Goodbye Harz Mountains. We took the train at 9:38. Prof. Stroeter, Luella and the boys saw us off and I waved my American flag as a farewell to them.
We passed the well known station of Hasselrode, Steinerne Renne and up to the Freiannen. We took the same line which leads to the Brocken. Here our line diverged and, passing along pine clad hills and through fertile valleys with a constant change of scenery, we reached Nordhausen at 12:40.
This city of 30,000 inhabitants is situated on the south slopes of the Harz Mountains and possesses extensive distilleries. I well remembered having heard of the Nordhauser Schnaps 40 years ago.
We had an excellent dinner at the R.R. restaurant and took train again at 1:30, passing through Erfurt at 2:50. This is a very ancient city with 86,000 inhabitants and has several handsome Gothic churches and private residences of the 16th and 17th century, which I could admire only from the train. The town existed in the form of a fortified agricultural settlement as early as the time of the Boniface in 741, the English apostle of this district. It is wonderful to think of the age of this town, and to consider what had happened within the walls in the 1200 years of its existence.
At 4 o’clock, we reached Eisenach, a pleasant town with 32,000 inhabitants and the finest point in the Thuringian Forest. We went to the nearest hotel, the Grossherzog von Sachsen, and struck it very lucky for the proprietor told us that he runs the restaurant on the Wartburg too. He ordered a carriage for us at once, and we started sight seeing without any delay.
Passing through the old Stadtor (Gate) and past the Church of St. Nicholas, we saw the Statue of Luther, erected in 1898, also the palace of the reigning Grand Duke of Sachsen Weimar and a bronze statue of the great composer of church music Johan Sebastian Bach, who was born in the city in 1685. We also saw the house in which he was born and the Luther house where Luther is said to have lived with Fra Ursula Cotta when attending school here in 1498.
Driving through the heart of the city and up the Schlossberg road, we saw in the distance the Burschenschafts Denkmal, a round temple erected in memory of the German students who fell in the war of 1870, also a villa once occupied by Fritz Reuter, the well known writer of prose and poetry in the low German dialect.
We reached the old Wartburg, which is 1290 feet above the sea level and 565 feet above the city. It was founded in 1070 and was once occupied by the Landgraves of Thuringia and is now the occasional residence of the Grand Duke of Weimar. It is without doubt one of the finest early mediaeval secular buildings, existing and was restored in its original shape in 1847.
Mama took a seat in a cozy corner of the restaurant, and Emily and I followed the guide through the Burgtor, the Vorburg and the modern Mittelburg and reached the court of the Hauptburg. This contains the oldest part of the castle, the late romanesque Landgrafen Hauser Palas.
In the court is a very ancient cistern. The castle has been restored to represent its condition in the 12th century when it was occupied by the Art loving Landgraves and was the scene of the contests of the greatest mediaeval German poets.
Here, too, Martin Luther at the beginning of the 16th century found an asylum, and here the mighty struggle for religious liberty took its rise. Interesting reminiscences of the great Reformer, who was intercepted on his return from Worms and conducted hither by his friend the Elector, are still preserved in the Ritterhaus in the Verburg, and we were shown into a room, which has undergone little alteration, which contains Luther’s table, footstool, bookcase, letter, his chair (on which both Emily and I sat for a few minutes) and an excellent portrait of the Reformer by Lucas Cranach, also portraits of his parents. Here, as “Junker Georg,” he zealously worked at his translation of the bible from May 4th, 1521 to March 6th, 1522.
The well known ink blotch on the wall, left there by his throwing an ink bottle at the devil when he sorely tempted him, has been carried away, together with the plastering, by souvenir fiends and is not renewed.
In the Landgrafenhaus, we visited the Elizabeth Kemante room decorated with beautiful mosaics from Oetken’s designs and executed by the Roxdorf firm, also the Elizabeth gallery adorned with frescoes from the life of St. Elizabeth, who lived in 1207 to 1231. She was a daughter of an Hungarian King and wife of the landgrave Louis of Thuringia, a very benevolent woman who constantly gave to the poor.
Her husband was opposed to this and one day when she had bread for the poor, he asked her what she was hiding under her apron. She told him roses, and when he asked her to show the to him, the bread turned into roses! She was made a saint by the pope. We also saw the old chapel, effectively restored with windows of 1319 mural paintings and an old pulpit in which Luther stood and preached.
The Sangersaal in which the traditional Sangerkrieg or contest between the great minstrels of Germany is said to have taken place in 1207 contains a mural painting by Schwind representing that event with portraits of Wagner, Kaulbach, Liszt, Schwind etc. The “Tannhauser” Opera by Wagn er is baased on this tradition. The raised platform is adorned with arabesques and figures of the minstrels and quotations from their ballads.
By special order of “mine host” of the hotel, the Burgvogt showed us the rooms which Emperor Wilhelm II occupies when he is here for a few days hunt. In the first, the former living room of St. Elizabeth, we saw quite a collection of ancient hunting utensils, cups, etc. In his work room, we sat down on the chair in front of his desk and made believe we were one of the chosen ones. In his bedroom, which is very plain, we admired the ancient furniture. The kitchen is a marvel, everything reminds you of ye olden times as the rooms are fixed up with old fixtures and ornaments. It was quite a privilege to get a peep at these rooms.
We finished with a grand dinner in the restaurant, consisting of Wiener Schnitzel, etc. The W.S. is enough in itself, the etc., is just a side show.
We walked home along the beautiful footpaths through the woods and reached the hotel at 10 o’clock.