Weimar, Germany – the city of students and big names

Weimar in Germany – City of poets and composers

Weimar, Germany is an ancient city in the central part of the country. For centuries it has been known as the economic, political and cultural center of the German counties and lands. Its most gruesome page of history was uncovered in 1937 – the Buchenwald concentration camp was established here.

Old Town Center

Overview

The city of Weimar, after which the entire historical period from 1919 to 1933 (the Weimar Republic) is named, is located in Thuringia (central part of the country). Its population is 65 thousand people. The city covers an area of 84 square kilometers, is divided into 12 districts.

This is one of the oldest and most well-researched in terms of history cities in Germany. For example, in the southern part of Weimar, scientists found traces of Neanderthals.

Horse-drawn carriage

For centuries, Weimar was considered the political, economic and cultural capital of the counties to which it belonged. In the mid-18th century, the city became the center of the Enlightenment in Germany (mainly thanks to Friedrich Nietzsche). At the beginning of the 20th century Weimar became the capital of Thuringia and with the rise of Nazism the concentration camp Buchenwald was established here.

Attractions

Entrance to Buchenwald

Buchenwald is one of the largest concentration camps in Germany, where it is estimated that between 50,000 and 150,000 people died. Today, the site of the former camp is a memorial that consists of:

Memorial Plaque in Buchenwald

  1. Bunker. This is the building that housed the solitary cells where those who were scheduled to be deprived of their lives in the next few weeks sat. It now houses the bulk of the museum exhibit.
  2. Watchtower. At the moment, it is undergoing restoration work.
  3. The train station and the platform. This is the westernmost point on the map of the memorial. Here the would-be inmates of the camp arrived, and from here the sick and the most dangerous (according to the Nazis) prisoners were sent to other death camps.
  4. The roads to the cemetery. This part of the camp dates from a later period: from 1945-1950 it belonged to the Red Army and the Nazis were held there.
  5. Commandant’s Office buildings. There is now a museum and there are photo exhibitions.
  6. The bear enclosure. This is only a small part of the former zoo, which was built by the prisoners of war for the camp guards and locals who could enter the camp.
  7. Memorial Plaque. The nationalities of the victims of Buchenwald are carved on it. It is interesting that the temperature of the slab is always +37 C – that is the temperature of a human body.
  8. Camp store. This is a small building in the northern part of the memorial, where prisoners could buy tobacco or clothes. Now there is a photo exhibition here.
  9. The crematorium is an inconspicuous but most frightening building in any concentration camp. In addition to the ovens, dozens of commemorative plaques from relatives of murdered prisoners and a mass of original documents can be seen here.
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In addition to the buildings listed above, there are many other buildings on the grounds of the former Buchenwald concentration camp, most of which are almost completely destroyed.

Be prepared for the fact that the crematorium contains many gruesome exhibits that not everyone can look at (pieces of human skin with tattoos, dried human heads, prisoners’ hair and “surgical” instruments).

  • Location: Buchenwald Area, 99427 Weimar, Thuringia.
  • Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The library of Duchess Anna Amalia is one of the oldest sites in Weimar, built in 1691.

Duchess Anna Amalia Library

For 300 years there have been accumulated more than 1 million books and hundreds of other old exhibits (paintings, furnishings, a unique spiral staircase), but in 2004 the library was hit by a major fire that destroyed most of the unique books and significantly changed the appearance of most rooms.

The reconstruction, for which the authorities allocated more than 12 million euros, was completed in 2007, but the effects of the fire are still felt today. For instance, the staff have not yet catalogued all the books that were there. They are also buying copies of books from booksellers.

The Anna Amalia Library is a must-see:

  1. Visit the Rococo Reading Room. This is the most famous and most beautiful room in the library, which is still used for its intended purpose. Anyone, paying 8 euros, can come here to read a book or simply to enjoy the atmosphere of antiquity. A maximum of 300 people can be in the reading room at one time. The locals advise to come here by 9 am – during this time there are very few people.
  2. Browse an extensive collection of manuscripts and books, including the 18th-century works of William Shakespeare.
  3. Admire a large collection of paintings by famous European masters.
  • Location: Platz der Demokratie 1, 99423 Weimar, Germany.
  • Opening hours: 9.00 – 18.00.
  • Price: 8 euro.

Central Square

The central square is the heart of the Old Town. Here are the main historical sites of Weimar in Germany:

  • City Hall;
  • The old Elephant Hotel;
  • Local farmers market, where in addition to fresh fruits and vegetables you can buy flowers and handicrafts;
  • “gingerbread houses,” which house cafes, restaurants, and a tourist center;
  • souvenir shops, where you can buy traditional German sweets (brezel, gingerbread, strudel), and postcards with photos of the city of Weimar in Germany.

Also in December, there is a Christmas Fair with fried sausages, mulled wine and German beer.

Location: Markt Platz, Weimar, Germany.

Goethe House

Goethe is one of the most famous residents of Weimar, Germany throughout its history. The German poet was born in 1749 and bought the house that now houses the museum named after him in 1794.

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Interestingly, despite the wars and revolutions, the house of Goethe has been preserved in perfect condition and all the exhibits (books, dishes, furnishings, clothes) that are stored in the museum, are authentic. When visiting this place, pay attention to:

  • Goethe’s library, which houses a large collection of unique editions dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as collections of poems by the poet himself;
  • the small but cozy living room where Goethe and his wife received guests;
  • the lobby;
  • the yellow hall;
  • the carriage house;
  • a small square near the house.

Travelers who have visited the Goethe Museum call it one of the best in Weimar. Speaking about the disadvantages of the attraction, they note the lack of audio guides and guidebooks in German and English, as well as a paid photography fee (3 euros).

  • Location: Frauenplan 1, 99423 Weimar, Thuringia.
  • Opening hours: 9.30 – 16.00 (January – March, October – December), 9.30 – 18.00 (other months).
  • Cost: 12 euros for adults, 8.50 for pensioners, 3.50 for students and free admission for children under 16 years.

Church of Saints Peter and Paul

The Church of Saints Peter and Paul is one of the main religious landmarks of Weimar. Since the middle of the 16th century, the church belongs to the Protestants.

Today, there are no more services, but tourists are welcome. Travelers who have already been to the church advise to pay attention to:

  1. The altar. This is the most valuable and famous part of the temple. Firstly, it was created in the 1580s, and secondly, it was painted by Lucas Cranach himself, an honorary resident of Weimar.
  2. The spire of the church of Saints Peter and Paul is the highest in Weimar and can be seen from everywhere in the city. Because of this, the spire often acts as a landmark for lost tourists.

It is interesting that this landmark of Weimar is often called “Herderkirche”. This is because the famous German philosopher Herder worked and lived here for several years.

  • Location: Herderplatz 8, Weimar.
  • Opening times: 11.00 – 12.00, 14.00 – 16.00 (daily).

Park an der Ilm

The Park an der Ilm, named after the river Ilm on which it stands, is the largest and oldest park in Weimar. He was laid out in the 17th century by King Charles. For tourists the Ilmsky Park is interesting not even for its unique plant collection and its age, but for the fact that on its territory there are a number of attractions:

  • Goethe’s cottage, where the poet likes to rest on hot summer days;
  • the house-museum of Franz Liszt, where the composer lived for more than 20 years;
  • the Roman House (this is the first building in Thuringia built in the style of classicism);
  • A monument to the heroes of the works of W. Shakespeare.
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If you are not a big fan of historical sights, come to the park is still worthwhile. It can, for example, have a picnic or just take a walk in the summer evening.

The location is Illmstrasse in Weimar.

Where to stay

Hotel in Weimar

There are 220+ hotels in Weimar at varying levels. There are even more apartments – about 260 accommodation options.

Number in the hotel 3 * for two in the high season will cost 65 – 90 euros per night, which is an order of magnitude lower than in most neighboring German cities. Typically, this price includes a good breakfast, a spacious terrace overlooking the historic part of town and free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel.

If the option of a hotel is not suitable, it is worth considering an apartment. The cost of a studio apartment for two in the high season is 30-50 euros per day (the price depends on location and other characteristics). The price includes all the necessary equipment in the apartment, basic necessities and support from the owner around the clock.

Transport links

Weimar is located in central Germany, so it is easy to reach from any major city. The nearest major population centers: Erfurt (25 km), Leipzig (129 km), Dresden (198 km), Nuremberg (243 km), Hannover (268 km), Berlin (284 km).

Weimar has its own railway station and bus station, with more than 100 trains and 70 buses a day.

Trains in Weimar

Get to Weimar from the German capital is better by train, which runs every 3 hours. Travel time is 2 hours and 20 minutes. Approximate price is 35 euros. Getting off at the train station in Berlin.

To get to Weimar from Leipzig is also better by train. Train Ice (goes from Munchen station) runs every 2 hours. Travel time is 1 hour 10 minutes. The ticket price is 15-20 euros. Get off at the station Leipzig Hauptbahnhof.

The prices on the page are for July 2019.

Interesting facts

Weimar dog

  1. Among the natives and honorary citizens of Weimar are famous German composers Johann Sebastian Bach and Franz Liszt, poets Johann Wolfrang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
  2. In the 19th century, Weimar bred a new breed of dog, the Weimar Leghorn.
  3. The Weimar Republic is commonly referred to as the historical period from 1919 to 1933. This is due to the fact that it was in Weimar where the new constitution was adopted.
  4. On the site of the former concentration camp at Buchenwald until 1944 grew a huge oak tree, which is still called “the tree of Goethe”, because the poet (and he lived from 1749 to 1832) often came to this hill to admire the local nature.
  5. The Anna Amalia Library is called the “Green Palace” because for centuries it was painted only green.
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If you love and remember history, be sure to come to Weimar, Germany.

A tour of the Buchenwald Memorial:

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Classic Weimar. Germany

weimar

There is an expression “the city lives its life.” In this case, the city appears to us as a living unit, and it is assumed that it was born, grew up and now lives on its own. As we understand it, this is all an abstraction. Cities are made by people-founding, rebuilding, developing, and improving it. And a few centuries later, other people, impressed by the resulting masterpiece, put it on the list of world heritage.

Who would know now about a small German town in Thuringia, if not for one person. Or rather – a woman. Her name was Anna Amalia. She was born in 1739. Her father was Duke Carl Braunschweig of Wolfenbüttel, and her mother Philippine Charlotte of Prussia. There were only 13 children in the family. So it was necessary to quickly reduce their presence under the parental wing. As soon as the body became more shapely, the female children were promptly married off to approximately the same male children of approximately the same blue bloods. Many of them were already related, and because of this, such couples often had health problems in later generations. Apparently, that is why they gave birth with a reserve. But this story is a different story. We are only interested in the identity of Anna Amalia.

She married Ernst Augustus II of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach at the age of 16, but at 18 she was already a widow and had two sons. Let’s not dabble with long names anymore. They are already firmly entrenched in the net, like ruffs on a hook. Let us simply say that the famous poet and thinker Christoph Martin Wieland was invited to nurture Charles Augustus’ eldest son into a worthy duke. As he handed over power to his mature son, Anne Amalia focused on the cultural development of the city. Following Wieland, the young and promising Goethe and Schiller were invited to the city and things began to turn around. Weimar became the cultural and spiritual center of Europe. This may be an exaggeration of the scale, and other cities will be offended. But we’ll write about other cities some other time. At least Weimar was the nucleus of the German Enlightenment. The city played a key role in the development of creative and intellectual potential of Germany, and due to this the main sights were included in 1998 in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites under the name Classic Weimar. That was the origin of one of the branches of the architectural style – Weimar Classicism.

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A short walk through the key World Heritage sites and what to see in Weimar, if you find yourself there.

Anne-Amalie Library in Weimar. View from outside. Germany

Anne-Amalie Library in Weimar. View from the outside. Germany

The Anne-Amalie library is the Duchess’ life’s work. At the moment, about a million different publications are collected there – from the time of the mammoths to the present day.

Anne-Amalie Library in Weimar. View inside. Germany.

Anne-Amalie Library in Weimar. View from the inside. Germany

For a long time, the caretaker in the library was SAM! We’re talking about Goethe, of course . He lived 82 years, and about 35 years of them were directly related to it. The poet lived in a house, which has also survived.

Goethe House in Weimar. Germany.

Goethe’s house in Weimar. Germany

He also had a summer house with a park.

Goethe's summer house in Weimar. Germany.

Goethe’s summer house in Weimar. Germany

Ironically, Schiller also had a house where he lived and created.

Schiller House in Weimar. Germany

Schiller’s house in Weimar. Germany

Both ended their lives in Weimar , and their graves are in the same cemetery. Moreover, next to each other.

Goethe and Schiller are buried here. Weimar. Germany

Goethe and Schiller are buried here. Weimar. Germany

Although rumor has it that Goethe’s casket is empty and Schiller’s is missing a skull. Hard to verify, one would have to live in doubt.

So friendly were they that there is even a “tandem” monument to Goethe and Schiller in Weimar.

The monument to Goethe and Schiller in Weimar. Germany

A monument to Goethe and Schiller in Weimar. Germany

The Church of Saints Peter and Paul (Herder Church) is the main church in the city, where Herder, one of the most prominent representatives of the German Enlightenment, often delivered lectures and teachings

Church of Saints Peter and Paul (Herder Church) in Weimar. Germany.

The Church of Saints Peter and Paul (Herder Church) in Weimar. Germany

Weimar Castle in Weimar.

Weimar Castle. Germany

Weimar Castle. Germany

In general, there are many interesting things in Weimar. For example, also included in the list are three palaces with adjacent parks: Belvedere, Tiefurth and Ettersburg , but they are not so popular. If you are wondering if it is worthwhile to go to Weimar , or if you should stop by while you are passing through , it is definitely worth it. I would even say it would be better to spend at least a couple of days in this city.

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