Sunday, 3 March 2019

Erfurt Old-Town Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 5.6 km (3.5 miles), terrain: easy, flat, gain 40 meters

Erfurt is packed with medieval beauty. The capital city of Germany's state of Thüringen isn't known by many people out there in the world, but Erfurt is a special place. And it's a great town for a memorable run.

This run will take you past many of the old-town's best sights: the unique house-lined bridge called the Krämerbrücke, the breath-taking cathedral hill, the Zitadelle fortress, the downtown, and the relaxed, green trails along the Gera River.
The Erfurt town hall
So, if you find yourself in this great little city and want to discover its treasures by foot, come along on this run through lots of great scenery!

To get running, let's first head to my favorite spot in town, the little park along the river at the north side of the Krämerbrücke. There, where the Augustiner beer-garden terrace meets the rippling water of the Gera there's a great view of the bridge. You can take in the beauty of the wall of half-timbered houses on top of the stone bridge, and see the old ford right next to it.
The Krämerbrücke
So let's get running: follow the path up onto the bridge and turn right to run over the Krämerbrücke, heading west. The walls of houses to each side make it hard to imagine that you're crossing a bridge. The old houses are home to a lot of nice tourist boutiques nowadays.
Crossing the bridge
When you exit the bridge, at Benediktplatz, the old synagogue is hidden in a courtyard across the square. Another great view of the bridge can be had if you turn to the right and look out from there.

Head straight out along Fischmarkt for the two blocks until you come to the real Fischmarkt square itself. This is one of the nicest spots in town, with the gothic town hall and some amazing renaissance houses gracing the Platz. We'll come back here again later for a closer look.
Zum Breiten Herd at the Fischmarkt
Now, keep going straight along the old shopping street, Marktstraße. You will run straight into the gigantic, open square in front of the cathedral hill, Domplatz. Sometimes there is a vegetable market there, but it never begins to fill this huge space.

The cathedral hill is pretty impressive, with its twin churches throning on the little hill across the square. The Gothic cathedral is to the left, and the three-steepled St. Severin's church on the right. Both are absolutely beautiful inside, and you should make sure that you come back later to explore.
Cathedral on left and St. Severin
But now, let's run up the steps that lead to the churches and run to the back side to take-in the view to the west.
At St. Severin
Now, run back down the steps and turn left to run to the north end of the Domplatz. There, on the next hill, Petersberg, thrones another highlight: the hilltop fortress called the Zitadelle.
Looking up towards the citadel
The stout stone walls beckon for a loop through the fort! So cross the street and head up the stone walkway heading up through the lawns along the hillside. There is a little vineyard to your left.

When you approach the walls, take the metal steps up to the higher road that heads into the main fort gate, Peterstor. The ornate gateway takes you through an archway below the fort commander's building.

Follow the cobblestoned lane as it continues upwards to the big open square. There is an old field-cannon there. Turn right and run through the square towards the big buildings to the right, along the north side.
The way up
There is a huge, abandoned barracks building and a romance-style stone building with an ill-fitting roof. The stone building is a thousand-year-old church, St. Peter's, which has a big history. It was part of an ancient Benedictine monastery which once stood here, next to the kaiser's castle. It was in this church that rebel duke Henry the Lion begged for forgiveness from Kaiser Barbarossa. When Napoleon conquered the area, the church was turned into a field hospital. It later burned out when the fort was attacked by the Prussians. The repaired building was later used as a warehouse, covered with the current roof.

Run between the two buildings towards the back. There, take the steps downward along the bastion walls. Now turn left and run back along the backside of the abandoned barracks building, turning left to come back to the fort's main square again.

Now let's run back out the same way that we came, heading downhill past the vineyard again, to the Domplatz.

Run south across the square, past the obelisk and then exit to the southeast on Kettenstraße.

Continue along Paulstraße, which ends at a long church, the Predigerkirche. Continue along the left side of the church along Predigerstraße for a block, until you come to the little lane called Schuhgasse, where you turn left and find yourself back at the Fischmarkt, with its Römer fountain.
The Römer fountain at the Fischmarkt
Now let's run through the lively shopping area of the old town, exiting the square towards the southeast along Schlösserstraße.

You'll soon cross the Gera River again, where there is an old water mill.
At the water mill
Continue straight along Schlösserstraße, where a tram line follows the street, taking us to the Anger, the main shopping district downtown.

Turn left at the Anger square and follow it to the Martin Luther statue and the church behind him where he once preached.
Demonstrators at the Anger
Just past the church, turn left on Meienbergstraße and follow it back to the Krämerbrücke, this time at the other end at Wenigemarkt.

The Aegidien Church covers the entrance to the bridge, so you run through the archway under the church to access the bridge again, then turning right to exit back to our starting point next to the river.
St. Ägidien at the Krämerbrücke entrance
You could stop here and enjoy the view if you feel like it, but why not keep running for another kilometer and explore a bit more of the leafy riverside?

So that's what the route does now: head north past the Augustiner and exit the park onto Schildgasse and then head further north on Comthurstraße.

At the Nikolai Hotel the street ends, but continue northwest on the riverside trail. After a few blocks, the trail loops through the little park called Venedig (Venice). This is our turnaround spot.
In Venedig-Park
To see something a bit different on the way back, take the footbridge to the southern part of the park, on an island in the river. When the trail ends, just continue the way we came in, just to the left of the island trail.

In a few minutes, you'll be back at the beautiful Krämerbrücke again. Time to stop and enjoy this amazing scene!

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