Exploring Thüringen – Walk to the castle Burgk

In August 2022, we explore Thüringen (Thuringia) on our way from Berlin to Switzerland.

Now, we stay overnight at Saalburg to see the upper part of the river Saale.


Approaching Saalburg

As we approach Saalburg, we see signs pointing at “SMS” all over. We drive along tents and tents. What is this?

It is the Saalburg festival called “SonneMondSterne” (hence SMS). It took place from August 11th to August 13th.  40’000 guests attended it. They camped along the Bleichloch Lake. Incredible! I include the article of the local newspaper “East Thuringia” (Ostthüringerzeitung). 

We arrive on the 14th of August, and the area is still full of tents.


Our hotel at Saalburg

We settle at the hotel Kranich at Saalburg that declares to be a four-star place. The cooks ARE worth the stars – the meals they prepare are delicious. And the view from the restaurant terrace is worth the stars as well. 

The rooms are beautifully renovated, but… look at our view from the window: There is the bridge that crosses the Saale with lorries, already early in the morning.

Not exactly the view of the lake that we had expected based on the promises given, not quite four stars. In addition, the hotel manager’s mood was not exactly four stars either. What a pity for the excellent cooks and the friendly service personnel.

Nevertheless, we will stay here for two nights to explore the area around Saalburg.


Walk to Hanging Gangway along the Kobersfelsen closed – rockslide 

We drive to the bridge “Eisbrücke” and park our car. From the bridge, we see the castle Burgk reflect in the river Saale.

Our Müller guidebook proposes to walk to the Hängesteig (hanging gangway) along the Kobersfelsen, which is a steep rock on the river Saale. 

(Source:  Heidi Schmitt 2020)

The access is near the Eisbrücke (6). However, we find the path closed. A rockslide has destroyed the gangway. 

This is the kind of rocks that has slipped off here. We are in the Thuringian Slate Mountains (Thüringer Schiefergebirge). 

We decide to walk to the castle Burgk instead.


Walking to the castle Burgk

We approach the castle Burgk on the left-hand side of the Saale.

Next to the castle, we can see the view tower that we plan to climb.

We cross the dam (11 and 12). A steep path takes us up along the rocks to the castle Burgk and the village (9 and 10).


Burgk – an impressive castle

The castle Burgk was mentioned first in 1365. It changed hands several times. It belonged to the noblemen Reuss until 1945. The kitchen chimney is famous – the largest in Germany – and so is the Silbermann organ (by the German Silbermann organ builder, the brother of “our” Silbermann). However, today is another Monday – the castle is closed. 

We cross the bridge without paying… in former times a person had to pay one Pfenning, a horse and a cow each 4 Pfenning, young animals one Pfenning and a wheelbarrow costed 3 Pfenning. Interesting price differentiation. 

The castle was amplified and reconstructed several times to become the hunting and summer residence of the family Reuss in the 18th century, as the panel in the castle tells us. 

A meeting of the Franks is planned end of August.


Climbing the view tower (Saaleturm)

We go uphill along houses with well-kept gardens.

A Trabbi stands in front of a garage that might no longer be in use.

This must be a pre-war cigarette dispenser. It seems to be still in use.

The view tower promises a view of the sea of Thuringia, which is the nickname of the upper Saale that has been dammed up several times.

From the tower platform we can see the Burgkhammer dam and the castle Burgk. 

The dammed Saale above the Burgkhammer is meandering. 

Dry fields and soft hills to the north…

… and to the east.


Walking back along the right-hand side of the Saale

Along the steep slope on the right-hand side of the Saale we walk back to the Eisbrücke, where our car is waiting. The Saale appears between the trees. 

The marked path leads along the steep slope.

The viewpoint (8) allows to take photos of the meandering Saale.

From between the trees, we look back to the castle Burgk.

We reach the meadow orchard (Streuobstwiese, 7). 

A panel explains the economic and ecological value that meadow orchards have had for centuries.

Soon, the Eisbrücke appears behind the trees.

We drive back to Saalburg, with a stop at the Bleilochsperre that dams the Saale with this impressive wall.

On the upper side of the dam, there is this peaceful lake that extends to Saalburg-Ebersdorf.

This was a wonderful Monday morning! 


Map overview



  • Heidi Schmitt, “Thüringen Reiseführer”, Michael Müller Verlag 2020
  • Dina Stahn, “Bädeker Reiseführer Thüringen”