The first section takes you to Weimar. Luther often came here as a young monk on behalf of his order, and he frequently stopped there on his numerous journeys through central Germany. His last visit was in 1540 to see his very sick friend Philip Melanchthon, who made a miraculous recovery after Luther’s visit.
Almost 300 years later, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said this about Luther:
“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Luther and the Reformation in general. We are free of the shackles of spiritual narrow-mindedness, and as a result of our continuously growing culture we have been able to return to the source and grasp Christianity in all its pureness. We once again have the courage to stand firmly on God’s earth and to sense ourselves in our God-given human nature.”
The second section of the cycle tour leads from the town of Melanchthon and Cranach along the River Ilm, through fields and meadows into the Kernberge mountain range and the town of Jena, which Luther visited at least eleven times. This is where he settled a score with a former ally, Andreas Bodenstein (known as Karlstadt), who instead of choosing Luther’s non-violent route to Reformation encouraged the people to attack monasteries and other religious institutions. The University of Jena, founded in 1558, is also a product of the Reformation, albeit a late one.
From the tower of the town church – where Luther preached and where his bronze gravestone is displayed – you can get a good view of the individual stations of the Luther Trail, which criss-crosses the town.