Philipp Melanchthon’s report following a church visit in the Saale Valley near Kahla in 1536 describes a high prevalence of religious ideas that went radically beyond Luther’s reformed church. The person behind this was Andreas Rudolf Bodenstein, also known as Karlstadt.
Leuchtenburg Castle near Kahla, Queen of the Saale Valley, rises 400 metres above the valley and provides a wonderful view of the Thuringian Forest to the Harz region. Doubled walls, a moat and defensive towers are seen together in a rare display of originality. In the years following the Reformation, many cases against religious dissidents were tried here. The Baptists (also known as Anabaptists) were particularly targeted. They took their name from their rejection of infant baptism and their endorsement of believer’s baptism as adults.
Due to its proximity with the porcelain town of Kahla, Leuchtenburg Castle has created a ‘Porcelain World’ exhibition made up of seven themed sections. Presented in a multimedial manner, the origins of this fascinating material from Asia are explained and decrypted starting with porcelain as a luxurious nobleman’s ware to an item of mass production and looking into the future.
The Rieseneck hunting complex is a unique exhibition of the history of hunting in Thuringia. It was built in 1620, and walls, firing trenches and underground passages show how people hunted in days gone by.
Around 1917, Ernst II, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg had a special ‘little palace’ built in the forest at Rieseneck based on the Topplerschlösschen palace in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. The Duke, who was known for his amorous encounters, used this palace 'Herzogstuhl' (Ducal Seat) as a hunting lodge and as a place for his lover’s trysts.
In 1880, Ernst von Ihne and Paul Stegmüller, imperial court architects, were commissioned by Ernst I, Duke of Saxe-Altenburg to build a new, more representative hunting lodge in Hummelshain. Their work resulted in the Neue Jagdschloss Hummelshain (New Hummelshain Hunting Lodge) featuring a 48 metre high tower surrounded by arcades and four characteristic corner towers.
Martin Luther often stayed in Neustadt an der Orla. He paid a visit to the Augustinian Hermits’ Monastery and preached in the town. He is said to have lived in one of the most beautiful, late medieval town houses in Thuringia. Today the house is known as the Luther House.
For 500 years, the winged altar in the parish church has displayed an imposing work by Lucas Cranach the Elder. A room dedicated to the painter in the Museum für Stadtgeschichte (Local History Museum) features a replica of the painting that visitors can touch.