WASHINGTON, January 2, 2014 – Faith and other culture travelers have a lot more than Germany’s scenic landscapes to love. Besides all of nature’s eye candy, Year 2014 has Germany bringing into focus some of its ageless church heritage. These are events that are sure to get travelers out and about and exploring the states of Thuringia, Saxony, and Lake Constance with its alpine borders in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
Trekking Luther Country
Organizers of the Luther Decade (2008 – 2017) have focused on a new theme each of the ten years leading up to the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 1517 church grievances display on a Wittenberg church door. Luther’s act is widely regarded as the match that lit the fires of Reformation.
The theme for 2014 is politics and how it interplayed with the theology of the Reformation movement to change the world . Symposia and other events throughout the year will have church scholars and others contemplating how church and society have struggled through millennia for the right balance between state and God power, authority and maturity, obedience and freedom of conscience.
Travelers will contemplate the politics and culture of the Reformation throughout Luther Country, Germany’s cultural trail through Thuringia and Saxony leads takers into the beautiful landscapes, historic sites, and towns that are connected to Luther’s life and work.
Travelers who prefer to take an organized tour should consider a group tour over independent wandering. One stateside operator with niche expertise is Reformation Tours .
A key trail city is Wittenberg – the university town where Luther lived for over three decades of his life. It has several UNESCO World Heritage Sites to explore. Included are Luther’s large house museum, which contains the most extensive collection of Reformation memorabilia in the world. Wittenberg is also the annual scene of Reformation Day celebrations on October 31st – the day Luther displayed his complaints against the church.
Elsewhere in Luther Country, travelers enjoy other sites with connections to the monk who rocked the world and these are surrounded by rolling hills, mountains and farmland dotted with villages whose half-timbered houses seem to be right out of a children’s picture book. Romantic castles and medieval town districts, formidable fortresses, and culture-laded museums add even more to the experience of following the Luther trail.
Council of Constance 600th Anniversary
A century before Luther’s inflammatory act in Wittenberg, Europeans were already debating theology and church authority that led to the Reformation. Between 1414 and 1418, spiritual and secular leaders met in the Council of Constance to resolve the claims of three popes to the throne of Peter and other ecclesiastical controversies. Czech theologian and scholar Jan Hus was a victim of that era, and was burned at the stake for heresy in 1415.
From its picturesque location on Lake Constance (Bodensee in German), the town of the same name (Konstanz) is beginning in 2014 to mark the 600th anniversary of those events.
Inside this modern university town, travelers can attend cultural events that will showcase how the 15th century council reached decisions that shaped Europe into what it is today and made the town a hub of knowledge and culture. Several guided tours of historic sites are offered between April and October.
During the five council 600th anniversary years, Constance also is sponsoring events dealing with cultural, scientific, and experience-oriented events projects that recall the medieval debates.
Local sites connected to the council era include Konstanz Cathedral, the 15th century Konzil building, the Jan Hus Museum, and Imperia, a modern, sometimes controversial sculpture that commemorates the council history.
Otherwise, travelers have a beautiful lake and several charming towns to explore around Lake Constance, where romantic castles and centuries-old churches, medieval town centers, and musical concerts provide a memorable experience.
Significant museums in the area include The Zeppelin Museum, where that airship’s history and significance are on display. Also of note is the Napoleon Museum in the Arenenberg Castle where Napoleon III spent a forced exile from France. Half-timbered buildings contrast here and there with art nouveau architecture that was popular in the 19th century. The monastery town of St. Gallen is a World Heritage Site, known for its richly decorated abbey library.
Read more of Ruth Hill’s faith travel columns in Contemporary Christian Travel in the Washington Times Communities.
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