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View over Erfurt
|• Lord Mayor||Andreas Bausewein (SPD)|
|• Governing parties||SPD / The Left / Greens|
|• Total||269.17 km2 (103.93 sq mi)|
|Elevation||200 m (700 ft)|
|• Density||760/km2 (2,000/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)|
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2014)|
View over Erfurt
|• Lord Mayor||Andreas Bausewein (SPD)|
|• Governing parties||SPD / The Left / Greens|
|• Total||269.17 km2 (103.93 sq mi)|
|Elevation||200 m (700 ft)|
|• Density||760/km2 (2,000/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)|
Erfurt (German pronunciation: [ˈɛʁfʊʁt]) is the capital city of Thuringia and the main city nearest to the geographical centre of modern Germany, located 100 kilometres (62 miles) south-west of Leipzig, 150 km (93 miles) north of Nuremberg and 180 km (112 miles) south east of Hanover. Together with neighboring cities Weimar and Jena it forms the central metropolitan area of Thuringia with approximately 500,000 inhabitants. Notable institutions in Erfurt are the Federal Labour Court of Germany, the University of Erfurt and the Fachhochschule Erfurt as well as the Roman Catholic Diocese of Erfurt with Erfurt Cathedral as one of the main sights. Further famous buildings are the Krämerbrücke, a bridge completely covered with dwellings, and Erfurt Synagogue which was established in the 11th century and is the oldest standing synagogue in Europe. Furthermore, the medieval city centre consists of old timber-framed houses and about 25 Gothic churches.
Erfurt was first mentioned in 742, as Saint Boniface founded the diocese. Although the town did not belong to one of the Thuringian states politically, it quickly became the economic centre of the region. Until the Napoleonic era it was part of the Electorate of Mainz and afterwards it belonged to Prussia until 1945. The university was founded in 1392, closed in 1816 and reestablished after German reunification in 1994. It is one of the oldest universities in Germany. Martin Luther was the most famous student of the institution. Other famous Erfurtians are the medieval theologian Meister Eckhart, the Baroque composer Johann Pachelbel, the sociologist Max Weber and Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann, the most successful speed skater of all time.
The city's economy is based on agriculture, horticulture and microelectronics. Its central location has led to it becoming a logistics hub for Germany and central Europe. Erfurt hosts the second-largest trade fair in eastern Germany (after Leipzig) as well as public television's children’s channel KiKa.
Erfurt is an old Germanic settlement. The earliest evidence of human settlement dates from the prehistoric era; archaeological finds from the north of Erfurt revealed human traces from the paleolithic period, ca. 100,000 BCE. The Melchendorf dig in the southern city part showed a settlement from the neolithic period. The Thuringii inhabited the Erfurt area ca. 480 and gave their name to Thuringia ca. 500.
The town is first mentioned in 742 under the name of "Erphesfurt": in that year, Saint Boniface wrote to Pope Zachary to inform him that he had established three dioceses in central Germany, one of them "in a place called Erphesfurt, which for a long time has been inhabited by pagan natives." All three dioceses (the other two were Würzburg and Büraburg) were confirmed by Zachary the next year, though in 755 Erfurt was brought into the diocese of Mainz. That the place was populous already is borne out by archeological evidence, which includes 23 graves and six horse burials from the sixth and seventh centuries.
Throughout the Middle Ages, Erfurt was an important trading town because of its location, near a ford across the Gera river. Together with the other five Thuringian woad towns of Gotha, Tennstedt, Arnstadt and Langensalza it was the centre of the German woad trade, which made those cities very wealthy. Erfurt was the junction of important trade routes: the Via Regia was one of the most used east–west roads between France and Russia (via Frankfurt, Erfurt, Leipzig and Wrocław) and another route in north–south direction was the connection between the Baltic Sea ports (e. g. Lübeck) and the potent upper Italian city-states like Venice and Milan.
During the 10th and 11th centuries both the Emperor and the Electorate of Mainz held some privileges in Erfurt. The German kings had an important monastery on Petersberg hill and the Archbishops of Mainz collected taxes from the people. Around 1100, some people became free citizens by paying the annual "Freizins" (liberation tax), which marks a first step in becoming an independent city. During the 12th century, as a sign of more and more independence, the citizens built a city wall around Erfurt (in the area of today's Juri-Gagarin-Ring). After 1200, independence was fulfilled and a city council was founded in 1217; the town hall was built in 1275. In the following decades, the council bought a city-owned territory around Erfurt which consisted at its height of nearly 100 villages and castles and even another small town (Sömmerda). Erfurt became an important regional power between the Landgraviate of Thuringia around, the Electorate of Mainz to the west and the Electorate of Saxony to the east. Between 1306 and 1481, Erfurt was allied with the two other major Thuringian cities (Mühlhausen and Nordhausen) in the Thuringian City Alliance and the three cities joined the Hanseatic League together in 1430. A peak in economic development was reached in the 15th century, when the city had a population of 20,000 making it to one of the largest in Germany. Between 1432 and 1446, a second and higher city wall was established. In 1483, a first city fortress was built on Cyriaksburg hill in the southwestern part of the town.
The Jewish community of Erfurt was founded in the 11th century and became, together with Mainz, Worms and Speyer, one of the most influential in Germany. Their synagoge is still extant and a museum today, as is the mikveh at Gera river near Krämerbrücke. In 1349, during the wave of Black Death Jewish persecutions across Europe, the Jews of Erfurt were rounded up, with more than 100 killed and the rest driven from the city. Before the persecution, a wealthy Jewish merchant buried his property in the basement of his house. In 1998, this treasure was found during construction works. The Erfurt Treasure with various gold and silver objects is shown in the exhibition in the synagogue today. Only a few years after 1349, the Jews moved back to Erfurt and founded a second community, which was disbanded by the city council in 1458.
In 1392, the University of Erfurt was founded. Together with the University of Cologne it was one of the first city-owned universities in Germany, while they were usually owned by the Landesherren. Some buildings of this old university are extant or restored in the "Latin Quarter" in the northern city centre (like Collegium maius, student dorms "Georgenburse" and others, the hospital and the church of the university). The university quickly became a hotspot of German cultural life in Renaissance humanism with scholars like Ulrich von Hutten, Helius Eobanus Hessus and Justus Jonas.
In 1501, Martin Luther moved to the university as a student. After 1505, he lived in the Augustine Monastery and in 1507 he became a priest in Erfurt Cathedral. He moved to Wittenberg in 1511. His Protestant Reformation found its way to Erfurt in 1521. In 1530, the city became one of the first in Europe to be officially bi-confessional with the Hammelburg Treaty. It kept that status through all the following centuries. The later 16th and the 17th century brought a slow economic decline of Erfurt. Trade shrunk, the population was falling and the university lost its influence. The city's independence was endangered. In 1664, the city and surrounding area were brought under the dominion of the Electorate of Mainz and the city lost its independence. The Electorate built a huge fortress on Petersberg hill between 1665 and 1726 to control the city and instituted a governor to rule Erfurt.
During the late 18th century, Erfurt saw another cultural peak. Governor Karl Theodor Anton Maria von Dalberg had close relations with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, Johann Gottfried Herder, Christoph Martin Wieland and Wilhelm von Humboldt, who often visited him at his court in Erfurt.
Erfurt became part of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1802. In the Capitulation of Erfurt the city, its 12,000 defenders, and the Petersberg fortress were handed over to the French on 16 October 1806. The city became part of the First French Empire in 1806 as Principality of Erfurt. In 1808, the Congress of Erfurt was held with Napoleon and Alexander I of Russia visiting the city. Erfurt was returned to Prussia in 1815 after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Although enclosed by Thuringian territory in the west, south and east, the city remained part of the Prussian Province of Saxony until 1944.
The Industrial Revolution reached Erfurt in the 1840s, when the Thuringian Railway connecting Berlin and Frankfurt was built. During the following years, many factories in different sectors were founded. One of the biggest was the "Royal Gun Factory of Prussia" in 1862. After German Unification in 1871, Erfurt moved from the southern border of Prussia to the centre of Germany, so that the fortifications of the city were not needed anymore. The demolition of the city fortifications in 1873 led to a construction boom in Erfurt, because it was now possible to build in the area formerly occupied by the city walls and beyond. Many public and private buildings emerged and the infrastructure (e. g. tramway, hospitals, schools) improved rapidly. The number of inhabitants grew from 40,000 around 1870 to 130,000 in 1914 and the city expanded in all directions.
Between the wars, the city kept growing. Housing shortages were fought with building programmes and social infrastructure was broadened according to the welfare policy in the Weimar Republic. The Great Depression between 1929 and 1932 led to a disaster for Erfurt, nearly one out of three became unemployed. Conflicts between far-left and far-right oriented milieus increased and many inhabitants supported the new Nazi government and Adolf Hitler. Others, especially some communist workers, put up resistance against the new administration. In 1938, the new synagogue was destroyed during the Kristallnacht. Jews lost their property and emigrated or were deported to Nazi concentration camps (together with many communists). In 1914, the company Topf and Sons began the manufacture of crematoria later becoming the market leader in this industry. Under the Nazis, JA Topf & Sons supplied specially developed crematoria, ovens and associated plant to the death camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau and Mauthausen. On 27 January 2011 a memorial and museum dedicated to the Holocaust victims killed using Topf ovens was opened at the former company premises in Erfurt.
Bombed as a target of the Oil Campaign of World War II, Erfurt suffered only limited damage and was captured on 12 April 1945, by the US 80th Infantry Division. On 3 July, American troops left the city, which then became part of the Soviet Zone of Occupation and eventually of the German Democratic Republic. In 1948, Erfurt became the capital of Thuringia, replacing Weimar. In 1952, the Länder in the GDR were dissolved in favour of forced centralization under the socialist regime. Erfurt then became the capital of a new "Bezirk". In 1953, the Hochschule of education was founded, followed by the Hochschule of medicine in 1954, the first academical institutions in Erfurt since the closing of the university in 1816.
On 19 March 1970, the East and West German heads of government Willi Stoph and Willy Brandt met in Erfurt, the first such meeting since the division of Germany. During the 1970s and 1980s, as the economic situation in GDR worsened, many old buildings in city centre decayed, while the government fought against the housing shortage by building large Plattenbau settlements in the periphery. The Peaceful Revolution of 1989/1990 led to German reunification.
With the re-formation of the state of Thuringia in 1990, the city became the state capital once again. After reunification, a deep economic crisis occurred in Eastern Germany. Many factories closed and many people lost their jobs and moved to the former West Germany. At the same time, many buildings were redeveloped and the infrastructure improved massively. In 1994, the new university was opened, as was the Fachhochschule in 1991. After 2005, the economic situation improved as the unemployment rate decreased and new enterprises developed. In addition, the population began to increase once again.
In 2002, a student ran amok at a local Gymnasium. The Erfurt massacre with 17 deaths was the first large school massacre in Germany.
Erfurt is situated in the south of the Thuringian basin, a fertile agricultural area between the Harz mountains 80 km (50 mi) to the north and the Thuringian forest 30 km (19 mi) to the southwest. Whereas the northern parts of the city area are flat, the southern ones consist of hilly landscape up to 430 m of elevation. In this part lies the municipal forest of Steigerwald with beeches and oaks as main tree species. To the east and to the west are some non-forested hills so that the Gera river valley within the town forms a basin. North of the city are some gravel pits in operation, while others are abandoned, flooded and used as leisure areas.
Erfurt has a humid continental climate (Dfb) or an oceanic climate (Cfb) according to the Köppen climate classification system. Summers are warm and sometimes humid with average high temperatures of 23 °C (73 °F) and lows of 12 °C (54 °F). Winters are relatively cold with average high temperatures of 2 °C (36 °F) and lows of −3 °C (27 °F). The city's topography creates a microclimate caused by the location inside a basin with sometimes inversion in winter (quite cold nights under −20 °C (−4 °F)) and inadequate air circulation in summer. Annual precipitation is only 502 millimeters (19.8 in) with moderate rainfall throughout the year. Light snowfall mainly occurs from December through February, but snow cover does not usually remain for long.
|Climate data for Erfurt (1971–2000)|
|Average high °C (°F)||2.2|
|Average low °C (°F)||−3.1|
|Precipitation mm (inches)||24.7|
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||7.0||6.7||8.3||7.9||8.5||10.0||8.7||8.3||7.4||6.9||7.8||7.6||95.1|
|Source: World Meteorological Organization|
Erfurt abuts the districts of Sömmerda (municipalities Witterda, Elxleben, Walschleben, Riethnordhausen, Nöda, Alperstedt, Großrudestedt, Udestedt, Kleinmölsen and Großmölsen) in the north, Weimarer Land (municipalities Niederzimmern, Nohra, Mönchenholzhausen and Klettbach) in the east, Ilm-Kreis (municipalities Kirchheim, Rockhausen and Amt Wachsenburg) in the south and Gotha (municipalities Nesse-Apfelstädt, Nottleben, Zimmernsupra and Bienstädt) in the west.
The city itself is divided into 53 districts. The centre is formed by the district Altstadt (old town) and the Gründerzeit districts Andreasvorstadt in the northwest, Johannesvorstadt in the northeast, Krämpfervorstadt in the east, Daberstedt in the southeast, Löbervorstadt in the southwest and Brühlervorstadt in the west. More former industrial districts are Ilversgehofen (incorporated in 1911), Hohenwinden and Sulzer Siedlung in the north. Another group of districts is marked by Plattenbau settlements, constructed during the GDR period: Berliner Platz, Moskauer Platz, Rieth, Roter Berg and Johannesplatz in the northern as well as Melchendorf, Wiesenhügel and Herrenberg in the southern city parts.
Finally, there are many villages with an average population of approximately 1,000 which were incorporated during the 20th century; however, they mostly stayed rural to date:
|Ten largest groups of foreign residents|
|Country of Origin||Population (2011)|
Around the year 1500, the city had 18,000 inhabitants and was one of the largest cities in the Holy Roman Empire. The population then more or less stagnated until the 19th century. The population of Erfurt was 21,000 in 1820, and increased to 32,000 in 1847, the year of rail connection as industrialization began. In the following decades Erfurt grew up to 130,000 at the beginning of World War I and 190,000 inhabitants in 1950. A maximum was reached in 1988 with 220,000 persons. The bad economic situation in eastern Germany after the reunification resulted in a decline in population, which fell to 200,000 in 2002 before rising again to 206,000 in 2011. The average growth of population between 2009 and 2012 was approximately 0.68% p. a, whereas the population in bordering rural regions is shrinking with accelerating tendency. Suburbanization played only a small role in Erfurt. It occurred after reunification for a short time in the 1990s, but most of the suburban areas were situated within the administrative city borders.
The birth deficit was 200 in 2012, this is -1.0 per 1,000 inhabitants (Thuringian average: -4.5; national average: -2.4). The net migration rate was +8.3 per 1,000 inhabitants in 2012 (Thuringian average: -0.8; national average: +4.6). The most important regions of origin of Erfurt migrants are rural areas of Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony as well as foreign countries like Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria.
Like other eastern German cities, foreigners account only for a small share of Erfurt's population: circa 3.0% are non-Germans by citizenship and overall 5.9% are migrants (according to the 2011 EU census). Differing from the national average, the most important groups of migrants in Erfurt are Vietnamese, Russians and Ukrainians.
Due to the official atheism of the former GDR, most of the population is non-religious. 14.8% are members of the Evangelical Church in Central Germany and 6.8% are Catholics (according to the 2011 EU census). The Jewish Community consists of 500 members. Most of them migrated to Erfurt from Russia and Ukraine in the 1990s.
Martin Luther attended the University of Erfurt and received his bachelor's and master's degrees of theology there. Luther lived there as a student from 1501 to 1511 and, as a monk, from 1505 to 1511.
The city is the birthplace of one of Johann Sebastian Bach's cousins, Johann Bernhard Bach, as well as Johann Sebastian Bach's father Johann Ambrosius Bach. Bach's parents were married in 1668 in a small church, the Kaufmannskirche (Merchant's Church), that still exists on the main square, Anger.
Johann Pachelbel served as organist at the Prediger church in Erfurt. Pachelbel composed approximately seventy pieces for organ while in Erfurt. After 1906 the composer Richard Wetz lived in Erfurt and became the leading person in the town's musical life. His major works were written here, including three symphonies, a Requiem and a Christmas Oratorio.
Erfurt has a great variety of museums:
Since 2003, the modern opera house is home to Theater Erfurt and its Philharmonic Orchestra. The "grand stage" section has 800 seats and the "studio stage" can hold 200 spectators. In September 2005, the opera Waiting for the Barbarians by Philip Glass premiered in the opera house. The Erfurt Theater has been a source of controversy recently. In 2005, a performance of Engelbert Humperdinck's opera Hänsel und Gretel stirred up the local press since the performance contained suggestions of pedophilia and incest. The opera was advertised in the program with the addition "for adults only".
On 12 April 2008, a version of Verdi's opera Un ballo in maschera directed by Johann Kresnik opened at the Erfurt Theater. The production stirred deep controversy by featuring nude performers in Mickey Mouse masks dancing on the ruins of the World Trade Center and a female singer with a painted on Hitler toothbrush moustache performing a straight arm Nazi salute, along with sinister portrayals of American soldiers, Uncle Sam, and Elvis Presley impersonators. The director described the production as a populist critique of modern American society, aimed at showing up the disparities between rich and poor. The controversy prompted one local politician to call for locals to boycott the performances, but this was largely ignored and the premiere was sold out.
Notable types of sport in Erfurt are athletics, ice skating, cycling (with the oldest velodrome in use in the world, opened in 1885), swimming, handball, volleyball, tennis and football. The city's football club FC Rot-Weiß Erfurt is member of 3. Fußball-Liga and based in Steigerwaldstadion with a capacity of 20,000. The Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann Halle was the second indoor speed skating arena in Germany.
Erfurt's cityscape features a medieval core of narrow, curved alleys in the centre surrounded by a belt of Gründerzeit architecture, created between 1873 and 1914. In 1873, the city's fortifications were demolished and it became possible to build houses in the area in front of the former city walls. In the following years, Erfurt saw a construction boom. In the northern area (districts Andreasvorstadt, Johannesvorstadt and Ilversgehofen) tenements for the factory workers were built whilst the eastern area (Krämpfervorstadt and Daberstedt) featured apartments for white-collar workers and clerks and the southwestern part (Löbervorstadt and Brühlervorstadt) with its beautiful valley landscape saw the construction of villas and mansions of rich factory owners and notables. During the interwar period, some settlements in Bauhaus style were realized, often as housing cooperatives. After World War II and over the whole GDR period, housing shortages remained a problem even though the government started a big apartment construction programme. Between 1970 and 1990 large Plattenbau settlements with high-rise blocks on the northern (for 50,000 inhabitants) and southeastern (for 40,000 inhabitants) periphery were constructed. After reunification the renovation of old houses in city centre and the Gründerzeit areas was a big issue. The federal government granted substantial subsidies, so that many houses could be restored.
Compared to many other German cities, little of Erfurt was destroyed in World War II. This is one reason why the centre today offers a mixture of medieval, Baroque and Neoclassical architecture as well as buildings from the last 150 years. Public green spaces are located along Gera river and in several parks like the Stadtpark, the Nordpark and the Südpark. The largest green area is the egapark (de), a horticultural exhibition park and botanic garden established in 1961.
The city centre hosts about 25 churches and monasteries, most of them in Gothic style, some also in Romanesque style or a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic elements, and a few in later styles. The various steeples characterize the medieval centre and led to one of Erfurt's nicknames as the "Thuringian Rome".
Catholic churches and monasteries:
Protestant churches and monasteries:
Through Erfurt's history, there were five Jewish places of worship. The first synagogue was the one now called Alte Synagogue (Old Synagogue) in a backyard at Michael's Street. Its oldest parts go back to the 11th century, whereas most parts of today's building originate in the 13th century. The Old Synagogue was in use until 1349. Afterwards, the building was reused for other purposes and rediscovered in 1992. Since 2009, the Old Synagogue has been a museum of Jewish history. The building is the oldest remaining synagogue in central Europe. The second synagogue was in use between 1350 and 1450. It was located near Benedict's Square, but nothing remains of this building.
As religious freedom was granted in the 19th century, some Jews came back to Erfurt. They built their synagogue at the Gera river behind the town hall and used it from 1840 until 1884. The little Neoclassical building is known as "Small Synagogue" today and is in use by the Jewish community as a cultural and educational centre. The fourth synagogue building was the "Great Synagogue" at Juri-Gagarin-Ring. It was established in 1884, because the community had became bigger and richer. This Historicist building was in use until 1938 and then destroyed during the Kristallnacht. The fifth synagogue, called "New Synagogue" is the current temple of the Erfurt Jewish community. It was built on the same piece of land as the former "Great Synagogue" in 1952 and is the only synagogue building erected under communist rule in all of East Germany.
Besides the religious buildings there is a lot of historic secular architecture in Erfurt, mostly concentrated in the city centre, but some 19th and 20th century buildings are located on the outskirts.
Street and square ensembles:
Fortifications played an important role during Erfurt's history. Nevertheless, the city wall was broken down in 1873. There are only rare artefacts of the walls today, for example the Johannesmauer near Franckestraße in the north-east of the city centre. More important are the two early-modern citadels of Erfurt, which remain more or less in their original state.
The Petersberg Citadel is one of the largest extant early-modern citadels in Europe and covers the whole north-western part of the city centre. It was built after 1665 on Petersberg hill and was in military use until 1963. Since 1990, it has been renovated, but in parts is still not finished yet.
The Cyriaksburg Citadel is a smaller early-modern citadel south-west of the city centre, built during the Thirty Years' War. Today, it hosts the German horticultural museum.
19th and 20th century architecture in the outskirts:
Between 1873 and 1914, a belt of Gründerzeit architecture emerged around the city centre. The mansion district in the south-west around Cyriakstraße, Richard-Breslau-Straße and Hochheimer Straße hosts some interesting Gründerzeit and Art Nouveau buildings. The Bauhaus style is represented by some housing cooperative projects in the east around Flensburger Straße and Dortmunder Straße and in the north around Neuendorfstraße. Luther's Church at Magdeburger Allee, established in 1927, is an Art Deco building. The former malt factory "Wolff" at Theo-Neubauer-Straße in the east of Erfurt is a big industrial building. The complex was built between 1880 and 1939 and in use until 2000. A new use has not been found yet, but the area is sometimes used as a location in movie productions because of its atmosphere. Some examples of Nazi architecture are the buildings of the Landtag (Thuringian parliament) and Thüringenhalle (an event hall) in the south at Arnstädter Straße. While the Landtag building (1930s) represents more the neo-Roman/fascist style, Thüringenhalle (1940s) is marked by some neo-Germanic Heimatschutz style elements.
The Stalinist early-GDR style is manifested in the main building of the university at Nordhäuser Straße (1953) and the later more international modern GDR style is represented by the horticultural exhibition "Egapark" at Gothaer Straße, the Plattenbau housing complexes like Rieth or Johannesplatz and the redevelopment of Löbertor and Krämpfertor area along Juri-Gagarin-Ring in the city centre. The current international glass and steel architecture is dominant among most larger new buildings like the Federal Labour Court of Germany (1999), the new opera house (2003), the new main station (2007), the university library, the fair hall and the Gunda Niemann-Stirnemann ice rink.
During recent years, the economic situation of the city improved: the unemployment rate declined from 21% in 2005 to 9% in 2013. Nevertheless, some 14,000 households with 24,500 persons (12% of population) are dependent upon state social benefits (Hartz IV).
Farming has a great tradition in Erfurt: the cultivation of woad made the city rich during the Middle Ages. Today, horticulture and the production of flower seeds is still an important business in Erfurt. There is also growing of fruits (like apples, strawberries and sweet cherries), vegetables (e.g. cauliflowers, potatoes, cabbage and sugar beets) and grain on more than 60% of the municipal territory.
Industrialization in Erfurt started around 1850. Until World War I, many factories were founded in different sectors like engine building, shoes, guns, malt and later electro-technics, so that there was no industrial monoculture in the city. After 1945, the companies were nationalized by the GDR government, which led to the decline of some of them. After reunification, nearly all factories were closed, either because they failed to successfully adopt to a free market economy or because the German government sold them to west German businessmen who closed them to avoid competition to their own enterprises. However, in the early 1990s the federal government started to subsidize the foundation of new companies. It still took a long time before the economic situation stabilized around 2006. Since this time, unemployment has decreased and overall, new jobs were created. Today, there are many small and medium-sized companies in Erfurt with electro-technics, semiconductors and photovoltaics in focus. Besides, building engines is still an important industry as is the production of food, for example with a big noodle factory, the Braugold brewery or Born Feinkost, a producer of Thuringian mustard.
Erfurt is an Oberzentrum (which means "supra-centre" according to Central place theory) in German regional planning. Such centres are always hubs of service businesses and public services like hospitals, universities, research, trade fairs, retail etc. Additionally, Erfurt is the capital of the federal state of Thuringia, so that there are many institutions of administration like all the Thuringian state ministries and some nation-wide authorities. Typical for Erfurt are the logistic business with many distribution centres of big companies, the Erfurt Trade Fair and the media sector with KiKa and MDR as public broadcast stations. A growing industry is tourism, due to the various historical sights of Erfurt. There are 4,800 hotel beds and (in 2012) 450,000 overnight visitors spent a total of 700,000 nights in hotels. Nevertheless, most tourists are one-day visitors from Germany. The Christmas Market in December attracts some 2,000,000 visitors each year.
Erfurt is connected by the Thuringian Railway to Leipzig in the east and to Frankfurt/Kassel in the west. Furthermore there are some regional railways from Erfurt to Magdeburg via Sangerhausen, to Nordhausen, to Göttingen via Mühlhausen, to Würzburg, Ilmenau and Saalfeld via Arnstadt and to Gera via Weimar and Jena. The Erfurt Central Station was rebuilt during the 2000s to connect the new Erfurt–Leipzig/Halle high-speed railway (will be opened in 2015) with the new Nuremberg–Erfurt high-speed railway (will be opened in 2017). With the opening of these new railways, Erfurt will get a second ICE route, running from Berlin (then 1,5 h from Erfurt) to Munich (then 2 h from Erfurt) in addition to the existing one from Frankfurt to Dresden.
In freight transport there is an intermodal terminal in the district of Vieselbach (Güterverkehrszentrum/GVZ) with connection to rail and Autobahn.
The two Autobahnen crossing each other nearby at Erfurter Kreuz are the Bundesautobahn 4 (Frankfurt–Dresden) and the Bundesautobahn 71 (Schweinfurt–Sangerhausen). Together with the east tangent both motorways form a circle road around the city and lead the interregional traffic around the centre. Whereas the A 4 was built in the 1930s, the A 71 came into being after the reunification in the 1990s and 2000s. In addition to both motorways there are two Bundesstraßen: the Bundesstraße 7 connects Erfurt parallel to A 4 with Gotha in the west and Weimar in the east. The Bundesstraße 4 is a connection between Erfurt and Nordhausen in the north. Its southern part to Coburg was annulled when A 71 was finished (in this section, the A 71 now effectively serves as B 4). Within the circle road, B 7 and B 4 are also annulled, so that the city government has to pay for maintenance instead of the German federal government. The access to the city is restricted as Umweltzone since 2012 for some vehicles. Large parts of the inner city are a pedestrian area which can not be reached by car (except for residents).
The Erfurt public transport system is marked by the area-wide Erfurt Stadtbahn (light rail) network, established as a tram system in 1883, upgraded to a light rail ( Stadtbahn ) system in 1997, and continually expanded and upgraded through the 2000s. Today, there are six Stadtbahn lines running every ten minutes on every light rail route.
Additionally, Erfurt operates a bus system, which connects the sparsely populated outer districts of the region to the city center. Both systems are organized by SWE EVAG, a transit company owned by the city administration. Trolleybuses were in service in Erfurt from 1948 until 1975, but are no longer in service.
The Erfurt-Weimar Airport lies ca. 3 km (2 mi) west of the city centre. It was significantly extended in the 1990s, but expectattions were disappointed and there is only infrequent air traffic today, mostly to Mediterranean holiday destinations. Other flights are carried out via Frankfurt Airport, which can be reached in 2,5 h and via Leipzig/Halle Airport, which is accessible within 1/2 h.
Biking is becoming more and more popular since the construction of quality cycle tracks began in the 1990s. Long distance trails inlcude the Gera track and the Radweg Thüringer Städtekette (Thuringian city string trail). Both connect points of touristic interest: the former along the Gera valley from the Thuringian forest to Unstrut river and the latter follows the medieval Via Regia from Eisenach via Gotha, Erfurt, Weimar and Jena to Altenburg. For inner city every-day traffic there are cycle lanes along several main streets.
After reunification, the educational system was reorganized. The University of Erfurt, closed after 1816, was refounded in 1994 with a focus on humanities and teacher training. Today there are approximately 5,000 students at this university with four faculties. Another college is the Fachhochschule Erfurt, a university of applied sciences founded in 1991 which offers a combination of scientific training and its practical applications. There are also nearly 5,000 students in six faculties, of whom the faculty of landscaping and horticulture has a national reputation. A privately run university of applied sciences is the Adam-Ries-Fachhochschule, founded in 2008 with a focus on business economics and with more than 300 students.
Furthermore, there are eight Gymnasiums, six state-owned, one Catholic and one Protestant. One of the state-owned schools is a Sportgymnasium, an elite boarding school for young talents in athletics, swimming, ice skating or football. Another state-owned school, Albert Schweitzer Gymnasium, offers a focus in sciences as an elite boarding school in addition to the common curriculum.
The last municipal election was held in 2014 with the result:
|Party||Percentage||Seats in council|
|Alternative for Germany||4.5||2|
|Pirate Party of Germany||2.1||1|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Erfurt.|
|Göttingen||Braunschweig — Magdeburg||Halle — Leipzig|
|Kassel — Eisenach||Weimar — Jena — Dresden|
|Frankfurt — Würzburg||Bamberg|