Erfurt Travel Guide
Dating back to the Middle Ages, Erfurt has been an important city. At that time, it became a trading centre, boasting goods from as far as 7,000 kilometres away. Today, it is home to a series of historically significant churches, museums, and more.
Begin your visit to Erfurt by exploring the Petersberg Citadel. In the 17th century, Archbishop Johann Philipp von Schönborn ordered the construction of this fortress. At its completion, the citadel was encircled by more than two kilometres of outer walls and sprawled over 36 hectares.
Petersberg Citadel remained a viable military possession until 1963. After its decommissioning, the conditions of the fortress deteriorated somewhat. Today, local authorities are slowly bringing this place back to its former glory. Despite continual construction, its views and inner buildings are worth seeing.
From the end of WWII to the late 1980s, Erfurt lay on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain. During this time, its citizens lived in fear of the secret police, or the Stasi. Those unlucky enough to fall under their custody ended up where the Memorial and Education Centre Andreasstraße is today.
Over its life, more than 5,000 political prisoners languished behind bars here. In 1989, as the Iron Curtain fell, citizens occupied this building. They did so to prevent the loss of incriminating records that would underline crimes the Stasi committed. Most displays are in German only, but audio guides in English are available.
Next, pay a visit to the Old Synagogue of Erfurt. This place of worship is significant for being one of the best-preserved synagogues in Europe. Local authorities laid its foundation back in the 11th century. It only served in that capacity until the 14th century, as the plague was blamed on local Jews. As a result, the building survived to the present day.
Lastly, make time to check out Erfurt Cathedral. It started hosting services in the 14th century and was the place where Martin Luther became a minister. As for the building itself, don’t miss its paintings and stained-glass windows.
Of all the attractions in Erfurt, Kramerbrucke is perhaps the most unique. Built to span the Gera River back in medieval times, this bridge also contains homes and shops. Some tenants have continuously occupied their units for over 500 years.
For just as long, market vendors and musicians have plied their trade here. Because of this, this bridge is an excellent place to hang out and people watch. If you can, visit this attraction in late June. At this time, the Krämerbrückenfest happens, attracting over 100,000 visitors.
If you’re travelling with family, make time to check out the Thuringian Zoo Park. Spanning over 63 hectares, it is the third-largest zoo in Germany. As you walk through, you’ll find over 1,000 animals representing 163 species.
Throughout the day, zoo workers feed different groups of animals. Check the attraction’s website for specific times, and you may get to check out a unique spectacle. Weekends are busy, so drop by during the workweek to avoid crowds.
Want to kick back and relax amid nature while in Erfurt? Spend an hour or two at Egapark. This green space has among the largest floral displays in all of Germany. Of particular note is their Japanese garden, their rose display, and their butterfly house.
Do note, though, that this place isn’t a public park. To get in, you must pay an admission fee of up to 14 EUR per family.
Domplatz is another excellent spot to take in everyday life in Erfurt. Along its edge, you’ll find an ensemble of churches and 18th-century buildings. However, this place has served local residents since its creation in the 12th century. In December, this venue plays host to this city’s Christmas market.
What To Eat
When in Erfurt, try Rouladen at lunch or dinner. Cooks make this dish by taking thinly-sliced beef and filling it with chopped onion, bacon, and pickles. The preparers then roll the beef around the stuffing, securing it in place with string. When served, mashed potatoes, dumplings, or red cabbage serves as a side dish.
If you’re feeling more like sausage, order some Thüringer Rostbratwurst. Their makers craft these brats with pork or beef ( and rarely, veal). When prepared, cooks char the outside lightly and cook them with beer. When served in a restaurant, it comes with mashed potatoes. On the street, vendors serve it in a bun with mustard.
End your day in Erfurt with a shot of Aromatique. This herbal liqueur balances sweetness with bitterness, making it a wonderful cocktail ingredient. Part of the reason for its distinctive flavour – its creators age Aromatique in oak barrels for one year.