I feel sorry for the other states, I think you’ve been usurped by Thuringia as my favorite place in Germany. It took but a mere moment in the town of Gerstungen to make my heart go aflutter.
Really, I don’t know what it was about Gerstungen. Maybe it wasn’t one particular thing — perhaps the combination of its six villages that rendered me downright speechless.
One of its more beautiful villages is Lauchröden, a shire with its own castle ruin. This 3-tower medieval Burg has been here for almost nine centuries — but actually goes back to the days of the Romans. Every two years the castle (or what’s left of it anyway) is the venue for all sorts of theater performances.
And the village’s grey stone, onion domed clock tower church isn’t anything to sneeze at, either. As old as this village is, it can party hard — especially on the 2nd weekend of every other October for its annual parade.
Of all of Gerstungen’s churches, the Round Church of Untersuhl is probably its most famous. And it’s appropriately named because — guess what — it’s round. Come inside to see this Lutheran Church’s Baroque frescoes, even though this stunning piece of architecture’s been around from the 12th century.
Not all of the town’s history goes back that far. During the Cold War, Gerstungen sat right on the Inner German Border — just a stone’s throw from Hesse. Much of Gerstungen’s history can be learned at the Werratal Museum, nicely located within an old castle. And it isn’t all war and military history to be learned, as there are exhibits on daily life, furniture, and even goods like ceramics.
When you add all this to the natural beauty of this hilly region, you can’t help but want to stay forever. The Kohlbachtal is a nature reserve area, so any hiking trail you find (including the nearby Rennsteig) will be a good one.
It isn’t that hard to figure out why I’m so head over heels in love with Gerstungen (and all of Thuringia for that matter) — just as I hope you will be too.