ca. 350/300,000 BC Approximate date of oldest remains of Stone Age man found in Thuringia. Homo erectus remains discovered near Bilzingsleben.

ca. 200,000 BC Evidence of Homo sapiens near Ehringsdorf.

ca. 380 AD First mention of the name “Thoringi” for Thuringians by Flavius Vegetius Renatus.

531 Fall of the Kingdom of Thuringia under King Hermenefried due to the victory of the Franks and Saxons, probably near Burgscheidungen an der Unstrut. Thuringia becomes part of "Francia Orientalis", but remains relatively autonomous. Franks and Saxons settle in Thuringia, followed by Slavs from east of the River Saale.

725 (719 ?) Beginning of missionary work in Thuringia under the Anglo-Saxon St. Boniface, who founds a small monastery (cella) in 725 near Ohrdruf.

741/42 Founding of the Diocese of Erfurt by St. Boniface.

919 After the Carolingians die out, Thuringia is brought under Saxon rule by King Henry I.

1292 Landgraviate of Thuringia recognised as independent from Landgraviate of Hesse.

1392 University of Erfurt opens.

1486-1525 Reign of Frederick the Wise, promoter of the Reformation.

1521/22 Luther stays at the Wartburg. He translates the New Testament into German, codifying written German.

At Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, Martin Luther translated the New Testament of the Bible into German, creating the basis for standard written German.
At Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, Martin Luther translated the New Testament of the Bible into German, creating the basis for standard written German.

1525 Thuringian revolt, the high point in the German Peasant War, is crushed near Frankenhausen.

1530 Introduction of the Reformation to Thuringia is essentially complete.

1547 John Frederick 1, “the Magnanimous”, loses the electorship and part of his lands to the Albertines after being defeated in the Schmalkalden War (1546/47 – Battle of Mühlberg). Weimar becomes the new royal Ernestine residence city.

1558 Founding of the University of Jena (already established in 1548 as a High School).

1566 Brothers John Frederick II and John William share the Ernestine lands. John Frederick II receives the main territory with Weimar, and his brother rules over Coburg.

1641-1675 Reign of Duke Ernst I, “the Pious”, in Gotha; development of modern state and church administration.

1775-1828 Reign of Duke/Grand Duke Carl August. Goethe is invited to Weimar and lives and works there until his death in 1832. Under Carl August, Weimar and Jena become the German and European centres of classicism and idealist philosophy; Jena also witnesses the epoch of the Early Romantics.

Schiller’s Home in Weimar
Schiller’s Home in Weimar

1802 Erfurt, Mühlhausen, Nordhausen and the Eichsfeld are ceded to Prussia. The change in power is confirmed in 1803 in the German Mediatisation.

1806 Battle of Jena and Auerstedt.

1815 Congress of Vienna. Prussia receives (anew) the cities of Erfurt, Mühlhausen, Nordhausen, the Obereichsfeld and all of Albertine-Saxon northern Thuringia.

1817 Student festival at the Wartburg.

1846 Carl Zeiss establishes his mechanical studio in Jena.

1871 Thuringian states join the German Empire.

1869 Founding party congress of the Social Democratic Workers’ Party in Eisenach.

1875 Founding of the Socialist Workers’ Party of Germany in Gotha.

1918 Abdication of the Thuringian royal houses after the fall of the Hohenzollern monarchy.

1919 German National Assembly convenes in Weimar, founding of the Weimar Republic.

1920 Founding of the State of Thuringia (1 May 1920) from seven successor states without annexation of the Prussian administrative district of Erfurt. County Coburg opts to become part of Bavaria.

1921 Passing of the constitution of the State of Thuringia.

1932 Last free elections, for the 6th Thuringian State Parliament.

1932/33 Fritz Sauckel (NSDAP) becomes Minister President, later Imperial Governor, of Thuringia.

1933 Loss of Thuringian statehood.

1945 Thuringian cities sustain heavy damage in aerial bombings. Thuringia occupied by American, and later Soviet, troops. Integration of several Prussian (formerly Thuringian) territories into Thuringia.

1946 Elections for the Thuringian State Parliament (20 October). Constitution passed (20 December). Statehood confirmed.

1949 Integration of Thuringia into the newly founded German Democratic Republic.

1950 Erfurt chosen as seat of government for Thuringia.

1951 Erfurt becomes location for Thuringian State Parliament.

1952 State of Thuringia dissolved (25 July 1952); formation of GDR districts of Erfurt, Gera, Suhl.

1989 Peaceful Revolution leads to later dissolution of the GDR.

1990, 3 October: Day of German Unity; State of Thuringia recreated. 14 October: First free elections for the Thuringian State Parliament since 1946; white and red are chosen as state colours; state coat of arms is the Thuringian lion surrounded by eight stars (symbolising Thuringia’s founding states). 25 October: Constituent session of the new Thuringian State Parliament.

1993, 25 October: Constitution of the Free State of Thuringia passed.
Copyright: Prof. Dr. Axel Stelzner, University of Jena

Thuringia’s lovely towns and castles

Contrasting the peace and quiet of the forest are the busy towns and cities of Thuringia (Thueringen).Offering an attractive blend of history and tradition, culture and leisure facilities, modern and classic art and architecture, the towns and cities of Thuringia are always worth a visit.

The over 1.250-year-old capital of Thuringia, Erfurt, shows the Middle Ages set in stone and has one of the largest and best preserved town centers in Germany. Not to be missed are the impressive background of the Erfurt Cathedral St Mary and Church St Severi to the timber-framed houses along the Cathedral Square (Domplatz), the house-bridge Merchants’ Bridge (Krämerbrücke) - completely preserved and the longest of its kind in Europe - the town houses of the rich along the square Fischmarkt, the traditional garden exhibition egapark (egapark) or the recently recovered fortress Petersberg (Zitadelle Petersberg), as only a handful of the impressive sights in Erfurt, the capital of Thuringia. Martin Luther was a monk at the Augustinian Monastery (Augustinerkloster) which today not only displays a museum but attracts visitors as a guest house and conference centre.

Interesting to know:
A walk across the Krämerbrücke bridge is a particularly impressive experience. Initially made of wood, then built from stone in 1325, this bridge linked the settlements and markets on the right and left banks of the River Gera. The narrow cobblestone road is edged with narrow houses on both sides. Generations of traders and craftspeople have lived - and still live - on the bridge. Today there is a fascinating selection of ceramics, jewellery, souvenirs and Thuringian specialities on offer.
City tours are available in English, French, Spanish, Italian and Russian.

The Cultural Capital of 1999, Weimar, hardly has a single street or lane that does not reflect the interesting and exciting history of the town. The bronze statues of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller in front of the German National Theatre (Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar) have been a tourist magnet for many generations. Along with the inner-city „cultural mile“ and a total of 27 museums this town on the river Ilm is a popular attraction for tourists from all over the world. 16 sights and objects in the classical city of Weimar were also inducted as members to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. The high artistic quality of the public and private buildings, castles and parks in and around the city testify to the renowned cultural developments of the Weimar Classical Period. Some of the protected sights include: Goethe’s home, Schiller’s home, Goethe’s Garden House and the three palaces – Belvedere, Ettersburg and Tiefurt with their unique grounds.

The Duchess Anna Amalia Library (Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek), also part of the World Heritage site of classical Weimar, reopened in October 2007, only 3 years after being damaged by a devastating fire. This visitor magnet holds the world’s largest Faust Collection, by Goethe (3,900 volumes), important Middle-Age manuscripts, historic maps and a collection of bibles and music volumes. It is now open for visitors from Tuesday to Sunday 9.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. The Bauhaus in Weimar is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage list and a must for visitors on the footsteps of modern art and architecture. In 2015, Weimar will be getting a new Bauhaus Museum.

Interesting to know:
Goethe and Schiller are facing competition in Weimar. While they are the main focus for many visitors to Weimar, the Modern Movement has been a great attraction too since 2009. 90 years ago, Walter Gropius made design history by founding the State Bauhaus in Weimar. Many answered his call: Kandinsky from Russia, Feininger from America, László Moholy-Nagy from Hungary, Johannes Itten from Switzerland, Oskar Schlemmer and Paul Klee from Germany, to mention only the most famous names.
City tours are available in English, French, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Rumanian, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Polish and Slovenian.

Other towns, such as Jena, Gera, Gotha, Eisenach, Schmalkalden and many others too are attractive and worthwhile a cultural visit during a holiday in Thuringia. And all towns and villages offer a variety of events and entertainment, from concerts and theatre, festivals and traditional markets to village fairs.

Thuringia is also known as land of castles and palaces. Over 400 medieval castles, castle ruins and palaces tower on mountains, hills and rocks or lie majestically in the beautiful valleys of Thuringia. Where Emperors, Kings, Landgraves, Counts and Dukes once lived in the stonesymbols of their power you will find a rather different purpose today. What remains is the pleasant or eery shudder you may get when you stroll through a castle or palace, stone witnesses of the exciting history of Thuringia. Partly in ruins but mostly in their entire beauty and splendour they always invite the visitor to a worthwhile visit into the history of Thuringia.

Wartburg Castle (Wartburg) near Eisenach is one of Germany’s most famous castles and the only one to be a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its stunning natural surroundings and outstanding examples of Feudalistic architecture have been praised for ages. The castle also has an influential historical significance. It was here in 1521 where Martin Luther, during his exile, translated the New Testament from Greek into German.

Luther’s study can still be visited along with the rest of the breathtaking castle. During middle ages, the legendary Battle of the Bards was also held at the Wartburg. Music has always been a focal point of the castle and so today the venue is renowned for an outstanding series of concerts from April to December. In the 19th century, students from all over Germany came to Wartburg Castle with the aim of unifying the German states. The colours and design of the German flag were decided upon during these summits.

Interesting to know:
Wartburg Fortress is open daily: from 9 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. from November to February and from 8.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. from March to October. The fortress can only be viewed on a guided tour, for which audio guides are also available in a number of languages. There is a very special place to stay right next to Wartburg Fortress – the *****- star Wartburg Hotel.

Apart from the Wartburg Castle, the Friedenstein Castle (Schloss Friedenstein) in Gotha or the Dornburg Palaces (Dornburger Schlösser) there is a great amount of other romantic palaces and medieval castles. Historical festivals, knights plays and medieval feasts are perfect occasions to experience history and the flair of Thuringia’s past centuries. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who had made Thuringia his chosen home county, asked fondly: „Where do you find so much good on so small an area?“ („Wo finden Sie auf so engen Fleck noch soviel Gutes?“).

Information and brochures on the holiday state of Thuringia, accommodation and travel programmes, event infos, tickets and last-minute offers are available from the Tourist Information Thuringia on the hotline +49 (0) 361-37420 or on the internet at www.visit-thuringia.com.