WEIMAR – GERMANY’S CULTURAL GEM

Two heavyweights of German literature – Goethe and Schiller stand side by side and gaze above us at the Theaterplatz in Weimar. Just by looking around the centre I can see that this compact  city is a stunning architectural pearl.

If you ever travel through Thuringia in the south-east part of Germany just make a stop in Weimar and you won’t be disappointed. For a small city of 65000 it has a vast cultural heritage to offer.

Weimar was home to the giants of German literature: Goethe and Schiller, home to classical music and a composer Franz Liszt, the birthplace of the Bauhaus movement and the place where Germany’s first democratic constitution was signed after the First World War, giving its name to the Weimar Republic period of 1918 – 1933.

It’s an easy place to explore with many compact squares surrounded by old townhouses and numerous museums, palaces and monuments on every corner and sumptuous gardens near the centre of the city.

In Theaterplatz you can admire the imposing National Theatre with the symbolic statue of Goethe and Schiller

and The Bauhaus Museum at the opposite side of the square.

From there narrow and winding lanes lead to the Schiller House and the Goethe House where his famous “The Faust” was written and his memorabilia can be seen.

Nearby, the main art museum – The Schlossmuseum with its first class collection of paintings ranging from Renaissance until the beginning of the 20th century occupies the City Palace

a sprawling building with a distinctive tower which is situated on the banks of the river Ilm and surrounded by a large classical park designed by Goethe himself.

Just to the south of the palace the view opens onto the impressive baroque buiding with a columnal porch. It is a well known music school founded by Franz Liszt in 1872.

We follow more winding lanes until we reach the 16th century Herderplatz with its white Herder Church famous for Lucas Cranach the Elder’s altar triptych (1552). It is a UNESCO site and I’m a bit disappointed to find church doors firmly bolted. It seems we arrived there after the closure time at 4pm.

We have to move on to the picturesque Cranach House rising above a colourful market square where an arty coffee shop tempts us to take a break and tuck into delicious cakes.

The square boasts pretty as postcards buildings and an impressive neo-gothic Town Hall.


Our visit culminates in Weimar’s Historical Cemetery just outside the city centre. It has a park-like feel with its dark green tree alleys, old walls engraved with family graves and little criss-crossing paths.

A richly ornamented Russian Orthodox Chapel rises above the cemetery and its gilded onion domes draw attention to the burial site of the Russian Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, the wife of Grand Duke Carl Friedrich.

The mausoleum chapel was built for the Russian Tsar’s daughter in 1860s. Even soil from Russia was brought especially for her last place of rest.

The whole cemetery is a lovely secluded spot perfect for wandering around and discovering classical graves of many Weimar celebrities. The coffins of Goethe and Schiller can be viewed together with Goethe’s close confidante Charlotte von Stein.

After all this cultural nourishment we’re ready for culinary Thuringian specialty such as the original bratwurst with mustard.

HOW TO GET THERE

By train – from Dresden, Berlin, Leipzig or Halle. The centre of town is a 20-minute walk south of the train station

By car – along E40 between Erfurt and Dresden

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