In August 2022, we explore Thüringen (Thuringia) on our way from Berlin back to Switzerland.
Our first stop – for a coffee – is Neustadt an der Orla. This is, where people meet, the painting on this wall says: “… hier trifft man sich”.
Meeting people at Neustadt an der Orla turns out to be not that easy: Road blocked!
Getting to Neustadt seems easy: Leave highway A9, take road B281, leave B281 at the exit to Neustadt and follow the signs to the city centre. Well, in reality, it is not that easy. We leave B281 at the exit to Neustadt and end up in front of a driving ban; the access to the city centre is blocked. No further information.
We drive back to the bypass road B281. We see only ONE entry to B281, which turns out to lead eastwards and away from Neustadt (instead of westwards and towards Neustadt). We return on secondary roads, and end up in front of the road block once more.
The lady at the gasoline station tells us, where the second access to the B281 is – we should look for signs to “Saalfed” that is located to the west of Neustadt (Neustadt, she says, is not indicated here). We drive back to B281, find the sign pointing to Saalfeld, enter B281, drive westwards and soon, we reach the “secret” second entry to Neustadt. Sounds confusing? It WAS confusing.
Finally, we are in the city Neustadt “where people meet”.
The former Augustinian monastery
The former Augustinian monastery has been destroyed in the Thirty Years War, only the church is left.
Later, a castle was built here. It is now a school. The church is used for cultural events.
Well maintained city centre with half-timbered houses
The well kept medieval city centre has maintained many half timbered houses…
… and the newer houses built in between are a good match.
The city was famous for its carousel industry. The carpenter Adolf Heyn founded a carousel company in 1870.
I found this beautiful carousel horse in a shop window.
The market place
The late gothic city hall with the charming oriel dominates the market place.
Fleischbänke – “meat benches”
Also at the market place, the gate named “Fleischbänke” (literally “meat benches”)…
… leads to the medieval courtyard of 1475. Only here, on the meat benches, it was allowed to sell meet, which allowed to monitor hygiene.
Of the 17 meat benches, 9 remain. They have been restored in 2002.
Saint John’s Church at the Church Square
Saint John’s Church is of late gothic style at the Church Square.
Inside is the altar that Lucas Cranach the Elder created for this church in 1511.
To see the altar, you have to get the key at the City History Museum (Museum für Stadtgeschichte) during opening hours. Well, today is Monday, and the church is closed. No way to see the altar. We comfort ourselves with the portrait of Lucas Cranach on a house wall.
In addition, we read about the altar in Monumente of the Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz: The altar is dedicated to John the Baptist. He stands in the middle, flanked by Simon and Judas Thaddäus. To the left, John baptizes Jesus. To the right, John had been decapitated. The altar was installed in 1513. Martin Luther protected it from being destroyed by the protestants: Icons are allowed to decorate churches, he said, but it is not allowed to worship them.
The historic inn “Goldener Löwe” (Golden Lion)
The historic inn “Goldener Löwe” has been known since 1599. Goethe stayed here overnight, and in addition the Russian Empress Maria Fjodorowna and the Russian Princess Alexandra, as the plate on the hotel announces.
At the Goldener Löwen, we have a coffee and an ice cream. Afterwards, we continue our way to Saalburg.
Overview of our Thuringia/Thüringen tour
Neustadt an der Orla was our first stop coming from Berlin to explore Thuringia.
Ahead of us are the upper river Saale with the cascades and the cities along the Via Regia, such as Weimar, Erfurt and Eisenach.
- Home site of Neustadt an derOrla https://www.neustadtanderorla.de/kultur_tourismus/tourismus/sehenswuerdigkeiten/
- Heidi Schmitt, “Thüringen”, Thüringen Reiseführer Michel Müller Verlag 2020
- Dina Stahn, “Bädeker Reiseführer Thüringen”
- Monumente, Deutsche Stiftung für Denkmalschutz, Dezember 2019