Thuringia is a land of variety. The Catholic Eichsfeld in the northwest, Frankish influences south of the Thuringian Forest, the “Tuscany of the East” in the area north of Weimar – these are but three examples of the wide-ranging regional differences within the Free State. Traces can still be seen today of the seven principalities and one Prussian government district that made up Thuringia up to 1919. This patchwork bequeathed the state with incomparable cultural treasures.
Those clicking their way through the plethora of information on Thuringia on the Internet will come upon more than a few surprises. Or did you already know that 193 towns in Thuringia have one or more castles; that there was once a Kingdom of Thuringia whose end was sealed in 531 by the victory of the Franks over the last Thuringian king, Herminafrid; or that the wife of Thuringian Landgrave Ludwig II, “the Iron”, Jutta of Swabia, who was a half-sister of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, had Weissensee Castle built in Runneburg (County Sömmerda) in 1181 (where the residential apartments already had warm-air heating); that the seven-arched Werra Bridge near Creuzburg, built by Landgrave Ludwig IV in 1223, is the oldest Romanesque stone bridge north of the Main River; that at the end of the 17th century Thuringia was still divided into over twenty states, during certain periods even into ten Ernestine, nine Russian and four Schwarzburgian principalities; that political partitions led to state boundaries running right through cities such as Greiz, Kranichfeld, Neustadt am Rennweg and Ruhla; that Adam Ries’s arithmetic book was printed for the first time in 1525 in Erfurt; that the first German academy (“Fruitbearing Society” or “Palm Order”) was founded in 1617 in Weimar; that the oldest Baroque theatre in the world still in operation, the Ekhof Theatre, is located at Friedenstein Palace in Gotha (built in 1683); that the Duchy of Saxon-Gotha was the first German territorial state to institute universal mandatory schooling, as early as 1642; and that Germany’s first flag in the colours black-red-gold hangs at the Wartburg, to commemorate the student festival there in 1817.
Places in Thuringia