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Mühlhausen is known as the city of gates and churches. Because of the 56 steeples and towers of its city wall the place was originally referred to as " Mulhusia turrita", which means "Mühlhausen ornamented with steeples and towers".

In mediaeval times Mühlhausen ranked second after Erfurt as the most important city in Thuringia. Its architectural diversity provides evidence of the economic and cultural importance the former imperial free-city (Reichsstadt) once had, as does the city itself with its well-preserved, fully accessible city wall.

During the Peasants' War Mühlhausen was a gathering point of the rebellion. Thomas Müntzer, reformer and their leader, used to preach there in the Marienkirche (St. Mary's Church) with its five naves. Furthermore, Mühhausen is known as a centre of Protestant church music.
The hall church of Divii Blasii with its 3 naves was one of the places were Johann Sebastian Bach worked. In recent years the Old Town has been redeveloped and regained much of its historic splendour.