Erfurt Things to Do

  • Domberg 2013
    Domberg 2013
    by Kathrin_E
  • Houses in Domplatz, 2013
    Houses in Domplatz, 2013
    by Kathrin_E
  • Two foolish virgins
    Two foolish virgins
    by Kathrin_E

Most Recent Things to Do in Erfurt

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    Forum Konkrete Kunst

    by King_Golo Updated May 13, 2014

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    Art on display

    While I'm usually not much of an art buff, this museum is something that I really enjoyed in Erfurt. Forum Konkrete Kunst is actually only the part of the museum, the museum itself is former Peterskirche on Petersberg citadel. Looking like a run-down barn from the outside, the similarly run-down interior is used for exhibitions of all kinds. Paintings, sculptures and installations are displayed on dusty ground in front of dilapidated walls. Old wooden columns with thousands of wormholes serve as backgrounds for colourful concrete art.
    I'm not sure whether the building is always in use or whether there are exhibitions only part times. In any case, it's well worth checking it out.

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    Kaufmannskirche

    by Maryimelda Updated Jul 6, 2013

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    Kauffmannskirche

    Kaufmannskirche (Merchant's Church) is a Protestant churchin the Anger which was set up by a group of travelling Frisian traders in the 11th century. It has two notable claims to fame and those are that Martin Luther preached here in 1522 and almost 150 years later the parents of Johann Sebastian Bach exchanged their marriage vows.

    It is the only parish church in Erfurt to be bedecked with two towers.

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    Dom: The Cathedral

    by Kathrin_E Written Jun 20, 2013

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    A lot has already been written about Erfurt's cathedral so I am reluctant to repeat it all again. Anyway, an Erfurt page would be incomplete without a word about the Dom. The silhouette of the two churches on Domberg is Erfurt's landmark, and a visit to the Dom should not be missed.

    Its history began in the 8th century when St Bonifatius founded the diocese of "Erphesfurt", wwhich the Pope confirmed in 742 - an important date in the city's history. Already a few years later the new diocese was incorporated into the Archdiocese of Mainz, part of which it stayed until 1821. Church history in the 19th and 20th century saw many reorganizations in 1994 an independent diocese of Erfurt has been reestablished. The list of the Bishops of Erfurt is remarkably short: 1. Adalar (742-754), 2. Joachim Wanke (1994-2012). They are currently waiting for their third ever Bishop to be nominated.

    Although there was no Bishop in town, a huge cathedral was built. Construction works took their time from the 12th to the 15th century. Since Mainz is far away, Erfurt served as religious centre and second cathedral for the Thuringian properties of the Archidiocese. It also represented political power as the Archbishop was the worldly governor who ruled the city.

    The interior is full of art works, impossible to describe them all in here. I would like to mention a few that particularly impressed me:
    Photo 1: the baroque high altar in the late gothic choir with its stained glass windows.
    Photo 3: a bronze chandelier from the romanesque era in the shape of a man named Wolfram. (The German language knows the abusive term "Armleuchter", chandelier, for a dumb person - a nice illustration... LOL)
    Photo 4: The baptismal font underneath a huge hexagonal canopy. A similar structure can also be found in next-door St Severi.
    Photo 5: The Holy Sepulchre. The coffin-like box contains a life-size wooden figure of the defunct Christ. The other participating persons are painted on the front side and the inner side of the lid. I assume this was used either in religious plays or in the Good Friday ceremonies to illustrate the burial of Christ.

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    Anger:19th Cent and Art Nouveau Shop Architecture

    by Kathrin_E Written Jun 18, 2013

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    Anger 1
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    The buildings around Anger, which has for long been the main shopping area in the city, show several examples of early shop architecture from the late 19th century and art nouveau era. In most cases only the facades are preserved while there are modern shops behind them. Large shop windows were a new element.

    Large department stores were a new invention of that era. Anger 1, the building that faces the Northeastern side of the square, was built in 1906-1908 as a locally owned department store named "Römischer Kaiser", later it became a Hertie store. Recently the whole interior has been renewed and the art nouveau facades now hide one of those modern shopping malls with the usual chain stores, food stalls etc. (and public toilets).

    Further West along the square, there are a several more facades in neo-renaissance and art nouveau style with elaborate decorum.

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    Haus zum Güldenen Krönbacken

    by Kathrin_E Written Jun 17, 2013

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    Back wing 2013
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    Another of those untranslatable house names! Haus zum Güldenen Krönbacken adjacent to St Michaelis church was the house of a wealthy merchant family who extended the house in seevral steps. Like many families in Erfurt, they became rich with woad trade. The woad storage in the backyard still tells of their business.

    I first saw the building during our excursion in 1990. Photo 2 shows the shape it was in - no comment needed, I think. Repair works set in soon after, though. A lot of old wood had to be substituted by new pieces, so the works took their time. Nowadays the house presents itself in excellent shape.
    The courtyard with the woad storage has been turned into a Kulturhof, a location for exhibitions, theatre and other cultural events.

    The courtyard is open and accessible, just walk in through the gate.

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    The Triangular Portal of the Cathedral

    by Kathrin_E Written Jun 17, 2013

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    The main entrance of the cathedral is the triangular portal by the upper end of the great stairway. Instead of just a normal portal cut flat into the facade, its porch has a triangular shape with two equally large doors, both ornated by elaborate gothic sculpture.

    As an example, I am showing the figures from the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. The ten girls are depicted on the Western side of the triangle, towards Severi church. The foolish virgins are desparate in their grief (photo 3) while the wise girls show their joy with an almost malicious grin (photo 4).

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    Domberg and Domplatz

    by Kathrin_E Written Jun 17, 2013

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    Domberg 2013
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    Erfurt's most unique cityscape is Domberg, the hill with the cathedral and St Severi and the big stairway between the two churches, and the wide square below.
    Access to the two churches is best reached from the top of the stairs. Both have their main entrances towards the little square in the middle between them. If ever your physical shape permits, climb up the stairs and admire the changing perspective of the buildings. The stairway was designed to impress, and it does. The mighty cathedral symbolizes the power of the Archbishop of Mainz, who governed the city.

    Domplatz, the square, is used for all kinds of events. This June they were just setting up the stage and ranks for a summer theatre festival. Farmers markets take place here, as well as the Christmas market in Advent. The choirs and spires of the two churches on the hill provide an impressive background for whatever is going on in the square.

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    St Severi Church on Domberg

    by Kathrin_E Written Jun 10, 2013

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    St Severi, interior
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    The smaller neighbour of the cathedral on top of Domberg is the church of St Severi. It used to be the church of a convent of canons until 1803. The silhouette with the three slender spires towards Domplatz is the pendant to the mighty choir of the Dom. Its written history begins in the 10th century but the present church dates from the 13th and 14th century.

    The interior is a wide hall with five vaulted naves of equal height and a forest of columns. Remarkable pieces inside include the baptismal font under a tall delicate stone canopy (photo 4) that almost touches the vaults above, the baroque high altar and organ, the stone sarcophagus of St Severus, around 1360/70, with scenes from the sain’s life depicted in reliefs on the sides (photo 3).

    The side entrance facing the Dom is open in the daytime.

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    Haus zum Breiten Herd

    by Kathrin_E Written Jun 10, 2013

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    2013
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    The “House of the Wide Hearth”, another of those imaginative house names, is one of the most impressive renaissance buildings in town and one of the most splendid remains of old Erfurt. Its colourful façade dominates the Northern front of Fischmarkt. It was built in 1584 for the city bailiff and alderman Heinrich von Denstedt, hence an important and influential member of the magistrate, who resided next to the city hall. The house was renovated already in the 1960s, which shows its importance and architectural value.

    The house next door, Fischmarkt 14-16, sports a very similar architecture but is not as old as its next-door neighbour. This house was built in the 19th century. The neo-renaissance façade was designed in 1883 after the model of Haus zum Breiten Herd.

    Nowadays there is a restaurant inside. In 1990 there was a small clothes shop. I remember that we ate at the restaurant next door, which was a typical remnant of DDR times (choice between 3 main dishes) and did not satisfy oir spoilt Wessi tongues too well.

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    Haus zum Sonneborn

    by Kathrin_E Written Jun 10, 2013

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    The first renovation project in Arche quarter to be completed was Haus zum Sonneborn with its beautiful renaissance portal. The house was built in 1546 for a rich woad merchant.

    The restoration, or reconstruction as it was called in DDR language, was finished in 1988. Since then the house has served as registry office. Civil weddings were performed in the pretty hall already in DDR times. This was another project the conservators proudly showed us during our study trip in 1990.

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    Arche

    by Kathrin_E Written Jun 10, 2013

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    Arche 2013
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    The so called Arche ("Ark) is an old town quarter adjacent to Domplatz. It consists of two lanes (Große und Kleine Arche - “Great and Little Ark”) and the inner courtyards. These are surrounded by authentic, partly medieval buildings which were in decay and urgent need of repair in the 1980s. This I one of the projects we were shown during our excursion in 1990. Already in the last years of the DDR the local monument conservators had succeeded in starting the restoration of a couple of buildings. Several other houses were still in desperate shape.

    I am comparing photos from 1990 with photos taken only recently in June 2013 here. In the meantime almost all houses have been restored, and the Arche has become a popular quarter which hosts a couple of cultural institutions and residential houses. It is sadly lacking just one thing: the spacious inner courtyard would be the perfect location for a beer garden or outdoor café…

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    Waidspeicher

    by Kathrin_E Written Jun 10, 2013

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    Waidspeicher 1990
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    In 1990 the conservators proudly presented us their current project which was just about to be finished: the large Waidspeicher i (woad store) in the courtyard of Arche quarter. This building had been turned into a cultural centre with a puppet theatre. The name "Waidspeicher" (woad store) has become their brand.

    Woad is a plant which produces a blue dye that was popular in former times before the introduction of indigo from overseas. Woad trade is what made Erfurt rich. The timbers in the attic still show traces of blue dye.

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    Stadtmuseum in Haus zum Stockfisch

    by Kathrin_E Written Jun 8, 2013

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    The museum displays the history of Erfurt. It is located in a renaissance town palace named Haus zum Stockfisch. The façade is decorated with fancy ornaments on a chequered ground. Have a closer look at the details. Together with next door’s Haus zum Mohrenkopf it forms a colourful eyecatcher in Johannesstraße.

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    Fischmarkt and City Hall

    by Kathrin_E Updated Jun 8, 2013

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    June 2013
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    The “Fish Market” is one of the oldest market squares of Erfurt and has been the seat of the city’s government at least since the 13th century. Wealthy citizens and woad merchants built their houses in this square. Haus zum Breiten Herd and Haus zum Roten Ochsen are the ones with the most spectacular facades.

    The city hall is not as old as it looks. The medieval precedessor, repaired and extended several times throughout the centuries, was torn down in 1869 and substituted by a new building in neogothic style in the following five years. The present city hall dates entirely from the 19th century, don’t let the gothic style fool you.

    Currently (summer 2013) the square is a huge and noisy construction site and closed to all traffic except pedestrians. The tram tracks and pavement are being renewed. Restaurants, cafes and shops around the square are nevertheless open as usual.

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    Anger

    by Kathrin_E Written Jun 8, 2013

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    The name has nothing to do with the English word. An Anger originally means the communal pasture ground that was free to use by all citizens of a village or town for their livestock. Probably this ground served that purpose in the beginnings of the settlement. It soon became the largest market street in the city. The wide street opens up into a series of squares. Anger and the surrounding streets are still the shopping centre of modern Erfurt, the liveliest, busiest spot in the city. It is mostly pedestrianized but watch out for trams and buses when crossing the tracks.

    And since I said there are so many churches all over Erfurt, allow me to mention that around Anger there are four of them (Wigberti, Lorenz, Kaufmannskirche and the Ursuline convent) plus one churchless steeple (Bartholomäusturm).

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