EISENACH — The castle that lies at Germany's geographic center once sheltered an Augustinian monk who changed the course of world history.
Shortly after Martin Luther was excommunicated by Pope Leo X and his refusal to recant at the Diet of Worms, elector Frederick the Wise requested that he be allowed to stay at the Wartburg, a castle built during the Middle Ages. Luther stayed there from May 1521 to March 1522. While there, he translated the New Testament into German, which was not the first translation but became the most popular and widely circulated. Today, Germans credit Luther for much of the vernacular language they speak today.
The Christian Post was in Germany from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4, covering the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and was given a tour of this landmark edifice on Nov. 1. The exhibition at the Wartburg has received 300,000 visitors since May, exhibition staff told CP.
Here is a look inside this landmark. (Click arrow above image)
Atop a hill overlooking the town of Eisenach in the German state of Thuringia, the Wartburg is an iconic building. During the final week of October and into November, the castle wall was illuminated with scenes from a film that told the story of Luther.
Mulled wine, glühwein, a popular hot beverage at Christmas markets in Germany, was sold in clay cups for a few Euros nearby.
The Wartburg has become a symbol over the years of a united Germany. During the WWII era, a swastika was put on the castle in place of a cross. The cross was returned amid outcry, according to the guided audio tour.
The castle was added to the UNESCO World Heritage site list in 1999.
The study, where Luther spent many hours poring over the pages of the Bible and translated the Greek New Testament into everyday German, is pictured here.
This room has particular meaning for many Protestant pilgrims who travel to Germany and is a stop on several Luther tours. Standing in the study is a regular part of ordinary tours of the Wartburg as it is not unique to the special Luther exhibit. It was considered radical in Luther's day that the common man could read the Bible for himself.
Given its geographic location, the massive castle has symbolic status around the world.
Dorothee Menke, who works in public relations for the Luther exhibit at the Wartburg, told The Christian Post in an interview that "the exhibition shows that the Reformation has had impact on us until now, and all the things that developed out of it."
The Wartburg, she said, is "something like a national monument." The site holds a cherished place in the minds of many Germans.
She went on to explain that during Grand Duke Karl Alexander's renovation of the castle in the 19th century, he wanted it to be a place for both Protestant and Catholic confessions.
Many of the visitors who come to the Wartburg hail from the United States and South Korea, she noted.
Pictured here is a painting at the chapel inside the Wartburg Castle of six of the apostles. Peter, who is holding a key, is second from the right.
Luther arrived at the castle on May 4, 1521. And to this day Protestant services are held there every month from May through Oct. 31, Reformation Day, when Luther is widely believed to have posted his famous 95 theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg. On Nov. 19, Saint Elisabeth's Day, a Roman Catholic Mass is held.
Several other rooms in the castle describe the work of Saint Elisabeth of Hungary, who was sent to the Wartburg at age four. Although she died at just 24 in 1231, she became known for her generosity toward the poor. The Catholic Church canonized her as a saint just five years after her death.