Erfurt

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Erfurt (German pronunciation: [ˈɛɐ̯fʊɐ̯t]) is the capital city of Thuringia and is the main city nearest to the geographical centre of Germany, located 100 km SW of Leipzig, 150 km N of Nuremberg and 180 km SE of Hannover. Erfurt Airport can be reached by plane via Munich. It lies in the southern part of the Thuringian Basin, within the wide valley of Gera River, a tributary of the Unstrut. To the south, the city is surrounded by the hilly Steigerwald forest.

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History

Erfurt is an old Germanic settlement. The oldest evidence of human settlement dates from the prehistoric era; archeological finds from the north of Erfurt revealed human traces from the paleolithic period, ca. 100,000 BCE. The Erfurt-Melchendorf dig 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 writes Pope Zachary to tell him that he had established three dioceses in Thuringia, one of which "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 Buraburg) were confirmed by Zachary the next year, though later Erfurt was brought into the diocese of Mainz.[2] 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.[3]

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