The main claim to fame of Eisenach is Martin Luther King. Relatively unknown to most people, Germany has many tourist trails. These are usually well-marked routes and cater to various cultural tastes. For example, there is the Romantic Route, the Wine Route, the Half-Timbered Houses Route, etc. Included among these tourist trails is the Martin Luther Trail. A famous German priest, theologian, author, hymn writer, professor, and Augustinian friar, Martin Luther changed the religious landscape of Germany. He was a seminal figure of the Protestant Reformation, and his theological beliefs form the basis of Lutheranism. Owing to his revolutionary theological ideas, he was forced to go into hiding at many places and the Martin Luther Trail includes the areas where he worked while in exile. These spots are mostly in and around Thuringia, one of the most cultural states in Germany. The Martin Luther Trail goes through Weimar, Erfurt, Schmalkalden, Coburg, Augustburg, Eisenach, and Eisleben.

Lutherhaus in Eisenach

Eisenach and its Lutheran connection

From the age of 14 Martin Luther attended school in Eisenach. He had famously chronicled his fond memories of that time by calling Eisenach “my beloved town”. Luther was a student of Latin at the parish school of St George’s and till today, remains of an ancient monastery connected to his school can be seen. During his school days here, Luther sang in the church choir in front of local houses to earn some extra bread. It is said that he had an incredibly sweet voice and a local woman named Ursula Cotta upon hearing his singing, took him in as a boarder. She was like a mother hen, taking the poor boy under her wings and her home is now the famous Luther House – a museum that commemorates Luther’s connections with Eisenach.

Altstadt in Eisenach

Eisenach and its musician sons

Incidentally, in the olden days, talented musicians seemed to congregate as if by magic to Eisenach. The town has a rich musical history and it is the birthplace of the famous composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Here one can find a museum that is completely dedicated to the composer. It is located in a house that his family owned once although whether he was born there is highly debated. Bach was baptized in St George’s church, a beautiful building that still stands tall today. In Eisenach, one can also find the Reuter Wagner Museum which holds the second largest Richard Wagner Collection in the world. Wagner was so inspired by the neighbouring Wartburg Castle that he used it as the setting for his opera, Tannhäuser.

Wartburg Castle inspired Wagner

A charming little Thuringian town

Apart from such cultural associations, Eisenach is home to the hulking Wartburg Castle. The town itself is picturesquely located at the edge of the massive Thuringian Forest and parts of it feel like being at the crossroads of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. Although it doesn´t have the medieval charm of some German towns, Eisenach contains some very handsome half-timbered houses and pleasant squares. Incidentally, Eisenach is the birthplace of Johann Sebastian Bach and the 15th-century house where he was born is now a museum. In that regard, Eisenach is very culturally rich and it is said that Goethe was so impressed with this Thuringian town that he called it a marvelous place. Personally, I find it a bit far-fetched and can only add that it is a pleasant place to stay overnight if you wish to visit the iconic Wartburg Castle.

Beautiful forests around Thuringia Photo Credit-Habits of a travelling archaeologist

Eisenach Things to Do

Apart from exploring the beautiful Wartburg Castle, Eisenach offers a deep insight into the life of Martin Luther and Johann Sebastian Bach. The area around the town is also naturally beautiful and the terrain is perfect for hiking.

How to Reach and How to Get Around

Eisenach is easily reachable by Deutsche Bahn. The beginning of the old city center (Altstadt) is a short walk from the train station. Just go down the Bahnhofstraße and enter the old quarter through the only remaining gate (Nikolaitor) of the old town wall. The town itself is very compact and all the main sights are within walking distance. Wartburg Castle can be reached by a long slightly uphill walk, by car, or by bus. Tourist maps are available at the Tourist Information Center at Markt 2 on the main square of the Altstadt.

Where to Stay

Eisenach offers a wide range of accommodations including a lovely heritage stay at the Wartburg Castle. Plenty of Airbnb accommodations are also available.

Wartburg Castle is the highlight of Eisenach

What to See

  • Bachhaus: This is a museum dedicated to Johann Sebastian Bach. His family owned this lovely 15th-century building once. The museum has a collection of antique musical instruments and an exhibit on the Bach family. Moreover, the interiors are designed to recreate the furnishings of a bourgeois household from around 1700. It is located at 21 Frauenplan.
  • Lutherhaus: This impressive and beautifully restored half-timbered house is hard to miss. It is the home of Ursula Cotta, Luther´s foster mother in Eisenach and this is where he stayed during his school years in the town (1498-1501). Lutherhaus is located at 8 Martinlutherplatz.
  • Georgenkirche: Also known as the St George´s church, this is where Johann Sebastian Bach was baptized in 1685. This medieval church also witnessed the monumental historical event of the marriage of 14-year-old Saint Elizabeth in 1221. Members of the Bach family have been church organists here for 132 years. Incidentally, Martin Luther was a choirboy here. It is also here that he preached on his way to and from the Diet of Worms in 1521. It is located on the Markt.
  • Tiny House: This is the narrowest, inhabited, half-timbered house in Germany. Located at 9 Johannisplatz, it is only 6 feet, 8 inches wide (2 meters).
  • Other places of interest: Predigerkloister (a former 13th-century cloister where J. S. Bach went to school), the Markt (the main town square that houses an impressive pink-coloured Rathaus, a fountain with a golden statue of Saint George killing the dragon, an 18th-century palace).


    Beautiful Thuringia forests are seen from Wartburg Castle

    A delicious Thuringia sausage

    Tiny House at Eisenach

    Beautiful murals inside the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wartburg Castle

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