Located in the state of Thuringia, Erfurt's roots go back more than 1270 years. Its centralized location along major trade routes made it an important trading hub during the Middle Ages.
Johann Sebastian Bach's parents were married in Erfurt in 1668 at the Kaufmannskirche (Merchant's Church), still operating today. The Merchant's Bridge is one the more impressive landmarks rivaling the popular Ponte Vecchio in Florence. Thirty-two houses line the bridge that spans the River Gera, making it the longest series of inhabited homes on any bridge in Europe. During my visit, the Merchant's Bridge was a hub of activity where craftsmen can be seen creating blown glass works of art, wood carvings and hand painted china.
This is a walking city with winding cobblestone streets, beautiful restored architecture, coffee houses, bakeries, and even a large, multi-story shopping mall. You have your choice of food options including Italian, Chinese and Mediterranean.
December is actually an ideal month for a visit because Germany's Christmas markets are in full swing. Booths festooned with colorful lights are seemingly around every corner. The largest of these is located below the massive St. Mary's Cathedral that towers over the city. More than 200 vendors sell everything from handicrafts to grilled bratwurst to candy coated nuts.