The city of Weimar is a wonderful place to spend the morning on your Central European tour. The late 18th
and early 19th
centuries were a time of great artistic development in the Thuringian town of Weimar. Thanks to the support of Duke Carl August, the vibrant city attracted many academics, artists, and philosophers
Weimar was home to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller, two of the most famous German writers and poets. In fact, Weimar’s classical period was really the result of the earnest collaboration of these two men beginning in 1799. Other artists and writers who have lived in the city include Franz Liszt, Walter Gropius, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Johann Gottfried Herder.
It is remarkable that after World War II, with much of the city’s historic buildings being damaged or ruined, great steps were taken to reconstruct them as authentically as possible. Whenever feasible, original materials were used to rebuild, referencing detailed drawings and paintings of the original structures used as guides.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), has named a group of twelve properties in Weimar as World Heritage buildings. It is evident from the artistic quality of the buildings and gardens that this reconstruction period was a special and culturally effecting time. In its day, the city was a cultural center of Europe known for its support of the many artists and writers. Thanks to the painstaking efforts to restore the ruins to their previous glory days, the city has a high authenticity rating.
Weimar: a City of Contrasts
Weimar is all too familiar with the delicate balance between good and evil. Though famous for Goethe and Schiller and enlightened views on mankind, it still has a gloomy neighbor. A Nazi concentration camp known as Buchenwald is located just over the hill from Weimar in Ettersberg. The trip can be a sobering experience and is essential for those interested in the Nazi era.
Several sites are worth a visit which exude the classical and glorious past of Weimar. On one such location, The Park on the Ilm, sits Goethe’s renowned Garden house.
Both Goethe’s town house (a Baroque building constructed in 1709) and Schiller’s house are now museums. They are furnished with some original items, as they would have been during the lifetime of these two great men.
The Dowager's Palace is home to a group of buildings including the Princes Tomb and the Historic Cemetery where members of the royal family are buried, as well as Schiller and Goethe.
Whether you have a full day or just a few hours, Weimar is easily toured and visitors can readily experience the glory days of what was once one of the most important cultural centers in Europe.