06 July 2020, Annemarie Strehl
The Saale-Unstrut region is known above all for its excellent wines and wineries. But besides tastings you can experience many more historical towns, historical sights and fascinating day trips! Here are a few inspirations for exciting day trips to the region for history fans.
From Erfurt, Jena, Weimar or Halle and Leipzig you can reach the wine-growing region easily via the motorway. The drive from Halle to Naumburg, for example, takes only about an hour. From Erfurt it is only a quarter of an hour longer.
Places like Weißenfels, Naumburg and Zeitz are connected to the German railway network and therefore you can also get there easily by public transport. You can find the timetable to the Central German railway network here.
The Saale-Unstrut region has many venerable towns to offer and here we would like to briefly outline a few prominent places with their outstanding buildings and history.
First and foremost, of course, is Naumburg with the Naumburg Cathedralwhich has officially been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2018. It was formerly a cathedral in the diocese of Naumburg and is a classic example of late Romanesque-early Gothic architecture.
As the city centre is of a manageable size, you can hardly miss the Naumburg Cathedral. Because many ways lead to the cathedral and its towers also show you the way. From the market place it is only a 6 minute walk. To enter the cathedral, including the gardens, cloister and outbuildings, you have to pay an entrance fee.
You can visit the cathedral with guided tours, either individually or in groups. Guided tours are worthwhile in order to get many interesting stories and background information about the cathedral. Do you prefer to visit it on your own? Then rent an audio guide.
During your visit, you can descend to the cathedral treasure vault, where you can admire the precious sacral treasures and the Romanesque vaults. Afterwards you should not miss the Cathedral Garden, where you can enjoy the peace and quiet between ponds and historic walls.
A visit to the cathedral at Christmas time is particularly enjoyable, when candles are lit in the old cloisters at night, merchants display their handmade goods and wonderful Christmas presents are offered for sale in the backyards around the cathedral.
Weißenfels with its historical core is small but beautiful. Look above all at the market place, because here are the Kavaliershäuser, the Marienkirche and the baroque city hall. Just around the corner you will find the beautiful castle Neu-Augustusburg with a museum, where you can learn more about the local history and the castle.
Other historical sights for culture and history lovers are the Heinrich Schütz House and the Novalis Memorial.
What is also interesting about Weißenfels is that the change in the course of time can be clearly understood. One experiences the baroque, pompous side in the historical buildings as the palace. But one can also visibly follow the change after the industrialization as also after the German reunification.
Rudelsburg and Saaleck
The wine region also has castles to offer and among them the Rudelsburg is a notable phenomenon. Originally, it served to secure the trade routes from Bad Kösen to Naumburg, which is why it is enthroned above the river at a height of about 85 metres.
From the castle walls the complex offers a wonderful view over the surrounding valleys and the neighbouring castle. Especially climbing the tower is not to be missed.
Unfortunately, not much of the former stateliness of the neighbouring Saaleck castle can be seen anymore. Its two towers are the most outstanding thing left of the ruins.
But Saaleck is only a few hundred metres away from the Rudelsburg and therefore offers the possibility of a little hike. Thus, one gets to see two castles in one day!
Solar observatory of Goseck
For a different kind of time travel combined with the wonders of nature, Goseck is the perfect place. Here, in the middle of greenery, there is a solar observatory, which was built 7000 years ago.
Similar to Stonehenge in England, it is a circular facility that allowed targeted sky observations at a very early stage. The circular ditch, however, is made of wood.
But it wasn't just for stargazing. Rather, it was a "multifunctional centre", which was also used as a place of assembly, trade, cult and court.
Before you enter the unique facility, please check the information centre before your visit. A great time to visit is, for example, on the winter solstice.
Also interesting on the subject of astronomy: Nebra Ark, where you can learn more about the Nebra Sky Disk and especially children enjoy the interactive exhibitions and workshops. It is a 40-minute motorway ride away from Goseck.
A somewhat different museum is located in a former bishop's see in Zeitz. The baroque Moritzburg Castle was built in the 17th century and houses a very special museum. Here everything revolves around the history and manufacture of prams.
After all, Zeitz is known as the city of prams. (This is sometimes asked in crossword puzzles.) The Zekiwa company maintained the largest pram factory in Europe in the city, which has unfortunately been completely dilapidated since 1995. Not only in the GDR the prams were popular, but they were also exported a lot.
The special magic of the popular prams can still be felt in the museum. And who would have thought that there is so much to say about the small prams? In addition to the local history of pram manufacture, there are over 600 historical exhibits from 1840 to the present day. The exhibition is divided into two parts and you can spend some time here.