Where Luther Walked, #11 – Eisenach


Martin Luther, Johann Sebastian Bach and Saint Elisabeth of Thuringia are some of the great names associated with Eisenach, on the northern edge of the Thuringian Forest.

To this day, the town of Eisenach stands in the looming presence of its most famous landmark, Wartburg Castle. Both the town and its castle were important stations in the life of Martin Luther – the reformer recalled Eisenach fondly, referring to it as “my dear town.”

When Martin Luther was a teenager, he was sent to the Latin school in Eisenach in 1498 where, for three years, he boarded with the Cotta family (1498-1501). Their beautifully preserved half-timbered house is now a Luther museum. The two rooms he lived in are restored to their original condition. Martin earned his room and board as a street singer.

In 1956, after the damages caused by the bombings during the Second World War had been removed, the church in the state of Thuringia opened a Luther memorial in this house. The exhibition covers the Reformer's youth and the creation and significance of Luther's bible translation. The upper floor houses the exhibition of the archive of Lutheran vicarages. The importance of the Lutheran vicarage for science and culture is illustrated with selected biographical examples.

The medieval church in Eisenach – Georgenkirche – witnessed the baptism of J. S. Bach in 1685 and the marriage of 14 year old Saint Elizabeth in 1221. Members of the Bach family were the church organists for 132 years. Martin Luther was a choirboy here; he also preached in the church on his way to and from the Diet of Worms in 1521.

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