medieval buildings and religious reformation

Schmalkalden - medieval buildings and religious reformation

Situated on the sunny side of the Thuringian Forest, the romantic medieval town of Schmalkalden makes an ideal destination for visitors interested in nature, history and art. The town played a central role in the politics of the Reformation, with the founding of the Schmalkaldic League and the publication of Martin Luther's Schmalkaldic Articles. Wilhelmsburg Palace is one of Germany's most important Renaissance monuments, housing original wall paintings, stucco work, collections and one of Europe's oldest wood pipe organs in playable condition.
Schmalkalden is a university town and home of the World and Olympic biathlon champion, Sven Fischer.

The Thuringia Regional Garden Show will transform views of the town into wonderful gardenscapes in 2015. The show is entitled 'GartenZeitReise' (a horticultural journey back in time) and promises to take visitors on a journey through space and time.

Highlights/Places of interest

Old quarter

A wealth of lovingly restored 14th to 18th century buildings makes this one of the finest examples of historic central European architecture, where it is still possible to visit authentic sites associated with the Landgraves of Thuringia and Hessen, Saint Elisabeth and the religious reformer Martin Luther.

Town Church of St. George

Built between 1437 and 1509 and dominating the old quarter, this is one of the finest gothic hall churches in Thuringia. Martin Luther and the most distinguished Protestant theologians of the Reformation preached here in 1537.

Town Hall

This centrally located building is one of the five surviving stone bowers in Schmalkalden. The Schmalkaldic League was founded here in 1530 and the building served as the main meeting place for the League until 1543. The entrance hall is adorned with the coats of arms of the members of the League, a mural depicting Schmalkalden in the 16th century and a bust of Martin Luther created by Wieland Förster.

Luther's House

Martin Luther lived in this half-timbered house (erected in 1520) from 7 to 26 February 1537 at the time of the Schmalkaldic League's most significant meeting. This was when Luther published his famous Schmalkaldic Articles, which became the statements of the Lutheran Protestant faith.


The former official residence of the Landgraves of Thuringia became the residence of the Landgraves of Hessen in 1360 and served as a meeting place for the Schmalkaldic League, which was convened here by Protestant theologians in 1537.This was also the place where Elisabeth of Thuringia (later canonised as Saint Elisabeth) said her last farewell to the Landgrave Ludwig IV in 1227. Today the Hessenhof counts as one of Thuringia's most significant historic buildings and houses some of central Europe's oldest secular wall paintings, which depict scenes from the epic tale of Iwein.

Wilhelmsburg Palace

This treasure trove of Renaissance art and culture was built between 1585 and 1590 as a secondary residence for the Landgraves of Hessen and contains marvellous banqueting halls and palace apartments with original wall paintings and stucco work. A permanent exhibition takes visitors back to the time of the Renaissance, the Reformation in Europe and courtly life in the 16th century.

Palace Chapel

The bright and colourful chapel at Wilhelmsburg Palace has a splendid altar, pulpit and organ arranged along a vertical axis on top of each other. Internationally renowned organists come here every year to give performances on the exquisite wood pipe organ, one of the oldest playable organs of its kind in Europe.

Iwein and the Knights of the Round Table

The oldest secular wall paintings north of the Alps (created between 1225 and 1230) depict the "Iwein" saga after Hartmann von Aue's verse epic and are of enormous historical and literary value. Although the originals are safely stored away from public view, a 1:1 scale reproduction and 3D animation at Wilhelmsburg Palace bring the legendary world of Iwein and King Arthur to life.

Finstertal Visitor Mine

Iron and manganese was mined in these 350 metres of tunnels until 1934. Visitors to the mine can view geological formations and remarkably colourful, fluorescent minerals, as well as equipment used by miners throughout the ages.

Historical charcoal smelt and Neue Hütte Technical Museum

Neue Hütte is one of the last examples of charcoal-based iron ore extraction in Europe. Visitors can explore the history and technology of the smelting plant with an exhibition on the history of mining, smelting and ironwork. It includes a working forge that makes wood drills and nails, a reconstruction of the water supply system, water-wheel and turbine plant.

Erlebnisbahnhof – an adventure for the senses

The astonishing and insightful sensory adventures offered to adults and children here allow visitors to hone their senses by seeing, touching, listening and even tasting. After bravely exploring the 'darkness trail', visitors can enjoy a very special taste experience in the 'dark café'.

Mommelstein Cycle Route

This 33 km cycle route passes along a former stretch of mountain railway, through a train tunnel and across a viaduct. It is also a great way for cyclists to journey between the Rennsteig and Werra long-distance cycle routes and the network of cycle paths in the Rhön hills.

Altstadt Schmalkalden
Altstadt Schmalkalden


Tourist-Information Schmalkalden

Auer Gasse 6-8
98574 Schmalkalden


Tel. +49 (0) 36 83 / 60 97 58 0
Fax +49 (0) 36 83 / 60 97 58 21