The WartburgThe Wartburg may well be the most impressive castle in Central Europe. In the Middle Ages, it was the seat of one of the most powerful dynasties of the Holy Roman Empire and home of a hugely popular saint; in 1521, it was here that Martin Luther found refuge and translated the New Testament from Latin into German.
This not only made the bible accessible (and thus criticizable) to the public, but laid the foundations for standardizing the German language, essential for the nation-building process that ensued at and around the Wartburg 300 years later.
The nearby town of Eisenach is the birthplace of composer Johann Sebastian Bach. His family’s home is adjacent to the Bach House, a museum exhibiting hundreds of original objects of the composer. But most of all, small as it is, Eisenach is a cornerstone for Germany's democracy. Due to the open-mindedness of one local ruler, Carl August, the area became a hotbed for German enlightenment.
In 1817 some 500 students from most German territories met at Eisenach to commemorate 300 years of reformation, an event known as the First Wartburg Fest. The meeting was held in protest of reactionary politics, scattered regionalism, and to promote a single nation state with its own constitution. The students drafted a political program demanding political, religious, and economic unity; all Germans were to have civil liberties. The student movement was soon repressed but unification and democracy movements were to build on the 1817 events. In 1869, Germany's Social Democratic Party was founded at Eisenach - at the local tavern "Goldener Löwe" or Golden Lion which has since been turned into a memorial site.
Today, the awe-inspiring castle and the picturesque town of Eisenach radiate historical and political importance in many ways.