Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Art, History & Archaeology Sites & Museums

First mentioned in 1223, the Thuringian village of Niederdorla is at the geographic centre of Germany. Since the 19th century the state has been known as the ‘green heart of Germany’ because of the extensive, dense forests here. Not surprising then that Thüringen is a popular destination for nature lovers. But the region has also been culturally important and influential. Like elsewhere in Germany, there are the usual historical sites, castles and palaces, churches and abbey. And all manner of museums and art galleries. It was in the city of Weimar that the assembly of what would become known as the Weimar Republic met in 1919 to draft and adopt a new constitution for the new German Republic. Weimar was chosen because it was close to the centre of Germany, symbolically away from international influence, but also because of the cultural and intellectual associations the city held. Weimar was intimately associated with Bach, Goethe, Schiller – men of great intellect and influence.

Create Your Thuringia Itinerary & Travel Lists

Archaeology & History Sites in Thuringia

Brandenburg Castle

Known locally as ‘Burgruine Brandenburg’ are the remains of two castles, albeit built at different times in the mid 12th century. They each had their own towers, curtain walls with gates, and are located on a spur either side of a natural saddle. They do not feature in the history of the area, or Germany. Their greatest claim to fame is being called “Sleeping Beauty’s Castle” during the division of Germany as they lay in the restricted zone. Since Reunification they have been restored, and the residential tower of the Ostburg now houses a museum. The castle can be visited at anytime and makes for a great hike in the area, but the museum has set opening times.

Hanstein Castle, Bornhagen

Considered one of the most beautiful ruined castles in central Germany, Hanstein Castle certainly makes for a picturesque silhouette among timber-framed buildings. First mention of the castle dates to 1070, noting its destruction. Given its strategic value, the castle was rebuilt and damaged several times in its history. As it was close to the border between East and West Germany, the CDR took control of the ruins and the towers used as a border watch tower. No visitors were allowed until after Reunification. A popular  medieval festival takes place at the castle every year on the first weekend of August.

Mödlareuth Memorial & Museum

In the early 1950s the rural medieval village of Mödlareuth became known as ‘Little Berlin’.  Like the city, the village was physically divided in 1952, at first by a wooden fence, then later by the  same concrete barrier system that divided the two German states. Mödlareuth lies on the border between Thuringia (then in the Soviet Occupation Zone) and Bavaria (American Occupation Zone), hence the partition of the village into East and West Germany, where social and familial ties were forcibly broken. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, residents bulldozed most of the dividing wall, but a section was retained and is now a memorial and a museum recounts this period of the village’s history.

Museums & Art Galleries in Thuringia

Zeiteninsel: Marburg Archaeological Open-Air Museum

Zeiteninsel (Time Island) is an archaeological open-museum under construction in the Marburg area of Thuringia. In an area of 3.5 hectares reconstructions of buildings representing five periods of German history, from the Mesolithic through to the Early Middle Ages, are currently underway. Work is carried out by volunteer, and there is a programme of events and tours to see the work as the site develops. As such it is avenue for both experimental archaeology and education, particularly for children.