Citadelle Petersberg

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One historical gem up in the hill of Erfurt in Thuringen, Germany, is the Fort Petersberg. Erfurt, in the center of Germany is a showpiece of medieval architecture and ancient Germanic history. A baroque style fortress, built in the seventeenth century, the Petersberg Citadel displays elements of ornate European architecture. The foundation of the building consists of labyrinthine mazes and passages, which visitors can traverse with a guide. The citadel is the only preserved fortress in Erfurt which attests to the rule of the Mainz electors during the time of the Holy Roman Empire. The roof of the citadel houses a restaurant and cafe which overlooks Erfurt’s Cathedral Square.
Recent renovations have restored Petersberg Citadel to like-new condition, which meansit is now fully accessible to visitors.

Why the Zitadelle Petersberg above Domplatz is not a major attraction nor even a festival venue is a mystery. The only complete Baroque town fortress in central Europe is protected in statute but overlooked by the city and visitors alike despite an illustrious history. Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, Germany’s real-life King Arthur, summoned nobles for five imperial Diets in the Peterskirche during the twelfth century, one of which saw Saxon duke Henry the Lion, the founder of Munich and ruler of most of present-day Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein, humbled for refusing to back a disastrous escapade in Italy. Mainz archbishops took a similarly tough stance after city riots in 1664 – they consulted the latest French military ideas to create the massive Baroque citadel that recycles stone from the city’s churches, one reason why Erfurt is no longer the “city of spires” medieval visitors acclaimed. The fortress’s barn-like Peterskirche houses modern international concrete sculpture as the Forum Konkrete Kunst (Wed– Sun: May– Oct 10am–6pm; Nov– April 10am–4pm; free; http://www.forum-konkrete-kunst-erfurt.de) and the tourist office in a glass-box at the centre organizes several tours (Fri– Sun, times vary; from €4), including a trip into the labyrinth beneath the fortifications by flame-torches. As good a reason to go as any is the panorama from its massive bastions.

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