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Germany - Thuringia

Weimar

A Karen Brown Recommendation
The traffic crawls through the sprawling suburbs but take heart, since after you park your car you are treated to an extremely picturesque city. As you near the town center, follow signposts for the Hotel Elephant—this route brings you to the pedestrian Marktplatz, where you find the tourist information office and the Hotel Elephant (you can drive into the square to drop your luggage if you are staying at the hotel). Weimar’s status as a cultural capital led to Germany’s democrats putting the town’s name on the new republic in 1919. Over the years the town’s princes nurtured those with artistic and musical talents, including Lucas Cranach, Franz Liszt, and Johann Sebastian Bach. Similarly, the court nurtured Germany’s leading writers: Goethe, Schiller, Wieland, and Herder. Goethe spent over 50 years here. He moved into *Goethehaus in 1782 and lived here until his death in 1832 (from the market square take Frauentorstrasse to Frauenplan). His home is, by and large, the way it was when he lived here: you see the study where he worked, manuscripts and all, and his bedroom with the armchair in which he died. (9 am–4 pm, closed Mondays.) Goethe frequently dined in the adjacent Zum Weissen Schwan and housed his overflow of visitors here. The Swan has two delightful, cozy dining rooms, an excellent choice for an up-market place to eat. A few streets away lies the Schillerhaus, Schillerstrasse 12, where Schiller came to live for three years prior to Goethe’s death. It was here that he wrote Wilhelm Tell. Behind the house an interesting museum depicts the writer’s life and work. (9 am–4 pm, closed Mondays.) Goethe and Schiller were great friends and a large statue of them together stands outside the Deutsches Nationaltheater on Theaterplatz. The exterior of the Stadtschloss (castle) has been restored, and the wing facing the park is now open as an art gallery that houses, among other things, an important collection of paintings by Lucas Cranach. (9 am–5 pm, closed Mondays.) Cross the river Ilm (on the bridge behind the museum) and stroll though the woodlands and lawns, following the river to Goethe’s Gartenhaus (garden house) which he received as a present from August the Strong in 1776. He liked it so much that he lived there till 1782 and it always remained his favorite retreat. The country-simple furnishings in the garden house are very different from the ornate decor in his later home. (closed Mondays.)
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