Perched on top of a hill just outside Eisenach to the west of here, we’d seen the spectacular Wartburg as we drove here. We knew it was a special place and that visitors flock there in their thousands, so we made an early start.
Glorious weather and grand views from the top – yes our car is down there in the car park – we went straight to the ticket office and bought three places on the mandatory guided tour.
Our guide was terrific. He had one of those deep brown German voices, spoke so clearly that we didn’t struggle to hear and we understood enough of what he told us to make it worthwhile. Once again, everything in German and though a leaflet in English was available, we notice how the French, Italians and Spanish visitors struggle here.
Inside was a “real” castle though it had been rebuilt and restored and little was original, it seemed. That didn’t matter to us – the guide’s commentary enlightened me with a bit of German history (the two historians in the family knew most of it already of course) and the interiors were beautifully decorated and sparsely furnished.
“St Elizabeth’s Bower” was a gem with incredible mosaic walls. By hanging back when others moved on, I was able to get some good photos – it helped that I’d discovered (and remembered to use) the ISO setting on my camera, too. The guide was patient and understanding!
The patterns were so diverse and the mosaics so very well executed that we could have spent hours in this room alone, but of course, we had to move on.
The Minstrel’s room was a delight. Not only were the walls painted with trompe d’oeil fabric “wallpaper”, the huge mural on one wall was painted as a tapestry trompe d’oeil as well, depicting one and the same room complete with trompe d’oeil fabric “wallpaper” – this amused me greatly and once again, I could have happily lingered longer here.
The paintings throughout the castle were in a charming style, reminiscent of those old story books found on our grandparents bookshelves with tales of woodland heroes, merry men and brave knights of old. We loved them!
The tour finished in the Great Hall where concerts are held and grand occasions celebrated. Our guide finished his tour and left us to wander through the remaining museum collections at our own pace at which point we realised that, though we knew that Martin Luther had been at the Wartburg for some time, we hadn’t seen any references to him so far.
Here they were. This was where he’d taken refuge and where he’d translated the Bible into German. His working copy of the Bible was there, as was his handwritten translation. What a treasure – and in fine condition, too.
Our way out of the castle was through the inevitable gift shop where small children pleaded for wooden swords, shields and armour and where one rather older young man eyed them in the knowledge that he too would have once given eye teeth for such things!