Nick M

The small city of Weimar has played an oversized role in Germany’s cultural history.

Weimar is a small town, but it has a big history for visitors to take in. This city of 64,000 in central Germany Weimar was home to some of the country’s great cultural achievements, from the works of Goethe to the Bauhaus School for architecture and design. Yet it also contains memories of the horrors of the Nazi era, in the form of the Buchenwald concentration camp.

The city, in which UNESCO World Heritage works of Bauhaus architecture stand side-by-side with well-preserved classical buildings is easily explored on foot or by bicycle.

Park an der Ilm is located right at the heart of Weimar, and is a favorite venue for outdoor activities, from jogging and strolling to barbecues and concerts. In summer, the entire park is alive with lush greenery and enlivened and countless flowers in full bloom, while winter can transform the park into a snow-covered wonderland. 

Statues of two of Weimar’s most prominent residents, the giants of world literature Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, stand before the Theatreplatz Center. In addition to the two great German bards, Weimar inspired numerous other writers, including Thomas Mann, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche  and  composers Johann Sebastian Bach to Franz Liszt. All over the city are marks left by venerable geniuses during their time in Weimar.

Anna Amalia Library is also one of the finest destinations in Weimar, named after a countess passionate for arts and culture. This library houses around one million rare books and retains a  welcoming ambience for research or just quiet reading.

Goethe and Schiller houses

Weimar is most powerfully linked to Goethe and Schiller. These two bards of German and world poetry spent a great deal of their time living here and penning numerous works deeply imprinted by this city. Thus a trip Weimar would be incomplete without visiting the homes of the great authors.

The Goethe National Museum contains several buildings, including the homes of both Goethe and Schiller. Goethe’s house boasts a number of different gardens that were named after seasons, and  the residence is a favorite spot for literature lovers, with many visitors bringing a poetry collection by Goethe to read and enjoy on the site. After his death in 1832, Goethe was buried in Weimar Historical Cemetery.

A trip to the residences of Goethe and Schiller can also be mixed with explorations of surrounding exhibitions because Weimar prides itself in its rich culture and history. At any time of a year, there are always cultural exhibitions near the houses of the two most influential writers of Germany.

History at its most hideous

Weimar is also associated with key historical milestones of Germany, including its darkest moments. In 1919, the Weimar Republic was founded, making it the first republic of Germany. However, it later became a center of Nazism, home to numerous visits from Adolf Hitler and the site of Second Plenum of Nazi Party. Just outside of town in the Ettersberg hills was the Buchenwald concentration camp, where some 65,000 men, women and children were killed. The camp is open to the public, with numerous exhibits detailing the horrifying conditions there.

While not as visited as tourist attractions such as Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg or Munich, Weimar is a fascinating destination slightly off the beaten track. Art lovers will find much to admire the landscape, people, historical and cultural values affiliated with this city.

On leaving Weimar, it lingers in the memory like the lines from the poem “Encounters and Separation” by Goethe:

“…Alas, it’s time to part our way

A mounting pain heaps up in my chest

The splitting kiss channels so much happiness

Although pain darkens in your eyes

I walk and leave you standing in dotage

You look at me, with those teary sullen eyes

My God, that is love!

To love you is beyond blessing.”