Thuringia, one of Germany's 16 federal states, is located in the central part of the country. The state is bordered by Lower Saxony to the northwest, Saxony-Anhalt to the northeast, Saxony to the southeast, Bavaria to the south, and Hessen to the west. Erfurt, Thuringia's capital city, lies in the central part of the territory. Thuringia abounds of natural and cultural heritage, which presumably is the reason for its touristic popularity. Weimar is an example of a city with an abundance of cultural monuments and sites. The city is also connected to famous people such as Goethe or Liszt. In the central part of the territory can be found the Wartburg Castle, bearing considerable national importance as it is the historical birthplace of the written form of the German language. Geographically, the local landscape is covered by forests and rounded hills, which are typical for the southern part of Thuringia. Thuringian Forest and Hainich National Park are some of the significant green areas and popular touristic retreats.
Reportedly, Thuringia has been known as the "green heart of Germany" since the 19th century due to its dense forests. Nature and outdoor recreation are among the reasons why people visit Thuringia. One of the widespread nature destinations is the almost 700-year-old Rennsteig trail, Germany's oldest hiking trail. Rennsteig trail leads along a ridgeway and through the uplands of the Thuringian Forest. The total length of the hiking route, which attracts over 100,000 visitors annually, is around 169 km. In the central part of Thuringia can also be found Hainich National Park, which protects Germany's primeval beech forest and Germany's largest single area of deciduous forest. The national park is not only the refuge to several rare animal and plant species but also represents one of the popular destinations among tourists seeking outdoor recreation. Within the national park is located a treetop trail at the height of 24 meters. At the end of the trail stands a 44-meter-high tower offering panoramic views of the surrounding nature and forests.
History and culture are other elements Thuringia can offer to its visitors, one example being the Wartburg Castle. The castle is located in the geographical center of Germany and is thought to be one of Germany's most famous castles. Wartburg is nowadays inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and can be visited by taking a walking tour which entails five different parts. The palace was initially built in 1067 by Ludwig the Leaper. Over the centuries, numerous renovations and additions were made. Thus, a mix of architectonic styles can be seen in the castle today. Concerning its historical significance, in Wartburg Castle can be seen the Festsaal concert hall or the Luther Room, in which Martin Luther translated the New Testament from Greek and Latin into German in just eleven weeks. The room is also the birthplace of German as a written language.
Thuringia, specifically the city of Weimar, bears a connection to several famous people, such as Goethe, Schiller, Bach, Liszt, and Gropius, to name a few. The historical part of the region, also called the "Classical Weimar," is protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Within the Classical Weimar's borders, monuments such as the Roman House, the Goethe National Museum, and Goethe Gartenhouse, where the world-renowned poet lived, can be visited. There is also the Schiller Residence, in which the composer lived for his last three years. Additionally, there are three castles within the Weimar's borders, the City Castle, the Belvedere Castle, and the Ettersburg Castle, each bearing its own story and uniqueness.
Thuringia is located in the central part of Germany, extending east from the Werra River. Most of southern Thuringia is composed of rounded hills, which are part of the Thuringian Forest, with the highest elevation point reaching an altitude of 900m above sea level. The Thuringian Basin, a fertile agricultural region, lies between the Thuringian Forest and the Harz mountain range. To the southeast are the mountainous regions of the Franconian Forest and the Vogtland. The easternmost parts of the territory are traversed by the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge), while the Rhön Mountains cover the west. Besides the Werra River, there is river Saale, which is another significant water flow in the region. Concerning nature, it is reported that most of Thuringia's forests have been damaged by industrial pollutants. However, there are still several protected areas with preserved nature.
One such preserved natural area is Hainich National Park, which was, for decades, a restricted military zone. Thus, a significant part of the nature area has sparsely been entered or otherwise accessed by people, which enabled the forest and nature to prevail and develop. Hainich eventually became a national park and, in 2011, came under UNESCO's protection as a World Heritage Site. Primeval beech forests covering the national park's territory are among the oldest in Europe. Nowadays, the Hainich National Park provides refuge and is home to a considerable number of rare species, such as pine martens and hazel dormice, as well as deers, badgers, and boars, to name a few.
Regarding climatic conditions, Thuringia lies in the central part of Germany. Thus, a temperate climate is typical for the region, similar to the rest of Germany. The warmest month in Thuringia's capital, Erfurt, is July, which has an average daily temperature of 23°C, while January is the coldest month, as temperatures tend to drop to around 2°C. January tends to be the driest month in Erfurt, receiving an average of 23 mm of rainfall. The most precipitation occurs during July, as the month gets about 70 mm on average.
Thuringia was named after a Germanic tribe called Thuringii, which settled the state's territory during the Migrations Period. The first mentions of the Thuringii tribe can be dated back to 400 AD. Thuringii tribe has been known and famed for their horses and reportedly "excellent horsemanship." In the following years, the Thuringii people established a kingdom stretching from the Harz mountains to the Danube. However, by 531, Thuringii territory became under Frankish domination. Thuringians were converted to Christianity in the 8th century by Saint Boniface. In 1130 Thuringia was turned into a landgraviate. Later, it became a possession of Wettins in the 13th century and remained that way for the following two centuries. In the 15th century, the Thuringian territory was divided between Ernestine Saxony, Hesse-Kassel, and several smaller states. Prussia received parts of Thuringia in the 19th century as well.
After the First World War, in 1920, Thuringia was reunited, with only the region of Saxe-Coburg voting to join Bavaria instead. A decade later, Thuringia became one of the free states where Nazis gained their political power. Anyone suspected of being a republican was removed from Thuringia, while most political state functions were given to Nazis or their supporters. After World War II, Thuringia was, for a short period, part of the U.S. occupation zone. However, it later came under Soviet influence during the Cold War. During that time, Thuringia was divided into three districts, Erfurt, Gera, and Suh. The state regained its form in 1990 when Germany was reunited.
Currently, Thuringia, inhabited by approximately 2.1 million people, is officially called the Free State of Thuringia. The state covers an area of approximately 16,171 square kilometers, which makes it Germany's sixth smallest state. Russians, Poles, Turks, and Ukrainians are the most significant groups of foreign citizens living in Thuringia. Reportedly, Thuringia is one of the poorer states in Germany, with its economy being dependent on service-sector activities. Other significant industries in Thuringia are automobiles and auto parts, metalworking, precision machinery and instruments, optics, and electrical equipment.
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