During the 1920s, the industrial pioneer Franz Itting planed a magnificent building for Probstzella that was to provide the underdeveloped region around the town with new developmental perspectives. The Saalfeld-based architect Klapprodt designed a building with traditional, classic shapes. Itting’s son Gotthard introduced him to the Bauhaus student and Master Alfred Arndt, who managed to convince Franz Itting of the benefits of the modern Bauhaus style. Alfred Arndt was commissioned to redesign the building – on which work had already begun – in the Bauhaus style and to continue with its construction. Ferroconcrete and steel constructions combine with new external building materials to create the shapes that were characteristic of Bauhaus from 1928 to 1932. The ‘Haus des Volkes’ (People’s House) in Probstzella was the largest Bauhaus building in Thuringia and housed a cultural centre with a cinema, ballrooms, a theatre, restaurant, café, carpark and sports facilities. The former ‘Haus des Volkes’ is now a Bauhaus hotel where guests can experience the imposing Bauhaus ensemble of coloured interiors, Bauhaus furniture and wonderful views from the restaurant in the ‘Blaue Saal’ (Blue Hall) and the Arndt Terrace.
One of the most important people of the Reformation was the wood carver Hans Gottwalt von Lohr. In Saalfeld, Gottwalt discovered a large number of carving workshops and the Saalfelder Schnitzer- und Malerschule (Saalfeld Carving & Art School) where he began working as a student of the famous Tilman Riemenschneider. This can be seen in the unique handwriting on numerous creations from 1503 from the Lendenstreich workshop. In around 1518, reformatory influences began to be felt in Saalfeld. In 1524, the town council abolished Catholic mass. Documents state that around this time the Catholic Abbot Georg von Thüna was striving to obtain a Protestant priest from Martin Luther to fill a vacancy in Gorndorf.
Before arriving in Saalfeld – also known as the ‘Stone Chronicle of Thuringia’ – it is worth stopping at the Saalfeld Fairy Grottoes, the most colourful show caves in the world and be enchanted by this magical underground world.
Luther’s host and companion in Saalfeld was Caspar Aquila, one of the most important Reformers in Thuringia. Luther himself came to Saalfeld a few times and preached in the Church of St John, which features a painting of ‘Heaven’s Meadow’ on the vaulted ceiling above the choir stalls.