Reichstagsgebäude in Berlin

Martin Luther and the Reformation

You will find evidence of Martin Luther's work and the 16th century Reformation movement in many places along the R1 European Cycle Route. In Germany, be sure to stop in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg and visit the Luther sites there, no less than four of which are designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Castle Church with its famous Theses Door as the site of Luther's posting of the theses, the City Church-Luther's preaching church, the Luther House as Martin Luther's home and place of work, and the Melanchthon House, the home and study of Luther's closest companion and Greek professor Philipp Melanchthon.



The beginning of the Reformation is fixed at Luther's Thesenanschlag on 31.10.1517. On that day, Luther posted his 95 Theses against the misuse of the Gospel on the church door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. The church's practice of pardoning people's sins in exchange for money disgusted him. He saw the sale of indulgences as an abuse and called instead for a return to the biblical foundations of the gospel. Luther was convinced that Christians are freed from punishment after death by faith in God alone.

The Reformation movement that began after the posting of the Theses soon swept across Germany and, by extension, Europe. The reforms soon affected not only church and theology. The Reformation set in motion an extensive socio-political development: music and art, economy and social affairs, language such as law and politics - hardly any area of life remained untouched by the Reformation.
Luther did not intend it, but the Reformation, which was originally intended as an internal change of the church, ultimately also divided the church and also Germany into Catholic and Protestant areas.

Reformation history on the Europaradweg:

- Trace Luther's life and work in the UNESCO-awarded Luther Memorials in Wittenberg and stand live in front of the famous Theses door!
- Gain insights worth knowing at the German Historical Museum in Berlin!

Lambertikirche Münster

The Enlightenment in Europe and North America in the 18th Century

The epoch of the Enlightenment refers to the development that began around the year 1700, initially in Europe, to overcome through rational thinking all the structures that hindered social progress. Since about 1780, the term Enlightenment also refers to an intellectual and social reform movement, which soon spread to North America.

An important characteristic of the Enlightenment is the appeal to reason as a universal instance of judgment, with which one wanted to free oneself from superstitious, rigid and outdated ideas and ideologies of the Middle Ages. This also included the fight against prejudice and the turn to the natural sciences as well as the plea for religious tolerance. Socio-politically, the Enlightenment aimed at more personal freedom of action (emancipation), education, civil rights, general human rights and the common good as a state duty.

The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz was created from 1765 in the German principality of Anhalt as a total work of art of the Enlightenment. It was designed by Prince Friedrich Franz von Anhalt-Dessau entirely in the spirit of the new ideals and inspired by his educational travels to Italy and England. The prince implemented in Anhalt, in addition to the establishment of the gardens, at the same time reforms in social and education, as well as in agriculture and architecture and professed religious freedom.

The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz on the European Cycle Route:

  • Experience the close connection of art and nature around Dessau, Wörlitz and Oranienbaum!
  • Stop and take pictures at Mosigkau Castle with its beautiful rococo garden, at the baroque park and castle Oranienbaum or in the forest park Sieglitzer Berg directly on the Europaradweg!
  • Planning a side trip through the total of 7 parks of the Garden Kingdom!
    " Garden Kingdom Tour Prince Franz
Kirche Schmilkendorf

From Flanders to the Mark - The settlement of today's Fläming from the 12th century

History of settlement
Shortly after Albrecht the Bear founded the Mark of Brandenburg in 1157, he and Archbishop Wichmann of Seeburg of Magdeburg called settlers to the new Mark on a large scale. Albrecht's sons and grandsons, as margraves, continued the skilful settlement policy to stabilize the young Mark and to expand the land. The settlement of the land in today's Brandenburg took place in several stages.

About 400,000 people streamed east from Flanders and from Lower Germany in the 12th and 13th centuries. The influx very likely led via Magdeburg first to the Loburg and Leitzkau region, from there to Wittenberg, on to Jüterbog and in the last phase to Bad Belzig. An important role was played by the Flemings, who gladly accepted new settlement areas after devastating storm tides in their own country and contributed with their experience in dike construction to the diking of the Elbe and Havel rivers, which was started in the 1160s. Many Flemings settled in what is now Fläming and thus (later and indirectly) gave it its name. The Fläming costume, which is still worn on festive days, has survived to the present day. It is one of two living folk costumes in the Mark Brandenburg. Their area of distribution also includes parts of the southern Fläming in Saxony-Anhalt.

Even today, it is possible to cycle or hike in the footsteps of the Flemish settlement.

  • In Roßlau near Dessau visit the moated castle in the typical Flemish style and from there go on a hiking tour through the nature park!
  • Bike through the villages surrounded by colorful fields in the High Fläming and explore there the Romanesque fieldstone churches built by the Flemish from the 13th century!
  • Discover the many castles and mills from the time of the Flemings between Lutherstadt Wittenberg and Berlin!
  • Many place names in the Fläming still come from the Flemish settlers, eg Brück - Bruges, Niemegk - Nijmagen, Euper - Ypres.
  • Some older people still master the Flemish dialect, which has its origin with the Flemings.

The Peace of Westphalia

Living in peace and building on a stable society. Anyone who has always wanted to look to history for the success of peaceful coexistence should get off their bike in Münster. Here - and also in Osnabrück - a series of peace treaties were concluded in 1648, ending the Thirty Years' War and the eighty-year War of Independence of the Netherlands. Overall, the "Peace of Westphalia" helped many parts of Europe recover from war and stabilize. The treaties regulated how states treat each other and that peace and security are shared by all - a responsibility that unites European countries to this day.

Brief zum Westflischen Frieden
  • Peace Hall in the City Hall of Münster