I recently returned from a quick tour of LutherCountry to visit the places in Germany where Martin Luther lived and worked. Though I’ve been to Germany a half a dozen times, all of my previous trips were to the west (Rhine River valley) or to the south (Bavaria). Here in the Lutherlands, primarily located in the former East Germany, things were a little different. Mostly in that Soviet brutalist architecture…but certainly in the culture as well.
But no matter their particular inclination toward speediness of service, there is no denying the German people’s general appreciation for Mr. Luther. In case you haven’t heard (which would be quite unlikely if you live anywhere near LutherCountry), 2017 marks the 500th Anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. The actions of Luther and the other Reformers certainly changed the church, but they also had a tremendous impact on the German language, music, art, architecture, politics and social life. Today, it seems like every town has a statue of Martin Luther (which, by the way, are great for selfies!)
The Germans have been preparing for this important year for some time now — nearly a decade, in fact. Playmobil even released a Martin Luther figurine last year to commemorate the upcoming anniversary, and the first run of 34,000 sold out in less than 72 hours.
All of this Anniversary hoopla seems to have encouraged the local tourist boards to get creative as they link their communities with the Great Reformer. There is a long list of cities with official connection to Luther, and many more with lesser claims. For example, even Nuremburg made the cut on our Luther tour. While the sausages of Nuremburg alone are worth the visit, the closest connection I could determine is that their printing houses encouraged the spread of Luther’s ideas, while his Protestant thought influenced their sacred architecture. A stretch, I think, but the sausages were great!
So if you’re interested in being a part of the historic celebration in Germany next year– let me know, as I’ll be leading a group. (And if you’re one of the few that doesn’t have a “Little Luther” Playmobil in your house – well, I can hook you up.)
Dan Hermen is the Director of Sales for Witte Travel & Tours. This blog post is the first part of a series that will focus on Martin Luther and the Reformation Anniversary.