On June 1st, 1695, the first foundation stone was laid for one of the few remaining 17th century city fortifications to be found in Germany. Today the Petersberg Citadel is an impressive example of European fortification construction dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries.
Only parts of the fortification were open to the public in 1964, but after 1990 it was extensively renovated. Today the greater part of the casemates, esplanades and bastions inside the fortification area are now open to visitors. The completion of the citadel and the Petersberg proved to be Erfurt’s largest undertaking. The citadel itself and more importantly, the entire area of the Petersberg including the Peterskirche, (a Romanesque basilica containing three naves) overlooks Erfurt’s old city centre. Before 1990, this unique ensemble had unfortunately not received the attention it deserved, but a Petersberg festival has been inaugurated to rectify the situation and to bring an important historical site back to become a centre of interest for both tourists and local people.
One of the highlights of the festival is an historical military demonstration and procession. Other special attractions are tours within the bowels of the fortification or visits to the fortification bakery of 1882, which, in 1995, was restored to its original character– A tasting of the wares is included!
The neo-Gothic town-hall at the Fischmarkt was built between 1870 and 1874. Inside the stairwells and the Festsaal (main function hall) there are numerous wall paintings depicting legends and scenes from the life of Luther as well as pictures illustrating the history of Thuringia and Erfurt. The Festsaal is frequently used as a venue for concerts, lectures and receptions.
The Fischmarkt is located at the historical intersection where the "via regia" (the Royal Road) met the old north-south trading route. Besides the town-hall, there are several beautiful Renaissance houses in the same area such as the "Haus zum roten Ochsen" (1562) and the "Haus zum Breiten Herd" (1584) as well as a statue of St. Martin dressed in the attire of a Roman soldier. The statue was nicknamed "Roland" by the people of Erfurt.
The Statthalterei, once the residence of the governors of Erfurt, was an institution erected by the electors of Mainz and is now the seat of the President of Thuringia and the Staatskanzlei. Designed by Maximilian von Welsch, the chancellery was built in the Renaissance style between 1711 and 1720. The western part of the Baroque façade together with the official portal is of great architectural interest. Guests who came to this house included Schiller, Herder, W. v. Humboldt and Wieland. It was also here that the historical meeting between Napoleon and Goethe took place.