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Cultural Highlights 


About Ilmenau and Thuringia


The Goethe and university town of Ilmenau - population approx. 30,000 - is situated in the foothills of the Thuringian Forest. Surrounded by the mountains of the Thuringian Forest in Germany's "green heart", it makes an excellent base for hiking. It is also the start of the 20-km Goethe trail following in the footsteps of the great writer and poet.
Ilmenau offers plenty of variety for everyone - cultural enthusiasts, nature-lovers, sporty types and people who enjoy hiking and biking.

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A great variety of scenery, a fabled wealth of fortresses and castles, an incomparable diversity of architecture and culture and lots of leisure fun – this is what the holiday state of Thuringia (Thueringen) has to offer. Its very own special feature is that all these attractions are so close together. You can spend a morning walking in the countryside, stroll through a romantic old town in the afternoon or escape into the past by visiting a fortress and then enjoy the excellent Thuringian cuisine and an outstanding cultural event in the evening. The best description of Thuringia’s qualities is still the one given by Goethe: “Where else in Germany can so many good things be found so close together?” 




Erfurt, Weimar, Eisenach & co. – the Thuringian cities offer visitors a mix of history and tradition, culture and leisure fun, modern and classic. The city of Classicism par excellence is, of course, Weimar, the European City of Culture in 1999. Here there is hardly a street or lane that does not reflect the chequered history of the city. For generations, the “Cultural Mile” in the city centre with the famous bronze monument to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller outside the German National Theatre (Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar) and a total of 27 museums have been attracting visitors from all over the world to this city on the River Ilm. Meanwhile, as many as – believe it or not - 16 unique items have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. This also includes the Bauhaus and its venues in Weimar. In 2009, the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus was celebrated in Thuringia.

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Thuringian Highlights

1. Wartburg Castle


Because of its very special history, Wartburg Castle near Eisenach is seen as one of the most famous of all German castles. It was built in about 1067 and by the early 13th century, it had become one of Europe's most famous centres of the muses. The fabled highlight of this era was the competition between minnesingers, known as the Battle of the Bards. In the castle, the painter Moritz von Schwind commemorated both this event and the history of St. Ellisabeth in much-admired frescoes. It was in 1521 when Martin Luther translated the New Testament from Greek into German at the Luther study, which can still be visited.  

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2. City of Eisenach


Eisenach, situated at the food of the famous Wartburg Castle, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is where St. Elisabeth, the Hungarian princess and Thuringian Landgravine (1207-1231), spent most of her short life and this is where Martin Luther and Johann Sebastian Bach went to school. The Luther House is not only one of the oldest half-timbered buildings in Eisenach, it also contains a highly interesting museum on the great reformer's life and times. There is also a museum commemorating the city's over hundred-year-old tradition of automobile construction.

3. City of Erfurt


More than 1.260 years old, the state capital of Erfurt invites visitors to encounter the Middle Ages cast in stone. Meticulously restored houses and churches still bear witness to wealth of the once powerful trading and university city, which boasts one of the best preserved listed medieval city centers under protection order in Germany. The impressive ensemble of St. Mary's Cathedral and St. Servus Church belongs to the city's most-photographed sights.

4. City of Weimar


From the former Petersburg Fortress in Erfurt, you can see across the Old Town to the city of Weimar which owes its fame to both the literary classics and the revolutionary Bauhaus movement. Poets, painters, musicians and architects, such as Goethe, Schiller and Cranach, Liszt, Gropius and Nietzsche chose to live here and made it what it is today - namely a centre of German intellectual life. But Weimar also stands for the two faces of history - at the heart of the city is the German National Theatre long directed by Goethe and founding site of the Weimar Republic whereas outside the city gates stands Buchenwald Memorial site, the former concentration camp.

5. Famous Thuringian Personalities 

   Many great minds found Thuringia a good place to spend their lives or to live and work here for a while. For example Martin Luther who went to school in Eisenach from 1498 to 1501 and who displayed his skills as a clear-sighted politician in Schmalkalden. He spent his student years in Erfurt. Later he found refuge at Wartburg Castle, when he was haunted and outlawed by the church. Here he translated the New Testament into German which was his greatest cultural achievement.
   Johann Sebastian Bach, the most famous member of this musical family, spent half his life in Thuringia. Born in Eisenach, his education, the death of his parents and then his work as a violinist, organist and composer took him all over the state.
   Johann Wolfgang von Goethe came to Thuringia from Frankfurt/Main as a young man. During his time here, he was not only an inspired poet and dramatist but also a government minister, librarian, theatre director and sometime architect, who left his mark mainly in Weimar, Jena, Eisenach, Ilmenau and Gotha. 
   The poet and dramatist Friedrich Schiller, Goethe's subsequent friend, experienced his most productive years in Thuringia, too. His most important stations in Thuringia include Meiningen, Jena, Weimar and Rudolstadt where Schiller and Goethe had their first encounter. 

In 1848, the famous pianist Franz Liszt settled in Weimar and received the position  of “Hofkapellmeister”. He wrote his own orchestral works and brought into Weimar the modern music of his period: Berlioz and Schumann. Particularly he supported the works of Richard Wagner: the premiere of the opera “Lohengrin” took place in Weimar.

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