Thuringian Forest in autumn with Wartburg Castle, Germany
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'Wait, mountain—you shall bear my castle!'. Wartburg Castle overlooking Thuringian Forest in Germany
As you glance over today's photo of the trees changing color in the 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 Christians. It was the home of St. Elizabeth of Thuringia (aka St. Elizabeth of Hungary), and later, where Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German while in exile. Wartburg is the area's most popular tourist attraction and has been recognized for its quintessential medieval architecture.
There's some clever wordplay in the name Wartburg. 'Warte' is German for both 'watchtower' and 'wait.' Tradition suggests the castle's founder, upon seeing this forested hillside, exclaimed 'Warte, Berg—du sollst mir eine Burg tragen!' or 'Wait, mountain—you shall bear my castle!' 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, the 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 110 miles 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.