Matt Munro


Erfurt, Thuringia's capital, is one of central Germany's most beguiling and significant cities. Holding its head as high as the former capital to the east, Weimar, it's a wonderfully preserved medieval city of grandiose churches, cobbled market squares, captivating museums and miraculously preserved architecture. And, as a university town, its contemporary culture is anything but backward-looking.

Straddling the Gera River, Erfurt was founded by St Boniface as a bishopric in 742, then propelled to prosperity in the Middle Ages as a major centre of the woad trade. In 1392 rich merchants founded the university, allowing students to study common law, rather than religious law. It was here that Martin Luther studied philosophy before taking holy orders.

With most of its historical centre spared destruction in WWII, today's Erfurt proves that modernity and history can coexist gracefully. The city's appearance honours its medieval roots, while adding often classy, sometimes quirky, contemporary flourishes.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Erfurt.