal building with the Luther Chapel. The inside is a museum of middle ages military weaponry, venetian glass ware, china, and tapestries. Afterwards, we visit the historical city. Coburg is your quintessential German town: picturesque, great food/wine/beer/coffee/cakes, plenty to see and do. The vibrant “Marktplatz” is the center of the Old Town and a happy, bustling place.
Seeing Where the New Testament was Translated
We continue to Eisenach this morning, starting with the magnificent Wartburg Castle for a tour of the Great Hall, the art exhibition, the Elisabeth Hallway and the Luther Room where “Junker Jörg” translated the New Testament into German. Then we go on to the Bach House where J.S. Bach was born. Afterwards we come to Erfurt, the spiritual home of Martin Luther. It was here that Luther obtained a degree in 1502 and where he took the decisive step to turn to theology and the monastic life. Our walking tour begins in the historical section of the city with the Church of St. Severus and St. Mary’s Cathedral, where Luther was ordained as a priest. We explore the Augustinian Monastery, with a permanent exhibit depicting Luther’s life as a monk in Erfurt. We also discover the other city highlights like the Fish Market, Town Hall, Krämer Bridge and Luther Memorial. In the morning we continue to Eisleben and visit St. Peter’s Church where Luther was baptized and St. Andrew’s Church where Luther preached his last sermons and where his body was laid in state. We then drive to Wittenberg. From 1508, Wittenberg was the main workplace of Martin Luther. We visit the Luther Hall and the Augustinian Monastery where Luther lived as a monk and later, in 1525, as owner with his wife and family. Luther Hall is the largest museum of Reformation history in the world. Afterwards, we walk to the Market Square and Town Hall. Then we tour All Saints’ Church, the famous site where Luther posted his 95 Theses on the Castle Church door, sparking the beginning of the Reformation. It is here that Luther is buried alongside his fellow reformer, Philipp Melanchthon. We end the day at St. Mary’s Church, where Luther did the majority of his preaching. This morning we drive to Berlin, the capital of the reunified Germany. We tour the city by coach and on foot, featuring the city center with the Kaiser Wilhelm Church, Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag and its cupola, the Nikolai Quarter, the impressive boulevard “Unter den Linden”, the Museum Island, the Gendarmen-Market, the Alexanderplatz, Check-Point Charlie, and the Berlin Wall Memorial. The afternoon is at leisure followed by a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.