The historic city of Erfurt is the largest and the capital of Thuringia in Central Germany. The city lies within the wide valley of the Gera River in the southern part of Thuringian Basin. Erfurt, along with the neighboring cities of Jena and Weimar forms the Central Metropolitan area of Thuringia with a bustling population of nearly half a million. The city is well connected with major German cities like Leipzig, Munich, Berlin and Frankfurt.
Erfurt is one of the oldest German settlements with evidence of human inhabitation dating back to the Paleolithic age. With a population of over 18,000, Erfurt was one of the largest cities in the Holy Roman Empire during 1500s. Due to its strategic position across the Gera River, Erfurt has been one of the wealthiest trading towns throughout the Middle Ages. Right from the Paleolithic age to the present day, Erfurt has marked her major presence in history.
The present day Erfurt features a belt of Gründerzeit architecture created between 1875 and 1915. The medieval cores of narrow, curved valleys add an appeal to the splendid cityscape. The city has withstood the devastating World War II with a little damage. The city boasts a mixture of Baroque, medieval and neoclassical architecture built during the last 150 years. Egapark is the largest public green area housing a botanical garden and horticultural exhibition park. The other major parks along the Gera River are the Stadtpark, the Nordpark and the Südpark.
Sights and Culture
The city has over 25 churches and monasteries built mostly in Gothic, Romanesque and a mixture of both styles. For its appealing steeples, Erfurt is often referred to with the name ‘Thuringian Rome’. The city’s major churches and monasteries include the Allerheiligenkirche (All Saints’ Church), the Dom St. Marien, the Lorenzkirche (St Laurence’s Church), the Martinikirche (St Martin’s Church), the Martinikirche (St Martin’s Church), the Neuwerkskirche St. Crucis (church of the new work/Holy Cross Church), the Schottenkirche St. Nikolai und St. Jakobi (Scots Monks’ Church of St Nicholas and St James), the Severikirche (St Severus’ Church), the Ursulinenkirche, St. Ursula’s Church and the Wigbertikirche (St Wigbert’s Church).
Erfurt’s major attraction is the Krämerbrücke (Merchants’ bridge), a medieval bridge lined with inhabited and half timbered buildings on the either sides. The foot bridge connects the other two attractions of Benediktsplatz and Wenigemarkt and spans across the Breitstorm, a branch of the Gera River.
Erfurt is known for its great variety of museums. The Stadtmuseum, the Alte Synagoge, the Erinnerungsort Topf & Söhne, the Kunsthalle Erfurt and the art museum near Anger Square are noteworthy. The modern opera house has been the home to Theater Erfurt and its Philharmonic Orchestra since 2003.