The Market Place
The picturesque market place in front of you has marked the centre of the town since Saalfeld began. This was the point where important trade routes converged, and the typical weekly markets still take place here today. The annual highpoint is the Detscher Festival, which takes place here in August.
Just as in our Grandmother’s day, Saalfeld Detschers are baked in the original ovens. A Detscher is a pastry made with potatoes, and because of its simple ingredients, it was once known as a “poor man’s food”. Since butter was scarce, particularly during the war, the Detschers were just coated with milk. Malt coffee is the traditional accompanying drink, and the recipe for Saalfeld Detschers can be obtained from the Tourist Information Office.
In the middle ages, the market place was used for the burning of witches. One story relates how a poor woman, who was a good Christian, came into conflict with a butcher. He had sold her stinking meat claiming that it was fresh. The woman is said to have performed a spell which gave him worms, causing him to suffer from awful cramps. Under torture she confessed to have communicated with the devil. A huge crowd assembled to watch the woman being publicly burned.
The enormous scale, shape and square configuration of the market place, as well as the the town centre´s broad streets go back to the time of Emperor Barbarossa. It was he who had enabled the town of Saalfeld to become a free town of the Holy Roman Empire.
As the result of two devastating town fires, only a few buildings dating from the middle ages have survived. The Town Hall is one of them. You can see it slightly to the right in the far corner of the market place. It stands out because of its castle-like appearance.
Please walk towards this rather imposing building...