The historical town of Arnstadt is located a short 15 min train journey from Erfurt which makes it the perfect place to head to following an exploration of Thuringia's capital city. With a population of approximately 25,000 people, Arnstadt is a relatively small German town and that's exactly why you're going to want to visit.
There is a reason why Arnstadt is called the oldest town in central Germany, it was founded in the year 704, making it over 1300 years old! Isn't that reason enough to want to visit? To walk through the same streets and visit Churches that generations have been doing for over a millennia?
It's not just about the beautiful buildings and streets, Arnstadt was town where the very influential Martin Luther and Johann Sebastian Bach visited, worked, and lived centuries ago. The connection and reverence to both men can still be felt to this day.
The Oberkirche was constructed as a Franciscan Monastery in the 13th century, atop a hill at the outskirts of the Old Town. The interior of the church, measuring 60 metres by 11 metres, contains various 17th century relics, such as the high altar, various statues, and paintings.
The Oberkirche played an important role in the life of Martin Luther during his formative years as a young monk in Erfurt. Luther visited Arnstadt and was a guest at the Franciscan monastery where he once listened to a sermon by Franciscan brother, Dr Henricus Kuhn. It was the progressive ideas mentioned during that sermon that stirred new ideas and concepts in Luther.
The Liebfrauenkirche Church
The Liebfrauenkirche, Church of Our Lady, is a 13th century church located a short 10 min walk from Oberkirche and is one of the most important churches in the Thuringia region as it dates back to the transitional period between the Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles.
The Liebfrauenkirche was constructed between 1230-1250 making it over 700 years old and was constructed in two styles; One side of the church was constructed in the Romanesque-style and the other half in Gothic, this can be seen when exploring the interior of the church.
When we arrived at the church, Oliver unlocked the gate and we entered through the large heavy wooden doors. I think for the first time on my trip, I was dumbfounded. The interior of the Liebfrauenkirche was spectacular. I must have stood there for a good few minutes simply absorbing the grand interior.
I was drawn to the magnificent stained-glass windows which shone brightly out of the darkness like a beacon and seemed to welcome us. Situated beneath the grand windows in the Church choir (the main area in the church which provides seating to the clergy) was the large winged altar, a spectacular golden altar which was created in 1498.
The Liebfrauenkirche Church is open from May to September but is currently looking for more volunteers to support with the opening hours. I mention this in case the church isn’t open during your visit. I’m hopeful that with the upcoming Martin Luther 500th Anniversary of The Reformation celebrations that more people may be interested in supporting this church because its awe-inspiring interior should definitely be experienced by all visitors.
The Bachkirche, or Bach Church, is the common name given to the Johann Sebastian Bach Church which was named in 1935 in celebration of its association with the famous composer.
When Oliver mentioned that he wanted to show us something special and took us towards the Bachkirche, I had no idea that we were about to see some genuinely surprising history.
We walked down the nave, appreciating the how modern the interior looked, but it was only when we turned around to see a beautiful grand church organ. It was massive! It completely dominated the entire upper area of the church.