- One must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves. Machiavelli Niccolo
Travel to Weimar, Germany
Weimar is the heart of German culture. This city in the East of Germany was home to many of Germany’s artists and thinkers; Goethe, Bach, and Nietzsche, just to name a few, shaped the intellectual zeitgeist of Weimar. The city is also the cradle of the Bauhaus movement, which revolutionized the aesthetics of the 20th century.
Tourist Attractions in Weimar
Goethe House and National Museum
Adjoining the historic old White Swan Inn, Goethe House (Goethes Wohnhaus), a simple Baroque building constructed in 1709, was where Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, one of Germany's most famous writers, lived from 1782 until his death in 1832. Furnished as it was in Goethe's time, this well-preserved home contains his art and scientific collections, along with his writing room and library containing some 5,400 volumes. The upper floor contains the Goethe National Museum with a wide range of material on his life and work. Also of interest is Goethe's Garden House in Ilm Park, the quaint cottage he often used as a retreat and containing original furniture and other mementos.
The Bauhaus Museum
With a focus on the Bauhaus movement's early days in Weimar - it was founded here in 1919 - the Bauhaus Museum is an excellent resource for one of the world's most important design styles. Highlights include works by the movement's founder, Walter Gropius, as well as by his contemporaries and students, plus displays tracing the school's work in Weimar, along with examples and prototypes. Weimer boasts a number of fine examples of the Bauhaus architectural style, too, including the Main Building and the former School of Arts and Crafts at Bauhaus University, and Haus am Horn, an experimental home built in 1923.
Schiller House was the home of Friedrich Schiller, famous for his poetry and plays, as well as his friendship with Goethe. Now a museum, this was Schiller's home from 1802 until his death in 1805. Along with its richly furnished rooms in period style, the Schiller Museum boasts a large collection of material relating to his life and work, as well as artifacts, documents, and manuscripts of his last writings, including William Tell and The Bride of Messina.
Wittumspalais: The Widow's Palace
Built in 1767, Wittumspalais - the Widow's Palace - was the home of the Dowager Duchess Anna Amalia and was, during Goethe's time, the epicenter of social and literary activity in the city. Now a museum, this splendid two-winged palace features fine décor, period furniture, and portraits of the Ducal family and courtesans, as well as portraits of Goethe and Schiller in the Poet's Room. Also of interest is the Round Table Room where guests like Goethe were entertained, and did the entertaining.
The Duchess Anna Amalia Library
Housed in the Green Palace (Grünes Schloss), a huge Renaissance building constructed in 1563 and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Duchess Anna Amalia Library - also referred to as the Historical Library - houses one of Germany's most important collections of classic literature. Highlights of the collection include medieval signatures, some of Europe's first printed books, along with maps, globes, artwork and artifacts, and the private library of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. The building itself is a work of art, particularly the exquisite Rococo Hall. Tickets to this popular attraction should be reserved at least six months in advance to avoid disappointment, although a limited number are set aside each day on a first-come first served basis.
The Herder Church
The central feature of the Old Town of Weimar is the Stadtkirche (Town Church), or Herder Church, a Late Gothic hall-church built in 1500 and dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. Protected as a national monument, it was here that Johann Herder, the great 18th-century writer and philosopher, officiated as court preacher for many years (his tomb lies in the west choir). The church has a large winged altar by Lucas Cranach the Younger built in 1555, and the grave slab of Lucas Cranach the Elder, who died in 1553, along with a number of 16th-century monuments to members of the Ernestine line. Guided tours are available. A statue of Herder stands in front of the church. Also of interest is the Garden at Herder House, behind the church.
The Castle Museum
Weimar's Schloss is a three-story building with a Neoclassical colonnade facing the River Ilm and is notable for its fine interior, including the staircase hall, the Great Hall, and the Falcon Gallery from 1803, as well as the Goethe Gallery. The castle also houses the Castle Museum, home to the city's extensive art collections with a fine collection of German art from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance periods. Other highlights include Italian and Dutch paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries, including works by Rubens, and art of the Goethe period. There's also a collection of graphic art, including some 15,000 drawings and 50,000 sheets of printed graphic art, as well as a substantial coin collection.
The Ducal Vault and Historical Graveyard
Weimar's main cemetery, Fürstengruft Historischer Friedhof, is famous as the final resting place of both Goethe and Schiller, and with its many splendid monuments and park-like setting is well worth a visit. The cemetery's domed Neoclassical chapel was built in 1827 and houses the Ducal Vault containing the remains of Goethe, Schiller, and Grand Duke Carl August (their bodies were interred here some years after their deaths). Another structure of note is the Russian Chapel, built in 1862, where the Grand Duchess Maria Pawlowna is buried. Also in the cemetery are the graves of other members of the Goethe family, as well as friends and associates, and a monument to those who fell in the 1848 Revolution.
To the north of Weimar rises the 478-meter-high Ettersberg, notorious as the place where the Nazis established the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1937 and where an estimated 56,000 people died. Now a memorial site, Memorial Buchenwald (Gedenkstätte Buchenwald) is a sobering reminder of the horrors of fascism. The memorial, which includes the Grove of Honor and a bell-tower, was laid out on the southern slope of the hill at the site of mass graves. Also available to view are a number of the camp's surviving buildings, including the gatehouse, detention cells, and crematorium.
Originally built in Late Gothic style, Kirms-Krackow House today has a simple Baroque façade and is worth visiting for its splendid old courtyard with its wooden gallery and gardens. Now a museum, its highlights include the home's fine original furniture and artifacts providing a glimpse into the lives of the middle-classes during Goethe's time. Also of interest is an exhibition showcasing the botany of Weimar, located in the Baroque garden pavilion.