Saturday, 21 May 2011

Eisenach : From Luther to Bach

Eisenach Train Station

Eisenach... but where/which way do we go?

When in doubt, follow the signs

Today was by far the busiest day of the trip thus far. We left the Mainzerhof Hotel (and its amazing breakfast buffet) at 7:00 AM and took a long train ride to Eisenach -- home to one of Luther's childhood homes, the Wartburg castle where Luther lived in hiding for 10 months, and to the museum of Johann Sebastian Bach, the famous Baroque musician and composer. Through the train windows, we got the chance to see rural Germany in all its simplistic beauty. The lush vegetation and open fields were reminiscent of both Vermont and Pennsylvania.

Luther House, Where Young Martin Lived for Several Years as a Pupil

Painting of Young Luther Singing and the Lutherhaus Windows Today
(note the window detail in the upper right of the painting)

Relief of the White Rose Emblem in the Eisenach Lutherhaus

Relief of Luther in the Eisenach Lutherhaus

Once we arrived in Eisenach, we headed to the Luther House where Martin Luther lived from 1498 to 1501. During his time in Eisenach, he took care of children and sang in a choir. It was here that he had to decide whether to become a lawyer like his father hoped for, or a priest/monk. It was his decision to become a monk that led him away from Eisenach to Erfurt, where we will be staying tonight.

After completing our quick tour of the Luther House we grabbed Thuringian Sausages (okay, really: long bratwursts) for lunch at an outside stand.

Thuringian Sausage Man Gets His Largest Order of the Day

Mr. Behnke Apologizes to All You Germans for Putting Ketchup on
What Was Designed to Be a Medium Exclusively for Mustard

Wartburg Castle

After lunch we took a shuttle up to the Wartburg castle. Last year's students hiked up the hill, apparently attempting to do it "the way Luther would have" rather than with technological aids. According to some students, the castle was the most awesome sight they'd ever seen in real life. It really is better in reality than in the following pictures, but still...

Interior Buildings of the Wartburg Castle

This was Luther's hideaway starting in May of 1521 when he was lovingly captured under the order of Frederick the Wise on his way back to Wittenburg from Worms (from whence many assumed he would receive the treatment given to Jan Hus). He went by the name of Knight George while in hiding, and translated the New Testament from Greek to German in less than three weeks, wrote several documents regarding his beliefs and oppositions, and constantly struggled with the Devil. This is where Luther famously threw his inkpot against the wall, the marks of which have long since been vandalized/chipped away by previous Luther(f)ans. Luther left the castle in March of 1522 when he returned to Wittenburg by request of the town council to put an end to the insurrections happening as a result of the Reformation.

Easily the prettiest part of the castle, however, was the Elizabeth Room and the Upper Banquet Hall. We had a great tour guide who kept saying very funny things in a German accented English like, "Over thirty persent of dese stones are origginal" and "I only have vun question: do you like?" and "Are your eyes popping out of zee head?" And in truth, they were.

Constance admires the patterned mosaic of the Elizabeth Room

Detail of the Ceiling in the Elizabeth Room

The highlight of the visit, of course, is to see the room where Luther actually stayed, which you enter on your own (i.e, without a guide), at the end, and through a long and low tunnel (a medieval European was on average 3 inches shorter than today's average European, we're told)

The Long Walk To Luther's Room
(duck your head)

Luther's Room in the Wartburg
(none of the furnishings in the room are original...)

(...except allegedly the whale verterbrae footstool, or does that sound fishy?)

While many students could have stayed on the castle grounds all day, we had to leave in time to see the house of J. S. Bach. Bach, an avid Luther follower himself, was a prime example of how people used to dedicate their work and passions to furthering Christ's Kingdom. It was intriguing to learn how much spiritual inspiration was behind all of his masterpieces.

Genevieve Rocks The Bach House from the Outside

While Channing Rocks in Her Laid Bach Acoustic Chair on the Inside

...while Bach himself just stands there (silently)

After sleeping through most of the Bach museum tour (to be fair, students were very tired from a very long day), students got re-energized on local gelato and took another picture at the Eisenach Luther statue.

Wheaton College Students at the Luther Statue in Erfurt
(again with the ML gang signs...)

Then we continued to Erfurt via train. When we eventually reached the hotel after being misdirected by the hotel concierge in Eisenach, we all dispersed for dinner and finally said goodnight to our long, long day.

Christian and Vievie asleep on the train
(yes, the picture itself is sleeping format-wise;
no, the train is not ascending vertically)

Ladies and Gentleman of the Jury: Exhibits A, B, and C

A. Christ as "the door" inside the classic vesica piscis form at the Wartburg
B. Room service door hanger at the hotel with "Feed My Soul" slogan
C. Bathtub behind the door in the classic vesica piscis form at the Radisson Blu Erfurt


And the bath itself? Well, let's just say, after the day we had... it felt like being born again.

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