The Drei(n)schlag 2023

In mid-August, a special event took place here in Thuringia. It was called the “Drei(n)schlag” (Three Strike). This is a fireworks display celebrated irregularly since 2002 in the area between Erfurt and Gotha at the “Drei Gleichen” (Three Equals) hills. The Three Gleichen consist of three castles (Burg Gleichen, Mühlburg, and Veste Wachsenburg), which got their name from the “Dreinschlag” when allegedly on May 31, 1231, lightning struck all three castles simultaneously, causing them to blaze like torches. Conveniently, an autobahn runs between the castles, and a train station is also not far away. Taking the train wasn’t an option due to the late evening timing of the fireworks (although we had previously visited the area for hiking using public transportation). As luck would have it, Lisa, a friend of Nathalie and me, mentioned the event, and the three of us drove there in her car.

Map showing two of the castles and the parking area for event guests.

Late in the evening, we drove to one of the viewpoints. Several kilometers before the highway exit, traffic started to jam up. It was challenging to figure out which exit to take and where the designated parking area was supposed to be. Fortunately, we had left with plenty of buffer time. After getting off the highway, we soon arrived at a gas station and rest area, also named “Drei Gleichen.” All the parking spaces here were already fully occupied. However, attendants indicated that we should continue driving and the entire right field had been set up as a parking area. So, we proceeded at a snail’s pace and soon reached the entrance of the parking area. Due to the darkness, it was hard to see anything, but thanks to the parking attendants, all the cars were neatly parked side by side.

We had some time, and since, as shown on the map, the parking area wasn’t really situated between the three castles, we wanted to walk eastward towards the gas station. However, we quickly encountered barriers and private properties, so we decided to turn back. Like most of the guests, we watched the event from the parking area. In the morning of the day, it had rained, so the ground was still slightly damp. We hadn’t thought about wearing boots, and Nathalie, in particular, found it difficult to walk over the rough field because she was only wearing sandals. 😅

The event started with lights and smoke at the castles, symbolizing the fires of the past. After a while, the fireworks began, shooting up simultaneously from all three castles with the same types of fireworks. It was very impressive, and especially towards the end of the approximately 30-minute fireworks display, there were increasingly larger explosions that clustered into smaller ones.

After the fireworks, there was a small problem: the field with the artificially created parking area had only one exit, and now it seemed like thousands of cars wanted to squeeze through it at the same time. While lines were formed, as one can imagine, they barely moved, and there was a lot of cutting in line. So, we waited in the car for over half an hour until the chaos had settled down a bit. Overall, it was a very nice experience with a fireworks display that was unmatched.