Well-preserved patrician mansions built in both Gothic and Renaissance styles are the town's dominant feature. Many of the narrow streets are lined with old half-timbered houses. One of Erfurt's curiosities is the Krämerbrücke (Shopkeepers' Bridge; www.kraemerbruecke.de), which has spanned the Gera since the 14th century. It has houses on both sides, nearly three dozen in all, and is filled with bookstalls, cafes, and antiques shops. You'll certainly want to spend some time here browsing.

The ecclesiastical center is the Domberg, where two Catholic churches stand side by side, their 15th-century walls almost closing in on each other. The Dom (Cathedral; tel. 0361/6461265; www.mariendom-erfurt.de), on Domplatz, was begun in the 12th century and later rebuilt in the 14th century in the Gothic style. Its stained-glass windows above the choir date from 1370 to 1420 and are unusual in Germany because they depict scenes of everyday life. The interior of the cathedral is richly baroque, but it also has some notable works from 1160: a Romanesque altar of the Virgin and the statue-candelabrum known as "the Wolfram." Note also the 13th-century tombstone of the count of Gleichen and his two wives. One local legend says that the second woman wasn't his wife at all, but a Saracen beauty from the Holy Land who, under mysterious circumstances, saved his life. The Dom is open May to October Monday to Friday 9 to 11:30am and 12:30 to 5pm, Saturday 9 to 11:30am and 12:30 to 4:30pm, and Sunday 2 to 4pm; November to April, hours are Monday to Saturday 10 to 11:30am and 12:30 to 4pm, and, in addition to Sunday Masses (usually conducted at 9 and 11am), it's open to tourists on Sunday from 2 to 4:30pm.

Its neighbor is the Gothic Church of St. Severi (tel. 0361/576960), a "hall-type" church with five naves. Don't miss seeing its extraordinary font, a masterpiece of intricately carved sandstone, rising practically to the roof. You may also look for a notable sarcophagus of the saint (ca. 1365) in the southernmost aisle. St. Severi is linked to the Dom by a 70-step open staircase. It's open May to October Monday to Friday 9am to 12:30pm and 1:30 to 5pm, and November to April Monday to Friday 10am to 12:30pm and 1:30 to 4pm. It's closed January and during most of February.

The most beautiful churches are the Romanesque Peterskirche, dating from the 12th and 14th centuries, and the 13th-century Predigerkirche, of the Order of Mendicant Friars. There are also three early medieval churches: Agidienkirche, Michaeliskirche, and Allerheiligengeistkirche. The tourist office will give you a map pinpointing all these. Most can be reached on foot.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.