Thuringia, Germany

Thuringia is a state in the center of the Federal Republic of Germany. With around 2.1 million inhabitants and an area of around 16,000 square kilometers, it is one of the smaller states in Germany (twelfth largest state by population, eleventh largest by area). The state capital and largest city is Erfurt, other important centers are Jena, Gera, Weimar and Eisenach. Neighboring states are the Free State of Saxony to the east and south-east, Saxony-Anhalt to the north and north-east, Lower Saxony to the north-west, Hesse to the west and the Free State of Bavaria to the south. Several places in the northwest of the country claim to be the exact center of Germany.

The name Thuringia has appeared as an area designation since the Thuringian Empire in the early 6th century. After that, Thuringia no longer formed a coherent dominion, even if the Landgrave of Thuringia managed to control large parts of the region for a short time. Nevertheless, the name of the landscape was retained and was taken up in 1920 when seven free states united to form Thuringia. Formerly Prussian areas such as Erfurt and northern Thuringia were added on July 9, 1945. After the dissolution of the states in the GDR in 1952, it was only re-established on October 3, 1990 from the three districts of Erfurt, Gera and Suhl as well as some neighboring areas and is now divided into 17 districts and five urban districts. Since 1993, Thuringia, like Bavaria and Saxony, has officially had the suffix Freistaat, which is based on the historical parts of the state.

The economy of Thuringia was able to stabilize after the upheaval in the course of reunification in the period after the turn of the millennium, so that the unemployment rate today is around the national average. The structure is mainly dominated by small companies, with some regions such as southern Thuringia or Eichsfeld still being characterized by the manufacturing industry. Larger companies are mainly found in Jena (Zeiss, Jenoptik, Schott) and Eisenach (Opel, Bosch), while Erfurt, with its diversified structure, is the country's most important economic center. Important locations for education and research in the Free State are Jena with the fourth largest university in the new federal states, Erfurt and Ilmenau with its Technical University. The cultural center of the state is Weimar with its traditional Bauhaus University Weimar, the Music Academy and its numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Thuringia has a high density of cultural sites of national and international importance. UNESCO World Heritage includes the "Classic Weimar", the Bauhaus in Weimar, the Wartburg near Eisenach and the Hainich National Park as part of the European beech forests. With the cathedral, the Krämerbrücke and the oldest surviving synagogue in Central Europe, the state capital has important cultural and historical sites.

Due to its abundance of forests, the state earned the nickname "green heart of Germany" as early as 1897. It was originally a popular book title by the travel writer August Trinius. The slogan was then used in the Weimar Republic to present the country, which had emerged from numerous small states, and was taken up again after its re-establishment in 1990 and used as an official advertising slogan until 2022.



The south of the country is dominated by the Thuringian Forest, which stretches between the Werra and Saale rivers. To the west of the Werra, the state shares the Rhön mountain range with Hesse and Bavaria. To the east of the Saale, the Thuringian Forest continues as the Thuringian Slate Mountains, which are not as high, but are also scenically attractive. In the extreme south-east, east of the river Weiße Elster, Thuringia shares the Vogtland together with Saxony and Bavaria.

A landscape with comparatively sparse natural vegetation is the Thuringian Basin north of the Thuringian Forest. It borders the Harz mountains to the north and is interrupted by the Hainleite to the south of Sondershausen.

The result is the following picture of the holiday regions or holiday areas (clockwise from north to west):
Northern Thuringia: Harz, Hainich, Hainleite, Kyffhäuser and Eichsfeld.
Thuringian heartland (also sometimes called "Thuringia's middle" or "Thuringian basin")
Saaleland: Ilm-Saale-Platte, Orlasenke, Saaletal, Thuringian Tuscany and Thuringian Slate Mountains
East Thuringia: Thuringian Holzland, Thuringian Vogtland and Osterland.
Thuringian Forest, Western and Central Thuringian Forest, High Slate Mountains and Schwarzatal.
Southwest Thuringia: Werratal, Rhön and Grabfeld.



The capital of the Free State of Thuringia is Erfurt. The largest cities in the country lie on a line in an east-west direction. These are Gera, Jena, the "cultural capital" Weimar, Erfurt, Gotha and Eisenach. Important towns outside of this line are Suhl in the Thuringian Forest, Nordhausen on the southern edge of the Harz Mountains and the skat town of Altenburg in the extreme east of the country. In the Thuringian Forest, Ilmenau, Oberhof and the half-timbered town of Schmalkalden are worth seeing. The former residence towns of Rudolstadt in the Saale valley with the Heidecksburg Castle and Meiningen in the Werratal with the well-known theater and museums are also worth seeing for tourists.

Selected cities:
1 Altenburg. Known as the city of skat, the former residence city is the largest city in the eastern Thuringian Altenburger Land with around 38,000 inhabitants and has a lot to offer culturally. The card game Skat was developed here between 1810 and 1818. In addition to the German Skat Association, the International Skat Court is also based in the city, and there is even a fountain dedicated to card games. In addition to the castle and the large contiguous historic old town area, there is also an art museum of national importance. The Altenburg Prince Robbery Festival takes place every summer in cooperation with the Altenburg State Theater and the City of Altenburg. Also in Altenburg is the Gumpert Sportwagenmanufaktur, a manufacturer of expensive exclusive sports cars, a visit to which is a must for car lovers.
2 Eisenach. the birthplace of Johann Sebastian Bach is located in western Thuringia. It lies at 221m above sea level at the north-west end of the Thuringian Forest, where Hörsel and Neffe flow together. The city is best known for Luther, who hid in the Wartburg. In the city center, the castle with the porcelain collection, the Georgenkirche and the Luther and Bach house are particularly worth a visit. Eisenach also made a name for itself as an automobile town. Before the Second World War, BMW produced its cars in Eisenach, the Wartburg was manufactured during the GDR era, and since reunification, Opel has had its Corsa assembled in the city. This history of automobile construction in Eisenach is shown in the "automobile world eisenach" museum.
3 Erfurt. The state capital has a medieval old town with many half-timbered houses. The most famous bridge in Erfurt is without a doubt the 120m long Krämerbrücke, which is lined with houses. The landmark of the city is the cathedral towering over the city together with the neighboring Severikirche. The Cathedral Steps Festival takes place every year in August on the grand staircase that leads down from the cathedral to the market square. Another impressive building is the Petersberg Citadel, from which you can enjoy a fantastic view of the old town. Erfurt was also known as the city of flowers, and the Egapark still bears witness to this today.
4 Gera. the birthplace of Otto Dix, is the third largest city in Thuringia and is located in the valley of the Weißen Elster. For the visitor to Thuringia, this city in the shadow of Erfurt is probably only a secondary destination, although it does have some cultural highlights. Orangery and theater date from the time of the Principality of Reuss. In the city center, the town hall and the Salvator Church adorn the cityscape. In 2007, together with the small neighboring town of Ronneburg, it organized the Federal Garden Show.
5 Gotha. became known mainly through the founding of Germany's first insurance company and through the merger of two workers' parties to form the Socialist Workers' Party of Germany, which was later renamed the SPD. Gotha was a residential city for a long time. The early baroque Friedenstein Castle still bears witness to this period. The Museum of Nature, the largest natural history museum in Thuringia, is located in the west tower of Friedenstein Castle.
6 Greiz. is a former residential town and was the seat of the older line of the Principality of Reuss. The East Thuringian city is the district and largest city in the district of Greiz. It advertises itself as a "park and castle city", which designations are justified by two castles plus a summer castle and an extensive English park, which is considered one of the most beautiful landscape parks in Thuringia. Beyond the city limits, Greiz is known as the "Pearl of the Vogtland", which refers to the charming location in the valley of the white Elster and the architecturally valuable city ensemble from the Art Nouveau era.
7 Mühlhausen. the city in the heart of Germany is nestled between the Hainich and Eichsfeld mountain ranges, north of Eisenach. From whichever direction you approach the town in the Unstrut Valley, the church tower of the Marienkirche greets you from afar. The city wall with its defense towers and the towers of the 11 medieval churches transport visitors to a bygone era. This is where the princes of the empire met in the Middle Ages. Philip of Swabia was elected German king and the civic community of the imperial city achieved self-government in 1251. Mühlhausen is crowned by the Marienkirche in the upper town, the largest church in Thuringia after the Erfurt Cathedral. The reformer Thomas Müntzer, who was well known alongside Martin Luther, preached here and made the city the focus of German history during the Peasants' War. The town's second main church, the Divi Blasii parish church, a Gothic hall church, is located on the Untermarkt. It is closely connected with the name of Johann Sebastian Bach. The composer and church musician worked here as an organist in 1707-1708. You can still listen to Bach's music in the church today. A treasure of a special kind is housed in the town hall. The Imperial City Archives with valuable documents and writings are located here.
8 Jena. The university town is located in the Saale valley, surrounded by high, mostly rugged limestone mountains. It is the second largest city in Thuringia after Erfurt. Jena is “City of Science 2008”. The historic old town was badly damaged during the Second World War. As a result, an alternation of modern and historical buildings characterizes the cityscape. The most striking building is the 149 meter high JenTower. The cylindrical high-rise was built in GDR times and completely rebuilt after reunification. The highlight of a visit to Jena is the Zeiss Planetarium, which is the oldest in the world.
9 Meiningen. lies in the Werra valley between the Thuringian Forest and Rhön on the border with Bavaria. The city is a station on the Classic Route and has a large and wide range of offers for city tourism and cultural tourism alike. Meiningen is generally known as a “theater town”. The dialect is Henneberg-Franconian, a subspecies of Main-Franconian.
10 Weimar. the city of Goethe and Schiller is a World Heritage Site. However, not only the two poets stayed in the city, the composer Johann Sebastian Bach and the Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius also worked in the city. Weimar offers a lot of sights, including the German National Theater, Bauhaus Museum, Schiller's house. It is probably the best-known city in Thuringia, not only culturally but also steeped in history, especially through the Weimar Republic. The darkest chapter in Weimar history is during the Nazi era. In front of the city was the Buchenwald concentration camp, which is now a memorial to the victims.



Other destinations

Buchenwald Concentration Camp
Hanstein Castle
Schloss Elisabethenburg
Hainich National Park
Schloss Reinhardsbrunn


More destinations

1 Thuringian Forest Nature Park
2 Rhön biosphere reserve

Here you will find the highest point in Thuringia on the Schneekopf observation tower at 1001m.

The upper Saale area on the western edge of the Thuringian Slate Mountains is also recommended for nature lovers. There are the Hohenwarte and the Bleilochtalsperre. Not far from the Saale valley is the Schwarzatal with the Oberweißbacher Bergbahn.
Rennsteig. The hiking trail that stretches from Eisenach over the ridge of the Thuringian Forest to the Bavarian border in the Thuringian Slate Mountains is indispensable for exploring the natural environment. North of Eisenach you can climb the forest to the roof on a treetop path in the Hainich National Park.
From Weimar and Jena north towards the federal state border, Thuringia shares an area with Saxony-Anhalt on the Ilm, Saale and Unstrut, which was nicknamed "Tuscany of the East" because of its sunny river slopes and gentle hills, and is otherwise known as the Saale-Unstrut wine-growing region . This is also where the Saale, Unstrut and Ilmtal cycle paths meet.
The nationally important Schifflersgrund Border Museum is located on the former German/German border near Asbach-Sickenberg, and the Eichsfeld Borderland Museum is about 40 km to the north-east in Eichsfeld.

Thuringia was not a state entity until 1920. Rather, the land of the residences was a reflection of German small-stateism: again and again divisions of inheritance took place and other lines died out again after a short period of existence. Not only the large ducal castles of Weimar or Gotha testify to this today, but also smaller residences such as that of the 500-strong village of Ebersdorf near Schleiz (Link).

After the division of Leipzig in 1485, a large part of today's Thuringia was ruled by the Ernestines, but the sub-lines of the Schwarzburgs and Reusses also had dominions. Even Prussia and Saxony had a small share of the cake. Since the Thuringian princes had little political weight, it is not surprising that they devoted themselves particularly to culture as a substitute. So it was only through the efforts of Duke Carl August that Goethe went to Weimar. After the abdication of the nobility, the state of Thuringia was formed in 1920. With an interruption from 1933 to 1945, it existed until 1952. Until 1990, it was divided into the three districts of Erfurt, Gera and Suhl, with some areas now belonging to Thuringia also being assigned to other districts. This included, for example, the Altenburger Land, which was assigned to the district of Leipzig.

The official state anthem of Thuringia is Thuringia, gentle land, the Rennsteiglied is considered unofficial because it is sung much more often.


Getting here

By plane
The nearest commercial airports with scheduled flights are Leipzig Halle Airport (IATA: LEJ), Nuremberg Airport (IATA: NUE) and Frankfurt Airport (IATA: FRA).

In Thuringia itself there are two airports, Erfurt – Weimar Airport (IATA: ERF) and Altenburg, where larger aircraft can land. Both have no regular service. From Erfurt there are charter flights to some hot water destinations.

By train
In Thuringia, the rail connections are still quite good, but the area-wide connection to long-distance traffic has decreased in recent years. There are ICE connections from the cities of Frankfurt, Berlin, Halle, Leipzig, Dresden, Bamberg and Munich. Otherwise, the journey is mainly via regional express trains.

With the Halle/Leipzig − Erfurt − Nuremberg high-speed line, the section between Halle/Leipzig and Erfurt was put into operation on December 13, 2015. The route to Nuremberg has been extended since December 2017. This gradually reduced the long-distance stops in Thuringia. Since the end of 2017, ICEs have only stopped in Erfurt, Gotha and Eisenach. Three IC trains run daily from Gera, Jena and Weimar via Kassel and the Ruhr area to Düsseldorf.

By bus
The development of the long-distance bus market is currently subject to rapid change, both in terms of providers and routes.

In the street
From the north and south, the journey is usually via the A9 (Berlin-Munich). From the east and west, travelers can reach Thuringia via the A4 (Dresden-Frankfurt). The two motorways represent the most important connections and are mostly expanded to six lanes. There are only small expansion gaps.

Other motorways in Thuringia are the A38 (Leipzig-Göttingen), the A71 (Schweinfurt-Südharz) and the A73 (Nuremberg-Suhl).

Note: As everywhere, arriving by car on Friday afternoons should be avoided because of the weekend commuters.



By train
Both Deutsche Bahn and some private railways operate in local transport. The Vogtlandbahn travels to train stations in eastern Thuringia. The South Thuringia Railway and the Erfurt Railway operate in central and south-west Thuringia. Abellio drives north and east.

Line network map of rail passenger transport in Thuringia
There are two transport associations in Thuringia. On the one hand, there is the central Thuringia transport association around Gotha, Erfurt, Weimar, Jena and Gera, and on the other hand, there is the cross-state Central German transport association in Altenburger Land, which also extends to north-western Saxony around Leipzig and south-eastern Saxony-Anhalt around Halle.

With the Thuringia ticket, one person can travel through Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt for €25 (as of March 2018). 4 additional people each pay an additional €7. Your own children/grandchildren up to the age of 14 travel free of charge. The ticket is valid on regional trains of the DB, most private railways, in some bus companies and in the city traffic of all places in the Verkehrsverbund Mittelthüringen (VMT), i. H. e.g. in Gotha, Erfurt, Weimar, Jena and Gera, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m., on weekends and public holidays all day until 3 a.m. the following day.

For single travelers there is the hopper ticket, with which you can easily travel 50 km within Thuringia for €5.40 or return for €8.70 (December 2018). Within the network area of the VMT there is a VMT hopper ticket for €5.60 one way/€9.20 return, which is then also valid on buses and trams at the start and destination. For longer distances, there is the Regio120 ticket up to 120 km, Regio 120 plus up to 150 km in Saxony, Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt for €17 and €22 respectively. These tickets are also only valid on local trains on weekdays from 9 a.m. or on Sat/Sun all day.

The Thuringian regional trains take bicycles free of charge.

By bus
Buses usually only connect the nearest towns and villages. While the number of city lines has mostly remained stable in recent years, lines on intercity routes have decreased due to population decline. Thüsac in Altenburger Land is trying to maintain the lines with minibuses. These are mostly large taxis with 8 seats that drive on behalf of Thüsac. If a larger group is traveling with you, they must contact Thüsac beforehand so that a larger bus can be used. There is an overview on the website of Bus Thüringen.

In the street
The motorways are also the most important routes when driving within the country. While most of the autobahns are well developed, some of the major federal highways still lack local bypasses. There is an environmental zone in Erfurt.

By boat
Shipping traffic with passenger transport is only available on the Bleilochtalsperre and the Hohenwarte Dam with round trips. Otherwise, only the Werra and the Saale can be navigated by canoe.

By bicycle
Thuringia has a network of cycling routes that opens up all parts of the state, but is sometimes quite demanding due to the mountainous location.



The language in Thuringia is essentially divided into two dialect groups. The Franconian south of the Thuringian Forest and the Thuringian-Upper Saxon north of it. However, as in Saxony, the dialects are quite different. Even the "Gersche Fettguschen dialect" differs from the Greizer dialect, although the two cities are only 30 km apart.



Two of the best-known Thuringian specialties are Thuringian grilled sausages and Thuringian dumplings.

Further information on Thuringian cuisine can be found under Eating and drinking in Thuringia.



Thuringia's oldest university is the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena. Today it has ten faculties.



Thuringia is considered a very safe federal state. In the annual federal crime statistics, the state with Bavaria leads the table with the lowest crime rate.



The Holzland, the Saale-Orla area and the upper Werra area around Hildburghausen are classified as TBE risk areas. These are areas in which between 1985 and 2004 at least five cases of tick-borne encephalitis or at least two TBE cases were registered within one year.

Emergency call: 112
Poison control number: +49 (0)361 730730



Thuringia is located in the middle of Germany and borders on the states of Hesse (length of the border 270 km), Bavaria (381 km), Saxony (265 km), Saxony-Anhalt (296 km) and Lower Saxony (112 km). Like Saxony and parts of Saxony-Anhalt, the Free State of Thuringia belongs to the region of Central Germany. As a result of a satellite-supported state survey in 2007/2008, the center of Thuringia was determined in the area of the municipality of Rockhausen in the Ilm district at the coordinates ♁50° 54′ 12″ N, 11° 1′ 35″ E about eight kilometers south of Erfurt Cathedral.

The landscape in Thuringia is very different. In the extreme north is the Harz Mountains. To the southeast is an area known as the Goldene Aue, with the fertile valley of the Helme river. In the northwest is the Eichsfeld, a partially wooded hilly landscape. In the middle of the state lies the flat, very fertile Thuringian Basin. This region is one of the oldest cultural landscapes in Germany. The first settlements here have been documented since the year 704. The Thuringian Basin is surrounded by various small mountain ranges, such as the Dün in the north-west, the Hainleite and the Windleite immediately to the north, as well as the Kyffhäuser in the north, Schmücke, Hohe Schrecke and Finne in the north-east, the Ettersberg in the south-east and the Fahnerhöhe in the south and the Hainich in the west. Hainich National Park is the only national park in the country.

South of the Thuringian Basin is the hilly foothills of the Thuringian Forest, finally the Thuringian Forest itself, as the largest mountain range in the country. To the east, the forest merges seamlessly into the Thuringian Slate Mountains, which in turn merges into the Franconian Forest to the south-east in the district of Sonneberg and in the Saale-Orla district, which, however, is only to a small extent in Thuringia. Together they form the Thuringian-Franconian low mountain range. This low mountain range is crossed by the Rennsteig, the ridge path. It represents the watershed between the Elbe in the north and the Weser or Rhine in the south. The Thuringian Forest is a ridge mountain range, while the Schiefergebirge and the Franconian Forest are high plateaus cut up by narrow valleys. The Saale valley runs east of the forest and basin. Beyond the Saale lies the Thuringian Holzland in the north, the Vogtland in the south and the Osterland in the east. In contrast to the former, the Osterland around Altenburg has little forest and is very fertile. The Franconian Line runs in the southern district of Sonneberg north of the district town of Sonneberg; In Thuringia, this separates the Franconian Forest from the Obermainisches Hügelland. Southwest of the Thuringian Forest, in southern Thuringia, lies the Werra valley, followed by the Rhön to the west and the Grabfeld to the extreme south.

The country's most important rivers are the Werra in the southwest and the Saale in the east. Larger tributaries of the Saale are the Unstrut (with Gera), the Ilm and the White Elster. The Leine has its source in the northwest of the country. Overall, the country is divided into the catchment areas of the Weser in the west, the Elbe in the middle and in the east and the Rhine in the extreme south, with an intersection at the Dreistromstein near Neuhaus am Rennweg. There are no larger natural bodies of water in Thuringia, but with the dams of Bleiloch and Hohenwarte, two of the largest reservoirs in Germany are located here.

The highest elevation in the state is the Great Beerberg in the Thuringian Forest at 983 meters. Other high mountains are the Schneekopf (978 m), the Große Finsterberg (944 m) and the Große Inselsberg (916 m). The highest point in Thuringia is 1060 meters above sea level and is located on the Bleßberg in the district of Sonneberg (position of the radio system 865 m + 195 m height of the transmitter). The highest mountain in the Schiefergebirge is the Großer Farmdenkopf (869 m), in the Rhön region of Thuringia the Schnitzersberg (816 m) belonging to the Ellenbogen and in the Harz Mountains in Thuringia the Großer Ehrenberg (636 m). Important elevations between the Harz Mountains and the Thuringian Forest are the Birkenberg (533 m) in Eichsfeld, the Alte Berg (494 m) in Hainich, the Kulpenberg (474 m) in Kyffhäuser and the Ettersberg (482 m) near Weimar. South of the Thuringian Forest are the Dolmar (740 m) and the Große Gleichberg (679 m), east of the Saale lies the highest mountain with the Rosenbühl (653 m) in the southern Vogtland, but without any particular relief energy. Furthermore, the central Thuringian Forest and the adjacent western slate mountains and the Rhön are populated up to the ridges, so that around 20 towns in the state are over 700 meters above sea level, including Oberhof, Neuhaus am Rennweg and Steinheid as the highest places at over 800 meters (in the town center) as well as the Rhön villages of Frankenheim and Birx at an altitude of 750 meters, which - unlike the proto-industrial early modern foundations in the Thuringian Forest - even come from the high medieval settlement with agricultural livelihoods. The lowest points are the Unstrut valley between Wiehe and Roßleben (114 m), the Saale valley near Großheringen (120 m), the Werra valley near Lindewerra (145 m) and the Pleiße valley near Treben (150 m).



Thuringia is located in the temperate climate zone of Central Europe with prevailing westerly winds. Since there are already some protective low mountain ranges between the western seas and the Free State, Thuringia's climate is more continental than in western and northern Germany. This is reflected above all in colder winters and drier summers than in other parts of the Federal Republic.

There are very large climatic differences within Thuringia. The Thuringian Basin in the center of the state is particularly favoured. It is surrounded by mountains, so that the lowest amounts of precipitation in Germany fall there. Straußfurt holds the record with 242 millimeters of annual precipitation in 1911.[10] Normal in the Thuringian Basin is 400 to 500 millimeters of annual precipitation with an annual mean temperature of 8.5 degrees Celsius (1961-1990 at the Artern weather station). The hilly areas in the country are climatically about average for Germany. In Gera, for example, 624 millimeters of precipitation fell at a temperature of 7.8 degrees Celsius. The mountain zones in Thuringia have an unfavorable climate. An average of 1289 millimeters of annual precipitation at a temperature of 4.4 degrees Celsius is measured on the Schmücke. Here the January temperature is −4 degrees Celsius and the July temperature is 12.8 degrees Celsius. In Artern on the northern edge of the Thuringian Basin, the values for these months are −0.7 degrees Celsius and 17.6 degrees Celsius.

Regular natural disasters in Thuringia are in particular floods and storms. Floods usually occur in Vb weather situations, in which large low-pressure areas with moist Mediterranean air move north across the Adriatic, Austria, the Czech Republic and Poland and cause heavy rainstorms in the Thuringian Forest and Slate Mountains due to their anti-clockwise rotation. In contrast, the risk of flooding as a result of rapid snowmelt is less great, since the high altitudes of the Thuringian Forest drain into many different rivers. After reunification, flood protection was significantly improved through the designation of appropriate areas and the installation of numerous retention basins, including on small rivers. Storms are particularly problematic for the mountainous regions where spruce monocultures, damaged by 20th-century pollution, are vulnerable to windbreaks, most recently seen in hurricane Kyrill. By increasing the diversity of species in forest operations, the impact of future storms should be reduced here. If, as forecast, climate change leads to a more irregular distribution of precipitation, the lowlands in the Thuringian Basin are exposed to a higher risk of summer drought, since precipitation levels are quite low here. Farmers are trying to react to this by switching to more drought-resistant varieties.



The geological situation in Thuringia is characterized by a large variety of geological formations. Almost all layers of the Phanerozoic, i.e. the last 500 million years, can be found on the surface or in the areas close to the ground in the various regions of the country.

Based on the history of its origin, Thuringia is divided into four so-called structural floors, which are dominant in the respective regions and are arranged according to their age:
the Hercynian basement in the Thuringian Slate Mountains
the transitional or molasse storey in the Thuringian Forest belonging to the Saxothuringian
the table top mountain range in the Thuringian Basin and in the south-west Thuringian Triassic region
the soft rock stockwork in the Weißelster basin

While the geomorphological shape of Thuringia in the south and west is almost exclusively determined by tectonic processes and erosion caused by precipitation, these structures were reshaped by the Elster glaciation around 400,000 - 320,000 years ago in the north and east. Accordingly, from a geomorphological point of view, the country is divided into five externally delimitable areas:
the Thuringian Mountains, consisting of the Thuringian Forest and the Thuringian Slate Mountains
the Zechstein and Triassic landscapes of the Thuringian Basin and southern Thuringia
the southern Thuringian volcanic areas (Heldburger Gangschar)
the Kyffhäuser and the Thuringian part of the Harz Mountains
the Altenburg-Meuselwitz area, which is characterized by opencast lignite mining and remains of uranium mining that took place in the second half of the 20th century.

In addition to flat areas, numerous faults characterize the landscape within the Zechstein and Triassic landscapes, of which the Eichenberg-Gotha-Saalfeld fault zone, which separates the Thuringian Forest foreland from the Thuringian Basin, is the longest and most conspicuous. Larger salt deposits can be found in the Zechstein area in the Werra and Wipper area, which were particularly mined in the 20th century. Numerous geological phenomena can be observed in the red sandstone area of the Saale valley near Jena.

Based on the mining of mineral resources such as iron ore, copper slate or gold, which began in the late Middle Ages, especially in the area of the Thuringian Mountains, a theoretical processing of practical geoscientific knowledge developed in the region as early as the 16th century. In 1796, the Society for the Entire Mineralogy of Jena, the first geoscientific association, was founded. It was created at the suggestion of Goethe, who was its president from 1803 to 1830.

Due to ongoing tectonic processes, small earthquakes occasionally occur in south-east Thuringia. These have been observed by the University of Jena since the beginning of the 20th century. Today, the Moxa Geodynamic Observatory of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena and the Bauhaus University Weimar's Center for Engineering Analysis of Earthquake Damage are located in the east of the Thuringian Slate Mountains to investigate and evaluate possible consequences of earthquakes not only in this area.


Nature and landscape

Thanks to the diverse geological subsoil and the influence of the low mountain ranges on the local climate, a large number of plant species with different ecological requirements can grow in Thuringia. A natural spatial classification of Thuringia distinguishes between the seven natural area types: low mountain ranges, red sandstone hilly areas, shell limestone hilly areas, basalt hill country, arable hilly areas, floodplains and lowlands as well as the Zechstein belt on mountain edges. Within these natural space types, 38 individual natural spaces are distinguished; the natural area of the Thuringian Mountains is also divided into eight sub-units.

The potential natural vegetation of Thuringia consists of forests, which could be divided into different types depending on the site conditions. The most widespread would be beech forests dominated by the common beech (Fagus sylvatica), especially grove rush, woodruff, forest barley and orchid beech forests. Other tree species could only dominate where the site conditions are less than ideal. The sessile oak (Quercus petraea), English oak (Quercus robur), hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata) would be found more frequently in the warm, dry, continental areas of the central Thuringian basin. In the low mountain ranges, on the other hand, in addition to the common beech, the sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus), the Norway spruce (Picea abies) and the silver fir (Abies alba), which is rare today, would be found. Spruce-beech forests can only be found in the highest areas of the Thuringian Forest and the Thuringian Slate Mountains.

The current flora and fauna are adapted to the German cultural landscape. Due to human use, the vegetation consists primarily of forests, grassland, fields, settlements and bodies of water. About a third of the country's area is covered by forest. Thuringia is one of the most densely forested federal states. However, only 30% of this is semi-natural deciduous forest. The coniferous forests that were planted at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century are particularly characteristic. However, the state forest administration is endeavoring to increase the proportion of hardwood again. After hurricane Kyrill in January 2007 caused massive damage, especially in the Thuringian Forest, the native beech-oak mixed forest was sometimes used again instead of spruce monocultures for afforestation. The main tree species in Thuringia are spruce with 42.6%, common beech with 20.1% and Scots pine with 15.7%. However, the forests are not homogeneously composed mixed forests. Depending on the location, the low mountain ranges of the Middle and Eastern Thuringian Forest, the Thuringian Slate Mountains and the Harz Mountains are predominantly planted with spruce. Pine forests are widespread in the Buntsandsteinländer, such as in Holzland. Beech forests dominate in the shell limestone areas, including in the Hainich, in the Dün and in the Hainleite, but also in the northwestern Thuringian Forest.

The grassland is mainly characterized by dry and semi-dry grassland, fresh meadows rich in species in the hilly regions have declined sharply. A large proportion of fresh and moist meadows are used as cattle pasture.

Roe deer, red deer, wild boar, mouflon and foxes live in the forests of Thuringia. The wild cat (Felis silvestris) has found its habitat again in the Hainich National Park and in the valley of the Weißen Elster, between Greiz and Wunschdorf. The lynx (Lynx lynx) is once again roaming through the Harz mountains in the north of the country. The country's nature reserves are home to rare bird species, including the black grouse (Lyrurus tetrix or Tetrao tetrix), the black stork (Ciconia nigra) and the corncrake (Crex crex). There have also been sightings of wolves in Thuringia for several years. On the military training area in Ohrdruf, a female wolf has proven her territory and mated with a dog. Wolves have also been found in the Thuringian Forest and in the Holzland. Domestic animals that are adapted to life in the country include the Thuringian forest goat, which has been bred for centuries, and the Rhön sheep.

Due to the industrial pollution that was emitted between 1850 and 1990, parts of Thuringia were badly damaged at the end of this period. Since then, this damage has been partially mitigated. For example, the former uranium opencast mine in Ronneburg was renovated and sealed as part of the 2007 Federal Horticultural Show in Gera and Ronneburg; the new landscape of Ronneburg was created. Another contaminated site is the tar lake in Rositz near Altenburg, which poses an extremely high risk to the environment. Overall, however, the pollution of the air and water has decreased considerably, only the Werra is - due to the Hessian potash mining - still so salty below Dorndorf (the salt content in many places corresponds to that of the Baltic Sea) that many plants and animals cannot survive . Wastewater discharges by the K+S Group repeatedly caused disputes between the communities and the states of Thuringia and Hesse in this region. In areas of intensive agricultural use, smaller streams continue to suffer from increased nitrate input due to surface fertilization.

The Hainich National Park, the Rhön and Vessertal-Thuringian Forest biosphere reserves and the Eichsfeld-Hainich-Werratal, Kyffhäuser, Thuringian Slate Mountains/Upper Saale and Thuringian Forest nature reserves are important nature reserves in Thuringia. Central areas of the Hainich National Park have been among the 36 World Heritage sites in Germany since they were recognized by the World Heritage Committee on June 25, 2011. By 2030, 5% of all forest areas should be completely taken out of economic use in order to develop into near-natural forests in the long term. In addition to the Hainich, areas are planned for this in the Hohe Schrecke, in the Hainleite am Possen and in the Pöllwitzer Wald, most of which were used for military purposes before 1990 and are still partly contaminated by ammunition residues.



Thuringia has around 2.12 million inhabitants, although the number of inhabitants has been declining since the end of the Second World War. For this reason, the aging of the population is already far advanced in comparison with Germany and the birth deficit is comparatively high, although the fertility rate (births per woman) is above the national average. The migration balance was positive again in 2013 for the first time since 1996, as emigration to other federal states is declining while immigration from abroad is increasing sharply. Only a few migrants live in the country, so that the proportion of foreigners (about 4%) is one of the lowest in Germany. The population development is different at the local level. The two major cities in the state have been growing again since 2003 (Erfurt) and 1999 (Jena), while the communities in rural areas in particular are losing a lot of population due to aging. The urbanization trend in Thuringia is thus continuing.


Settlement structure

In terms of population density, Thuringia is second only to Saxony among the five new federal states. Nevertheless, the population density is now lower than that of all the "old" states, while Thuringia was one of the more densely populated regions of Germany before the Second World War. The population density is greatest along the Thuringian chain of cities, which stretches from west to east through the middle of the state and on which the six largest cities in Thuringia are located. The population density is also higher on the northern and southern edges of the Thuringian Forest and Slate Mountains, along the connection from Halle to Kassel in the north and in the valleys of Saale, Werra and Unstrut.

The area between the Werra and the state border in the south, the area around the Saale reservoirs in the south-east, the woodland between the Roda and Orla valleys and the north of the Thuringian basin are less populated. In terms of settlement geography, west of the Saale in the lowlands, large, often self-structured villages with numerous farmsteads and quite large village areas such as Herbsleben dominate, while in the areas east of the Saale, which did not belong to the German old settlement area, the villages usually consist of only a few farmsteads such as Gieba. However, the density of places is much higher there. With a similar total population density in the district of Gotha in the western center of the state there is an area of about ten square kilometers per place, while in Altenburger Land in the east it is only about two square kilometers. Inconsistent settlement structures can be found in the forest areas, there are “industrial villages” that have grown into cities, such as Zella-Mehlis or Lauscha, as well as places with just a few houses, such as Allzunah. Depending on the definition of place, there are between 2500 and 3000 places in the Free State, of which 126 currently have city rights. There are also around 20 former cities that were incorporated or lost their rights again.

The State Development Plan 2025 specifies spatial policy objectives for the period up to 2025. The challenge of state spatial planning is to approach equal living conditions throughout the state. It is particularly important to counteract infrastructural deficits in rural and peripheral areas and to deal with the problems associated with demographic change. There are three regional centers in the state, all located along the middle of the state - Erfurt, Jena and Gera. They are considered potential regiopoles, which already plays a role in Erfurt's urban development concept from 2008 for networking with neighboring cities to form a regiopole region.

Other regional centers radiating towards Thuringia are the Franconian cities of Coburg, Bamberg, Schweinfurt and Würzburg in the south, as well as Fulda in Hesse for the western Rhön. In the south-east, Zwickau, Plauen and Hof have central functions for the Vogtland. Göttingen and Kassel act as regional centers for Eichsfeld. In the northeast, the area around Artern is oriented towards Halle and the northern Altenburger Land towards Leipzig.

In addition, in the parts of the state that lie on the periphery of the Thuringian chain of towns on the A4, some medium-sized towns occupy a structural position between the regional center and the middle center. Nordhausen was able to establish itself as a regional center for the southern Harz region and northern Thuringia with a growing university. With its efficient economy, Eisenach also plays a central role in western Thuringia and parts of north-eastern Hesse. Mühlhausen and Saalfeld/Rudolstadt showed less dynamics, but can still be considered regional centers in the north-west and south-east of the country. On the other hand, the importance of Suhl as a center in the south-west of the country has decreased due to the decline of the local retail trade and due to the ongoing strong population loss, but is supplemented by Meiningen. In the middle of the state, in addition to the regional centers of Erfurt and Jena, Weimar and Gotha also have higher central local functions.

The remaining medium-sized and some small towns are medium-sized centers with a focus on the local surrounding area. The range extends from places with 25,000 inhabitants to small towns with well under 10,000 inhabitants.

In the field of intermunicipal cooperation, the cities of Jena and Gera are members of the central German metropolitan region, and the district of Sonneberg has joined the Nuremberg metropolitan region. Furthermore, the "Impulse Region" exists as a cooperation between Erfurt, Weimar, Jena and the Weimarer Land as the central settlement and economic area of the state.



The Linguistics Commission of the Saxon Academy of Sciences in Leipzig distinguishes nine regional dialects in Thuringia, seven of which belong to the Thuringian-Upper Saxon dialect group and two to the Main Franconian dialect group. In addition, with the Rhöner Platt and Grabfeldisch, two other Main Franconian dialects are usually mentioned, the distribution areas of which are to a large extent also in neighboring East Hesse and Lower Franconia.

Central Thuringian is spoken in the center of the state around Erfurt, Arnstadt, Ilmenau, Gotha, Bad Langensalza and Sömma. To the north follow North Thuringia around Mühlhausen, Nordhausen, Bad Sachsa, Sondershausen, Stolberg (Harz), Kelbra and southern Eichsfeld, and Northeast Thuringia around Artern, Sangerhausen and Nebra. To the east of the distribution area of Central Thuringia, the Ilm-Thuringia borders around Eckartsberga, Weimar, Jena, Rudolstadt and the Schwarzatal, which in turn merges into Southeast Thuringia to the east. This dialect is mainly spoken around Saalfeld, Pößneck, Schleiz, Greiz and Gera. In the east of the country, the East Thuringian dialect is spoken, this applies above all to Holzland and Osterland around Altenburg. In the Eisenach-Bad Salzungen area, West Thuringia predominates, a dialect in which East Hessian influences can already be identified. The Main Franconian language areas are in southern Thuringia, with Hennebergisch in the Werra catchment area around Suhl and Meiningen, Itzgründisch in the Itz catchment area around Sonneberg as far as Hildburghausen and in the Heldburger Land, Rhöner Platt in the area southwest of Bad Salzungen, Grabfeldisch in the southwestern district of Schmalkalden-Meiningen and in the western district of Hildburghausen.

Upper Hessian is found in the former Hessian enclave of Schmalkalden. In addition, Upper Franconian is spoken in Heinersdorf in the district of Sonneberg, beyond the Bamberg barrier. In northern Eichsfeld, a Low German dialect of Ostfalian is traditionally spoken.

The Thuringian dialects combine similar characteristics, which become more and more evident from west to east. The four main Franconian dialects are seamless, clearly differentiated from them and especially pronounced in the itzgründisch language area. The Rennsteig as the old border path of the medieval Gaue is the hard border here, only the salt arch, which is also located south of the Rennsteig (roughly along the Werra between Breitungen, Bad Salzungen and Vacha) forms an approx. 20 km wide transition zone with Franconian, Hessian and Thuringian language elements.


Religions and worldviews

In Thuringia, as in most regions of Germany, the two large churches are losing members. In 1991, 32.2% of Thuringians were considered Protestant and 9.5% Catholic. At the end of 2021, Thuringia had 2,108,863 inhabitants, of whom 19.5% were Protestant, 7.5% Catholic and 73.1% were non-denominational, belonged to another religious community or made no statement.

Thuringia was Christianized as early as the 8th century by Bonifatius, which is why he is sometimes referred to as the "Thuringian missionary". Until the introduction of the Reformation, the population therefore belonged to the Catholic faith.

The Thuringian states were one of the first Protestant areas in the world in the 16th century, as the reformer Martin Luther had a patron in Elector Frederick of Saxony. In addition, some of the background to the Reformation took place in Thuringia: Luther completed his theology studies at the University of Erfurt, his family himself came from Möhra, the translation of the Bible was partly done in the Wartburg and the Peasants' War and the Schmalkaldic War were the consequences of the Reformation to a large extent in Thuringia. The Reformation Anabaptist movement was also widespread in large parts of Thuringia. One of the centers of the Central German Anabaptists was the town of Mühlhausen, where Thomas Müntzer had already worked in 1525.

However, the evangelical church never had the social influence that the catholic church had in their areas. As early as the 18th century, most Thuringian states were considered to be liberal and enlightened, which was promoted above all by the Weimar ducal family.

The decomposition of the former Lutheran state church caused by the German Christians, the atheistic world view of the SED, the appropriate education in schools and career disadvantages for Christians later contributed to the fact that the majority of the population left the church.

In the Evangelical Church, Thuringia is part of the Evangelical Church in Central Germany (EKM), which was formed in 2009 and essentially comprises the federal states of Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt. The former district of Schmalkalden is the only part of the state that does not belong to the EKM, but to the Evangelical Church of Kurhessen-Waldeck (EKKW). There are large regional differences in the proportion of residents remaining in the Protestant Church. As everywhere, rural communities have a higher proportion than cities.

In Thuringia, the proportion of Christians in the total population is currently lower than in the western federal states, but somewhat higher than in Berlin, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. An exception in Thuringia is Eichsfeld, where the majority of the population is Catholic. Among the new federal states, Thuringia has the highest proportion of Catholics in the population. First and foremost, this includes Eichsfeld, which belonged to Kurmainz until 1802. According to the 2011 census, the proportion of Catholics in the district of Eichsfeld (which is not completely congruent with the historical region) was 69.5%, making it the only district in the new federal states that still had a church-bound majority of the population. Historically, Eichsfeld also includes the communities in the north-west of the Unstrut-Hainich district, from Südeichsfeld in the south-west to Dünwald in the north-east, most of which are also Catholic. Another former electoral Mainz region was the state capital Erfurt and its surroundings, which is why there is traditionally a Catholic minority in Erfurt (2011: 6.8%) and some of Erfurt's country villages remained mostly Catholic. With the exception of Witterda, these villages are all districts of Erfurt today. A third Catholic region is the area between Geisa, Dermbach and Zella in the Rhön in the southern Wartburg district, which belonged to the Fulda Bishopric until 1802. Furthermore, some larger cities have significant Catholic minorities that (with the exception of Erfurt) are the result of migration since 1871, for example Mühlhausen (10.3%), Jena (6.6%) and Weimar (6.1%). In the other parts of the country, the proportion of Catholics is well below 5%. Most of the Catholics are organized in the Diocese of Erfurt. Smaller parts of the country also belong to other dioceses (East Thuringia to the Dresden-Meissen diocese, Geisa to the Fulda diocese).

A small number of Jewish communities had existed in Thuringia since the 12th century, so there were never more than 5,000 to 6,000 Jews living in the state. Most of them lived in the relatively free cities of Erfurt, Mühlhausen and Nordhausen. In the early modern period, some "protected Jews" also settled in the Rhön and in the Werratal in the south-west. From about 1870 they migrated to the cities, especially to Eisenach, Gotha, Meiningen and Suhl. The time of National Socialism put an abrupt end to Jewish life in Thuringia. Since the Second World War, only the Jewish community in Erfurt has existed with around 750 members (2007) throughout Thuringia.

Other religious communities play only a minor role in Thuringia. Various Christian free churches maintain their own small congregations in medium-sized towns. The Muslim communities also only have a few thousand members, although no official statistics are collected here because, unlike various Christian churches, Islam is not organized as a public corporation. According to the central register of foreigners, around 35,000 foreigners from predominantly Muslim countries lived in Thuringia in 2016, which corresponds to one to two percent of the total population.



From the Thuringian tribe to the Landgraviate

The Thuringian tribe was formed during the Migration Period. Their origins are disputed, so an often assumed connection to the older Hermundurs is scientifically untenable, it is more likely that the tribe formed from resident groups and groups that had migrated from the east. The first mention of the Toringi comes from Flavius Vegetius Renatus in the late 4th century, writing about their horses and relating them to Huns and Burgundians. Later, the Thuringians founded a kingdom with a settlement focus in the fertile Thuringian Basin along the Unstrut. It existed until 531, when the Franks destroyed it with the help of the Saxons and incorporated the area west of the Saale into the Frankish Empire. Around 620 the Merovingians founded the Duchy of Thuringia, which existed until the late 8th century. The first written traditions in the country also date from this period, including from Arnstadt in 704 and from Erfurt in 742. At the same time, Bonifatius, who founded the Erfurt diocese, was evangelizing in the country.

The Saxon Ottonians made the area on the lower Unstrut between Naumburg and Sangerhausen a center of the Holy Roman Empire in the 10th century. A separate Thuringian tribal duchy could not develop in this way. At that time, the county of Weimar was the greatest power in Thuringia. Only the Ludowinger were able to bring considerable parts of Thuringia back under their control. Ludwig the Springer had the Wartburg built in 1067. His descendants were in 1131 by the later Emperor Lothar III. elevated to Landgrave of Thuringia. Under them, the region blossomed into a center of German culture in the High Middle Ages, especially the singers' war at the Wartburg and the work of Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia are worth mentioning in this context. The Landgrave family died out in 1247, after which the Thuringian-Hessian War of Succession began. It ended in 1264 with the Wettins receiving large parts of the country and integrating them into their state. The Wettin dynasty ruled over Thuringia for almost 700 years and only ended with the abolition of the monarchies in Germany in 1918. In the Thuringian War of Counts between 1342 and 1346, the Counts of Schwarzburg, Weimar-Orlamünde and Hohnstein as well as the bailiffs of Weida tried to push back the supremacy of the House of Wettin, but they were unsuccessful.

In the 12th century, the process of state expansion in Thuringia intensified. The first fortified towns emerged, such as Mühlhausen (1135) or Saalfeld (1180). At the same time, Erfurt's heyday began. The population reached around 20,000 in the 14th century, making the city one of the largest in the empire. Erfurt was equipped with about 30 parish churches and monasteries of almost all orders present in Central Europe, two mighty walls, a cathedral and St. Peter's Monastery. In 1331 the city received the imperial trade fair privilege more than 150 years before Leipzig (1497), followed in 1392 by the founding of Germany's third university in the city. Erfurt's heyday ended at the beginning of the 16th century when the political and economic conditions deteriorated. The city's wealth was based in part on the woad trade, which was replaced by the cheaper indigo after the start of the colonial trade, thereby eroding a crucial source of income. However, the political causes weighed more heavily. As a result of the Reformation, the city's population and city council became Protestant, while the sovereign, the archbishopric of Mainz, remained Catholic. The archbishop of Mainz suppressed the city of Erfurt and the city council, but on the other hand it was an exclave in the middle of the Saxon dominion, which hampered Erfurt's economy, so that the city was overtaken by the up-and-coming trading cities of Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig.

The most important noble families of medieval Thuringia were the dominant Wettins and the Ludowingers (Landgraves of Thuringia; 1040-1247), the Counts of Beichlingen (in northern Thuringia; 1080 to approx. 1600), the Counts of Gleichen (in central Thuringia; 1099-1631) , the Counts of Hohnstein (in the Harz foothills; 1184–1593), the Counts of Kevernburg (in the foothills of the Thuringian Forest; 8th century to 1385), the Lobdeburgers (in East Thuringia; about 1100 to about 1300), the Counts of Schwarzburg (in the Thuringian Slate Mountains and its foothills; 1071–1918), the Counts of Stolberg (in the Harz Mountains; 1210–1806), the Counts of Vitzthum (in the Weimar-Jena area; from 1123), the bailiffs of Weida (in the Elstertal, Ancestors of the Counts of Reuss; 1209-1918) and the Counts of Weimar-Orlamünde (in central Thuringia; 949-1486). After the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, only the Ernestines as descendants of the Wettins and the now princely Reussen and Schwarzburgers were able to secure their power in Thuringia. They ruled until the end of the monarchy in 1918.


Thuringia under the Ernestines in the 16th and 17th centuries

In 1485, with the division of Leipzig, the Wettin lands were divided between the younger Albertines in the east and the older Ernestines in the west. At the same time, they took over the electoral dignity from the Wettins. The Ernestines initially ruled over large parts of Thuringia, only a strip in the central Thuringian basin along the Unstrut belonged to the Albertines.

With the Reformation at the beginning of the 16th century, Thuringia became the focus of German politics. Martin Luther first studied at the University of Erfurt and lived in the Augustinian monastery before he went to Wittenberg and the Reformation began. Eventually he was hidden by the Saxon Elector Frederick the Wise in the Wartburg, where he was working on translating the Bible into German. In 1525, as a result of the Reformation, the Peasants' War began, which found two of its centers in the Thuringian towns of Mühlhausen and Frankenhausen and found a strong leader in Thomas Müntzer. The Schmalkaldic War between the Catholic Empire and Protestant princes later began in Thuringia, which ended in 1547 with the Wittenberg capitulation and the defeat of the Protestants. Therefore, the Saxon electoral dignity passed from the Ernestines, which were increasingly losing importance, to the Albertines. When the Franconian Princes Counts von Henneberg died out in 1583, a contract of inheritance came into force that brought the Ernestines extensive possessions in Franconia, the area of today's southern Thuringia. With the division of Erfurt in 1572, the continuous fragmentation of the Ernestine possessions into numerous duchies began, some of which lasted until 1918. In 1640, two main Ernestine lines emerged: the House of Saxe-Weimar and the House of Saxe-Gotha. While the former had only a few branch lines and the highest representative was the first German-Prussian Empress Augusta of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, the House of Saxe-Gotha had many branch lines, most of which ruled over their own country. In addition, this house represents a number of European kings, such as the British kings (since 1901), the Belgian kings (since 1831), the Portuguese kings (1837-1910) and the Bulgarian kings (1887-1946).

In the period that followed, the phase of humanism in Thuringia began, during which the University of Erfurt also experienced a heyday. A center of German humanism formed around Ulrich von Hutten and the reformers. At that time, under the rule of Ernst the Pious, Saxony-Gotha was considered a humanistic “model state”. For example, in 1642 he was the first head of state in the world to introduce compulsory schooling for all boys and girls up to the age of twelve.


A center of German culture in the 18th and 19th centuries

It was not until around 1780 that the reigning Duchess Anna Amalia and her son Karl August drew attention to the region again. They called poets like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe or Friedrich Schiller to their court, so that Weimar Classicism established itself there as the German version of the classical literary movement. During this time, a center of German philosophy developed at the University of Jena, which was established through the work of Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. The Jena Romanticism around poets such as Novalis, Clemens Brentano or Friedrich Schlegel was also style-defining throughout Germany at this time.

"It's a strange country, this little Thuringia, where three decisive epochs in the intellectual life of the German nation have found their atmospheric setting. The legend connects the noblest names of German Minnesang to the Wartburg. Here Luther later began his Bible translation, the basis of the modern German language. Finally Thuringia was again - this time Weimar - the place where spirits even mightier than the German minnesingers touched those deep-toned chords that still vibrate today. Where else does one find it that three times the genius of a great people chose the same small country for its high seat?
– Joseph Viktor Widmann

The Reichsdeputationshauptschluss in 1803 ensured that the Archdiocese of Mainz lost its areas around Erfurt and Eichsfeld and that the imperial cities of Mühlhausen and Nordhausen had to give up their independence. They were finally assigned to Prussia at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The same affected Amt of Geisa, which belonged to the Bishopric of Fulda until 1803, became after its dissolution Orange-Nassau (1803-1806), then the Napoleonic Grand Duchy of Frankfurt (1810-1813) and then, at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the Wettin Duchy, which had just been raised there to a Grand Duchy Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach struck.

In 1806, during the Napoleonic era, the decisive battle between the French and Prussians in Thuringia was looming. On October 9th came the Battle of Schleiz, followed by the Battle of Saalfeld on October 10th and the decisive Battle of Jena and Auerstedt on October 14th, which ended in a Prussian defeat. This was followed in 1808 by the Erfurt Congress of Princes between France and Russia, at which Goethe also met Napoleon and finally the formation of the first resistance groups against French rule. The University of Jena was also the driving force here. After the end of Napoleonic rule and the results of the Vienna Congress, the Urburschenschaft was formed in Jena in 1815, which organized the Wartburg Festival in 1817 and united national and liberal movements. The first liberal constitutions were also created at this time, for example in Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach in 1816, in Saxe-Hildburghausen in 1818 and in Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld in 1821. This early phase of liberalism came to an end with the enforcement of the Karlsbad Decrees of 1819 in Thuringia.

The country's cultural heyday continued in the decades that followed, with the General German Educational Institute being established as a modern school in Rudolstadt in 1817 under the educator Friedrich Fröbel. In 1840 Froebel founded the first German kindergarten in Bad Blankenburg. Furthermore, Ernst-Wilhelm Arnoldi founded the German insurance industry in 1820 with Gothaer Versicherung. Joseph Meyer founded the Bibliographic Institute in Gotha in 1826, the publisher of Meyer's conversational lexicon. The Bibliographic Institute & F. A. Brockhaus, editors of the Brockhaus Encyclopedia, also had their headquarters between 1811 and 1818 in Altenburg in eastern Thuringia. The first Duden was published in Schleiz in 1872. On March 1, 1882, Oscar Tietz founded the department store Tietz in Gera, which later became the Hertie department store group. In 1908 he opened the Römer Kaiser department store (today Anger 1) in Erfurt, which is still the largest department store in the country. In the second half of the 19th century, Weimar experienced a renaissance in its "Silver Age". Musicians such as Franz Liszt came to court and the Weimar School of Painting established itself in German painting from 1860.

The Customs and Trade Association of the Thuringian States was founded in 1833, which inspired the industrial revolution in the state. In 1842 the first railway line reached Thuringia and in 1846 the main railway line of the state was opened with the Thuringian Railway. First of all, the East Thuringian textile industry around Gera took off, followed by the metal industry scattered all over the state and the optical industry in Jena, which rose to the top of the world at the beginning of the 20th century.

The revolution of 1848 was rather unspectacular in Thuringia. Centers were found in impoverished Eichsfeld and in backward Reuss. It ended with the abdication of the obstinate Duke Joseph of Saxe-Altenburg and Prince Heinrich LXXII. von Reuss-Ebersdorf, whose country was merged into the Principality of Reuss of the younger line (ruled by the Schleizer line). However, the desire for a unified German state remained present even after the failed revolution, and so the Erfurt Union Parliament was convened in 1850, which took up and discussed the idea of the nation state, but without achieving a breakthrough. Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha also advocated German unity, but he was also a critic of Prussian hegemonic politics, which earned the duke, who loved public festivals, the derisive name "Schützenkönig".

In the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, most of the Thuringian states were on the side of Prussia, only Saxony-Meiningen and Reuss of the older line were allied with Austria. This circumstance meant that Bismarck wanted to incorporate the two states into the Kingdom of Prussia after the end of the war, but this was not done due to the intervention of the Weimar Grand Duke Karl August, the brother-in-law of the Prussian king. Instead, only the rulers of the two states, Bernhard II von Sachsen-Meiningen and Caroline von Reuss-Greiz, were deposed.

As a result of industrialization, Thuringia became the cradle of social democracy. In 1869 August Bebel and Wilhelm Liebknecht founded the Social Democratic Workers' Party in Eisenach, which merged with the General German Workers' Association in Gotha in 1875 to form the SPD. The Gotha program and the Erfurt program subsequently defined the goals of social democratic politics in Germany.


Between World War I and World War II (1914–1945)

The November Revolution of 1918 after the First World War had its Thuringian center in the Free State of Saxe-Gotha under the leader of the revolution, Wilhelm Bock. The USPD was founded in Gotha on April 8, 1917. First, the eight Thuringian monarchs abdicated between November 9th and 25th, 1918. A communist council was formed in the Free State of Saxe-Gotha. Until 1920, Saxony-Gotha got caught up in political quarrels and conditions resembling a civil war. A special incident was the Mechterstädt murders in 1920. Because of the political unrest in Berlin, the new Reich constitution was drawn up by the National Assembly as the Weimar Constitution in 1919 in Weimar, signed in Schwarzburg by Reich President Ebert and thus became the first democratic constitution for all of Germany in power set.

After the monarchs abdicated, the way was clear for the founding of a unified state in Thuringia. The state of Thuringia was therefore founded on May 1, 1920. It included the Thuringian states, namely Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Saxe-Gotha, Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Altenburg, Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, Schwarzburg-Sondershausen and the People's State of Reuss. The Free State of Coburg joined the Free State of Bavaria. The development of the young country was characterized by political and cultural turmoil in the 1920s. This resulted in a strengthening of the political extremists from the right and left. Society was also divided: young modernizers, who gathered at the Bauhaus in Weimar from 1919, opposed old traditionalists who longed for the monarchy. At that time, Hitler was forbidden to speak in many German states, but not in Thuringia, which is why he was able to hold rallies in Weimar again and again in the 1920s.

In 1923, a state government was formed from SPD and KPD, which led to Red October in Saxony and Thuringia. The two countries were subjected to Reich executions on October 29 (Saxony) and November 6 (Thuringia) and the Reichswehr marched in to depose the government, which they succeeded in doing. The SPD responded with a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Gustav Stresemann in the Reichstag, which led to his dismissal. The 1920s were marked by political standstill and constantly changing state governments. As early as 1930, the Baum-Frick government was established as the first state government with the participation of the NSDAP in Germany.

After the National Socialists seized power, the state of Thuringia was brought into line and thus effectively abolished. Gauleiter of Thuringia was Fritz Sauckel. During the National Socialist period, there were three concentration camps in the country in addition to the Nohra concentration camp, which was operated briefly in 1933: the Bad Sulza concentration camp from 1933 to 1937, its successor, the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar from 1937 to 1945 and the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp near Nordhausen from 1943 to 1945 1945

The Second World War caused comparatively moderate damage in Thuringia. The British air raids on Nordhausen on April 3 and 4, 1945 almost completely destroyed the town, killing around 8,800 people. Damage from bombardment and artillery fire also occurred in Erfurt, Gera, Jena, Weimar, Eisenach and some smaller towns and villages.


Post-war period until reunification (1945–1990)

Thuringia was occupied by the Americans between April 1 and 16, 1945 and handed over to the Soviet military administration on July 1, 1945, with areas around the towns of Bad Sachsa and Tettenborn being handed over to the British military administration in exchange for parts of the Blankenburg district . The enclave of Ostheim off the Rhön remained under American military administration and later became part of Bavaria. The state of Thuringia was restored and expanded to include the former Prussian administrative district of Erfurt.

From August 1945 to 1950, the Soviet occupation maintained the special camp no. 2 Buchenwald in the area of the former concentration camp near Weimar.

The state of Thuringia was dissolved by the GDR government in 1952. The largest parts went to the newly founded districts of Erfurt, Gera and Suhl. The districts of Altenburg and Schmölln went to the district of Leipzig, while Pausa-Mühltroff, which had once belonged to the Kingdom of Saxony, went to the district of Gera.

The district of Nordhausen was formed, consisting of the district of Grafschaft Hohenstein, the former Hanoverian district of Ilfeld and the western part of the former Prussian district of Sangerhausen. The same applies to the newly formed district of Sömmerda, which was made up of the Prussian district of Weißensee and the western part of the district of Eckartsberga with the town of Kölleda. Both circles came into the district of Erfurt. There was also the new district of Artern, which was made up of southern parts of the Prussian district of Sangerhausen, the extreme north-west of the district of Eckardsberga and the former Frankenhausen sub-lordship of the principality of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt. This district came together with the rest of the district of Sangerhausen to the district of Halle. The remainder of the district of Eckardsberga was divided between the newly formed districts of Nebra and Naumburg, which were also allocated to the district of Halle.

Around 24,000 workers took part in the popular uprising of June 17, 1953 in Thuringia, mainly in the industrial centers of Erfurt, Jena and Gera. He was thrown down using Soviet troops under a state of emergency.

On August 13, 1961, according to a decision by the Warsaw Pact in Moscow, the complete sealing off of the borders between the GDR and the Federal Republic began, which hit Thuringia particularly hard. Some villages in the border area were razed (e.g. Billmuthausen, Erlebach, Leitenhausen and Liebau on the border with Bavaria), others were divided by walls (Mödlareuth and Heinersdorf). As early as 1952, a restricted area about five kilometers deep was set up along the border and controlled by border guards. Hundreds of families in the border area were forcibly relocated inland as part of the vermin operation without prior notice and often leaving their belongings behind. In the village of Böseckendorf in Eichsfeld, the residents escaped the resettlement through a mass exodus.

In 1970, the top politicians of the two German states met for the first time. Willy Brandt and Willi Stoph met at the Erfurt Summit in the Erfurter Hof on March 19, accompanied by a large crowd in front of the main station building, who cheered the West German Chancellor.

In autumn 1989, mass demonstrations against the SED regime also began in Thuringia, which gradually spread to all cities in the state. Finally, on the night of November 9th, 1989, the border crossings between Thuringia and Bavaria, Hesse and Lower Saxony were opened.


Since reunification (since 1990)

With German reunification on October 3, 1990, the state of Thuringia was re-established. It was formed from the districts of Erfurt, Gera and Suhl as well as parts of the districts of Leipzig (districts of Altenburg and Schmölln) and Halle (Artern). The district of Artern, like the rest of the district of Halle, had been earmarked for the new state of Saxony-Anhalt. In a referendum, however, 88% voted for the assignment to Thuringia.

On January 10, 1991, the state parliament decided which city should become the future state capital of Thuringia. In addition to Erfurt, Gera, Jena, Weimar and Nordhausen also applied. Of 88 deputies, 49 voted for Erfurt, followed by Weimar with 25, Gera with ten and Jena with four votes. The state constitution was passed on October 25, 1993 at the Wartburg by the state parliament with more than two thirds of its members. It came into force provisionally on October 30, 1993 and finally came into force after a referendum on October 16, 1994 with 70% approval. With this constitution, the designation Free State was introduced.

From 1991 to 1992, after reunification, the 8th Guards Army of the western group of troops vacated the Thuringian territory it had previously occupied. Their troops were stationed here at 143 locations with 51,000 soldiers (plus 4,000 specialists from other army units), 5,000 civilian employees and 20,000 family members.



The state structure of Thuringia is based on the constitution of the Free State of Thuringia from 1993. According to the constitution, Thuringia is a state of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is a democratic, social constitutional state committed to protecting the natural basis of human life (Article 44). Article 45 states that all state power emanates from the people and that the people realize their will through elections, referendums and referendums.

legislative branch
The legislature is the Thuringian state parliament, which is elected every five years according to the personalized proportional representation system. During the seventh legislative period of the Thuringian state parliament, it consists of 90 members and was formed on the basis of the results of the state elections on October 27, 2019. The strongest party at the beginning of the legislative period was Die Linke with 29 seats, followed by the AfD with 22 and the CDU with 21 seats. With 8 seats, the SPD is one of the smaller parties, as are the Greens and the FDP, each with 5 seats. During the legislative period, three members of the AfD parliamentary group and one member of the FDP parliamentary group resigned. From June 22, 2022 to January 12, 2023 they formed the parliamentary group Citizens for Thuringia.[30] When Ute Bergner left the FDP parliamentary group, it lost its parliamentary group status and has also been a parliamentary group ever since.

There is the possibility of active participation in the legislature of the people through a referendum.

The executive is led by the Thuringian state government, which consists of the Thuringian prime minister and the ministers. The Prime Minister is elected by the state parliament with a majority of its members without debate in a secret ballot for the entire legislative period. The Prime Minister appoints and dismisses ministers. He also designates a minister as his deputy. The state parliament can only depose the prime minister through a constructive vote of no confidence.



The judiciary is exercised by the Thuringian Constitutional Court and the other courts in the state. The Constitutional Court consists of a President and eight other members. Ordinary jurisdiction is divided into the Thuringian Higher Regional Court in Jena, the regional courts in Erfurt, Gera, Mühlhausen and Meiningen, to which the four public prosecutor's offices are also assigned, and the subordinate district courts. There are prisons for men in Goldlauter, Gräfentonna, Hohenleuben, Untermassfeld and Arnstadt (juvenile detention), for women the JVA Chemnitz is responsible.

The Thuringian Higher Administrative Court is based in Weimar.

With the Federal Labor Court in Erfurt, there is also a federal court in Thuringia.


Political development

Thuringia is considered to be a rather conservative state, especially in rural areas, and was dominated by the CDU at state political level until the change of government in 2014. After that, the first red-red-green coalition was formed at state level and Bodo Ramelow was the first left-wing politician to be elected prime minister. As in all of East Germany, party affiliations are not as pronounced, so that the CDU received the most votes in federal elections in 1990, 1994, 2009 (just ahead of the Left Party), 2013 and 2017 and the SPD in 1998, 2002 and 2005.

The GDR era and the upheavals after reunification are still resonating politically in the country, for example in the perception of part of the population that they are “left behind” or not being given sufficient political attention. This impression is reinforced by manifest problems in many rural areas, from the aging and migration of the population to the thinning of infrastructure to vacancies and the fall in real estate prices. The Thuringia Monitor of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena has been conducting annual surveys since 2000 to examine the socio-political climate in the state and the population's attitudes towards value issues. Even before reunification, there was a small, loud right-wing extremist scene in the country, which also became violent, for example in the NSU terrorist cell. Right-wing populism has been growing stronger in the country since 2013, which also manifested itself in the entry of the Alternative for Germany into the state parliament in 2014 and in the federal election result of 22.7% for the AfD in 2017. Their state chairman Björn Höcke is considered the head of the so-called wing, the right-wing current of his party.


Public budgets

The level of debt at the end of 2017 was around 15.8 billion euros or 7,372 euros per inhabitant, which puts Thuringia in the middle in a national comparison. Future risks for the state budget result from the expiry of the solidarity pact in 2019 and declining payments from the EU structural funds due to the comparatively good economic development after 2005. The resulting financing gap has not yet been closed; furthermore, the country will not be able to fully cover its expenses with its own regular income for the foreseeable future and will therefore remain dependent on financial aid from outside. Like all other new federal states, Thuringia has been a recipient country in the state financial equalization system since 1990 and receives around 500 million euros from this annually.

Many municipalities in Thuringia are over-indebted. Although the nominal debt levels are not as high as in many western German municipalities, tax revenue and thus debt sustainability are also significantly lower. While the two major cities in the state have their debts under control, Gera, Eisenach and the Unstrut-Hainich district (where a state receiver was appointed) have made headlines since 2010 due to their poor fiscal situation. Many communities and community associations in rural areas in particular have hardly any tax revenue, which is why even comparatively low levels of debt represent a high burden here, especially in the districts of Nordhausen, Kyffhäuserkreis, Unstrut-Hainich-Kreis and Sömmerda in northern Thuringia. In the south-west, on the other hand, there are debt-free districts, such as the Wartburg district and the district of Schmalkalden-Meiningen, as well as some debt-free municipalities and associations of municipalities, such as Schleusingen, Floh-Seligenthal and Unterbreizbach.



Because of its central location far from the coast and the German western and eastern borders, Thuringia had had a below-average number of military bases since the 19th century, although at least the state capitals had barracks. However, the only important garrison town was Erfurt, which belonged to Prussia and was a fortress town until 1873 and also had a large number of barracks and military personnel in the 20th century.

With the rise of the National Socialists, Weimar developed into an important military location. The 1st Armored Division was set up in Weimar (headquarters at Jenaer Strasse 2, today the Weimar Administrative Court). The military airfield in Nohra also gained in importance. In the southeast of Nordhausen an airfield with attached barracks was built in 1935/36; The air base was essentially used for training purposes.

After the Second World War, Thuringia, especially Weimar and Meiningen, was a main focus of the Red Army stationing with tens of thousands of soldiers. Tank companies, airborne troops and combat helicopter squadrons of the Red Army were stationed in Weimar, and cruise missiles with nuclear warheads were stationed in Rudisleben in the 1970s. The GDR border troops stationed Helicopter Squadron 16 (until 1990) in Nordhausen and Meiningen. Thuringia was at the interface of two alliances and was systematically developed into a deployment area for the NVA and the Red Army.

After 1990, in the course of the dissolution of the National People's Army and the withdrawal of the Soviet armed forces in Germany, many barracks were closed, so that today there are only eight barracks of the Bundeswehr, which, with two exceptions, are concentrated in the northern center of the country on the edge of the Thuringian Basin. Specifically, these are the Henne barracks and the Löberfeld barracks in Erfurt, the Kyffhäuser barracks in Bad Frankenhausen, the Karl Günther barracks in Sondershausen, the Görmar barracks in Mühlhausen, the Friedenstein barracks in Gotha, the pioneer barracks in Gera and the Werratal barracks in Bad Salzungen. They provide work for 7,000 soldiers and 700 civilian employees. The only military training area in the Free State is the Ohrdruf military training area. The Weberstedt military training area was a second one in the state until 1990. After its dissolution, it was integrated into the Hainich National Park.

Since January 2013, the Bundeswehr Logistics Command has been a command at divisional level in Erfurt. The LogKdo is responsible for the management and control of all logistic forces of the armed forces.


State coat of arms and flag

The current coat of arms of the Free State of Thuringia was initially regulated in a simple parliamentary law that was passed by the state parliament on January 30, 1991 and came into force retrospectively as of October 3, 1990 according to paragraph 3. A sentence of this law was later incorporated verbatim into the Thuringian constitution. With the law of January 30, the state government was also authorized to regulate further details in an ordinance, and this authorization to issue ordinances was exercised on April 11, 1991. Here, among other things, it is regulated who is entitled to bear the state coat of arms, the state seal, the official seal and the official sign.

The coat of arms of Thuringia shows the Ludowinger »colorful lion« in the translucent blue shield, four times the same width, red and silver stripes, gold armor and a crown, surrounded by eight silver stars.

The coat of arms of Landgrave Konrad von Thuringia from the 13th century is the oldest colored representation of the "Thuringian coat of arms". The War of Succession in 1264/65 freed Hesse from being politically independent, and since then it has had the »Colorful Lion« (striped in reverse: silver-red) in its coat of arms. When the state of Thuringia from the seven republican Thuringian small states merged on May 1, 1920, seven silver stars on a revolutionary republican red background were chosen for the national coat of arms, based on the federal stars and stripes of the USA. The National Socialists gave Thuringia a more archaic coat of arms with eagles. With the founding of the state of Thuringia in 1991, the current Thuringian coat of arms was derived from the historical basis. The eighth star stands for the areas of Erfurt, Mühlhausen, Nordhausen, Schmalkalden and Suhl, which also belong to the Free State of Thuringia and were formerly part of Prussia.


Administrative division

The state of Thuringia is divided into two levels. Since the municipal reform of July 1, 1994, the first level has included the 17 rural districts and five urban districts, and the second level has the 631 municipalities of the state (since July 1, 2021). In between there are partial administrative communities (merger of several small communities to form an association that takes over the administration) and fulfilling communities (a small community entrusts a larger neighboring community with its administration). There are no administrative districts in Thuringia.

Since the introduction of this level of administration in Prussia in 1815, the number and structure of the administrative districts and urban districts have been subject to constant change. These are presented in the article history of Thuringia's administrative structure.

The seat of the Thuringian State Administration Office is in Weimar.


Biggest cities

After reunification, all of Thuringia's towns began to lose population quickly. Since the turn of the millennium, this development began to differentiate, which intensified in the years that followed. The three cities of Erfurt, Weimar and Jena have been able to grow continuously since 2000 and thus reverse the trend of shrinkage. In a group of other cities, the shrinkage has largely subsided and stabilization with some slight growth can be seen there from 2011, for example in Gotha, Eisenach, Arnstadt, Meiningen and Apolda. A few other cities, on the other hand, continued to shrink slightly at the same pace, such as Saalfeld or Sondershausen, while in a few cities such as Greiz or Altenburg the pace of population decline accelerated. It is evident that cities with large educational and research institutions in particular benefit demographically; this also applies to a lesser extent to cities with a pronounced, export-oriented manufacturing industry such as Eisenach or Arnstadt. The other cities are still affected by a certain degree of out-migration (spatial population movement), although the lack of births and the accompanying aging will become a more serious problem there in the long term (natural population movement). During the refugee crisis, there were large fluctuations in the number of inhabitants in some cities from 2015, which normalized again from 2018. Based on the 2011 census, only eight cities were able to record population growth by 2020.

In a population development forecast from 2015 to 2035 published by the Thuringian State Office for Statistics (TLS) in 2015, only five of the 33 cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants can expect growth. These cities are Erfurt (+9.5%), Jena (+3.5%), Eisenach (+0.3%), Meiningen (+1.4%) and Eisenberg (+2.6%), relatively stable the population figures for Gotha (−0.1%), Arnstadt (−1.0%) and Weimar (−3.8%) also remain the same.


Administrative structure reforms

On July 1, 1994, the 35 districts in Thuringia that had existed since 1952 were reduced to 17 as part of the district reform. By the same day, the urban districts had been enlarged by incorporating surrounding communities. Eisenach was only spun off from the Wartburg district in 1998 and raised again to the status of an independent city.

Since the implementation of the district reform in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in 2011, Thuringia has been the eastern German state with the smallest district structure. Even before the state elections in 2009, the Left, SPD and Greens were in favor of renewed district reform, while the CDU opposed the project. After the change of government in 2014, the red-red-green state government put the issue back on the agenda, although implementation failed due to fierce resistance from the affected municipalities and the government abandoned the project in December 2017.

The only area change that was implemented at district level is the voluntary incorporation of the independent city of Eisenach into the Wartburg district on July 1, 2021.



Historically, the distribution between wealthy and poorer areas in Thuringia has changed fundamentally since 1945. Before the Second World War, the poorest areas were in the Thuringian Forest, Thuringian Slate Mountains and also in the rural areas of southern Thuringia. The most developed areas included industrialized eastern Thuringia around Gera and the areas bordering Saxony, which benefited from the cities of Zwickau, Leipzig and Chemnitz. Cities in which the public service was concentrated, such as Meiningen or Weimar, were also relatively prosperous. Today, however, the most economically powerful regions can be found along the Thuringian chain of towns from Eisenach to Hermsdorfer Kreuz, with the Erfurt-Weimar-Jena area in particular showing high economic growth. The positive economic development of this region in particular began in the 19th century, at that time still including the city of Gera. Eichsfeld, the towns of Nordhausen and Eisenach as well as the south-west Thuringian districts also have a comparatively favorable economic structure today, Nordhausen and Eisenach are two other towns with industrial roots that reach far back. Development problems are still evident in the northern Thuringian Basin (Kyffhäuserkreis, Unstrut-Hainich-Kreis and parts of the districts of Nordhausen and Sömmerda) and contrary to historical “normality” in East Thuringia (city of Gera, Altenburger Land and parts of the district of Greiz).

With the economic, currency and social union and the accession to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990, the social market economy replaced the socialist central administration economy in Thuringia. This far-reaching restructuring process triggered crises in various sectors and led to high unemployment rates. Between 1989 and 1995, two thirds of the old jobs in Thuringia fell victim to the economic turnaround. In the meantime, some sectors such as scientific device construction, microelectronics and medical technology have achieved growth.

In 2016, the economic output in the federal state of Thuringia measured in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) was almost 61 billion euros, which corresponds to 1.9 percent of the total German GDP or around 58,000 euros per employed person. In comparison with the GDP of the EU, expressed in purchasing power standards, Thuringia achieved a value of 88 percent in 2015 (EU-28: 100, Germany: 124).

In 2015, 126 income millionaires lived in Thuringia. Most of the income millionaires lived in Erfurt, Jena and the district of Saalfeld-Rudolstadt. In 2019, Thuringia had the third-lowest wealth rate in a comparison of the federal states at 3.7% (national average 7.9%).


Labour market

Since the low point of the transformation crisis after reunification around 2005 (cf. unemployment in May 2004: 16.6 percent), Thuringia's economy has been on the upswing and unemployment has been falling (June 2019: 5.1 percent). Regarding the unemployment rate, there are large differences within the country. The district of Sonneberg in southern Thuringia had the lowest rate for a long time, followed by the neighboring district of Hildburghausen (3.2% in June 2019). The Unstrut-Hainich-Kreis and Kyffhäuserkreis in the northern Thuringian Basin as well as the city of Gera and Altenburger Land in eastern Thuringia have had the highest rates of unemployment for many years (in June 2019 the rates in these areas were between 6.6% and 8%). Economists do not expect any significant increase in the quotas in the long term and justify this with the demographic change.

On the other hand, the average hourly wage of EUR 13.83 in 2014 was well below the national average of EUR 16.97. The comparatively low wages prompt well-educated young people to emigrate to the West. The workforce potential of Thuringia is therefore declining sharply. According to the results of the 2011 census, around 502,000 people in the country will retire from the labor market due to age by 2026 (age group of those aged 50 to 64 at the time), while only around 236,000 will move up (age group of those aged 3 to 18 at the time), which means that migration effects are ignored - a gap of around 266,000 employable people arises, which exceeds the number of unemployed many times over. For example, attracting immigrants in competition with other regions will pose a major challenge for Thuringia's economy in the coming years, with continued emigration exacerbating the problem.


Foreign trade

As early as the Middle Ages, woad, a commodity that was important throughout Europe, was cultivated and exported in Thuringia. This helped cities like Erfurt to become very wealthy. At the beginning of the 20th century, industrial companies emerged in Thuringia that mainly produced for export. These included, for example, the optical industry in Jena, technical glass production, glass and porcelain for households (e.g. Christmas tree decorations from Lauscha), but also the toy industry in the Thuringian Forest, whose products were exported by Woolworth from Sonneberg to the United States in the 1920s became. After the Second World War, trade mainly took place with the countries of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance.

The collapse of this market in 1990 contributed significantly to the collapse of the entire industry after reunification. Exports reached a low in 1992 at the equivalent of 1.2 billion euros. This was followed by an increase to 4.5 billion in 2000, 10.8 billion in 2010 and 13.5 billion in 2015. The most important export partners in 2015 were Hungary, the USA and France. About two thirds of the exports go to the European Union. Imports increased from 0.6 billion euros in 1991 to 3.8 billion in 2000 and 6.8 billion in 2010 to 9.3 billion in 2015. In terms of imports, China has ranked first since 2004, followed by the United Kingdom and Italy .


Agriculture and Forestry

Agriculture in Thuringia is characterized by large farms that have their roots in the LPGs founded in GDR times. As a result, the field pieces are quite large and can be managed efficiently. Meat production is also dominated by large companies. Many areas are very fertile, such as the Thuringian Basin in the north of the state, Grabfeld in the south, and Orlasenke and Altenburger Land in the east. Associated problems in these areas are the ecological lack of species in the extensive "tidy" corridors and the high nitrate pollution of the water bodies. Pastoralism dominates in the higher elevations and areas of poor soil quality, such as the hilly landscapes between the basins and the mountains.


Crop production

A total of 22,700 people worked in agriculture in 2016, a trend that has been declining for decades. The agricultural area was 7790 square kilometers in 2016, which corresponds to 48.2% of the country's area, with organic farming accounting for 4.7%. The proportion of the agricultural area in the Federal Republic of Germany was thus around five percent. Mainly silo maize, winter wheat, winter barley, sugar beet and winter rape are grown. The main area under cultivation is divided between the four districts of Kyffhäuserkreis, Unstrut-Hainich-Kreis, Sömmerda and Wartburgkreis. The main fruit-growing areas with permanent crops are the Gotha district (Fahnersche Höhen), the Kyffhäuser district and the Sömmerda district. When it comes to vegetables, the cultivation of white cabbage, cauliflower, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and asparagus dominates. The center of viticulture is the town of Bad Sulza, which belongs to the Saale-Unstrut wine-growing region. The vineyards are located on the sunny dry limestone slopes of the Ilm and Saale valleys on the border with Saxony-Anhalt between Weimar, Jena and Naumburg.


Animal production

In 2016, 1,574,000 laying hens, 740,000 pigs, 330,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep were counted. While the numbers of hens, pigs and cattle have declined only minimally, the number of sheep has fallen from 220,000 in 2005 to just over half a decade later. East Thuringia is the center of meat production.



The 515,262 hectares of forest area in Thuringia (2009) are mainly divided into private forest, state forest and municipal forest ownership. Church forest is also available. Private forest owners have often joined forces to form forest management communities. Deciduous cooperatives appear as a special form of ownership in the selection forests in the Hainich-Dün-Hainleite natural area. Forest management is currently carried out by the 24 forest offices of the state forest administration, which are organized in the state forest institute "ThüringenForst", an institution under public law (AöR).



Mining has been practiced in Thuringia since the Middle Ages, especially in the mountains such as the Thuringian Forest, the Harz Mountains and the Thuringian Slate Mountains. With Schmalkalden, Suhl or Ilmenau there were important mining towns in the Thuringian Forest. Various ores such as iron, manganese, copper and silver were mined. Gold deposits were also mined in the Thuringian Slate Mountains, as indicated by place names such as Goldisthal or Reichmannsdorf. The most important of these mining sites was the Schmalkalden region with its iron industry, which only went under with industrialization in the 19th century. At the same time, the Maxhütte Unterwellenborn near Saalfeld was built, which was also supplied with regional iron deposits. It still exists today as Stahlwerk Thüringen.

Potash mining developed into the most important branch of mining in the 20th century. Thuringia has two mining areas: the Werra mining area between Bad Salzungen and Bad Hersfeld, which is still in use today, and the northern Thuringian mining area, which was closed after 1990, with the Roßleben, Sondershausen, Bleicherode and Bischofferode mining sites. During the Cold War, a large part of the uranium required by the Soviet Union was also mined near Ronneburg. This was accompanied by massive environmental destruction and numerous illnesses in the miners who came into contact with the carcinogenic material.

In the 19th century, opencast lignite mining began in the Meuselwitz district in eastern Thuringia, which, in addition to generating energy, also served the Leuna works as a raw material for the chemical industry. The lignite deposits were depleted towards the end of the 20th century. There were also isolated hard coal deposits in the Thuringian Forest, but mining them was no longer worthwhile with industrialization. Hard coal was mined for a long time in the Stockheim district near Sonneberg on the border with Bavaria. The slate mining in the Thuringian Slate Mountains, which is still in operation today, is also significant. Its center is the town of Lehesten with the largest slate quarries in the country. In Gehren in the Thuringian Forest there is a barite mine.



Thuringia's industry is characterized by small company sizes and a wide spread across the country, especially in the west and south of the state. The main products come from metal, plastic and wood processing, while many traditional branches of industry such as glass, porcelain, toys and textiles largely fell victim to the structural changes of the 20th century. Industrial centers are located in the regions of Eisenach (vehicle construction) and Jena (optics), and Daimler also operates a large engine plant in Kölleda. Other large industrial companies have settled in the area around the Erfurter Kreuz, sometimes in the city itself. The food industry also plays an important role in some regions and ranks second behind the automotive industry nationally.

Among the companies from Thuringia listed on the Prime Standard are Carl Zeiss Meditec and Jenoptik from Jena as well as ADVA from Meiningen, in m:access Funkwerk from Kölleda and also X-FAB from Erfurt. Intershop from Jena and SDAX Geratherm from Geschwenda were once listed in the NASDAQ.

A total of around 171,000 people (2016) work in Thuringia's industry in companies with more than 20 employees and generate an annual turnover of 34 billion euros (2016). In 2010 there were 157,000 people and 29 billion in sales. Cities with the most industrial jobs in 2016 were Jena (7985), Eisenach (6606), Erfurt (6208), Nordhausen (4653), Arnstadt (3767), Gotha (3705) and Gera (3568).

In GDR times, the Erfurt microelectronics combine with 56,000 employees (1990) and the Carl Zeiss Jena combine with 54,000 employees (1990) were the largest employers in Thuringia. In 1990 there were another 22 combines, each with 2,000 to 30,000 employees, which were based in today's state of Thuringia.


Services, trade and tourism

The service sector is the largest economic sector in Thuringia. It is characterized by low wages, with many workers benefiting from the introduction of the minimum wage in 2015. High-quality industrial and business services are below average, as the country has neither corporate headquarters nor large cities. The logistics sector, on the other hand, is more strongly represented, benefiting from low wages and the central location in Germany and Europe. Since 2000, numerous logistics centers have emerged, also as a result of the booming online trade, especially on the Erfurter Ring and along the federal highway 4. The trade and construction industry also benefit from the central location and the brisk building activity in the neighboring states of Hesse and Bavaria, where many orders in in these areas are carried out by Thuringian companies.

Retail has its most important center in Erfurt, which is one of the top places in Germany in terms of retail space per inhabitant. The concentration on a few large centers has increased significantly since 2000, so that small and medium-sized towns are struggling with sometimes significant vacancies in this area.

Tourism is another important branch of the economy, which includes the three areas of city tourism, rural tourism and health tourism (sometimes overlapping). City tourism with the centers of Erfurt, Weimar and Eisenach is experiencing dynamic growth, while rural tourism along the Rennsteig in the Thuringian Forest and Schiefergebirge is in an ongoing modernization process to make itself more attractive and further develop the offers in competition with neighboring holiday regions in the low mountain ranges. A total of around 9.2 million overnight stays were booked in 2016, compared to 8.3 million ten years earlier. Around 6% of the bookings were made by foreign guests.


Education and Research


The school system in Thuringia was restructured from 1990 on the models of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg; There have not been any comprehensive system reforms since then. After the four-year elementary school, secondary schools follow, which lead to both the Hauptschule and the Realschule, or the Gymnasium, where the Abitur can be taken after eight years. After the Erfurt killing spree, the special performance assessment was introduced at the Thuringian grammar schools at the end of grade 10, an examination in German, mathematics, English and a natural science that gives all existing pupils a Realschule certificate (intermediate school leaving certificate). On the one hand, Thuringian schoolchildren often achieve top positions in nationwide comparative studies, on the other hand, the proportion of school dropouts is also well above the national average.

The number of pupils in Thuringia fell sharply between 1998 and 2006 (at general schools from around 330,000 to around 190,000) and has been stable since then. In addition to 800 state schools, there were also around 100 private schools in 2016. In the area of vocational schools, the upheaval took place between 2006 and 2013, where the number of students fell from 90,000 to 50,000. This was associated with numerous school closures, especially in rural areas, and under protest from the affected families and communities.

During the GDR era, several special schools were set up in Thuringia to support highly gifted students in certain subject areas, which have continued to exist to this day. These include the music high schools Schloss Belvedere in Weimar and Rutheneum in Gera, the sports high schools Pierre de Coubertin in Erfurt, Johann Christoph Friedrich GutsMuths in Jena and the sports high school for winter sports in Oberhof, the scientific special schools in Erfurt (Albert-Schweitzer-Gymnasium), Ilmenau (Goetheschule) and Jena (Carl-Zeiss-Gymnasium) and the Salzmannschule Schnepfenthal near Waltershausen. The boarding schools Hermann-Lietz-School Haubinda (founded in 1901) and Klosterschule Roßleben (founded in 1544) are among the special schools in the state. The Thuringia College in Weimar leads to the second educational path to the Abitur. Important educators with a focus of activity in the state included Friedrich Fröbel, the "inventor" of the kindergarten, Johann Christoph Friedrich GutsMuths, who founded physical education in schools, Christian Gotthilf Salzmann, founder of the Salzmann School in Schnepfenthal, Hermann Lietz, founder of the Hermann-Lietz- schools, and Peter Petersen, who came up with the concept of the Jena-Plan schools.



The only full university is the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, founded in 1558, with ten faculties, which is also the oldest continuously existing university in Thuringia. There are three other universities: the Bauhaus University in Weimar, which specializes in architecture, civil engineering, design and media, the Technical University of Ilmenau and the University of Erfurt, which was re-established after reunification and has a humanities profile. The state's four technical colleges are located in Nordhausen, Erfurt, Jena and Schmalkalden. In Weimar there is also the Franz Liszt Academy of Music. Other educational institutions are the Gera-Eisenach Cooperative State University, the Thuringian University of Applied Sciences for Public Administration in Gotha and Meiningen, the private SRH University of Applied Sciences in Gera, the private HMU Health and Medical University and the private IU International University both in Erfurt and the Erfurt Seminary. Tuition fees are not charged at state universities in Thuringia.

The number of students in Thuringia rose sharply in the 1990s and reached a peak in 2011 with 54,000. Since then they have fallen slightly again and are around 50,000, which can be found in Jena (approx. 22,000), Erfurt (approx. 10,000), Ilmenau (approx. 6000) and Weimar (approx. 5000) as well as the smaller universities in Schmalkalden, Distribute Nordhausen, Gera, Eisenach, Gotha and Meiningen. In 2016, only 35% of students had also obtained their Abitur in Thuringia, compared to 58% ten years earlier. 12% of the students came from abroad in 2016, 8.5% from Bavaria, 7.4% from Saxony and 6.0% from North Rhine-Westphalia. The largest university in Thuringia is now the private IU International University with around 75,000 students.


Research institutions

Important research institutes in Thuringia are the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology in Ilmenau, the Fraunhofer Application Center for System Technology in Ilmenau, the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering in Jena, the Helmholtz Institute Jena in Jena, and the Leibniz Institute for Research on Aging in Jena, the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology in Jena, the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, the Max Planck Institute for Economics in Jena, the Institute for Vegetable and Ornamental Crops in Erfurt, the Leibniz Institute for Photonic Technologies in Jena, the Institute for Bacterial Infections and Zoonoses in Jena and the Institute for Molecular Pathogenesis in Jena. The oldest still existing planetarium in the world, the Planetarium Jena, is also one of the most important scientific institutions in the state.

Important libraries in the state are the Thuringian University and State Library, based in Jena since 1549 (previously in Wittenberg and Weimar) and the Duchess Anna Amalia Library in Weimar, founded in 1691. The Erfurt/Gotha University and Research Library was founded in Gotha in 1647 by Ernst the Pious and is also one of the most important libraries in the country. The Academy of Non-Profit Sciences was founded in Erfurt in 1754 and is the third-oldest scholarly association of its kind in Germany. The most important archives in Thuringia are the Goethe and Schiller archives in Weimar, the main state archive in Weimar and the subordinate state archives in Altenburg, Gotha, Greiz, Meiningen and Rudolstadt.



Due to its central location in reunified Germany and the need to catch up as a result of the GDR era, considerable efforts have been made in Thuringia to expand the infrastructure since 1990.



In 2017 Thuringia had 521 kilometers of motorways, 1512 kilometers of federal roads, 4220 kilometers of state roads and 3309 kilometers of district roads. The autobahn network had thus doubled since 1997, while a good 400 kilometers of federal roads and, on balance, almost 1,500 kilometers of state roads were downgraded.[52] The most important road axes in Thuringia are the federal autobahn 4 in east-west direction and the federal autobahn 9 in north-south direction. Both have been widened to six lanes along their entire length; the A 4, which dates back to the 1930s, was also rerouted in the Eisenach and Jena areas. The autobahn network is supplemented by the federal autobahn 38 in the north, which connects Leipzig with Göttingen and Kassel; the Bundesautobahn 71 runs across the country in a north-east-south-west direction and was also completed in 2015. It connects Erfurt with the Würzburg area in the south and the Halle area in the north. The federal autobahn 73 begins in Suhl, south of where the A 71 crosses the Thuringian Forest, and runs south to Nuremberg. From 2022, the federal autobahn 44 will run from Eisenach to Kassel on the Hessian border. The federal autobahn 72 runs along the Saxon border, partially connecting the districts of Greiz and Altenburger Land. The distance to the next motorway connection in the state is a maximum of around 40 kilometers, this applies to the areas in the slate mountains around Probstzella, in the Rhön around Dermbach and in the northern Thuringian basin around Schlotheim, while among the larger cities only Mühlhausen, Saalfeld/Rudolstadt and Altenburg have no motorway connection are.

The federal road network has also been and is being partially expanded. The most important projects here are the expansion of the B 247/B 176 in the northwest of Leinefelde via Mühlhausen and Bad Langensalza to Erfurt to connect the Unstrut-Hainich district to the trunk road network, as well as the new construction of the B 90 to the A 71 to connect Saalfeld and Rudolstadt , the expansion of the B 88 to the A 4 and the B 281 to the A 9. Other important federal roads are the B 19 from Eisenach to Meiningen and the B 62 in the west of the state, the B 243 as a connection from Nordhausen in the direction of Hanover and the federal roads 7 and 93 to connect Altenburg in the east of the country. Nevertheless, most federal roads are still characterized by numerous through-roads and crossroads and follow the course of the 19th-century highways.

The busiest section of the autobahn in 2015 was the A 9 north of the Hermsdorfer Kreuz with around 65,000 vehicles a day, while the least traffic was on the A 71 between Artern and Helddling with fewer than 9,000 vehicles. In the federal road network, the eastern Erfurter Ring (B 7) was the busiest with more than 25,000 vehicles in some sections, while the B 90 between Leutenberg and Wurzbach sometimes had a traffic volume of less than 1000 vehicles a day. Despite the falling population, the number of motor vehicles has continued to increase in recent years, while traffic density has remained constant and the number of accidents has decreased. The number of road deaths even halved in 2016 compared to 2006.


Rail transport

The railway reached Thuringia in 1842 with the Leipzig–Hof railway via Altenburg as the first connection from Berlin to Munich. In 1846, the state capital of Erfurt received a railway connection on the route from Berlin to Frankfurt am Main. Today, two ICE lines intersect in Erfurt's main train station: Berlin-Munich and Frankfurt-Dresden. The new Erfurt–Leipzig/Halle line opened in 2015 serves as a connection to Berlin and Dresden, the Nuremberg–Erfurt high-speed line to Munich, which went into operation in 2017, and the existing Erfurt–Bebra line to Frankfurt, sections of which were upgraded to 200 km/h. Other long-distance stops with regular services are Eisenach and Gotha on the route to Frankfurt. Freight traffic only plays a relatively minor role, as there are neither port-hinterland traffic nor large companies with a significant volume of their own and is essentially limited to the east-west connections Halle-Kassel with around 40 and Naumburg-Bebra with around 50 trains daily as well as the north-south connections Naumburg-Bamberg with 60 and Leipzig-Werdau with 35 freight trains per day (both directions together). The most important goods handling center is the goods traffic center in Vieselbach east of Erfurt.

In contrast, the condition of the regional routes is very different; since 1945 around 1000 kilometers of railway lines have been closed, leaving around 1500 kilometers in operation. Of these, only a small proportion is electrified (the lowest proportion of all federal states) and/or has two tracks. Local transport is therefore mainly operated with diesel railcars. In addition to DB Regio Southeast, Abellio Rail Mitteldeutschland, the Vogtlandbahn, the Erfurter Bahn, the Süd-Thüringen-Bahn and Cantus also provide transport services. The local transport service company Thuringia is responsible for the transport. Transport associations include the Verkehrsverbund Mittelthüringen, which is to be extended to the entire federal state, and the Mitteldeutscher Verkehrsverbund in the district of Altenburger Land, which is served by the S-Bahn Mitteldeutschland. The most important construction project in the railway network is the expansion of the Weimar-Gera railway line, which connects the four largest cities in the state, but is still not electrified and is partly single-track. The same applies to the Gotha–Leinefelde railway, which is also to be expanded. Overall, the number of passengers in public transport is slightly declining, especially in bus transport and in rural areas. Here services are often patchy or limited to school bus services, while major city tram networks have been expanded and are showing increasing passenger numbers, as have regional trains between major cities. The Oberweißbacher Bergbahn and the Harzquerbahn of the Harzer Schmalspurbahnen mainly serve tourist traffic.


Air traffic

The only airport with scheduled flight operations is Erfurt-Weimar Airport, which, like most regional airports, is in deficit and depends on subsidies from the state government. The development of traffic at the airport, which was expanded in the 1990s, fell far short of forecasts, also because Frankfurt, Leipzig, Nuremberg and Hanover are four airports with a wide range of services in the vicinity and can be easily reached by car or train. Between 2003 and 2010 there were also scheduled flight operations at Altenburg Airport. Other airfields in the country are used for private aviation.

water supply, energy and telecommunications
Some larger dams were created in the Thuringian Forest and Slate Mountains to supply drinking water, including the Leibis-Lichte dam, the Schönbrunn dam, the Schmalwasser dam and the Ohra dam. They supply essential parts of the country. Numerous small dams and reservoirs in the lowlands are used to obtain service water for agriculture, where periods of drought can sometimes occur due to low rainfall. Nevertheless, the demand for water is declining, so the dismantling of some smaller dams has started.

Hydropower has also long been used to generate electricity, for example with the dam system of the Saale cascade, which also includes Germany's largest reservoir, the Bleilochtalsperre. In 2003, the Goldisthal pumped-storage plant, the largest of its kind in Germany, went into operation. Nevertheless, Thuringia has always been a net importer of electricity, so in the 20th century it was mainly the lignite-fired power plants in the central German district that supplied the electricity required in the state. In 2011, around 60% of the electricity requirement of 12.2 TWh was covered by imports from other regions. Nevertheless, the import rate used to be significantly higher and is falling from year to year. In 2016, 9.3 TWh of electricity was produced in the country itself, minus the pumped storage power plants, it was 7.4 TWh, of which 28% came from wind power, 28% from natural gas, 14.5% from photovoltaics, 12.7% from biomass and 12, 1% came from biogas, the rest from other energy sources. Wind power has increased eightfold between 2000 and 2016, and photovoltaics sevenfold. 840 wind turbines with a nominal output of 1.6705 gigawatts are currently installed on 0.33% of Thuringia's land area. The Thuringian climate law aims for 1% of the state area.

The Free State belongs to the transmission grid area of 50Hertz Transmission. A larger part of the energy supply was remunicipalised in 2013 by buying back TEAG Thüringer Energie, which had previously belonged to E.ON. Thüringer Energie operates its largest power plant with the thermal power station Jena (197 MW), with the power station Erfurt-Ost there is another larger power station in the middle of the state (80 MW). The country's largest wind farm is located near Wangenheim between Gotha and Bad Langensalza with an output of 130 MW and 66 turbines.

Broadband expansion is a priority in the telecommunications sector, for which the state has set up the broadband competence center. In 2017, 51% of households had a connection of at least 100 Mbit/s, mainly in cities, 78.5% at least 50 Mbit/s and 84% at least 30 Mbit/s. As a result, 16% of households still have no way of using fast internet, which particularly affected smaller districts in rural areas.



In Thuringia in 2016 there were a total of 44 hospitals with almost 16,000 hospital beds and an occupancy rate of 77.5%. This corresponds to 733 beds per 100,000 inhabitants. 38% of the beds are public, 18% non-profit and 34% private. Approximately 580,000 cases are treated each year. Around 5,000 full-time doctors and 25,000 non-medical staff are employed in the hospitals. In total, around 9,300 doctors and a good 2,000 dentists were working in the country in 2016. In the same year there were 553 pharmacies. Some rural regions have an undersupply of both general practitioners and specialists in certain disciplines, the medical profession is also aging and finding successors is difficult, although the state government is trying to counteract this with funding. A not inconsiderable proportion of the newly hired clinic doctors come from Eastern Europe, in particular from Poland, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, where these doctors are again lacking to care for the local population.

The only university with a medical degree in the state is the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, whose university hospital is the largest hospital in the state. In addition to the Klinikum Erfurt as the second largest hospital, according to the Thuringian hospital plan 2017, the central clinic Bad Berka, the Wald-Klinikum Gera, the Klinikum Meiningen, the Südharz Klinikum Nordhausen, the Thuringia clinics “Georgius Agricola” in Saalfeld and the central clinic Suhl also have a supra-regional supply mandate as the country's medical centers.

The average life expectancy in the period 2015/17 was 77.2 years for men and 83.0 years for women. Men thus rank 13th among the German federal states, while women rank 9th. Regionally, in 2013/15 Jena (expectation of the total population: 81.95 years), Saale-Holzland-Kreis (81.44) and Eichsfeld (81.27) had the highest, as well as Sömmerda (78.80), Sonneberg (78.76 ) and the Kyffhäuser district (78.16) had the lowest life expectancy.



The regional daily newspaper market is dominated by two media companies. The Thuringia media group, which belongs to Funke Mediengruppe, publishes the newspapers Thüringer Allgemeine from Erfurt (with 14 local editorial offices in central and northern Thuringia), Ostthüringer Zeitung from Gera (with 13 local editorial offices in eastern Thuringia) and Thüringische Landeszeitung from Weimar (with 9 local editorial offices in central and northern Thuringia ) out of here. Its circulation was 239,000 copies in 2017, which has halved in the past 20 years. The regional newspaper group Hof/Coburg/Suhl, which publishes the Freie Wort from Suhl (with seven local editorial offices in southwest Thuringia) and the Südthüringer Zeitung from Bad Salzungen (with the Bad Salzungen and Schmalkalden editions), belongs to the Süddeutscher Verlag. The group receives its cover section from the Stuttgarter Nachrichten. At the end of 2019, its circulation was around 57,700 copies, which also halved over the past 20 years. The Meininger Mediengesellschaft (MMG), in which the Suhler Verlagsgesellschaft (SVG) and the Mediengruppe Oberfranken each have a 50% stake, publishes the Meininger Tageblatt (MT), which cooperates editorially with the Freie Wort. A local edition of the Leipziger Volkszeitung is published by the publishing company Madsack in Altenburg. This means that there is only journalistic competition in Altenburg (where the Ostthüringer Zeitung is also published) and Ilmenau (Thüringer Allgemeine and Freies Wort), while the rest of the country belongs to the Einzeitungkreise. Only Funke Mediengruppe has its newspapers printed in Thuringia itself, all others are printed in neighboring regions and delivered in Thuringia. At the end of 2021, Funke will also close the print shop in Erfurt and print its newspapers in Braunschweig.

Public broadcasting in Thuringia is produced by Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR). The MDR operates the state radio station in Thuringia on Gothaer Strasse in Erfurt. KiKA, the children's channel of ARD and ZDF, MDR advertising and the MDR production subsidiary MCS Thüringen are also housed there. The MDR Thüringen Journal, the daily television news program for Thuringia, is produced in the Erfurt broadcasting center. In addition, MDR broadcasts MDR Thüringen, a radio program specially produced for the state. In the immediate vicinity is the Children's Media Center, in which, among other things, the KiKA series Schloss Einstein is produced. ZDF runs its state studio for Thuringia in Erfurt, which supplies its programs and magazines with reports from the region.

Private broadcasting in Thuringia is provided by the nationwide radio stations Landeswelle Thüringen, Antenne Thüringen and their subsidiary Radio Top 40. In some places there are local television stations. The Thuringian State Media Authority has also set up eleven community radio projects. With the largest distribution areas, these are the two open channels supported directly by TLM, the Open TV Channel in Gera and Radio Funkwerk in Erfurt and Weimar. There are also open channels sponsored by clubs in Jena (OK-J), Saalfeld (SRB), Eisenach, Wartburg Radio 96.5, Nordhausen and Leinefelde. In some cities, non-commercial local and university radio stations have also been licensed by the TLM. These include Radio F.R.E.I. in Erfurt, Radio Lotte Weimar, radio hsf in Ilmenau, the student radio of the Bauhaus University Weimar. The media education projects, including PiXEL television and RABATZ, are also located in most open channels. Here, children and young people can do radio and television themselves.

The national commission for youth media protection has been based in Erfurt since it was founded in 2003.



The cultural landscape of Thuringia is quite diverse due to the long political fragmentation (until 1920). This diversity has been preserved to this day and finds expression in the various former residences in the state with their historically grown museums and theaters. Parallel to the diversity of the parts of the country, the similar cuisine and similar festivals and customs connect people. The culture is still shaped by the numerous sites of classical high culture from the Reformation to the Bauhaus, behind which the sites of contemporary culture fall a bit behind.

Since 1996, the UNESCO World Heritage in Thuringia has included the Bauhaus sites in Weimar with the main building of the Bauhaus University built between 1904 and 1911 according to plans by Henry van de Velde, the Weimar School of Applied Arts and the model house Am Horn, since 1998 the eleven sites of the Classic Weimars (Goethe's house, Schiller's house, Herder Church and Herder sites, Weimar City Palace, Wittumspalais, Duchess Anna Amalia Library, Park on the Ilm with Goethe's Garden House and Roman House, Belvedere Palace, Ettersburg Palace, Tiefurt Palace, Weimar Historical Cemetery), since 1999 the Wartburg near Eisenach and since 2011 the Hainich National Park as part of the European beech forests.



The museum landscape in Thuringia has its focus in Weimar with its classical poets, musicians and artists. But there are also important museums in a few other cities in the country. In addition, the respective state museums, which focus on regional history, are located in the old residential palaces.

The Weimar World Heritage Site includes the Goethe National Museum, which unites the poet's places of activity in the city, as well as Schiller's house and a large number of other culturally used facilities. The Bauhaus Museum in downtown Weimar is also significant. The second former Ernestine main residence in Gotha also has a house of national importance with the Ducal Museum, which reopened in 2013. The Lindenau Museum in Altenburg houses the largest collection of early Italian panel paintings north of the Alps. Along with the Wartburg and the Weimar Classic Foundation, it is one of the 20 “cultural beacons” in the Federal Government’s Blue Book in the new federal states.

The Panorama Museum near Bad Frankenhausen, which opened in 1989, houses the Peasants' War panorama to commemorate the German Peasants' War and the peasant leader Thomas Müntzer. With an area of 1722 m², it is one of the largest panel paintings in the world. The German Toy Museum in Sonneberg was opened in 1901 and is the oldest and one of the largest toy museums in Germany. The German Horticultural Museum in Erfurt is similarly important in the field of landscape architecture. On 1500 square meters it shows historical and biological aspects of horticulture in Central Europe. The Optical Museum in Jena describes the history and progress of technology in the field of optics and is also of national importance in this field. In Eisenach, in addition to the Wartburg, there is also the Luther House, where Luther lived during his school days in Eisenach, and the Bach House, which is dedicated to the composer Johann Sebastian Bach (probably) who was born there.

There are memorials for the victims of war and dictatorship in the 20th century in Buchenwald near Weimar, in Mittelbau-Dora near Nordhausen, in the Topf & Sons Memorial in Erfurt and in the Stasi prison Andreasstrasse in Erfurt.



The theatrical landscape in Thuringia is – due to the fact that it is a small state – also still diverse today. The most important multi-genre theaters in the state are the German National Theater in Weimar, Theater Altenburg-Gera and the State Theater in Meiningen. Traditional theaters are still in operation today in Arnstadt, Nordhausen, Rudolstadt and Eisenach. The Theater Erfurt and the Vogtlandhalle Greiz are new buildings from the recent past. The largest open-air stage is the Naturtheater Steinbach-Langenbach in the Thuringian Forest. Since all theaters are subsidized by the Free State, financing this cultural offer is a difficult task. In recent years, the theaters have already had to accept major budget cuts from the state government.

The oldest preserved theater in Germany is the Ekhof Theater from 1681 in Gotha, as well as the Stadttheater Hildburghausen from 1755, the oldest preserved city theatre, where Germany's first drama school was founded in 1765.

Only in the Thuringian Theater Association e. V., 28 professional and amateur theaters have been organized so far.


Music, literature and fine arts

Around 1200, Thuringia experienced a heyday of minnesang and song poetry. The collection of poems about the fictitious singers' war at the Wartburg bears particular testimony to this. According to legend, the most important minnesingers of the time competed there.

The Bach family with their most famous son, Johann Sebastian Bach, comes from Wechmar near Gotha. Many members of this family became musicians and shaped court and church music in Thuringia between the 16th and 18th centuries. After the Bach family, musicians like Franz Liszt came to Thuringia in the “Silver Age” of Weimar in the 19th century. They appreciated the liberal and historical atmosphere of the Goethe city. Thanks to Liszt and his circle of students, around 1850 Weimar became one of the centers of modern music at the time. In 1872 Carl Müllerhartung founded the first German orchestra school here, the forerunner of today's Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt Weimar. The music teachers working there also included the probably most important composers of the 20th century who lived permanently in Thuringia, Richard Wetz and Johann Cilenšek. In the second half of the 19th century, the Meiningen court orchestra gained the reputation of an excellent orchestra, which, especially since Hans von Bülow had taken over the direction in 1880, attracted other capable musicians who made a significant contribution to the development of a musical heyday. This tradition was continued until 1914 under the conductors Richard Strauss, Fritz Steinbach, Wilhelm Berger and Max Reger.

Important orchestras in the state are the Staatskapelle Weimar, the Erfurt Philharmonic Orchestra, the Thuringia Philharmonic Gotha-Eisenach, the Thuringian Symphony Orchestra Saalfeld-Rudolstadt, the Jena Philharmonic, the Loh Orchestra Sondershausen and the Vogtland Philharmonic Greiz/Reichenbach. In the field of historical performance practice, the ensemble Cantus Thuringia & Capella Thuringia has gained an international reputation in recent years. The Thuringian Bach Weeks are a nationwide music festival in honor of Johann Sebastian Bach. Herbert Roth, the composer of the Rennsteig song, was particularly dedicated to folk music in Thuringia. It is considered the "secret" state anthem and is better known than the (unofficial) anthem Thuringia, lovely country. The best-known musicians from Thuringia in GDR times included Veronika Fischer, Tamara Danz, the singer of the band Silly, the pop singer Ute Freudenberg ("Jugendliebe"), the rock musicians Jürgen Kerth and Klaus Renft, founders of the Klaus Renft Combo, and the singer-songwriter Gerhard Gunderman. Recently, pop musicians like Yvonne Catterfeld or Clueso have become well known. In the field of electronic music, bands like Northern Lite or DJs like the Boogie Pimps have emerged. One of the largest festivals in Thuringia, the SonneMondStar, takes place in this area.

The literary history of Thuringia is inseparably determined by the Weimar Classics. She led the German-language literature in the 18th century with the circle of poets around Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller. Johann Gottfried Herder, Karl Ludwig von Knebel and Christoph Martin Wieland can also be assigned to this era. They were concentrated at the Weimar court around Duke Karl August and his mother Anna Amalia. In later epochs, poets such as Rudolf Baumbach, Ludwig Bechstein, Otto Ludwig and Theodor Storm were of particular importance for the country. Non-fiction literature has also produced some important works, for example the first Duden by Konrad Duden was published in Schleiz in 1872, and Justus Perthes wrote the first genealogical manual for the nobility in 1763, which was later referred to as "der Gotha". From 1863 appeared in Hildburghausen Brehm's Thierleben by Alfred Brehm from Renthendorf near Neustadt an der Orla. Ernst Haeckel published Darwin's theory of evolution at the University of Jena and developed it further. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche spent the last years of his life in Weimar, where the Nietzsche Archive now administers his estate. From 1900, Hermann Haack from Gotha became an important cartographer.

In the field of fine arts, the Bauhaus in Weimar was of particular importance in Thuringia. In the 1920s it was style-defining worldwide and attracted painters such as Lyonel Feininger, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Johannes Itten and Oskar Schlemmer as well as architects such as Walter Gropius, Henry van de Velde and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe to the Free State. But painters such as Lucas Cranach the Elder or Otto Dix and the sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider also worked in Thuringia.


Customs and holidays

Thuringia does not have any uniform significant customs, rather these differ from village to village and from region to region. Every year in almost every village throughout the country, the fair is the central village festival. According to the company, the Mühlhausen fair is the largest in Germany. The Eisenach Summer Prize is Germany's largest spring festival, which is celebrated every year three weeks before Easter with a large procession. Shooting festivals are also an integral part of village life culture in some parts of the country.

Traditional festivals are also the Rudolstadt bird shooting, the Weimar onion market, the Erfurt Christmas market and the Cathedral Steps Festival in the capital Erfurt. Thuringia has also established itself as a center for popular hits, whose events - often directed by MDR - fill the large halls in the state.

In addition to the nationwide public holidays, Reformation Day and, since 2019, World Children's Day on September 20 are the only federal states to be a public holiday in Thuringia. Corpus Christi is a public holiday in the entire Eichsfeld district and in some predominantly Catholic communities in the Unstrut-Hainich and Wartburg districts.

The carnival tradition is only occasionally observed in Thuringia, especially in the Catholic areas of Eichsfeld and the Rhön. Major processions take place in partially Catholic Erfurt (one of the largest in East Germany), Wasungen in the Franconian south of the country, and Apolda and Sondershausen. After 1990, carnival events and parades spread and since then have also been celebrated in some places without a strong tradition.



Winter sports with its center in Oberhof, which has produced numerous Olympic and world champions, is particularly characteristic of competitive sports in Thuringia. The most popular disciplines include biathlon, cross-country skiing, Nordic combined and ski jumping on the one hand, and tobogganing, bobsledding and skeleton on the other. In recent years, Oberhof's comparatively low altitude and the associated uncertainty about the weather have repeatedly made themselves felt, so that competition conditions were not always given and events had to be postponed. Speed skating and figure skating have found a center in Erfurt (Eissportclub Erfurt), as well as the summer sports of athletics, cycling and swimming. Olympic champions from Thuringia were the tobogganist Johannes Ludwig and the Oberhof bobsleigh pilot Mariama Jamanka from Berlin at the last Winter Games in 2018 in Pyeongchang, as well as the track cyclist Kristina Vogel and the javelin thrower Thomas Röhler at the last Summer Games in 2016 in Rio.

With football, the most popular sport of the public in Thuringia is rather poorly represented, since it is difficult to find sponsors, the degree of professionalization of the management is rather low and the financial situation of the professional clubs is precarious. In the 2022/23 season, no club counts as a professional; at amateur level, FC Rot-Weiss Erfurt, FC Carl Zeiss Jena, Wacker Nordhausen and ZFC Meuselwitz are among the more successful teams. In women's volleyball, VfB 91 Suhl plays in the Bundesliga and in women's handball, Thuringian HC from Erfurt/Bad Langensalza plays. The THC has won seven championship titles since 2010. In table tennis, Post SV Mühlhausen plays in the Bundesliga (men) in 1951, while the basketball club Science City Jena competes in the second division.

Almost 3,500 popular sport clubs are members of the Thuringia State Sports Association. They have around 370,000 members (approx. 17% of the population), with football being the most popular sport with 26% of members. The largest sports club in the country is FC Carl Zeiss Jena with over 4,200 members. In recreational sports, hiking and cycling are very popular; The GutsMuths Rennsteiglauf takes place every year on the most famous hiking trail, the Rennsteig, with around 15,000 participants. The Ilmtal cycle path was awarded four stars by the ADFC and, like the entire network of cycle paths, has been significantly expanded since 2000, so that cycle tourism is gaining in importance, with the spectrum ranging from mountain biking in the mountains to simple routes in the lowlands, for example along the Unstrut .

The Herzogliche Golf-Club Oberhof with the only listed golf course in Germany, the Schleizer Dreieck as a motorsport track and the racecourse on the Gothaer Boxberg are of primary historical importance.



Thuringian cuisine is traditionally meat-heavy and rather hearty. Well-known specialties are the Thuringian dumplings, the Thuringian bratwurst and the Rostbrätel.

Beer is the most important drink in Thuringia, especially the Köstritzer black beer is known nationwide. Pils and other types of beer are produced in the country's many small and medium-sized breweries. The center of viticulture is the town of Bad Sulza in the Ilm Valley. It belongs to the Saale-Unstrut wine region.


Architectural Heritage

Building history

In Thuringia, buildings from the stylistic epochs since the Romanesque period have been preserved. Romanesque buildings of importance are the Wartburg, the Lohra Castle and the Kemenate Orlamünde in the field of castle building and the monasteries in Thalbürgel, Paulinzella and Göllingen (Byzantine style) as well as the Nordhausen Cathedral and the Erfurt Peterskirche (former Peterskloster). The Werra Bridge in Creuzburg, built in 1223 and thus the oldest bridge in the new federal states, was built in the Romanesque style.

The Gothic was characterized by the construction of large, representative town churches. The most important works of this time are the Erfurt Cathedral and the neighboring Severikirche as well as the Predigerkirche and the Barfusserkirche in Erfurt's old town. Large church buildings were also erected in other cities at this time, such as the Marienkirche and the Divi-Blasii-Kirche in Mühlhausen or the Marktkirche in Bad Langensalza and the Jenaer Stadtkirche. The Kornhofspeicher in Erfurt is one of the largest Gothic secular buildings.

The Renaissance period led to the rise of the bourgeoisie in the cities, which the town halls and town halls of that time bear witness to. The Altenburg town hall, like the Gera town hall and the Erfurt town houses Haus zum Roten Ochsen, Haus zum Breiten Herd or Haus zum Stockfisch belong to this era of Western architecture. During this time, the transition from castle building to palace building took place, which is evident today in castles such as the Upper Castle in Greiz, Ranis Castle, Bertholdsburg Castle in Schleusingen, Veste Heldburg or Wilhelmsburg Castle in Schmalkalden. Church building came to a standstill in Thuringia during the Renaissance due to the Reformation.

Castle construction experienced its heyday in the Baroque period. Residences such as the Heidecksburg or Friedenstein Palace were built, but also administrative buildings such as the Kurmainzische Stadthalterei, today the Thuringian State Chancellery, in Erfurt. Country palaces were built at this time not far from the residential cities, just in the vicinity of Weimar these are Belvedere Palace, Tiefurt Palace and Ettersburg Palace, all of which were built in the baroque era of absolutism. Churches such as the Stadtkirche Waltershausen (round), outbuildings of residences such as the Gotha Orangery and residential buildings of the bourgeoisie such as the Wittumspalais in Weimar were also erected.

Classicism was less influential in Thuringia than in Prussia, for example. Larger palace complexes from this era are the Weimar City Palace and the Lower Palace in Greiz. There are also a few classicist church buildings, for example the Trinity Church in Zeulenroda. The town hall is also the most influential building of classicism in Thuringia. This style was followed by historicism, which was accompanied by enormous population and urban growth, which required numerous new buildings. Historicism still characterizes entire cityscapes today. Countless residential and administrative buildings were built, as well as churches in the growing districts of the larger cities. The neo-Gothic Landsberg Castle near Meiningen was built in early historicism, followed later by the New Museum in Weimar and the Museum of Nature Gotha. In the final phase of historicism before the First World War, new theaters (in Weimar and Meiningen) and the Volkshaus Jena were built.

Modernism began in Thuringia during the First World War, when the 42-metre-high Building 15 in Jena was Germany's first skyscraper. From 1919, the Bauhaus based in Weimar became style-defining. Under the direction of Walter Gropius, the model house Am Horn was built in Weimar according to the ideals of the Bauhaus. The House of the People in Probstzella was also built according to the principles of the Bauhaus. The Luther Church in Erfurt is one of the few buildings in the Art Deco style, erected in 1927. Around 1930, the first quarters with social housing were built in the east of Erfurt, which were stylistically based on Bauhaus and New Objectivity. The architecture of National Socialism followed, which was the specification for the construction of the Gauforum in Weimar. After the war, industrial housing construction made of precast concrete elements became dominant in the GDR. This trend was also reflected in the architecture of public buildings. In 1972 the university building in Jena was inaugurated. Since 2004 it has measured 159 meters to the top of the tower. One of the last buildings of the GDR was the monumental building of the Peasants’ War Panorama (“elephant toilet”) near Bad Frankenhausen from 1987. After German reunification, construction activity concentrated on public buildings such as the Federal Labor Court or the Erfurt Theater, which, in accordance with the taste of the time, were Glass and steel were executed.

The most famous architects who worked in Thuringia include Nikolaus Gromann (Renaissance), Gottfried Heinrich Krohne (Baroque), Clemens Wenzeslaus Coudray (Classicism), Henry van de Velde (Art Nouveau) and Walter Gropius (Bauhaus Weimar).



On June 30, 2007, 988,122 of Thuringia's 2,300,538 people lived in cities with more than 20,000 inhabitants. Although the degree of urbanization is relatively low at 42.95% and most of the cities have not experienced any significant growth since 1940, they form the cultural and economic centers of the country. The most extensive cultural life takes place in the cities of Erfurt (state capital), Weimar (European Capital of Culture 1999) and Jena (university and economic center). The image of the cities is relatively heterogeneous, with some cities showing a medieval cityscape at their core. This applies above all to Erfurt and Mühlhausen, but also to smaller towns such as Saalfeld and Schmalkalden. A baroque-classical cityscape characterizes the former residences such as Weimar, Gotha, Eisenach, Rudolstadt or Meiningen. Cities like Gera, Altenburg, Greiz or Apolda that grew up during the period of industrialization are characterized by a Wilhelminian appearance. The destruction caused by the Second World War ensured that Jena and Nordhausen have extremely heterogeneous city centers in which high-rise buildings and large apartment blocks alternate with half-timbered buildings. In the 1960s and 1970s, the city of Suhl underwent a restructuring unprecedented in Thuringia, in which most of the old town center was removed and replaced by a center that corresponded to the contemporary taste of the socialist city. Leinefelde was essentially created during the GDR period and is the only planned city of this type in Thuringia. Many cities in the state are characterized by their location in relatively narrow river valleys, so that there are considerable differences in height within the cities and the building space is limited in many places. As a result, some of the largest cities such as Jena, Gera, Eisenach or Suhl stretch over long distances along a valley and take up its entire width.

The administrations deal with historic buildings in different ways: while some cities try with great effort to preserve as much of the old town buildings as possible and have also achieved success (Bad Langensalza won gold in the Entente Florale Deutschland competition in 2004), other cities attach less importance to monument protection. On June 6, 2007, the city of Gotha decided to demolish the historic Volkshaus zum Mohren, which was carried out in October 2007, as well as the demolition of the Winter Palace on September 13, 2006, which could only be prevented by massive protests from various sides.

A list of the town halls, which are often important cultural monuments, can be found at List of town halls in Thuringia.



The hilly landscape with many valleys and the central location in the German cultural area have favored the construction of castles in the Free State since the early Middle Ages. The most famous castle in the country is the Wartburg Castle above Eisenach, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was once the seat of the Landgraves of Thuringia and later the place where Martin Luther hid from the imperial power and translated parts of the Bible into German. Later, the Wartburg once again gained importance for the liberal and national student movements of the 19th century, since the Wartburg Festival took place here in 1817.

A well-known castle ensemble is the Drei Gleichen between Erfurt, Arnstadt and Gotha. Among them is the Mühlburg, the oldest preserved building in Thuringia from the year 704. Other mighty complexes include Creuzburg Castle above the Werratal near Creuzburg, the Leuchtenburg above the Saaletal in Seitenroda and the Osterburg above the Elstertal near Weida. A further development of the medieval castles were modern fortresses. The Petersberg citadel in Erfurt's old town is one of the largest surviving early modern fortifications in Central Europe.



In 1918 Thuringia still had eight monarchies with their own residences. Today, these residences are the largest and most important palaces in Thuringia. The headquarters of the Ernestine family was in Weimar, where the classical Weimar City Palace, which is now a World Heritage Site, houses an extensive museum. Friedenstein Castle in Gotha was the seat of the Duke of Saxe-Gotha and is now also largely used as a museum. Other Ernestinian residences were Altenburg Palace in Altenburg and Elisabethenburg Palace in Meiningen. In addition, this ducal family maintained many small country castles scattered throughout Thuringia. Well-known among them are the Dornburg Castles above the Saale valley, the Castles of Tiefurt, Ettersburg and Belvedere near Weimar and Castle Molsdorf near Erfurt as well as Castle Altenstein with its large landscaped park near Bad Liebenstein.

In addition to the Ernestines, the princely families of Schwarzburg and Reuss ruled in Thuringia. The Schwarzburg residences Schloss Heidecksburg in Rudolstadt and the castle in Sondershausen are just as important museums today as the Lower and Upper Castles in Greiz. The other Rerussian residence in Gera, Schloss Osterstein, was destroyed in World War II. Also worth seeing are Burgk Castle, also owned by the princes of Reuss, above the Saale reservoirs, and Schwarzburg Castle in the Schwarzatal.

Important early modern castle complexes of older ruling families are the Henneberg residence Schloss Bertholdsburg in Schleusingen, Schloss Ehrenstein in Ohrdruf and Schloss Wilhelmsburg in Schmalkalden as the seat of a branch line of the Landgraves of Hesse.


Churches and monasteries

The most important of the approximately 2,500 sacred buildings in Thuringia date from the Gothic period and are located in the centers of the historic towns. Erfurt is home to the Erfurt Cathedral, the largest church in Thuringia, which forms an ensemble well worth seeing with the neighboring Severikirche. In addition, there are about 25 other, mostly Gothic, parish churches in Erfurt's old town, which significantly shape the cityscape. That is why Erfurt historically has the nickname "City of Towers" (Latin Erfordia turrita, towering Erfurt).

The two main churches of the former imperial city of Mühlhausen are significant Gothic buildings. The Marienkirche was a center of the Peasants' War of 1525 and has the highest church tower in the Free State (86 meters). The Divi Blasii Church was a place where the composer Johann Sebastian Bach worked and is the main Gothic church in Mühlhausen; the pillars of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City are modeled on their choir window fronts; the bridge was designed by the native Mühlhausen engineer Johann August Röbling.

Worth mentioning in the church landscape are above all the upper church in Bad Frankenhausen with the tower tilted four meters from the vertical, as well as the Russian Orthodox chapel in Weimar, which was once built for Duchess Maria Pavlovna and is one of the oldest orthodox churches in Germany.

The country's monasteries essentially lost their power with the Reformation at the beginning of the 16th century, after which many were dissolved. Therefore, Romanesque and Gothic monastery ruins are mainly preserved today. The Reinhardsbrunn monastery near Gotha (burial place and house monastery of the Landgraves of Thuringia) as well as the Erfurt and Saalfeld Peterskloster were of historical importance. The monastery ruins in Kloster Veßra, Paulinzella, Göllingen or Stadtroda are architecturally interesting. A well-known Thuringian monastery is the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt, which was reoccupied in 1996 and where Martin Luther spent a few years of his life. In the Catholic areas of the country (Eichsfeld and partly the city of Erfurt), some monasteries existed until the secularization of the Napoleonic era, before they too were dissolved. Since 1800 there have only been a few continued facilities such as the Ursuline monastery in Erfurt or the Franciscan monastery in Hülfensberg near Geismar in Eichsfeld.



The most well-known monuments in the state are the Kyffhäuser Monument in the district of Steinthalleben, an 81 meter high monument that can be seen from afar on the mountain of the same name near Bad Frankenhausen. It was erected between 1890 and 1896 and refers to the Kyffhäuser legend, with Kaiser Wilhelm I as the unifier of the empire being directly related to Friedrich Barbarossa and portrayed as the keeper of his legacy. After the Monument to the Battle of the Nations in Leipzig and the monument at the Westphalian Gate, the monument on the Kyffhäuser is the third largest in Germany.

Another well-known monument is the Goethe and Schiller monument on Weimar's Theaterplatz. It is part of the world cultural heritage and shows the poets Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller. It was inaugurated in 1857.

The 33 meter high fraternity monument near Eisenach from 1902 is reminiscent of the German fraternities of the early 19th century, which played a role in the Wartburg Festival of 1817, among other things.



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