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The historic old town of Schmalkalden enchants with its fairy-tale center full of colorful half-timbered houses, a magnificent castle and many other sights - and all around stretch vast hiking and biking trails in the Thuringian Forest.


In search of something special, escape the hectic everyday life, simply feel good... all this offers the idyllic small town in the Thuringian Forest. A visit through the town, leads past lovingly restored half-timbered houses and through small dreamy alleys.

Guests stroll through romantic alleys, can hardly get enough of the many lovingly restored half-timbered houses. Sit on enchanted squares in front of a café, perhaps peek into a store or a charming boutique here and there, and then treat yourself to a snack in one of the cozy restaurants. The small half-timbered town of Schmalkalden in the Thuringian Forest, with a population of around 20,000, has nothing to fear from comparison with famous places such as Rothenburg ob der Tauber or Quedlinburg - and also has a great history to offer.

Cafés, stores and restaurants invite you to linger in the historic old town © Fachwerkstadt Schmalkalden

Traces of a great history

More than 1000 years Town and cultural history have shaped Schmalkalden, historical witnesses of the past can be found almost on every corner. Be it on the lively market square with the late Gothic hall church of St. George, whose foundation stone was laid around 1413. From the Türmerstube, which is open in summer, you have a beautiful view over the entire city. It is only a short walk to the orange-colored Luther House, where the great reformer Martin Luther resided in 1537 during the meetings of the Schmalkaldic League - private tours of the estate can be booked at the tourist information office.

Nearby in a historic half-timbered house is the Pewter Figurine Museum Historicum with over 20,000 fully sculpted pewter figures and true-to-scale buildings, which takes visitors through the history of mankind, from Ancient Greece to the Baroque era to the present day - great fun not only for young visitors. You can also visit the oldest half-timbered house in Schmalkalden: The vaulted cellar, living quarters, staircases, crawl space and backyard design of the half-timbered house present themselves in their late medieval character; in addition, a small gallery on the first floor exhibits works by regional artists.

Jewel among Renaissance castles

A highlight in the truest sense of the word is then the magnificent Wilhelmsburg Castle, which towers in all its splendor over Schmalkalden's medieval town center. With its opulent murals and stucco work, the estate, built from 1585 under the Hessian landgraves, is considered one of the most beautiful Renaissance castles in Germany. In the dining room and banqueting halls, the courtly culture and way of life of the 16th and 17th centuries come alive again - you can't help but be amazed.

Highlight of a tour is a visit to the castle church, which is one of the most important Protestant sacred buildings of the 16th century. In addition to a rare wooden pipe organ, there is a great permanent exhibition entitled "Schmalkaldic League - The Beginning of the Division of the Church in Europe". Duchess Elisabeth von Rochlitz (played by actress Lea Draeger, known from Tatort films, among others) guides visitors through the area and provides information on topics such as the Reformation, Martin Luther, and the nature and development of the Schmalkaldic League, which once stretched from Riga to Strasbourg, from Copenhagen to Constance.

One of the highlights of the city is the magnificent Wilhelmsburg Castle © Axel Bauer

About high art and the depths of the earth

Also art lovers come here get their money's worth. For example, the "Otto Mueller Museum of Modern Art," which resides in a beautiful half-timbered house in the middle of Schmalkalden's historic old town, displays valuable works from the era of classical modernism. The Schmalkalden Art Association is also organizing a state exhibition there under the motto "100 Years of Art in Thuringia," which presents the most interesting artistic positions of this period in cooperation with the most important Thuringian art museums. The cozy museum store on the first floor of the building also features books and other items related to art.

From the heights of art to the depths of the earth - a tour of the Finstertal visitor mine a little outside Schmalkalden leads there. During a guided tour through the only preserved iron and manganese ore mine in southern Thuringia from around 1900, geological outcrops, miners' tools and uniquely fluorescent minerals can be admired, along with a striking acoustic background. Those who want to delve even further into the subject can find out more about the development of mining, smelting and iron crafts in the Schmalkalden area at the "Neue Hütte" Technical Museum.

Schmalkalden - small half-timbered town with great charm © Fachwerkstadt Schmalkalden

The sweetest destination in Thuringia

With the Viba Nougat World a tasty contrast program awaits all those with a sweet tooth. Under the motto "Try it!" you will find culinary dreams to melt away. In addition to numerous tasting stations, there are creative hands-on courses on how to make chocolate bars or chocolates in the confectionery experience. In addition, an exhibition provides information on the history of the origins of the popular nougat bar, which celebrates its 100th birthday in 2020. Shopping in the large store with many souvenir ideas is a real pleasure. And in the restaurant of the glass building with adjoining sun terrace and large children's playground, in addition to hearty dishes, sweets are of course served with coffee. By the way, the address is, how could it be otherwise, Nougat-Allee 1.

Who wants to get rid of the extra calories, no problem. After all, Schmalkalden stretches from the foothills of the Thuringian Forest through the Werra Valley to the Vordere Rhön, making it an ideal starting point for hiking, biking and Nordic walking tours. The town and its surroundings can be explored on ten circular hiking trails, or you can cycle through the Thuringian Forest on the 28-kilometer-long Mommelstein Cycle Path. Only nine kilometers from the town, there is an entrance to the well-known Rennsteig high-altitude hiking trail. So put on your hiking boots and discover the green heart of Germany, true to the old song: "Ich wandre ja so gern am Rennsteig durch das Land ..." (I love to walk along the Rennsteig through the countryside).

Very worthwhile - a visit to the town church of St. George, followed by a stroll through the old town alleys © Axel Bauer/ Fachwerkstadt Schmalkalden

Cover picture: The trademark of Schmalkalden - the historic center with its colorful half-timbered houses © Fachwerkstadt Schmalkalden

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