Approaching Mühlhausen in hilly Thuringia, the first things you will notice are the towers. The town has 11 major churches, and many impressive spires serve to give it a unique skyline. With all of the cobblestone streets and the 2700 meter (!) long stretch of town wall, arriving here is like opening an architectural time capsule.
Mühlhausen is more than 1200 years old, but the glory years were between the 13th and 15th century. However, since then it isn’t as though the town has been slouching toward ruin. Rather, the locals have made every effort to preserve the old stone structures and make the most of the character time gives everything here.
Half-timber houses with gorgeous carved doors mix with impressive stone churches to form the core of the town. The tallest structure is the Church of the Virgin Mary. Its 87 meter tall spire dominates the town. However, the church is not just famous for its height. Bach also performed here while he was working in Mühlhausen.
Bach’s time in the town was short, but noteworthy. On the organ in the Church of the Virgin Mary he performed “God is King” for the first time.
The town was impressed and published the work, his only opus to be published while he was living. Therefore, even though he only worked in the town for a year, the Bach Fest annual tour in September and October includes Mühlhausen.
If you don’t like organ music, the town hosts a yearly spring music festival in conjunction with its Easter market and fair. Local artists perform along with nationally known groups. Later in the summer there is also traditional music at the Peasants’ War festival in May.
The Hainich National Park is the stage for most of the Peasants’ War festival events, and the lush green space is a show unto itself. With the Unstrut river running throughout the park, it is perfect for picnics, biking, or hiking.
You may also enjoy just having the perspective to look back on the town for photographs — Mühlhausen really is postcard perfect!