From Berlin we go to Erfurt, and in between we’ll make a pit stop at Colditz Castle.
Colditz and the Castle:
On our way to Erfurt, we made our way to the small town of Colditz. For those (like me before this trip) who don’t know what Colditz Castle is and was, it was a P.O.W prison during WWII. It was build about 600 years before the war and originally used as a hunting lodge for a rich family. This castle overlooks the town of Colditz which was bombed a little bit in the war, but did not have significant damage.
However, before we went to Colditz Castle, our professors let us stop to get lunch at a literal grocery store. Just imagine living in a small town in Germany and having 26 Americans bombard your grocery store….. yikes. We made our way into the grocery store and obviously they don’t have full meals so I got a roll, chips, and a chocolate bar and that was lunch. The people had no clue how to speak english but luckily I just handed them 10 euro and everything worked out. [Side note, the bread and chocolate in Germany is DELICIOUS]
We made our way up to the castle, walking through the hills of Colditz. This was the first time we went to a small town like this and saw actual pretty, old buildings.
When we got up to the Castle, we were able to sit in the courtyard and basically bask in the sun, because it was about 60/65 degrees out and the first really sunny day of the trip. This day actually turned out to be the best day weather wise of the entire trip.
Touring the castle, we learned about the POWs held there. They were actually treated pretty well for POWs. In fact, people would escape other POW prisons so they could go to this one because it was known for being so good.
We learned that there were about 150 escape attempts from this prison per year, it was something for the prisoners to do since they knew the guards wouldn’t kill them. We heard and saw various ways people escaped or tried to and some were pretty amazing. Some guys fit through a probably 10 inch wide hole in the roof and actually ended up escaping. Other than the escapes and POW facts, Colditz was just a really nice spot for pictures, so here they are!
Now on to Erfurt:
After leaving Colditz, we made about a 2.5-3 hour drive to Erfurt. Once there, we quickly threw our things into our hotel rooms and we were off to dinner. We were very happy about that because we didn’t have a real meal since breakfast that morning.
At the restaurant, we were placed at a large table near other guests, who turned out to be less than happy with our presence. We were first presented with what we thought was a steak salad and you could say I was pumped. It was not until I had the second piece of “steak” in my mouth that one of my professors told me it was actually chicken liver. Yes, chicken liver. I finished that large bite and was so grossed out, just hoping I would get something good for dinner. The next course came out and it was rabbit. Honestly it didn’t taste completely terrible and I ate as much as I could of it. It was pretty gamey and tough and at the end of the trip, one of my professors said he thought it was bad too. We finished our meal after getting death stares from both the staff and other customers and when we were leaving, the staff actually announced “don’t worry, they’re leaving” as we walked through the door. You can say I was a little disgusted with that statement and the way we were treated in that restaurant.
After dinner, one of our professors took us on a walk through Erfurt leading us to this beautiful church.
We all ran up the steps, completely amazed by the beauty of the churches in front of us.
After leaving the cathedral, we walked back through the town and stopped for some hot chocolate and dessert to fill us up after that disappointing dinner.
We woke up early the next day and had another delicious breakfast of croissants, fruit, orange juice, and breads. We only were staying in Erfurt one night so we packed up all of our stuff and put it away until it was time to load it up onto the bus.
Before we could go on the bus, it was time for our first “Houston tour” of the trip. Professor Houston is like an expert on Early Modern European churches, wars, and other stuff like that so she took us to various places and explained their meaning and relevance to us.
The first place she took us to was the Erfurt Cathedral, where we actually got to go inside.
At the Cathedral, I saw a ton of tombstones just in the walls and floor of the church where people walk. It was kinda weird seeing people walking on dead bodies and it also felt very disrespectful so I tried my best to avoid it. We also saw relics of saints- body parts or religious items they possessed during their life which are considered scared. Until then, I didn’t know what relics were, but I definitely saw a lot of them during our trip.
We moved on from the Erfurt Cathedral and moved to the Augustinerkloser which was a monastery Martin Luther studied at in the 1500s. We learned that there is about 80 churches in Erfurt, some larger than others and about 1/2 catholic and 1/2 protestant. We also learned that the more churches a town had, the richer they were. Also we learned that the churches were built to make their insides look extremely intricate and expensive and also to have a large steeple showing off wealth once again.
Here is a picture from the courtyard of the monastery:
As you can see from the pictures, Erfurt is absolutely beautiful. I think this is my favorite town we stopped in simply because of how beautiful the architecture was. I really liked the little streets and painted houses as well as all of the small and large churches on every corner. This tiny town is definitely a place I’d love to live in someday, or at least visit again.
After the monastery and strolling around the streets, we headed back to the hotel and grabbed our bags for the next stop… Warburg Castle and Nuremberg!