Today we are visiting Lutherstadt Wittenberg and the surrounding areas. Wittenberg is a small town in Eastern Germany in the state of Saxony-Anhalt. It is located between the cities of Berlin and Leipzig. To the south of it lies the former industrial heart of the East German coal mining industry.
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A walk through the city center of Wittenberg
The main attraction of Wittenberg is the old Castle Church where, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses onto the main door hence the name “Lutherstadt”. Today, you can visit the grave of Martin Luther inside the church.
Wittenberg is a small town that you can explore completely on foot. The pedestrian zone offers some shopping opportunities and features plenty of restaurants and cafés. The architecture has a very different feel to it compared to Southern Germany. It won’t take you more than an afternoon to see all there is to see.
It is advisable to visit Wittenberg either in the summer when the weather is nice and warm or around Christmas when you get the chance to visit the tiny Christmas market in the city center. The ferry wheel offers a scenic view of the central marketplace. The picture below shows the entire Christmas market so be aware that this is not one of these huge touristy Christmas markets but therefore it has very few visitors so you don’t have to compete for a table in front of the Glühwein and food stalls.
The nature surrounding Wittenberg
Wittenberg is surrounded by large areas of natural reserves that you can explore by hiking along scenic pathways. If you’re lucky you even get to see some wildlife, especially birds and dears. The area is also very bike-friendly because there are no mountains or hills. It’s all flat so you don’t need an e-bike for longer tours. The forests offer plenty of shadows in the hot summer.
A tourist attraction is the Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Realm which is one of the largest English parks in Germany. It was created in the late 18th century under the regency of Duke Leopold III of Anhalt-Dessau and despite being a World Heritage Site there are not many tourists there.
East Germany’s former coal mining industry
To the south of Wittenberg, you will find plenty of old coal mines that have been turned into lakes. There is an open-air museum called Ferropolis where the heavy machinery that was used for coal mining is on display. If you like, you can take a look inside these old machines and climb up to the top of them to enjoy a panorama view of the surrounding area.
In the summer, you can go swimming at the beach of the coal mining museum.
The city of Bitterfeld has also turned its former coal mine into a big lake where they have built a small tower that allows you to see the surrounding area from above. Today, the city that was once known as the most polluted city in East Germany, the cesspool of Europe, is free of pollution that was caused by excessive mining and burning coal in factories.
Just ten minutes south of Wittenberg you will find Lake Bergwitz. A round trip by foot takes you about one to two hours and in summer you can swim there or drive a rubber boat. There are almost no visitors at this lake except for a few campers. It is a great tourist destination that not many people know about. If you’re always annoyed by the hoards of people at lakes in Southern Germany then this is a very refreshing experience.
Wittenberg and the surrounding areas might not feature the most breathtaking landscapes or architecture but the area is well worth a trip especially for people that want to relax for a few days and don’t like stressful places full of tourists. If you visit Berlin, take the train to Wittenberg afterward to discover the heartland of Germany. I can promise you the people here are much friendlier than the rude and taciturn Berliners.