Wartburg Castle - Eisenach



    Pen and Ink Sketch with Watercolor - Erwin Weber - 1982


The Wartburg Castle is located on a 1230-foot cliff overlooking Eisenach, a city formerly behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany. It was founded by Duke Ludwig of Thuringia in 1067 AD and is one of the best preserved castles in Germany. In its great hall, the minstrels of the High Middle Ages held their competition.

The castle was renovated throughout the ages, especially during the Romantic period of the 19th century. From 1952-1966, the entire castle was restored by the East German Government to its appearance in the 16th century. This included the restoration of Luther's Room with its original floor and paneled walls. The wooden desk in the room, made from chestnut, dates back to the time of Luther. It came from a home of Luther's relative in Möhra, a village located 20 miles south of Eisenach. On the desk is Luther's Bible of 1541 with comments written along the edges by Luther, Melanchthon and other coworkers of the great Reformer. Over the desk is a woodcut by Cranach the Elder depicting Luther as Knight George as well as wedding portraits of Luther and his wife, Katharin von Bora painted by Cranach the Elder in 1526. It came from the home of Luther's relatives in Möhra. The drawbridge, over which Luther was brought on May 4, 1521 following his conviction as public enemy #1 by the medieval church and state at the Diet of Worms, was restored in 1863.

Today, the half-timbered ramparts as well as many other structures of the castle appear as they did during the time of Luther. During his 300 lonely days at the Wartburg Castle, Luther changed his appearance from a pious monk to a knight of the Middle Ages. He called himself Knight George, wore a cloak and dagger, went on hunts and let his hair grow. In addition, he wrote countless, letters, religious tracts and translated the New Testament into German. With its publication in September, 1522, Luther gave the Germans a uniform written language which in its basic form is still being used today. "Not until Luther did the Germans become a people" Goethe wrote as he reflected upon this great achievement.