Thuringian Forest in autumn with Wartburg Castle, Germany
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Germany's 'green heart'. Wartburg Castle, Germany
These autumnal colours in Thuringian Forest in central Germany surround the medieval castle of Wartburg, which holds particular significance to Christians. It was the home of the Catholic Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia, and is also the site where Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German while in exile.
About that name: 'Warte' is German for both 'watchtower' and 'wait'. Tradition suggests the castle's founder exclaimed '‘Warte, Berg - du sollst mir eine Burg tragen!' or 'Wait, mountain - you shall bear my castle!' upon seeing the location. Note the 'berg' and 'burg' in that quote, which translate as mountain and fortress, respectively. And so in the grand German tradition of mashing words together, the name Wartburg came to be.
Thuringian Forest is known as the 'green heart' of Germany and has plenty of charm of its own. The oldest and most popular long-distance hiking trail in Germany, the Rennsteig, runs for about 110 miles within it. If you're out for a hike you'll notice the general quietness of the area and fresh, unpolluted air. You may even happen upon the tiny villages that pepper the area and have a reputation for welcoming outsiders.