Who invented it? The Thuringians! That goes both for Christmas tree baubles and for the kindergarten. The German word ‘kindergarten’ has even been adopted in many other languages. It might be hard to believe, but the Brooklyn Bridge in New York would not exist were it not for the engineering ingenuity of a Mühlhausen bridge builder.
Today, many towns and cities in Thuringia continue to conduct research and drive innovation. Optical instruments and glass from Carl Zeiss in Jena enjoy an international reputation. Eisenach’s automotive industry has been producing various car models for more than 115 years. Thuringia has also been inventive with its natural resources. A former mine in Saalfeld has been transformed into fairy grottoes, while Sondershausen visitor mine boasts the deepest concert hall in the world.
Whether in the field of optics, astronomy, automotive engineering or steam locomotives, Thuringia embraces the new opportunities that modern technologies bring but without losing sight of its traditional heritage.
The oldest accessible potash mine in the world is a magnet for visitors. In addition to a museum that explores 100 years of potash mining, there are unusual attractions 700 meters underground, such as boat rides, a salt slide with a 40% gradient, sporting events, special events, and concerts in the deepest concert hall in the world.
At the Weltmeister-Senfladen (World-Champion Mustard Store) at the Altenburger Senfmanufaktur (Altenburg Mustard Factory) near Hauptmarkt, or main market square, customers can choose from over 350 kinds of mustard, dips, sauces, and herbs. A sizzling original Thuringian sausage right off the grill is the obvious companion for these products. In 2010, the business opened its own cooking school “Senfonie” and regularly organizes cooking events.
In 1999, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the “National Dobermann Pinscher Club” based in Apolda, the first Dobermann monument in Europe was unveiled here. In fact, the Dobermann dog was named after the Apolda dog breeder Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, and is the only dog to be named after its breeder.
The museum in the authentic factory building O2 dating from 1935, documents the over 120-year automobile manufacturing tradition in Eisenach. It began in 1898 at the Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach AG and continued on to the Dixi, BMW, and Wartburg eras, up to the present with the Adam Opel AG since 1991.
Iron and manganese dioxide were mined here until 1934. On 350 meters of developed mine ground, geological outcrops, uniquely colorful fluorescent minerals, and mining equipment through the ages can be seen.
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This underground labyrinth of corridors and niches situated five to eleven meters underground, was built in the 17th/18th centuries as a storage cellar for beer. Every two years, during the Höhler Biennale, lights and art shows make the Gera underworld come alive.
The exhibition brings the history of optical instruments to life – from the historic Zeiss workshop from 1866 to the camera tested in outer space. The museum is currently being remodeled and conceptually updated. The reopening is planned for 2023.
At the interactive KartenMACHERwerkstatt in the Residence Castle, anyone can make their own card game, either by using traditional or modern technologies. But no matter whether it is created by a 3D-printer or a linocut, the result is a unique product „made in Altenburg“.
The Kasematten of Friedenstein Castle are considered one of the strongest baroque fortifications in Central Germany. The Kasematten, which are located underneath the park, can be visited on a ca. 300-meter-long underground tour. There are embrasure chambers, gun galleries, rear weirs and much more to discover. Because they are so well-preserved, the fortifications, which have remained unchanged for over 350 years, further enhance the architectural and historical significance of the imposing castle complex.
The Merchants’ Bridge is 120 meters long, and thus the longest bridge in Europe that is completely built up with inhabited houses on both sides. The bridge is full of galleries and little shops that sell Thuringian handicrafts and culinary specialties, inviting visitors to linger and find out more about its history. Every year, the Krämerbrückenfest is celebrated throughout the medieval historic center featuring entertainers, merchants, and artists.
Glück auf! (Good luck!) was the traditional miner's greeting that also begins the tour through the former alum slate mines called "Jeremias Glück" (Jeremiah’s Luck), which are today called the Fairy Grottos.
On a tour through the "most colorful show caverns in the world" (Guinness Book of Records) you will discover a fascinating underground world and at the same time learn a lot of interesting facts about how it evolved, the former life of the miners, and more.
The show mine "Volle Rose" is an attraction located in the Schortetal valley near Ilmenau in Thuringia and is open daily between April and November. Guided tours take place every hour. Machines and mining techniques that were used in the past are explained, and the entrance to the mine with the lorry train belong to the attractions.
The legendary "Adler" was rebuilt in the only factory in Germany that still has the technology and knowledge to repair historic steam locomotives today. Factory tours and the “Steam Locomotive Days” on the first weekend in September attract thousands of fans of the old “steel horses”. Factory tours: April – October, Saturdays at 10 a.m. (except during the first three weeks of the Thuringian summer school holidays), and November – March, on the first and third Saturday of the month at 10 a.m.
In the last preserved traditional, lovingly restored distillery in Nordhausen, visitors learn about the history and technology of grain distillation during a guided tour. This is followed by a tasting of the distillery's own products, which, like many gifts, can be purchased in the new “Erlebnisshop”.
Find out more about Suhl traditions in vehicle construction, motor sports and vehicle history since 1896. The museum offers over 300 objects on 1,400 square meters of exhibition space. Simson, AWO, Schwalbe & Co. as well as the noble "Supra" car bodies, and racing cars by Paul Greifzu.
The success story of the Viba brand began in 1893 in a small family-run café called "Viebahn" in the center of Schmalkalden. Since 2012, the Viba Nougat-World has become a must-see attraction in Schmalkalden. A large exhibition, the interactive confectionery, a shop, and the restaurant with an outdoor terrace and a large playground make nougat and chocolate-lovers' hearts beat faster.
The oldest operating planetarium in the world shows fantastic educational and entertainment programs for the whole family thanks to the latest full-dome laser projection technology. More than 9,000 stars can be observed under the 25-meter planetarium dome.