Wittenberg is probably not on most people's list of things to see in Germany. It does lack some of the big name sites that Berlin or the Munich area boasts, but it does have one really big thing going for it: Martin Luther. Yes, the original, the one who nailed the ninety five theses to the door of the Schlosskirche and started the Protestant Reformation. Being a Protestant myself, I consider this a good event. Unfortunately, millions died in the Thirty Years War because of the schism, but these sorts of things happen.
Another way you can tell Martin Luther is big here: The actual name of the town is Lutherstadt Wittenberg. When you get a town named after you, you've reached the big leagues.
Normally, even with the historical significance, I don't know that I would have gone out of my way to visit. But 2017 is the 500th anniversary of those that great theses-nailing day, and since it was a big anniversary, I decided to include it in our itinerary.
We arrived at the weekend in June when the town celebrates the wedding of Martin and Katherine. This is a big deal in town, with booth after booth selling food and handcrafts. I personally loved the wooden swords and shields, but am a bit too old to play with them, and my daughter is more about tablets and fidget spinners than pretending to kill people. Kids these days. But I found it charming that the town celebrates the wedding of people who have been dead for almost five centuries. I hope they do the same for me.
All that big deal stuff is fantastic… until you're trying to find a parking spot. My well-crafted plan, using Google Maps to find a place for my rental car, was for naught as the train station lot I was shooting for was blocked off. So after some urgent searching (there was a bathroom emergency), I found a spot on "Am Stadtgraben", perhaps my favorite street name in Germany, and we walked up the street to relieve the urgency, so to speak. And completely unrelated, a stork!
One great thing about festivals like this is you can save a load of money eating street food. We proceeded to do just that, grabbing a bratwurst at a food stand and enjoying a relatively quiet meal. It was still early in the day, the party not yet getting started in full force yet, so the people were still arriving, though you couldn't tell that from our parking issue.
We eventually found all the people - they were hanging out at the Castle Church (Schlosskirche). It's a nice church, with statues of electors, a sculpture of someone flying through the apse, and wonderful stained glass windows. And the most impressive of all, the "Theses Doors". These are not the original doors, which were destroyed in the Seven Years' War, and replaced with these bronze replicas.
The other important church of Wittenberg is St. Mary's Church (Stadtkirche Sankt Marien), the church where Luther preached. The interior isn't as impressive as the Castle Church, but it has fewer people, and some impressive paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder.
If you're a Luther fan, it is definitely worth the trip to Wittenberg. I enjoyed our brief stop between Berlin and Burgbernheim (our next stay in Germany). It has a mix of historically significant, beautiful churches, with a small town feel to it.