A Visit to Erfurt, Germany

Late March 2007

(Previously in the former East Germany area)

Erfurt (air-furt), once a small medieval village, is a 1,250-year-old city in Thüringen, Germany (central Germany) boasting of 200,000 in population today. In 742 it was founded as a Catholic Church diocese by St. Boniface (Bishop of the Germanic Territories), who had set out to evangelize and reorganize the Catholic Church in Germany. He had laboured in Hesse, Thuringia, and Frisia.

There are numerous historic buildings in the area of the old town. Of religious historical importance and significance to Erfurt is the Augustian Monastery where Martin Luther became a monk and was ordained a Catholic priest before his break from the Church. In front of the monastery is a hole filled with rubble (rubble of the old historic monastery library)...one might say it looks like an archeological dig. In 1945 over 250 people died when British planes dropped two bombs on the library.

Erfurt and the Thuringian Basin are known for the woad plant and in particular its dry leaves, which were a source of a valuable blue textile dye once used for many years. Woad has been cultivated, processed, and traded in Erfurt since the 13th century. It brought prosperity, growth, and power to the city.

Joe & Barbara Hancock
Dave & Audrey Hancock
Visit with Richard Johnson (aka Richard Carlucci, opera singer in Erfurt) and his wife, Stephanie Mann (background singer)
who are Our Friendly "Tour Guides" around Erfurt.

Barbara & Richard and Stephanie & Audrey

Looking Down upon the City and the Domplatz from the Petersberg Zitadelle

An mid-morning haze lies over the city.

Saturday Morning Market at the Domplatz (aka Cathedral Square)

The Domplatz is a large square that leads to St. Mary's Cathedral, to St. Severus Church, and to the walled Baroque fortress on the Petersberg. Around the Domplatz are many other historical buildings which survived the wars. One such would be an 18th century apothecary. At times part of the Domplatz is hustling and bustling with market activity. Vendors in booths and stalls sell their crafts, flowers, garden vegetables, and food items (sausages, sandwiches, potatoes, beer, spiced wines, etc.).


Outdoor Music and Vendors Selling Food and Their Wares
The truck is advertising a boiled round riced (grated) potato dumpling called kartoffelklosse.

Traditional German Potato Dumplings
2 tbsp. butter        1 egg     4 qt. water
1 slice stale, white bread cut into 72 equal pieces
1 1/3 cups (less 1 tsp.) flour, divided
1 lb. 14 oz. peeled, boiled, & cooled potatoes, riced (grated)
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg     1 tsp. salt     1/8 tsp. white pepper

In small skillet heat margarine until bubbly and hot; add bread pieces. Saute,stirring constantly, until the margarine has been absorbed and bread is browned. Set aside. Measure out and reserve 2 tablespoons flour for flouring hands. In mixing bowl combine remaining flour with riced potatoes, egg, and seasonings. Mix well. Portion dough into 24 equal mounds. Flour hands. Shape mounds into balls. Press 3 bread cubes into each ball and seal closed to form dumplings.

In 5-quart Dutch oven bring water to a boil. Gently lower dumplings into the water, which will sink to the bottom. Dumplings will rise to surface when cooked, then cook 3-5 minutes longer. Remove dumplings to warmed serving platter; drain well. Repeat until all dumplings are made. Recipe makes 24 dumplings. Servings: 12. Serve with sauerbraten (a marinated, spiced, & seasoned roast beef). Leftover dumplings can be sliced, sauteed in butter and served with stew, goulash, roast beef, or roast pork.

The Krämerbrücke (Merchants' Bridge)

The Krämerbrücke (120 meters long) over the River Gera with its two main channels is the only inhabited bridge north of the Alps. It is flanked on its perimeter by numerous houses/shops with small boutiques, galleries, art and woodcarving studios near the front. It was initially built of wood but rebuilt in stone in 1325. There were originally 62 narrow buildings, but later with redevelopment only 32 buildings remained. There were originally two churches at the heads of the bridges, but only the Church of St. Aegidius is still standing.


Joe, Richard, & Barbara walking on The Krämerbrücke and Dave, Joe, and Audrey posing on The Krämerbrücke.

Richard and Barbara walk ahead on The Krämerbrücke.

A tunnel from The Krämerbrücke leads into the Wenigeplatz.

Here in the area known as the Wenigemarkt ("Little Market") and next to the tunnel sits The Ägidienkirche (St. Aegidius Church) constructed in the early 1320s as a replacement for a 12th century roadside chapel. Today it serves the Methodists.


Left: Joe, Richard, Barbara, Audrey, & Stephanie on the other side of the The Krämerbrücke.
Right: Looking back at The Ägidienkirche (St. Aegidius Church) and The Krämerbrücke tunnel.

A Colorful Building Shares a Side with the Church

The backside of The Krämerbrücke stores/houses/shops.

On the other side of The Krämerbrücke sits the backside of the houses/shops over a channel of the River Gera.

Fischmarkt (Fish Market) Square

A Guild House (left) and Erfurt's Rathaus (City Hall) (far right), a neo-Gothic structure

Left: A guildhouse in the Fischmarkt area was built in 1893.
It is embellished with statues and carvings symbolizing justice, intelligence, courage, and charity.

Far Right: The Rathaus (City Hall) in the Fischmarkt area was built about 1875.
The public buildings are surrounded by beautiful and intricately decorated cafés and shops.

Statue of a Roman Warrior

A Roman warrior statue in the Fischmarkt area was erected in 1591, replacing a statue of St. Martin that was destroyed in the Peasant's War of 1525.

Glass Blowers Shop

Blown Glass Watering Globe: Fill glass globe via the tube with water and place in a plant.
Right: Solid Glass Paper Weight

Today within the city one sees small boutiques, galleries, bookshops, woodcarving and porcelain workshops, pottery and glassblowing studios...many representing the crafts of artisans of centuries ago.

Colorful Buildings

These colorful houses and buildings appear in the main area of the city. Modern apartments and offices are often tucked behind medieval or Renaissance houses in the historic center. Although the interior of the old houses are gutted and renovated, the facade on the street side will look unchanged after construction.


Joe, Richard, & Stephanie near the Marriage License building.

Ornate Entry Ways to Churches, Public Buildings, Restaurants, & Houses


The doorway (at night) on the right is the portal remnant of the old Erfurt Innenstadt (old university) which during World War II was destroyed by Allied bombing. Founded in 1392 the old University of Erfurt was the fourth-oldest in Germany. When the Prussians ruled in 1816, they closed the university, and it wasn't until 1994 when a new university opened its door.

Nesting Areas in the Channels of the River Gera

A park with trees, swans, and grass lies next to the Krämerbrücke, between the River Gera's two main channels in the heart of the Innenstadt.

Hotel Nikolai

Augustinerstraße 30

The Hancocks stayed at this hotel near the center of the city.
Room and breakfast were separate billing accommodations.



Going up and down steps to the room.

Entrance to dining room and exit on the side to outdoors.


One of the dining areas for breakfast.

David gets up early for Frühstück (breakfast).
Guten Morgen = Good Morning
Buffet Table Delights

Breads, toast, & rolls with jams, marmalades or honey are served at the buffet. Cheeses, deli meats, (thinly sliced ham, salami, etc.) and leberwurst (liver-sausage) are commonly eaten on bread in the morning. Hard boiled warm eggs, yogurt, and fruits are available. Müsli and grain cereals can be eaten and all is accompanied with fruit juices, coffee, tea, and/or milk.

Historical Markers

Johannes Church Tower
1217 Church services interrupted
1469-1486 New Gothic construction
1819 Bell from broken ship
Serves Augustinerkirche in the bell tower.

Historic buildings and structures around the city have plaques or markers identifying when they were built, how they were first used, and the purpose they serve today.

Medieval Wonders


A cobblestone path, stone walls, and weathered doors give hints of life as it may have been in earlier times. Joe Hancock takes time to study the doorway of this old building.

The Kirchgasse (Church Lane) at the Augustinerkloster is one of the narrowest lanes in the city dating back to the Middle Ages with its old, half-timbered houses. This narrow lane was near the Hotel Nikolai.

In the 13th and 14th centuries, Erfurt was known to have had a large Jewish community. However, they were banned from the city in 1458. It wasn't until the late 1700s that a Jewish people began to return to the city, and full citizenship wasn't awarded until 1810. In 1840 a Jewish synagogue was built.

Church Spires Claim Significance in the Skyline

Overlooking the Domplatz one can see the spires (church towers) of The Mariendom (St. Mary's) Cathedral and St. Severus Church under reconstruction.

The Petersberg Zitadelle (Citadel)

At the top of the Petersberg (a hill) overlooking the city is the extensively preserved Peterberg Zitadelle (Petersberg Citadel), a military baroque fortress from 1665 to 1963. This was the site of a former Benedictine monastery built in the 12th century. One walks a cobblestone bridge crossing the moat to climb to the portal entrance of the Zitadelle. Barracks were located on the top floor of the Zitadelle. Today the lower floor houses a museum and shops. From the street is also a walkway of steps up the Petersberg to the Zitadelle and below the perimeter of the Petersberg one enters the modern world of the Parkhaus Domplatz, the underground parking garage.


Eating Delights

A Friendly Gathering around the Table

Friends and relatives gather around this restaurant's table for an early lunch before attending a Sunday mid-afternoon opera.
Left: Audrey, Joe, Barbara, Stephanie, Richard, & Dave
Right: Audrey, Joe, Barbara, Stephanie, Richard, & Karin (Stephanie's German friend)

Guten Appetit!
Typical Restaurant Menu Items Include:

  • Apfeltasche (apple turnover)
  • Bier (beer)
  • Brathuhn (roast chicken)
  • Bratwurst mit Sauerkraut und Kartoffelpüree, (grilled sausage with sauerkraut & mashed potatoes)
  • Eier mit Speck (bacon and eggs)
  • Eintopf (meat and vegetable stew)
  • Eisbein (pork knuckle)
  • Folienkartoffel, gebackene Pellkartoffel (baked potato)
  • Gulash Suppe (Hungarian goulash)
  • Hühnersuppe (chicken soup)
  • Karpfen (baked carp)
  • Kartoffelklosse (potato dumpling)
  • Knödel (dumplings)
  • Lammhax´n mit Backkartoffel und Kräuterrahm" (Lamb shanks with jacket potato)
  • Mineralwasser (bottled fizzy mineral water)
  • Maultaschen (meat dumplings)
  • Sauerbraten (roast beef)
  • Sauerkraut (sauerkraut)
  • Schinken (ham)
  • Schnitzel (usually veal)
  • Schweinebraten (roast pork)
  • Spaetzle (noodles or dumplings)
  • Spargelsuppe (asparagus soup)
  • Stilles Wasser (bottled plain water)

  • Jeanne's Grandmother's Recipe
    (Old Recipe)
    Courtesy of Jeanne Romano of Portage, Michigan
    Cover meat (Pot Roast, Chuck Roast, Round Roast, or Rump Roast: 4-5 lbs. or smaller) for 2 days (in refrigeration) with vinegar & water (1/2 & 1/2) and onions (4 or 5), 5 or 6 bay leaves, 6 or 8 whole cloves, 1 tbsp. salt. In 2 days drain meat, brown in fat, add some of the vinegar and water mixture, a little sugar, and salt until meat is done. (Keep adding water as necessary.)

    Tie an onion & a bay leaf in a bag for cooking with the gravy of 1 cup flour, thinned with water, and add to the meat.

    Brown flour, stir with cold water, and add to vinegar and water. Add sugar, salt, onions, bay leaves and cloves and let thicken.

    (Jeanne's Quick Recipe)
    Cover meat (Pot Roast, Chuck Roast, Round Roast, or Rump Roast: 4-5 lbs. or smaller) for 2 days (in refrigeration) with vinegar & water (1/2 & 1/2) and onions (4 or 5), 5 or 6 bay leaves, 6 or 8 whole cloves, 1 tbsp. salt. In 2 days drain meat, brown roast slowly on all sides in 1/4 cup of oil using heavy skillet/kettle. Pour off excess oil. Add 1/2 cup chopped onions, 2 tsp. salt, 2 tbsp. mixed pickling spices, 1 cup red wine vinegar, 3 cups of water, 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar. Simmer 2 1/2 to 4 hours until tender. Remove meat, keep warm. Strain liquid and use 4 cups or more and then add 12 or more crumbled ginger snaps. Cook and stir until slightly thickened. Slice meat and add to gravy. Serve atop browned in butter noodles. (Finely cut up 1 or 1 1/2 slices of bread can also be browned and used with the noodles.)


    Joe takes a drink of his delicious milchkaffee (coffee).
    Stephanie with a wide smile.

    Around Town



    The Traditional versus American style Fast Food

    AT the OPERA

    Großes Hause, Theaterplatz
    Theater Erfurt Tickets


    In Czechoslovakian, the Opera, Rusalka and in German, the Opera, Tannhäuser

    Presenting Richard Carlucci

    Our host, Richard Carlucci-Tenor (aka Richard Johnson), was born in Texas, made his debut in the Fort Worth Opera and sang in Sante Fe, Chicago, St. Louis, and San Francisco. His debut at Theater Erfurt occurred in 2006-2007. Richard had one of the leading roles in Rusalka and a supporting role in Tannhäuser. His wife, Stephanie Mann, sang with the background chorus in Tannhäuser. Joe and Barbara knew Richard in Texas.

    Backstage at the Opera House

    Joe, Richard, and Barbara

    Barbara & Richard and Richard & Audrey

    Get up Early and "All Aboard" when the the Whistle Blows.
    Click on the picture if you wish to be aboard the train going to Weimar (vee-mer).

    Plane Flight Time from Chicago to Frankfurt about 9 hours.
    Train from Frankfurt Airport to Erfurt's Hauptbahnhof Station about 2 1/2 hours.

    There are three major market squares connected by a vast transportation network in Erfurt: Anger Square (on Bahnhofstrasse), the Fischmarkt (along Marktstrasse), and the Domplatz. At the Hauptbahnhof Station a BahnCard 25 was purchased to allow one to travel throughout Germany using their railway system at a discount. The train took us from Frankfurt to Erfurt, from Erfurt to Weimar, from Weimar back to Erfurt, and then homeward bound from Erfurt back to Frankfurt.

    Webpage by:
    Audrey (Lehmann-Shields) Hancock
    of Portage, Michigan

    Created: 04 April 2007
    Revised: 07 July 2007