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Luther Trail: Section 34 – From Schmölln to Altenburg

Hiking trail · Ostthüringen
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Lutherweg - Thüringer Tourismus GmbH Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Rathaus - Altenburg
    / Rathaus - Altenburg
    Photo: Paul Hentschel, Lutherweg - Thüringer Tourismus GmbH
  • / Außenansicht - St. Bartholomäi - Altenburg
    Photo: Paul Hentschel, Lutherweg - Thüringer Tourismus GmbH
  • / Schloss Ehrenberg (Altenburg)
    Photo: Lucas Friese, CC BY-SA, von Lucas Friese (Eigenes Werk) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( oder GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons
  • / St. Christophorus - Saara
    Photo: ErwinMeier, CC BY-SA, By ErwinMeier (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
  • / St. Nikolai - Schmölln
    Photo: Michael Sander, CC BY-SA, By Michael Sander (Own work (selbst fotografiert)) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
m 500 400 300 200 20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 km Hotel Reussischer Hof - Schmölln Zimmervermietung Rose - Schmölln Ratskeller - Altenburg
Following in Spalatin's footsteps through the Pleiße Valley from Schmölln to Altenburg.
20.1 km
7:00 h
236 m
250 m
Luther often visited Altenburg, the second Thuringian residence – in addition to Weimar – of the Wettin Prince Electors. He stayed with his friend Georg Spalatin, secret secretary of the Prince Elector and the canon of St George’s Abbey. In 1519, Luther met the Pope’s legate Karl von Miltitz and negotiated the ‘Altenburg vow of silence’ in a final attempt to achieve an amicable settlement. Miltitz was to find out if Luther still stood by his Wittenberg thesis. The agreed vow of silence did not last long.

In 1528, Spalatin took over as Superintendant and implemented Luther’s Reformation according to his wishes on an administrative level. Spalatin was able to prevent conflicts arising between Luther and the Saxon Prince Elector Frederick the Wise as a result of Luther’s impulsive behaviour. ‘If it hadn’t been for me, Luther and his teachings would never have come so far’.

Sites on the way to Schmölln include the village church in Mockern, dedicated to St George and the single-nave church in Saara with its unusual clock. Instead of numbers, the clock uses letters to spell out the phrase ‘Nütze die Zeit’ (Use the time). The medieval single-nave church in the idyllic village of Maltis is also worth visiting.

This section takes you to Schmölln, which boasts one of the largest market places in central Germany. The town hall features a portal with seats in niches at the entrance, a perron staircase and inflexed arch windows and is well worth a visit. Crossed swords on the front of the town hall signify the former right of jurisdiction. The town is surrounded by an 8-metre high wall. In 1127, Bruno ‘Count of Pleißen’ ordered the construction of a second Cistercian monastery on Pfefferberg hill in Schmölln, which was moved to Pforta between 1138 and 1140. The Church of St Mary, which remained on the site, became a popular pilgrimage destination between the 13th and 16th century. During the peasants' war in 1525, the church was destroyed by the rebels. Four years later, the Reformation was introduced.

Around 1900, the town became the centre of the button industry. The mother-of-pearl artist Hermann Donath laid the foundations for the industry in Schmölln. Today at the ‘Knopf- und Regionalmuseum’ (Button & Local History Museum) you can gain an extensive insight into the eventful history of the Schmölln button industry.

Author’s recommendation

A speciality of the Altenburger Land region is 'Mutzbraten' – marinated pork smoked over birch wood and seasoned with salt, pepper and marjoram. You can buy it at many fast food stands and must not be missed.
Profile picture of Paul Hentschel
Paul Hentschel
Updated: March 24, 2021
Highest point
278 m
Lowest point
176 m
Best time of year

Rest Stop

Ratskeller - Altenburg
Landhotel Kertscher-Hof - Nobitz
Hotel Reussischer Hof - Schmölln

Safety information

You will often cross the railway tracks. When crossing, please heed the warn signals and be aware of trains.

Tips, hints and links

Half way along this section, just after Selleris, you can branch off to Café zur Mühle in Mühle Gardschütz. It is approximately 170 metres off the route and is open Fridays from 7:00 pm and Sundays from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.


Schmölln town centre (209 m)
50.894743, 12.350506
50°53'41.1"N 12°21'01.8"E
33U 313679 5641464


Altenburg market place

Turn-by-turn directions

Schmölln – Köthelgrund – Taupadel – Bornshain – Maltis – Saara – Selleris – Mockern – Lehnitzsch – Ehrenberg – Stünzhain – Paditz – Altenburg (stables)


all notes on protected areas

Public transport


Coming from Erfurt and Leipzig, you can get to Altenburg using Deutsche Bahn. Schmölln also has a railway station. Timetable

Getting there

Coming from the A4, take exit 60 (Ronneburg) and continue on the B7 towards Schmölln.


In Schmölln it is best to park at the station (P&R) (LINK)


50.894743, 12.350506
50°53'41.1"N 12°21'01.8"E
33U 313679 5641464
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

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20.1 km
7:00 h
236 m
250 m
Public-transport-friendly Scenic Refreshment stops available Point to Point Cultural/historical value


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