Thuringian Forest in autumn with Wartburg Castle, Germany
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'Wait, mountain—you shall bear my castle!'. Wartburg Castle and Thuringian Forest, Germany
As you glance over today's photo of the trees changing colour in Thuringian Forest in Germany, make note of the castle in the distance. That's Wartburg, a castle built in the Middle Ages that holds significance to people of faith. It was the home of the Catholic Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia, and also where Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German while in exile. It's the area's most popular tourist attraction and has been recognized for its quintessential medieval architecture.
There's some clever wordplay going on regarding how Wartburg was named. '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 to mountain and fortress, respectively. And so, in the grand German tradition of mashing words together, the name Wartburg came to be.
If the castle isn't of interest to you, Thuringian Forest, known as the Green Heart of Germany, has plenty of its own charm for tourists. The oldest and most popular long-distance hiking trail in Germany, the Rennsteig, runs for about 177 kilometres within the forest. 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.