Welcome to Schmalkalden
Schmalkalden’s old town groans and creaks under the sheer weight of its half-timbered houses and is crowned by a handsome hilltop castle, Schloss Wilhelmsburg. About 40km south of Eisenach, the little town played a big role during the Reformation. It was here in 1531 that the Protestant princes established the Schmalkaldic League to counter the central powers of Catholic emperor Charles V. Although they suffered a daunting military defeat in 1546, they managed to regroup and eventually got the emperor to sign the Peace of Augsburg in 1555, which allowed each of the German states to choose between Lutheranism and Catholicism.
The Altmarkt features a handsome Rathaus (1419), which once functioned as the meeting place of the Schmalkaldic League. The incongruous towers of the late-Gothic Stadtkirche St Georg (1437–1509) overlook the square.