Back in August, my friends and family came out to Berlin to celebrate our wedding with us. Since it was a busy week with lots of group events, we knew we wouldn’t have a lot of one-on-one time with my parents, so on one of their first days here, before the bulk of the Amis showed up, we went on a double date day trip. The destination: Lutherstadt Wittenberg.
Lutherstadt Wittenberg is located in Saxony-Anhalt and it’s famous for being the birthplace of the Protestant Reformation. It’s 119 kilometers / 74 miles away by car, and we wanted to have the freedom to explore and not worry about train travel, which is why we opted to rent a car. Additionally, we wanted my parents to relax, so M. drove and they just got to come along for the ride and enjoy things.
For most of the trip, the drive is long and boring (along the Autobahn, where there’s not always much to see), but as you near Wittenberg, you have to drive on a smaller, more scenic route that passes by lots of tiny villages.
When we arrived, we immediately set about exploring. The Historische Altstadt (historical city center) is not so big that you can’t traverse it by foot, so we somewhat leisurely walked around. (It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.) There were many charming and colorful buildings that gave it a small town feel. In the market square, the Rathaus takes up a block with its white and gray facade. There are also statues of Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon. Now would be a good time to mention–if you haven’t already picked up on it, it’s called Lutherstadt (Luther city) because it was where Martin Luther lived, preached, and–along with Melanchthon–split from the Catholic church to form the Lutheran church. As a result, a lot of the sites are very Lutheran-centric, but that’s the whole reason we visited.
First we went to St. Mary’s Church, the Stadtkirche, where Luther used to preach, and passed by the Melanchthon House. Then we headed over to All Saints’ Church, also known as Schloßkirche, which is where Luther nailed his 95 thesis to the door in 1517 (and also where Luther and Melanchthon are buried). Unfortunately for us, we couldn’t go inside. See, a lot of the town is under construction as it prepares for the 500-year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. So it would make sense to return to Wittenberg in 2017. Even so, it was still cool to see the church, and take a photo of the door. Kind of unreal.
Afterward, we stopped off in the adjacent park for our picnic lunch to fuel up for our trek back across town to the Lutherhaus. We didn’t have the time to explore the museum (also the largest museum about the Reformation), but just wanted to see the building, which was the monastery where Luther lived and studied. He also went on to live there with his family in later years, and now the building is property of the university.
Eventually, it was time to get back to the car to head to our next spot, so after running into C&A for some last-minute wedding supplies (socks) and a quick stop for some ice cream, we were on our way. I don’t know that I’d go back to Wittenberg regularly, as there is not a whole lot to do there, but I can definitely recommend it as a day trip. I am also looking forward to returning once the restoration is complete.