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Luther Trail: Section 18 – From Sonneberg to Spechtsbrunn

Hiking trail · Thuringian Forest
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Lutherweg - Thüringer Tourismus GmbH Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • St. Nikolaus - Judenbach
    / St. Nikolaus - Judenbach
    Photo: Störfix, CC BY-SA, By Störfix (Self-photographed) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
300 450 600 750 900 m km 5 10 15 20 25 30

From the southern end of the Thuringian Forest you retrace Luther’s footsteps up to the Rennsteig Trail and cross the border between Thuringia and Bavaria.
33.6 km
10:00 h
782 m
546 m
Sonneberg is not known as ‘toy town’ for nothing; carvers and lathe workers created the first wooden toys in Sonneberg, and at the beginning of the 19th century the invention of papier mâché made mass production possible. In 1880 there were 321 toy companies in and around Sonneberg. When the industrial school was founded in 1883, it became possible to manufacture artistic, well-made toys. At the beginning of the 20th century, almost half of the international toy trade was conducted through Sonneberg companies and large international department stores such as Woolworth’s and Kressge. This made Sonneberg the toy town of the world, and today at the German Toy Museum – the oldest toy museum in Germany – you can see dolls, advertising figurines, models and displays that detail the history of toys. The Teddy Bear Museum features both the biggest and the smallest teddy in the world as well as numerous teddy bear friends. In the workshop you can watch ‘teddy makers’ carrying out their traditional work and see how a genuine teddy bear is made. You can then stuff your own teddy in the craft room.

The fortified Church of St Aegidien features structural characteristics such as the square church tower and the defensive wall. The Luther House in Sonneberg serves as a memorial to Martin Luther even though he never stayed there; it simply serves to commemorate Luther’s many stays in the region and is named in his honour. It was built between 1552 and 1555 in the neighbouring town of Judenbach on the old Nuremberg-Leipzig trade route. The ‘Councillor of Commerce’ for Sonneberg, Kommerzienrat Adolf Fleischmann, had the house moved from Judenbach to Sonneberg in 1874. Since 1914, a sandstone relief featuring a portrait of the Reformer can be seen carved into the house. In 1525, Martin Luther is said to have invested the region’s first Protestant priest, Andreas Lehr, here in Sonneberg.

Luther and his companions, Friar Leonhard Beyer and the messenger Urban, stayed in Judenbach from 13–14 April 1518 on their journey from Wittenberg to Heidelberg. Until the construction of the railway and a long-distance connection along the mountain valley, the place benefited from its position on the highroad and trade route from Nuremberg to Leipzig. Judenbach established itself as a rest and outspan stop for travellers crossing the Thuringian Forest along Sattelpass near Neuenbau.

The St Matthew's church in Spechtsbrunn (1746/1747) features lavish paintings and is an example of the heyday of Baroque churches in the Thuringian Highlands. Slate was mined both above and below ground and was used for roof and wall shingles, slate boards and pencils. A memorial at the ‘Kalte Küche’ crossroads commemorates German reunification; right on the border there is a four-metre high cross made from the old border fence and an altar made from the greywacke stone of the Hüttengrund quarry.

Author’s recommendation

The German Toy Museum in Sonneberg is well worth a visit. User
Paul Hentschel
Updated: December 01, 2016

Highest point
743 m
Lowest point
362 m
Best time of year

Rest Stop

Wildbergcafé - Tettau


Luther House Sonneberg (458 m)
50.361998, 11.183527
32U 655301 5581160


Guesthouse 'Am Rennsteig' – Spechtsbrunn

Public transport

Public transport friendly

Sonneberg is easily accessible on the Süd Thüringen Bahn trains. There are connections from Eisenach via Meiningen and from Erfurt via Zella-Mahlis / Grimmenthal. To get back to Sonneberg from Spechtsbrunn you can take the 706 bus. TIMETABLE

Getting there

From the A73, take exit 8 (Neustadt bei Coburg) and continue on the B4 towards Neustadt bei Coburg. Then continue on to Sonneberg on the B89.


Please park at the station Sonneberg. LINK
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

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33.6 km
10:00 h
782 m
546 m
Public transport friendly In and out Multi-stage tour Scenic With refreshment stops Cultural/historical value


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