Europe 2017: Ein Feste Burg
We crossed over from the the former West Germany to the former East Germany while on the autobahn, and the current rest area is the former GDR checkpoint area. We got off and got to tour where cars would pull in and get checked out by East German soldiers. The area has a ton
We continued on our way, took a few detours, and arrived in Wittenberg around lunchtime. I guess in an anniversary such as the one we are celebrating this year, I expected a lot more people around. Indeed, there were tour buses around, but generally the crowd was pretty crowded - almost light.
We parked on the street next to the Luther House, and that was our first stop. You enter the courtyard, and there's a fountain and a statue of Katarina von Bora!
If you're expecting the house to be a lot of "here's Luther's writing desk!" or "here's Luther's chamber pot!" you'll be disappointed. Instead, the rooms have a sign (in German and English) talking about a certain number of years in Luther's life. Then in the room will be documents, paintings, sculptures, and items from that period of time. When they talked about Luther praying to St. Anne, they had a small statue of St. Anne and explained why she had been sainted and why people pray to her.
My favorite piece was a gesangbuch featuring a song of Luther's. I'll post it below. Can you figure it out? (I was pretty disappointed that there wasn't more stuff about Luther's music and his hymns.)
The museum is three floors high. They have a room that talks about Catholicism's return to Wittenberg in the many years following 1517. They feature artwork and merchandise from other anniversary celebrations, like the one in 1983 to commemorate Luther's birth.
We went to the - get this! - von Bora Cafe for lunch. I ordered the flammkuchen - a thin crust pizza with cream cheese instead of tomato sauce - and hot chocolate. I'm really trying to be as polite as possible when ordering, but sometimes I get a bit flustered. When ordering the hot chocolate, I said, "Schokolade...zum trinken, bitte." Then she asked me if I wanted cream on top, and Ben had to translate for me. I almost had it!
At the end of the street was the famous Castle Church where Luther posted his 95 theses. The door has been moved to the side, and they've covered it with a bronze engraving of all 95 theses. An Italian group was in front of it when we passed, and after we left the church we heard them singing "A Mighty Fortress" and shouting and yelling stuff. We assume it was good.
Meanwhile, I got to go inside the church. It has been completely renovated since 1517, and not much of it is original to the church. Still, inside they have statues of all the important Reformers of Wittenberg, with Luther and Melanchthon nearest to the altar. Some of them were looking off into space - I think the sculptor should have had them all facing towards the altar, where a statue of Jesus was at the center.
We walked down the other side of the pedestrian street (Mittelstrasse) to get back to the car. Up on the second floor of the buildings they would sometimes have a plaque saying which famous intellectual, royal, or pastor studied in that building.
I got as many pictures as I could so that I can
We left Wittenberg and drove up to Potsdam, which is outside of Berlin - tomorrow's stop. Ben had made hotel reservations at Hotel Sanssouci, which turned out to be right next to the city square. The hotel was very nice, and they even gave us complimentary transportation tickets we could use tomorrow!
After dropping off our stuff, we walked over to the Sanssouci Park and Palace. It was the home to Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, and he had the park, gardens, and palace modeled after the Palace at Versailles. I have to say, it was pretty well done! It covers a huge area of the park, but we were only able to visit a small corner of it. Fortunately this small corner included the palace. Sanssouci means "No worries" and I guess if it was built today he might call it "Hakuna Matata!"
The palace itself wasn't open in the evening, but all the gardens were open, and you could even walk around the palace without any problems. The evening was gorgeous and we took advantage of it.
As we ate, I heard a band strike up outside. It was a brass band, featuring a trumpet, an...alto saxophone...two euphoniums, and a baritone! They weren't out there for very long, but I loved listening to some live music.
Potsdam has its own Brandenburg Gate, although it's a little smaller than Berlin's version. We went through it and emerged out in another pedestrian street called Brandenburger Strasse. It was after 9pm, so many of the shops were closed and many of the cafes and restaurants were shutting down for
After the stroll up and down the street, all of us were pretty tired. Tomorrow we'll get to Berlin and hit all the major sites! I can't believe I'm going to Berlin!
Read about my day in Berlin HERE!