Neustadt an der Orla

A masterpiece in its rightful place – an early Cranach altar in an authentic setting

Neustadt an der Orla lies amid arable countryside far removed from the tourist trail. The town has many fascinating sights, particularly in the medieval town centre, which stands under historic preservation.

View of the Neustadt Town HallThe best place to start exploring is the large market square, which is flanked by a striking ensemble of buildings.

The late-Gothic town hall is especially beautiful because of its magnificent stonework. Martin Luther stayed in Neustadt an der Orla on several occasions. He presided over the Augustinian Friars’ monastery and preached in the town. The Luther House, where he is thought to have stayed, is one of the most beautiful late-medieval townhouses in Thuringia. Across the market square past the historical Fleischbänke (a medieval street of butchers’ shops) is St. John’s Church which contains an exquisite masterpiece – a large altar by Lucas Cranach the Elder. It was one of the first commissions that the Wittenberg court painter received from the citizens of a town.

This precious altar from Wittenberg arrived in 1513, carefully transported on three wagons. And because Martin Luther wanted to protect the artwork of his friend Cranach in 1524, it has remained unaltered in this location to this day – quite unique for an altarpiece by Cranach the Elder. Today you can appreciate this magnificent altar in its original setting, closely examine the depiction of the Last Judgement on the predella, and appreciate the rich sculptures and paintings illustrating the lives of the saints and Biblical stories in Cranach’s early artistic style.

Places to visit

St. John’s Church with Cranach altar The church, built between 1471 and 1528, contains artworks of exceptional quality.

Local History Museum A collection of historical maps, the history of carousels, the Cranach room, and other central themes.

Luther House, Rodaer Straße 12 This historical monument, which is open to the public, is one of the most beautiful townhouses from the Renaissance.

Guided Tours

Historic Tour of the town

Your guide will be "Magd Johanna" (maidservant Johanna) in her historic outfit. She will show you round our lovely medieval town centre. Her tour will include the historic town hall with its magnificent masonry work and the story of the pillory stone. You will be shown the Saxon post milestone, the former monastery where Martin Luther used to work and the so-called Luther House.

After that you will visit the "meat benches" – the only place in town where butchers were allowed to sell their raw products in medieval times. Passing the church court you will then enter the town church St. John.

Here she will present you with the unique feature of our town: an original altar from the workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder. This altar shows scenes of the life and death of John the Baptist, standing there for exactly 500 years in the same place.

It can tell you exciting and gruesome stories from that time 500 years ago and so can your guide maidservant Johanna – as she used to live here in Neustadt at the same time …

For information about schedules and prices please contact the Neustadt Tourist Information!