“Schmalkalden and Meiningen
exude a special charm!”

Thomas Christians is a photographer and influencer – more than 160,000 people follow his Instagram channel and marvel at the visually stunning impressions that the Hamburg native collects and publishes from his travels around the world. At the invitation of the district of Schmalkalden-Meiningen, the 37-year-old visited the magnificent region with his partner. The postings can be seen on his Instagram channel “themodernleper” (German: “The modern leper”) in the coming days.

As a sought-after photo blogger, you travel all over the world and have already captured many great motifs. Did you also find what you were looking for in the district of Schmalkalden-Meiningen?

Definitely. We were particularly fascinated by Schmalkalden, which absolutely captivates with its great old town. As we learned on the city tour, around 90 of the medieval half-timbered houses have been preserved here, a historical treasure that brings with it an extra charm. Meiningen is also a very beautiful small town, but we were unlucky with the weather here. But despite the rain, the pictures were very nice.

How do you get inspiration and how do you find your motifs?

This varies. I get my inspiration from Instagram and look for pictures on the internet, that’s where you get a first impression and see what you find interesting. On site you go through the city with completely different eyes than a normal tourist and you can be inspired. At 5 a.m. in the morning at sunrise, a city also looks completely different, you only meet a few people and can let everything sink in. You basically have a city to yourself. Then when you’re out and about in the afternoon, it’s more about the experience and you stop somewhere. I like to take all facets with me when I go on photo trips.

You were very interested in Schmalkalden and Meiningen right from the start. What attracted you to the two cities?

I find it very interesting from a photographic point of view that both cities are not yet fully developed. So it’s not like everything here has already been photographed umpteen times. A photographer can set new brands here himself. And in contrast to the big city, small towns always have a special, individual charm. Meiningen and Schmalkalden also spray it. There are traditional shops and old handicrafts here. This can also tip over very quickly in beautiful inner cities. For example, when cities become purely tourism locations, as is the case in some regions in Alsace, you often have the feeling that they are just backdrops for holidaymakers and not places where people live and work.

What did you particularly like? What surprised you?

That was actually the half-timbered adventure house. We found that really exciting and were surprised at what there was to discover inside. A volunteer guided us through the house and informed us about the history of the house. Sometimes we crawled through the house with the low ceilings. A very interesting insight – and definitely worth an Instagram story.

As with many colleagues, your camera is preferably used at sunrise and sunset, were you able to enjoy the region in the short time in between or were you looking for it all the time perfect motif?

Of course, you always want to take a few things with you and experience them – especially regional specialties or local cuisine. Thuringian dumplings were on our to-do list and we really wanted to try them. We then went to the Wirtshaus Ehrenthal in this wonderful piece of forest and it was very good. I was particularly surprised that, in addition to Thuringian cuisine, there were also unusual, upscale dishes – such as homemade crème brûlée.

So you’ve found a taste for the Prachtregion?

Definitely. We realized on the way that the nature around Schmalkalden and Meiningen is simply beautiful. So you can combine a city trip very well with a hiking tour. But we only got a glimpse of the magnificent region, so there is still a lot to experience here.