15 things to do in Erfurt (Germany)

Erfurt is a city with more than 1,200 years of history, the capital of the Free State of Thuringia and one of the most complete medieval centers in Germany.

Here, St. Mary’s Basilica shines with its Romanesque and Gothic art, while Krämerbrücke is a bridge of antique timber merchant houses.

It was in Erfurt that Martin Luther became a monk at the Augustinian Abbey, and at the end of the 18th century the city was at the forefront of the Enlightenment, frequented by cultural heavyweights such as Goethe, Schiller and Wilhelm von Humboldt.

One of the oldest intact synagogues in Europe is also in Erfurt, along with a full baroque fortress, charming square and moving monuments from the East German and Holocaust era.

Let’s take a look at the best events in Erfurt:

1. Krämerbrücke (Merchant’s Bridge)

Kramer Bridge

A fascinating piece of medieval history, Krämerbrücke is a bridge that spans a tributary of the Gera River and is lined with half-timbered houses.

At 79 meters high, it is the longest inhabited medieval bridge in Europe.

These quaint old merchant houses are now galleries, cafes, antique shops, studios, wine merchants, delis and boutiques, while upstairs are apartments.

The first mention of the bridge is from the 1100s, and it was rebuilt in limestone and sandstone in 1325 after seven different fires in the 12th and 13th centuries. This crossroad is part of the European medieval trade network, namely Via Regia, which accounts for long-term contacts with merchants.

2. Erfurt Cathedral

Erfurt Cathedral

On a hillside stands Erfurt’s magnificent Gothic cathedral, mostly built in the 1300s and 1400s.

There has been a religious building here since the church of St. Boniface was founded in 742.

The cathedral has an incredible wealth of medieval art, starting with the high choir’s 18-meter tracery windows, almost all original, installed between 1370 and 1420. The choir’s oak booth is also special, carved in the 1360s and has 89 seats in a double row of 17.5 meters.

There is a stucco painting depicting the Virgin and Child from 1160 and the stunning Wolfram Menorah, dating from about the same period.

The cathedral’s central tower also houses the world’s largest freely swinging medieval bell, Maria Gloriosa, cast in 1497 and weighing 11.45 tons.

3. Domplatz


The city’s largest square is the magnificent 3.5-hectare square beneath the cathedral.

From Monday to Saturday morning there is a market selling fruits and vegetables, sausages, eggs, honey, cheese and exotic delicacies: the market tradition of the square dates back to the 8th or 9th century.

Domplatz is also the main location for Erfurt’s excellent December Christmas market.

There are also some striking monuments: the Ertal Obelisk was raised in 1777 to commemorate the first visit of the new archbishop and elector Friedrich Karl Joseph von Ertal, mainly Funded by the citizens of Erfurt.

Built in 1784 with a statue of the Roman goddess, Minervabrunnen is Erfurt’s oldest surviving fountain and the last of the city’s original 55 public drinking fountains.

4. Zitadel Petersberg

zeta del petersburg

Covering an area of ​​12 hectares on the Petersburg Hill in the heart of Erfurt, it is the largest and best preserved Baroque city fortress in Central Europe.

There are eight fortresses, connected by a two-kilometer-long parapet, reaching a height of 23 meters, offering breathtaking views of the city.

Under these walls are anti-mines, a tunnel system that prevents attackers from making mines during sieges: you can go underground to view them on tours organised by the tourist office.

The castle was founded in 1665 by the Archbishop-Elector of Mainz and later used by the Prussian Empire.

After reunification, it became a tourist attraction, while its buildings belonged to government offices, cultural facilities and private apartments.

5. Augustin Kloster

Augustin Kloster

This Augustinian monastery is a major stop on the German Lutheran Way, where Martin Luther became a monk and stayed between 1505 and 1511. Luther returned several times, including here in 1521 where he delivered a sermon against Catholic theology.

You can visit the reconstructed Lutheran cell and learn more about his relationship with Erfurt in the monastery’s exhibition.

The complex itself dates back to the end of the 13th century, with most of the construction completed in the first few decades of the 14th century.

6. Fish Market

fish market

West of Krämerbrücke is Fischmarkt, the social heart of the medieval city.

The first town hall was built in 1275, and the current 1875 neo-Gothic building is on the same plot.

Poke your head in and see the stunning frescoes documenting moments from Thuringia history and scenes from the life of Martin Luther.

In front is the Roman Monument, a monument to Roman soldiers holding the city flag in their right hand in 1591.

On the edge of the square are many ornate Renaissance houses built by Erfurt’s prosperous townspeople: the north side Haus zum Breiten Herd has an ornate colourful façade designed by Brabant master Frans Floris, while the west side The Haus zum Roten Ochsen cannot be overlooked, with a frieze on the ground floor depicting the Muse.

7. Egapark


Once occupied by a fortress, this 265-meter-high hill to the southwest of Erfurt became a park in the 1880s and has been expanded ever since.

During the East German period, the garden was developed for the 1961 International Horticultural Exhibition. Today, the architecture and landscaping of the Reinhold Lingner project is celebrated, and since reunification, the park has become one of Germany’s most popular horticultural attractions.

The largest ornamental flower bed in the country is here, with 150,000 flowers in spring.

There is also a rose garden with 450 different species, as well as a Japanese garden and greenhouse with butterflies, cacti, tropical plants and 300 species of orchids.

The fort also retains two towers dating from the 16th century, one of which has a viewing platform 21 meters above the park.

8. The Old Synagogue

old synagogue

Dating back to the 1000’s, Erfurt’s Old Synagogue is probably the best preserved medieval synagogue in Europe.

Most of the buildings were built in the 13th century, but its history as a place of worship came to an abrupt end in 1349, when Erfurt’s Jewish community was massacred and expelled from the city.

Since then it has been used as a warehouse.

Since its history was forgotten in the 20th century, this important Jewish heritage was left untouched during the Nazi regime.

In 2009, the old synagogue opened as a museum with artifacts found around Erfurt during excavations.

There is a 13th-century Mikveh (ritual bath), reproductions of medieval religious manuscripts, and the Erfurt treasure.

The pile of coins, ingots and jewellery was found on the wall of a medieval house in 1998 and is believed to date back to the time of the massacre.

9. The Wrath Museum

rage museum

Erfurt’s Art Museum is housed in one of the city’s most beautiful buildings, an early 18th-century Baroque facility for packing and weighing in the central Ingresplatz.

The museum houses a large collection of fine and applied art from the Middle Ages to the present.

Look for sacred art from the second half of the 14th century, most importantly the sandstone sculptures and four panels on the Augustinerkloster altar.

There are also later Renaissance altarpieces, believed to have been made by Lucas Cranach the Elder or his studio.

Also take time to admire Erich Heckel’s stunning collection of Expressionist frescoes and porcelain, showing Thuringian figurines, tableware, sculptures and reliefs from the 1700s to the 1900s.

10. Winig Market

Winig Market

At the eastern end of Krämerbrücke is another lovely square with roughly the same proportions as the Fischmarkt on the opposite bank of Gera.

Ägidienkirche on the north side of the square is Krämerbrücke’s eastern bridgehead, and its current form dates back to around the 16th century.

When the weather is nice, the square is full of bars and restaurants, and at Christmas, Wenigemarkt transforms into a small village illuminated by fairy lights.

On the southeast side of the square is a fountain, the Raufende Knaben (Screw Boy) designed by Magdeburg sculptor Heinrich Appel in the mid-1970s.

11. Predigerkirche

former church

If you are still interested in religious architecture, the Predigerkirche (Church of the Priests) will fascinate you for an hour or so.

This former abbey church was built in the 1200s and was upgraded in late Gothic style in the 1300s and 1400s.

In 1989, the Predigerkirche was a meeting place for protesters in Erfurt during the peaceful revolution: in October of that year, a new forum meeting in the church drew as many as 4,000 participants.

Take some time to look at the many ledger stones of Erfurt noble families, which were unearthed during restoration work in the 1960s and date back to between the 1300s and 1700s.

An interesting trivia is that Johannes Bach, the uncle of the composer Johann Sebastian Bach, was an organist at the Predigerkirche from 1636 to 1673.

12. Erinnerungsort Topf & Söhne

Erinnerungsort Topf & Söhne

The company JA Topf und Söhne went bankrupt in 1994 and opened the memorial at its headquarters in 2011.

During the war, the company provided ovens and ventilation for the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

In this sense, the site is unique because it is the only place to honor the complicity of private companies in the Holocaust.

There is an exhibition on the top floor of the building with interesting items such as telegrams showing direct exchanges with SS officers and documents confirming the delivery of orders and equipment.

Particular attention is paid to the experience of Sonderkommandos, a work unit made up of prisoners in death camps.

The lower level is a meeting room where videos are played and people can exchange their views on the memorial.

13. Gedenk- und Bildungsstätte Andreasstraße

Gedenk- Und Bildungsstätte Andreasstraße

During the East German period, there was a former detention centre run by the Stasi in Andreasstraße. More than 5,000 political enemies are imprisoned here.

In December 2013, an exhibition was held on the third floor, featuring restored cells, archival photos and videos with first-hand eyewitness accounts of the detention center and the events of December 4, 1989. That day, protesters occupied the Stasi’s Erfurt regional administration on Andreasstraße, a symbolic moment since it was the first time the Stasi facility was taken over during the peaceful revolution.

14. Thüringer Erfurt Zoo

Thuringia Zoo Erfurt

If you’re traveling to Erfurt with your kids, Erfurt’s zoo, with almost 350 different animal species and proud of its large African mammals, is always your choice.

There are lions, giraffes and white rhinos, and in 2014 the zoo opened a huge new habitat for African elephants.

You can observe them both indoors and outdoors in an environment with rocks and pools.

Another vast habitat is the African savannah, where zebras, ostriches, impalas and antelope occupy the same enclosure.

There are also open spaces for a variety of monkeys, reptiles, kangaroos, emus, bison and two farm areas for sheep, goats, pigs, donkeys and horses.

Of the total 63 hectares, 15 hectares are reserved for lawns and woodland, so finding a quiet picnic spot is easy.

15. Thüringer Bratwurst

Thuringian Bratwurst

Local Erfurt sausages are protected by a geographical indication (PGI) under EU law.

Thüringer Bratwurst is thin, up to 20 cm long, and has a famous spicy taste.

The pork and beef mixture is seasoned with garlic, pepper, marjoram, cilantro, occasionally cilantro, and nutmeg.

By law, more than half of the ingredients in a sausage must be produced in Thuringia.

The sausage will be cooked over charcoal and rolled into a round so that the ends of the sausage stick out from the sides.

Erfurt’s go-to condiment is mustard from the local Born brand, which has been around for almost 200 years.

Where to stay: The best hotels in Erfurt, Germany
Lowest price guaranteed.