On the move with Johann Sebastian Bach
Forest glades, rolling hills, lush valleys, legendary castles and sleepy little towns are all part of Thuringia’s charm. And it was in this varied landscape that Johann Sebastian Bach spent the first 30 years of his life. The 60-km Bach cycling route passes through the places that shaped Bach’s childhood and adolescence.
Some more route tips.
You can start the route in the historic centre of Arnstadt, by the Bach monument in the market square. Also worth a visit are the Bach exhibition at the Palace Museum and the fully reconstructed Wender organ in Arnstadt’s Bach Church, where Bach’s music career began. The route continues into the romantic surrounds, initially passing by Espenfeld and Gossel, before heading to Crawinkel, where Konik horses can be seen grazing in the vast meadows. In Ohrdruf, the smallest of all the Bach towns, cyclists can visit the site of the former St Michael’s Church, where Bach’s brother Johann Christoph Bach (14 years his senior) worked as an organist and taught Bach how to play the organ. The route then passes through Schwabhausen before arriving at the home of the largest branch of the Bach family in the idyllic town of Wechmar. It was here that Veit Bach, Johann Sebastian’s great-great-grandfather, settled at the end of the 16th century. Those who are not yet out of breath can cycle the six kilometres from Arnstadt to Dornheim, following in the footsteps of Bach’s wedding party when he married his second cousin Maria Barbara Bach.
Circular route: 54 km, turn-off to Arnstadt–Dornheim 6 km
Trail conditions: mainly asphalt, in part waterbound gravel or forest track
Altitude difference: approx. 250–500 metres above sea level
Level of difficulty: easy to moderate
Arnstadt, Gotha (approx. 5 km to start in Wechmar), Haarhausen (approx. 2 km to start in Holzhausen)
Dornheim: the church where Bach was married
Crawinkel: walkers' car park "Alte Gosseler Straße", "Alte Mühle" community centre
Ohrdruf: Ehrenstein Castle, Technical Monument "Tobiashammer"
Wechmar: opposite the Bach ancestral home
Mühlberg: Marktplatz, Kulturscheune, sports ground, petrol station
Holzhausen: unterhalb Veste Wachsenburg, am Gustav-Freytag-Weg
Arnstadt: Alteburg castle tower (in Alteburg castle), Neideck tower (castle garden)
Ohrdruf: water tower (on Goldberg)
Holzhausen: Veste Wachsenburg
Arnstadt: Zweirad Böttner, Längwitzer Straße 13, Telefon: +49 (0)3628 602447
Thuringian Town Chain Cycle Train (225 km): Start: Mühlberg (Marktplatz), Wechmar (Bach ancestral home)
Apfelstädt Cycle Train (27 km): Start: Schwabhausen ("Am Steinig"/gravel mine)
Gera Cycle Train (75 km): Start: Arnstadt (Wollmarkt)