Gateway to Wartburg CastleEisenach is a small town in the state of Thuringia set in the lush, forested hills and farms of central Germany. It doesn't have the medieval charm of some German towns, but it has a pleasant collection of squares and narrow streets to explore. The main reason to visit is its historical sights. And it's the most convenient place to overnight while seeing the Wartburg.
Goethe was very impressed with Eisenach, calling it a marvelous place. I wouldn't go that far, but it makes for a pleasant and interesting stopover, and the Wartburg is a must see.
See Hotels, Map.
What to see in Eisenach:The Bachhaus
This medieval church 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. On the Markt.
13th century cloister where Bach went to school. Just off the Markt.
After Bayreuth, this is the biggest exhibit of Wagner memorabilia, including his death mask. Concerts given in the period tearoom. At Reuterweg 2, just off the road to the Wartburg. Closed Mondays.
Collection of antique cars, Wartburgs and BMWs. Eisenach's factory produced cars for 100 years. Rennbahn 6-8, just west of the Bahnhof.
The narrowest, inhabited, half-timbered house in Germany, only 6 feet, 8 inches wide (2 meters). Johannisplatz 9.
Eisenach HotelsWhere not to stay:
I stayed at a hotel on the Frauenplan, a pretty little square where the Bachhaus is found. It seemed so peaceful, until I went to bed. Then the action started: clusters of people hanging out in the square, coming and going, much loud merriment. Cars zooming around and revving their engines.
The best part was the jammed cigarette machine under my window which got a good pounding every time it ate some Euros. Was it like this every night? I didn't stick around to find out. Maybe I just picked the wrong night, but this square seemed to be the local hangout for the young and lively. However, this was the exception traveling in Germany; generally a German town is one of the quietest places on the planet after 10 p.m., both by custom and law.
Hotel auf der Wartburg. Want to stay up on the Wartburg? This hotel is right next to the castle. Great view, expensive. They can pick you up from the Bahnhof. (www.wartburghotel.de)
Steigenberger Hotel Thüringer. A grand 16th century mansion, lots of atmosphere, luxurious, expensive. Just inside the city gate, short walk from Bahnhof. Karlsplatz 11. (www.eisenach-steigenberger.de)
Villa Kesselring. Charming Jugendstil villa, very quiet, at the end of town near the path to the Wartburg. Long walk, take a taxi from the Bahnhof. Very reasonable. Hainweg 32. (www.villa-kesselring.de).
Hotel Glockenhof. Comfortable hotel, friendly staff. Long walk from Bahnhof; doable if you have light, rolling luggage. Otherwise, take a taxi. Plenty of parking. Grimmelgasse 4. Reasonably priced. (www.glockenhof.de)
Map of Eisenach
Colditz Castle. Visit one of the most famous German POW camps in World War 2. Remarkable escapes, clever disguises, ingenious plots.
Harz Mountains The Harz Mountains are the land of German fairy tales. Steep-roofed houses with tiny windows and narrow, cobblestone streets. Dark forests, rushing streams and stormy mountains.