Eupedia Germany Guide

Eupedia Home > Germany Travel Guide > Thuringia

Thuringia Travel Guide

Version française
Belvedere Palace, Weimar (© Volker Z -
Belvedere Palace, Weimar.


With a land area of 16,172 km² and 2.2 million inhabitants, Thuringia (Thüringen in German) is the smallest and second least populous state of former East Germany. Its capital is Erfurt.

The state's most famous city is undeniably Weimar. Capital of Germany between 1919 and 1933, it was the place where the nation's first democratic constitution was signed after WWI. From 1772 to 1805, a cultural and literary movement known as Weimar Classicism attempted to establish a new humanism by synthesizing Romantic, classical and Enlightenment ideas, with writers Goethe and Schiller as their most famous representatives. Weimar was also the birthplace of the Bauhaus movement, founded in 1919 by Walter Gropius, with artists Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Oskar Schlemmer, and Lyonel Feininger teaching in Weimar's Bauhaus School.

With the Hainich National Park and the Thuringian Forest taking up most of the west and south of the state, Thuringia has earned the nickname of 'green heart of Germany'. The country's most famous hiking trail, the Rennsteig, runs through the Thuringian Forest and Thuringian Highland, and marks the traditional boundary between the medieval Duchy of Franconia with the Landgraviate of Thuringia.

The winter sports centre and health resort of Oberhof has held many European and World Luge Championships. Germany has won more Winter Olympics gold medals than any other country in the last 20 years, and half of Germany's gold medals have been won by Thuringian athletes.

The illustrious royal house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, to which belongs the British and Belgian royal families, and the former royal families of Portugal and Bulgaria, originated in the so-called Saxon duchies of Thuringia. With the division of the House of Wettin in 1485, Thuringia went to the senior Ernestine branch of the family, which subsequently subdivided the area into a number of smaller states, according to the Saxon tradition of dividing inheritance amongst male heirs. Among them were the states of Saxe-Weimar, Saxe-Eisenach, Saxe-Jena, Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Altenburg, Saxe-Coburg, and Saxe-Gotha, named after the Thuringian towns in which each was based. Note that Coburg, now in Bavaria, was a Thuringian town until 1920.


Attractions are listed geographically, from west to east (left to right) and north to south (top to bottom).


Sondershausen Palace
Sondershausen Palace (photo by Michael Sander - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)
outstanding Sondershausen Palace was the official residence of the Princes of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen. Originally built in the 13th century, most of what can be seen today dates from the mid-16th to late 18th centuries, and blends ...Read more
Mühlhausen (© ASonne30 -
outstanding Once a Free Imperial City, Mühlhausen is one of the oldest towns in Thuringia. It is still enclosed with its 3 km long city wall and has a good number of timber-framed houses...Read more

Bad Langensalza
Friederikenschlösschen, Bad Langensalza (© twoandonebuilding -
very good A spa town reputed for its curative sulphur baths, Bad Langensalza will reward visitors with its numerous gardens (including a Japanese-style garden), half-timbered houses, ruined medieval castle, and delightful...Read more
Gotha (© Rena Marijn -
outstanding An attractive historic town, Gotha was the capital of the Duchy of Saxe-Gotha from 1640, and the co-capital of the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha from 1826 to 1918. The main sight is the grand, monumental Schloss Friedenstein...Read more

Thuringian Forest

Hainich National Park
Hainich National Park (© U.L. -
very good Covering 75 km², Hainich National Park occupies much of the triangular area between Eisenach, Mühlhausen, and Bad Langensalza. The national park forms the southern part of the Hainich, the largest contiguous deciduous...Read more
Wartburg Castle, Eisenach (photo by Robert Scarth - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license)
outstanding Set in the northern foothills of the Thuringian Forest, the charming Renaissance town of Eisenach is famous for being the birthplace of Johann Sebastian Bach. Martin Luther spent his childhood here too, and spent ten months...Read more
Schloss Wilhelmsburg
Wilhelmsburg Castle (photo by Michael Sander - Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license)
very good Located the city of Schmalkalden, Wilhelmsburg Castle was erected between 1584 and 1618 by Wilhelm IV of Hesse and served as a secondary residence of the Landgraves of Hesse. Unimpressive from the outside, the castle's...Read more
Meiningen (photo by Kramer96 - Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license)
very good Capital of the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen from 1680 to 1918, Meiningen is a town of culture renowned for its theatre and orchestra. The Meiningen Court Orchestra, one of the oldest orchestras in Europe, was founded in 1690 by Duke ...Read more

Other attractions

very good Friedrichroda


Schloss Frankenhausen
Frankenhausen Castle (photo by PodracerHH - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Germany license)
very good Frankenhausen Castle was the original seat of the Counts of Schwarzburg, who later became the Princes of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt. The family occupied the castle continuously from 1340 to 1918. The medieval castle was badly damaged...Read more
Erfurt (© johnboy -
outstanding Once called the "Thuringian Rome", the state capital suffered a lot from WWII bombings, but remains an attractive place with a few good museums. The University of Erfurt, dating back to 1379, was the first university...Read more
Weimar (© Volker Z -
outstanding Cultural capital of the German Enlightenment, first democratic capital of Germany, and cradle of the Bauhaus movement, Weimar has a lot to be proud of. Yet this modest town is not the country's...Read more
Dornburger Schlösser
Rokoko-Schloss, Dornburger Schlösser (© ArtHdesign -
outstanding The Dornburger Schlösser are three stately homes on a hill overlooking the Saale River in Dornburg-Camburg, 11 km north of Jena. They were the possession of the Dukes of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. The Alte Schloss is an eclectic...Read more
Jena (© ArtHdesign -
good Thuringia's second largest city, Jena is the university town where Carl Zeiss and Ernst Abbe laid the foundation of modern optics. Defaced by GDR city planning, Jena is rather unexceptional from a touristic point of view, apart from...Read more.
Schloss Leuchtenburg
Leuchtenburg Castle
very good Dating back to the 13th century, Leuchtenburg Castle commands a hill over the Saale River in Kahla, 15 km south of Jena. It houses a museum of Thuringian porcelain...Read more

Heidecksburg Palace
Heidecksburg Palace (© Udo Kruse -
outstanding Heidecksburg Palace is the former residence of the Princes of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt. The interior is lavishly decorated in baroque and rococo styles. Particularly impressive are the Banquet...Read more
Feengrotten, Saalfeld (© bflh -
very good The historical town of Saalfeld is especially known for its Feengrotten (Fairy Grottoes), 1.5 km out of town, listed by the Guinness Book of Records as the world's most colourful...Read more

Other attractions

very good Greiz
good Ilmenau

Travel Community

Ask your travel questions on the Germany Travel Forum

Eupedia's Rating System

Cities, towns, villages & historic buildings

  • : Local interest
  • : Moderately interesting
  • : Outstanding place
  • : Best of the country - shouldn't be missed
  • : Best of Europe

Natural attractions

  • : Local interest
  • : Moderately interesting
  • : Highly recommended
  • : World-class natural attraction
  • ※ : UNESCO World Heritage site

Copyright © 2004-2022 All Rights Reserved.