Experience firsthand the vibrant cultural backdrops, characters, and events of the Protestant Refor-mation—which forever changed Christian thought and history. Commemorate its 500th anniversary with a 2-week high-quality tour of major Reformation sites in the Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, and France. Your 4-star tour begins in Prague—the city of Jan Hus—an early reformer. Then onto several places in Germany that figured significantly in the development of Martin Luther’s personal response to Catholicism and the broader evolution and dissemination of the Reformation spirit. Visit the Luther House and St. Mary’s Church in Wittenberg, St Peter’s Dom church in Worms, Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, and many other key sites. Next, you will be off to Zurich, Switzerland and Strasbourg, France to explore the extensive reach of the idea of reformation. Join us and be inspired by rich Christian history, amazing medieval cities, charming European villages, and spectacular landscapes.
July 18, Saturday
Depart USA – Fly to Prague (Czech Republic)
July 19, Sunday: Arrive Prague
Arrive at Prague International Airport. Your program director will meet you at the airport. Transfer to your hotel in Prague. After check in, you can join a guided vicinity walk in the neighborhood. Stay in Prague.
July 20, Monday: Prague
Prague is an important city in Reformation history. Bohemian reformer Jan Hus, the “Morning Star of the Reformation,” was one of the earliest reformers in Europe. Thomas Müntzer, who was connected with the “Zwickau prophets” and the Peasants’ War of 1524-25, also spent time here trying to gain support. While in Prague, we will take a panoramic city tour around Old Town culminating at the statue of Jan Hus himself. From there, we shall visit the Cathedral and the Royal Castle on our way down to the Vltava River. Stay in Prague.
July 21, Tuesday Zwickau – Leipzig (Germany)
Today, we will drive to the former Eastern German state of Saxony where we will visit Zwickau. In the beginning of the 16th century, it was an important industrial location in the Electorate of Saxony, and Thomas Müntzer was the pastor here in 1520-21 on the recommendation of Martin Luther, before they parted ways. Here, the groundwork for the later Peasants’ War was laid, and the “Zwickau prophets” would later bring their beliefs along with their apocalyptic message to Wittenberg. After lunch, we will continue on to Leipzig to visit St. Thomas Church, where Luther’s sermon introducing the Reformation was preached. Next, we will visit St. Nicholas Church, where in 1539 the city’s first Lutheran service took place. This is also where Johann Sebastian Bach took up his post as Director musices (musical director) for the city in 1723. Our final church visit of the day will beto the [Protestant] University Church of St. Paul, first consecrated in 1240. In 1519 Johann Tetzel, preacher of indulgences, was buried in the choir of this monastery church of the Dominican Order, and Luther’s final sermon was given here on August 12, 1545. Stay in Leipzig.
July 22, Wednesday: Leipzig – Wittenberg
This morning we will drive to Wittenberg to visit Luther House, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that boasts the world’s largest museum on Reformation history. Once an Augustinian monastery, the Luther House was home to Martin Luther and his family for many years. Next, we will visit the Castle Church, where Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door. Today, guests can find the 95 Theses engraved on massive bronze doors erected in memory of the act that sparked the Reformation. Our final visit will be to St. Mary’s Town Church, the “Mother Church of the Reformation.” This church is the city’s oldest building, and more importantly, it witnessed Luther’s marriage to Katharina von Bora in 1525, as well as the baptism of all their children. Stay in Leipzig.
July 23, Thursday: Erfurt
After breakfast at the hotel, we will drive to Erfurt to visit the Augustinian Monastery that Luther joined on July 17, 1505, making it one of the most important Luther sites in Germany. Then we will walk through the winding streets of the old city to Merchants’ Bridge and on to the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. Severus Church next to it. We will also see the Merchants’ Bridge, one of Erfurt’s main landmarks. It is the longest series of inhabited buildings on any bridge in Europe. The bridge was, and continues to be, a place where craftsmen display and sell their wares in pottery, wood carving, and glass blowing studios. Stay in Erfurt.
July 24, Friday: Erfurt – Eisenach – Schmalkalden
This morning we will head to Eisenach, an important Luther site for two reasons. Luther, who had already been branded a rebel and excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church, also became an outlaw after appearing before the Holy Roman Emperor at the Diet of Worms. In order to protect Luther, Frederick the Wise ad him kidnapped and taken to Wartburg Castle where he hid by posing as “Junker Jörg” (Knight George) from May 1521-March 1522. During this time, Luther worked on translating the New Testament into German and, according to legend, fought with the devil and threw an inkpot at him. Today, the castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town of Eisenach is also important because Luther studied here in his early years. We will visit the Lutherhaus Eisenach, where Luther reportedly lived as a boy. It now serves as a museum dedicated to the famous Reformer. Then we will set out for Schmalkalden where the meetings of the Schmalkaldic League took place. Upon arrival we will visit the Luther House, where Luther stayed during these meetings and where he published the Schmalkaldic Articles of Faith. Its façade is decorated with an ornate swan, a symbol of the Reformer, dating back to 1687. It reminds passersby of the events which took place inside these very walls! We will also stroll by St. George’s town church and Lutherstube located in the heart of Schmalkalden’s historic Old Town. This church is a place of worship, reflection, silence, and prayer. In fact, one could even argue it’s the most beautiful late-medieval church in southern Luther Country. Stay in Erfurt.
July 25, Saturday: Coburg – Bamberg – Rothenburg – Romantic Road
In the morning we will go to Coburg to visit where Martin Luther resided at the Veste Coburg from mid-April to early October 1530. While preparations were being made in Augsburg for the reading of the Augsburg Confession before the Imperial Diet, Luther worked untiringly on his new doctrine in Coburg. The work he did at the Veste during this crucial phase of the history of the Reformation is of outstanding importance. Then we will visit Bamberg and Rothenburg, which are Germany’s most beautiful medieval fairytale-like towns. These two Franconian towns are famous for their half-timbered historic houses and well-preserved old town squares. Bamberg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a good example of a central European town with a basic early medieval plan and many surviving ecclesiastical and secular buildings of the medieval period. When Henry II, Duke of Bavaria, became King of Germany in 1002, he made Bamberg the seat of a bishopric and intended it to become a “second Rome.”
After lunch we will drive to Rothenburg. It is a perfect example of late German Gothic and Renaissance architecture. The Reformation movement arrived early to this town, but the Peasants’ War of 1525 delayed the introduction of the teachings of Martin Luther. Visit the old town square and the St. Jacob’s Church. Free time on your own in the old town. Stay in Rothenburg.
July 26, Sunday: Neuschwanstein Castle – Romantic Road – Zurich (Switzerland)
Today we will take a scenic drive to Zurich via Neuschwanstein Castle, a Bavarian fairytale castle located in the Alps amidst a magnificent landscape. Neuschwanstein overlooks the Hohenschwangau valley and attracts the most number of visitors in Europe. Afterwards, we will enjoy a scenic drive to Switzerland. Stay in Zurich.
July 27, Monday: Zurich
Today we will visit one of the most important Swiss Reformation cities— Zurich with its four important churches. In the first half of the 16th century, the Grossmünster served as the starting point of the Reformation under Huldrych (Ulrich) Zwingli and Heinrich Bullinger. We will take a panoramic walk through the city and see the memorial plate on the river wall in remembrance of Felix Manz and other Anabaptists executed in the early 16th century. Stay in Zurich.
July 28 Tuesday: Rheinfall Waterfall – Black Forest – Strasbourg (France)
This morning we will drive to Schaffhausen and stop at the mighty Rhein waterfalls. Then we will have a scenic drive through the Black Forest (Schwarzwald), one of Germany’s most beautiful national parks and forests, before arriving at Strasbourg, a French city with a German influence. Strasbourg has a cathedral that is a marvel of Gothic design that Victor Hugo referred to as a “light and delicate marvel.” The Protestant Reformation started at this cathedral, when Matthew Zell started preaching Luther’s ideas beginning in 1521. The Cathedral was Protestant from 1529 until 1681, when Strasbourg became French. We will visit St. Paul’s Church, which now belongs to the Protestant Reformed Church, and then the Catholic church of St. Madeleine where Calvin would preach when he was first exiled from Geneva. The rest of the afternoon is free. Stay in Strasbourg.
July 29, Wednesday: Heidelberg – Worms – Mainz (Germany)
This morning, we will head back to Germany once more where we will visit Heidelberg, one of the most famous medieval, scholastic towns, nestled on the banks of the Neckar River. Here in 1518, Martin Luther presented 40 of his 95 theses. Then we will drive to Worms where the famous Diet of Worms took place in 1521 during which Martin Luther had to defend his theology in front of the Holy Roman Emperor. We will visit Worms Cathedral and the Reformation Memorial before setting out for Mainz. With Mainz and Speyer, Worms is home to one of the three great imperial cathedrals on the Upper Rhine. Worms Cathedral is one of the finest examples of High Romanesque architecture in Germany. Stay in Mainz.
July 30, Thurday: Marburg – Mainz
Today, we will drive to Marburg where the most important meeting of theologians during the Reformation was held at the castle of Marburg. In 1529, Martin Luther, Huldrych Zwingli, Philipp Melanchthon, Johannes Oekolampad, Martin Bucer, and many other eminent representatives of the Reformation movement accepted the invitation of the Hessian Landgraves and met for a so-called religious dialogue in Marburg. Then we will see the Lutheran Parish Church of St. Mary, walk down to the old Market Square, and stroll through the historic town. Finally, we will drive back to Mainz and visit the Gutenberg Museum. We will also see Mainz Cathedral and take a walk around the old town square. Free afternoon. Farewell dinner. Stay in Mainz
July 31, Friday
Transfer to Frankfurt International Airport. Your flight back home.
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