Despite its size, Erfurt has the character of a small city with its historical center: Almost all places of interest can be reached on foot within the shortest space of time, transporting the visitor back to the Middle Ages as they walk along narrow alleys and take in the very well-maintained medieval buildings and timber-frame structures. Erfurt got its name from the Germanic peoples. It is based on the word erpisa, which means "dark colored, brownish, black."
The creation of a compound with the Norse word ford/furt and the fact that the River Gera bore the alias of erpisa led to the name Erfurt - the "place on the ford across the (dark) Erpisa." The Gera splits into several streams in Erfurt and there were once several fords to cross, which were later spanned by bridges. There are no fewer than 245 bridges across the city, 100 of which are in the city center alone. That is why the citizens of Erfurt affectionately refer to the quarter stretching from the Schlösserbrücke with the Neue Mühle Museum toward the Krämerbrücke as far as St. Augustine's Monastery as "Little Venice."
Economically, Erfurt mainly thrived on its wide-ranging crafts and trades, its many different markets, and the merchants who lived here. Thanks to its favorable geographic location on the Via Regia, the city quickly became an important trading place between the fourteenth and sixteenth century. This growing importance was also evidenced by the fact that Erfurt established a university in 1392 as Germany's third city. The foundation charter even dates back to 1379, making it the oldest university in Germany - ahead of Heidelberg University (1386). One of the University of Erfurt's most famous graduates is none other than Martin Luther, who lived in the city from 1501 until 1511 and studied there until 1505. Legend has it that he feared for his life to such an extent during a thunderstorm in Erfurt-Stotternheim at the beginning of July 1505 that he made a vow to become a monk. It is well known what happened as a result of his intention.
Reflecting the city's religious importance in the Middle Ages and the early modern age, Erfurt has more than 56 churches, of which 42 alone are in the city center. A plaque on the plateau of Petersberg Citadel lists the names and locations of all of these churches. The "Gloriosa," the bell in the center tower of Erfurt Cathedral is 2.62 meters tall, has a diameter of 2.56 meters, and weighs 11.45 metric tons, making it the world's largest free-swinging medieval bell and one of the world's most beautiful-sounding bells. It is only pealed on special occasions and on religious holidays. There is a saying in Erfurt: "When the 'Gloriosa' speaks, all the other bells must fall silent." That is why all other bells only begin to peal a little after the "Gloriosa" has begun.
Erfurt generally has a great deal to offer from a cultural perspective, including museums, exhibitions, cabaret, variety, puppetry, theatre performances, opera, concerts of all kinds, and films to suit all ages and tastes. Some of the historical buildings have even been adapted specifically for such purposes. Every summer, the city also hosts the DomStufen Festival featuring famous operas - this year it is Carmen.
Yet the future also takes its place alongside tradition in Erfurt: The city was the microelectronics hub of East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Semiconductors have been made here since the end of the 1970s. The VEB (Volkseigener Betrieb or publicly owned business) Mikroelektronik "Karl Marx" Erfurt manufactured components in two plants known as ESO I and II. Their present-day successors are "X-FAB" and the manufacturer Melexis, which features in the Rutronik24 portfolio.
As you can see, there are plenty of good reasons to visit Erfurt. But what else is there to see - besides the Rutronik office? We have a few tips for you:
Hot spot: EGA (http://www.egapark-erfurt.de/)
Die EGA (Erfurt Garden Show) is located on a site covering 36 hectares some 45 meters above the old town. It features huge flower beds, five air-conditioned exhibition halls, a 600-square-meter children's play area, an observatory, a museum, and a children's farm with animals.
Hot spot: KiKA / Messe
The children's TV channel KiKA can be found on the site next door in Erich-Kästner-Strasse. The popular characters, including Bernd das Brot, die Maus, and Käpt'n Blaubär are in almost every well-known place in the city. Messe Erfurt is also in the neighborhood. In addition to various trade fairs, rock concerts featuring famous bands are also held here.
Restaurant: Augustiner an der Krämerbrücke (www.augustiner-erfurt.de)
This establishment is located in the heart of the various places of interest and affords a wonderful view of the Krämerbrücke and "Little Venice" from the inside as well as outside in the beer garden or on the balcony overlooking the River Gera. The menu features a mix of Bavarian and Thuringian specialties. Special highlight: its own Christmas market where fruit-based mulled wines are served.
Restaurant: Glashütte Petersberg - Restaurant, Café, Bar (www.glashuette-restaurant.de)
You can enjoy much more than good food and drink in this wonderful setting. Whether you are sitting inside gazing through the huge glass façade or outside on the terrace, you will be treated to a breathtaking view over the rooftops of Erfurt, taking in the cathedral and the Severikirche, Domplatz, and the nearby half-timber houses. The Glashütte serves traditional, high-quality dishes ranging from fish and steak to vegetarian options.
Restaurant: Zum Goldenen Schwan (www.zum-goldenen-schwan.de)
This restaurant at Michaelisstraße 8 (Andreasviertel) is known for its Thuringian cuisine and house-brewed beer from the Felsenkeller Weimar. The beer garden adjoins the Kulturhof zum Güldenen Krönbacken, where various exhibitions are shown. The inner courtyard is used for open-air film events and smaller open-air concerts.
Bar: Hemingway Bar & Lounge (http://www.hemingway-erfurt.de/Home.html)
The Hemingway Bar & Lounge can be found at Michaelisstrasse 45 (Andreasviertel) across the street from the Goldenen Schwan. This cocktail bar is open from 6 p.m. and has more than ten kinds of gin and 200 kinds of rum for cocktails. Patrons can also enjoy their drinks outside in the summer.
Bar: Daheym (http://www.daheym-erfurt.de/)
Situated in the heart of the Andreasviertel, Dayhem is a meeting place for all night owls. Even though the bar offers nothing out of the ordinary, the atmosphere is rock solid and down-to-earth, with beer and other drinks served at reasonable prices. In the summer, guests can drink in the flair of the old town, because seating is available outside on the street.
Hotel: Wilna (https://www.hotel-wilna.de)
This family-run three-star hotel is situated between the city center and greener spaces. Besides being very conveniently located for public transport, it also has a cozy bar that is perfect for a little nightcap.