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Historic Tour

The marketplace in Weimar was arranged in 1400 as a yard for tournament festivals. In the 16th century it was paved for the first time and surrounded with buildings of the Renaissance. The exterior of the market place changed twice - once in 1837, when the old city hall burned down. The new Town Hallwas built its new location, with a porcelain "Glockenspiel" from Meissen in its tower. The worst change was experienced during World War II - when the entire north side was levelled to the ground. Today, this side is a mixture of historic buildings (e.g. the former yard pharmacy with the delicate oriel) and buildings with modern design elements. The Town House, built in 1547, was also completely destroyed. Around the time of Goethe the building was used for concerts, lectures and informal meetings. The town´s cellar restaurant is accommodated in the basement of the house that was rebuilt in 1970/71. Adjacent to it, is located the Cranach House, built in 1547/49. Here, Lucas Cranach the Elder moved in with his son-in-law - chancellor Brueck on returning in 1552 with Johann Friedrich the "Grossmuetigen" after the lost battle of Muehlberg. At the age of 79, Cranach moved his studio here, where he began the work on the famous altarpiece for the parish church, and he died here on 16th October, 1553. The ornamental Neptune fountain, named after the sea god, was aready the second copy of the original created by M.G. Klauer (most important sculptor of classical Weimar) in 1774 . One of the restaurant owners of the "Schwarzen Bären" - probably Weimar´s oldest inn - started in 1696 in the adjoining house to the restaurant a new hotel "Zum Elephanten". The Hotel Elephant is the most traditional hotel in the town. In classical times, it was the anteroom to Weimar´s living Walhalla - as the Austrian Grillparzer expressed it. Thomas Mann´s novel "Lotte in Weimar", turned the "Elephant" into a literary monument. The hotel received its current exterior in the 1930's. Directly beside the "Elephant" was the no longer existing hotel "Zum Erbprinzen" hotel. Famous people such as Napoleon, Paganini, C.M. von Weber, F.Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, F. Liszt, R. Wagner and others stayed here. When the hotel was extended in 1803, the house where J. S. Bach lived with his family in the years 1708-1717 had to give way. There is a commemorative plaque to him and his Weimar-born sons William Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel. The effective end of the market place and a transition to the "Place of Democracy" is the Red Palace - built in 1574/76 as the widows residence of the duchess Dorothea Susanna. Remarkable for this rather simple building are the three renaissance-gables and the magnificent portal with the coat of arms. The castle was Bach's workplace in his first period in Weimar from 1702 to 1703, his first position was that of a Court Violonist. In the time from 1781 to 1807, the Red Palace housed the "Free Drawing School" created by Goethe and Bertuch. Goethe held anatomy lectures at the Drawing School.

The "Place of Democracy" - formerly "Fürstenplatz" - is surrounded by former castles and is thus a structural expression of the former court and residential town. In the centre of this square is the Statue of the Duke Carl August - promoter and friend of Goethe. During its 53 years reign, Weimar became the Athens of Germany, the creative centre of the country. The Franz Liszt Conservatory of Music forms the representative background for Carl August. The building was established in 1770/74. After the castle burnt down in 1774, the duke´s family moved into the just-finished building - thus becoming the "Fürstenhaus". Only in 1803 was the new castle "Carlsburg" ready to be moved into. In line of sight from the horse and rider, next to the Yellow Palace is the Castle presents itself. The three-winged structure once open to the park was closed together in 1913/14 by a linking section. The southern wing is the residence of Weimar´s classical foundation. The three original wings have accommodated the art collections of Weimar since 1923. The castle is not only an important building, but visible proof of the eventful changes in the thousand-year old history of Weimar. Today, it is a mixture of buildings from different eras. The oldest building in the "Place of Democracy" is the Green Palace - so called because of its green-painted arcades on the park side. In 1761 to 1766, Carl August´s mother, Anna Amalia, converted the castle, built in 1562/65, into a library and made it accessible for the public. In 1797, Goethe took over the administration of this library and managed it until his death. During his time, the book inventories were significantly increased. When the rooms were no longer big enough, an extension building was established to the right of it. In 1821, the wide "Altan to the Ilm" was included - a tower that was part of the former city walls - and the Green Palace was widened to the left around two window axes. Today, approximately 950,000 books are housed in the "Duchess Anna Amalia Library". Apart of its splendour is dueto the oval Rococo hall, which extends over three floors.

The works of Goethe and Schiller, as well as nearly all the German poets from the 18th and 19th centuries can be found in the Goethe and Schiller Archive, established in 1896. On the way there, one passes the Marstall and the House of Musäus with its "Albert Schweitzer Memorial". At the back of the former "Fürstenhaus" there is a type of "fossil" tree growing called Ginkgo biloba. Its two-winged leaves were an inspiration to Goethe - a symbol of the love between man and woman. "United but separated", is what he was thought to have meant in writing a poem about this tree's leaves. Situated directly across the park entrance is the House of Frau von Stein - Goethe´s companion during his first ten years in Weimar. Originally built in 1773 as a stable for the duke´s hussars, the top floors were converted into living quarters. In 1777, the top head stableman Josias Freiherr von Stein moved in together with his wife Charlotte and their children.

The park on the Ilm is one of the most significant parts of Weimar´s history and culture. It is said to be Goethe's living creation that is getting younger every year. Descendig the rock stairs through the so-called "eye of a needle" and across the "Naturbrücke" one reaches Goethe's Garden House. In April 1776, Goethe was given a vineyard house from the 17th century as well as a overgrown area of mountainside - a present from the duke to keep him Weimar. He lived there for six years. In 1782, he moved to the "Haus am Frauenplan". Still, his garden house always served him as a refuge where he could cleanse himself spiritually and recuperate. More and more, the area around the IIm became an English countryside park during the following 50 years, started by Goethe and inspired by the park near Dessau (Stone of Dessau). In 1778,for the "name day" of the duchess Luise, Goethe penned a tongue-in-cheek play about monks and had a wooden timber construction covered by tree bark built as part of the backdrop. This Borkenhäuschen became the favourite place of C. August, before he had his summerhouse, known as the Roman House built. This, completed in 1797, building with its columns and antique gables is considered a jewel of the classical building style. Above the Borkenhäuschen is the Shakespeare Monument - created in 1904 by O. Lessing on the orders of the Shakespeare Community founded in Weimar in 1864. Not far away from the memorial one finds the Snake Stone with the inscription "Genio huius loci". The backdrop for Shakespeare was the Artificial Ruin. The brick partition, which served as backstop for a shooting range, was due to the re-use of material from the castle, burned down in 1774, and from demolished houses converted into the still romantic ruins. The House of the Knights Templar however is a real one. Used as a tea salon by the society towards the end of the 18th century the structure was destroyed by an air raid on the 9th of February, 1945. The system of caverns - The Park Caves - was used by the society as a place to produce their own beer as well as for the mining of Travertine. At the Liszt House (close to the Liszt Monument), originally built in 1798 as the house for the gardener, Franz Liszt spent the summer months during his second stay in Weimar from 1869 until his death in 1886. Before that, Liszt - being the conductor of the court orchestra and director of the musical theatre - stayed at the Altenburg, built in 1848-1861 - and made Weimar a European centre of music.

In 1904 to 1911, the Belgian Henry van de Velde created the complex for the "Großherzoglich-Sächsische Kunstschule", founded in 1860, as well as the self-founded arts college. Both of which were combined into the State Bauhaus by Walter Gropius in 1919. In accordance with claims of: "art and technology in a new combination" it followed new ways in architecture (The House "Am Horn"). In 1925, resistance in reactionary circles forced the removal of the Bauhaus to Dessau.

An alley of lime trees leads past the historic cemetery, opended in 1818, with a memorial for those who lost their lives in 1914/18, directly to the Ducal Vault. Carl August established the mausoleum in 1825 for the members of the duke´s family. Also, Goethe and Schiller found their last resting place here. A Russian orthodoxe grave chapel was built near to the existing Fürstengruft for the grand duchess Maria Pawlowna, daughter-in-law of C.A. and daughter of the Russian Czar Pawel I, who died in 1859.

On the way back to the centre of town, one passes the Museum of Pre- and Early History in Thuringia, and the Wieland Monument in the same square of the same name - created by Hans Gasser in 1857. Chr. M. Wieland was appointed in 1772 by Anna Amalia as a teacher for her two sons in Weimar and he prepared the ground for Carl August´s liberal way of thinking, on which Goethe could build upon. The House of Vulpius carry the name of that family, to which Goethe associated himself so closely by his marriage with Christiane. They border on the south of Goethe's House at the Frauenplan. This area received its name from the medieval chapel "Zu unser lieben Frauen". The elongated, representative community centre here - namely the Goethe House - was built by the wholesale merchant Helmershausen in 1709. Except for small periods, it was occupied by the poet, statesman, researcher and art collector Goethe from 1782 - first as a tenant, later as the owner - up to his death on March, 22nd, 1832. When the last descendant of Goethe died in 1885, the building, furniture and Goethe's collections became state property. In, 1886, the house was made accessible to the public for the first time. Along with the two additional buildings built onto the Goethe house in 1913/14 and 1933/35, this is now the Goethe museum. The oldest house on the Frauenplan is the "The White Swan" inn. Goethe liked to accommodate his guests here. He once wrote in 1827 to his friend Zelter the "White Swan welcomes you with open wings". Friedrich Schiller lived next door from 1787 to 1789. When he came to Weimar for the first time, in order to become personally acquainted with Goethe, Goethe was in Italy. F. Schiller decided to stay and wait. But the meeting with Goethe did not bring the desired results he had hoped for and so he went to the university of Jena as a professor and only returned 10 years later.

Schiller's House, in which he stayed from 1802 till his death, is situated in the same street of the same name "Schillerstraße", a pedestrian zone in Weimar. The house, built in 1777, which Schiller acquired for 4200 Taler, is the oldest building in this road. Although this purchase was a financial burden for him, he was happy with it. It was a wish come true - finally he had his own house for himself and his family. Unfortunately, Schiller could only enjoy it for three years. He died in middle of his work on "Demetrius" on May 9th, 1805. After the death of his wife Charlotte in 1826, the house was sold. In 1847 it came into the possession of the city and was set up as a commemorative building.

Going from Schillerstraße to the "Theatre square" one passes the Widow's Palace. After the fire at the residential castle in 1774, duchess Anna Amalia acquired the estate as a widow´s residence. The round table she hosted and the "Freitagsgesellschaft" started by Goethe in 1791 visibly embodied the enlightened, human spirit of classical Weimar. The Theatre square is dominated by the impressive facade of the German National Theatre and the Goethe and Schiller monument. Today's theatre is already the third building on this site. The comedy house, established in 1779, was directed by Goethe for 26 years. It burned down in 1825. In 1907, the new court theatre had to yield to a larger new building, which was proclaimed in 1919 as the German National Theatre. It is also where the German national congregation assembled on August 11th, 1919 to work out the so-called "Constitution of Weimar". The "Goethe-and-Schiller monument" created by Ernst Rietschel and inaugurated in 1857 is the symbol of Weimar. Directly across from the theatre, with its classical front built on the site of a former Franciscan Monastery, is the Kulissenhaus, which is used today as the Bauhaus museum.

The Russische Hof is also one of Weimar´s classical buildings. It derives its name from connections to the Russian czar´s family. Originally a post office station opened in 1804, the house was a popular meeting place for scholars and artists in the post-classical era. The delicate building opposite was ordered and also financed by the Grand Duchess Maria Pawlowna. A reproduction of the Temple of Nike on top of the Acropolis in Athens was built for her in 1830 for the newly founded "Lesegesellschaft". The "House of Recreation" nest door designed in the late classical style, was built for the society as a place to relax. In 1864, the Shakespeare society was brought into being in this house.

The U-shaped grounds of the former Civil School were inaugurated in 1825 after 3 years of construction. This school was at that time the most modern school in Weimar and contributed crucially to the improvement of public elementary schools. Today, it accommodates the "O. Gerster" municipal school of music. Next to it is the five sided "Bertuchhaus". F. J. Bertuch, a man of the world from Weimar, is ranked amongst the most interesting and versatile personalities of classical Weimar. Bertuch´s business and living quarters have served as the Weimar Town Museum since 1955.

On the way to the main train station, one passes the former "Gauforum" - a reminder of the dark side of Weimar in a similar way to "Buchenwald" concentration camp that is 10 km from Weimar. The "New Museum" (former Landesmuseum) today houses collections of modern art.

The "Jakobskirchhof" is the oldest preserved cemetery of the city. Many important personalities from the pre-classical time in Weimar are buried here. Also the Kassen Vault, the first grave of Schiller, is to be found here. His remains were exhumed in 1827 and later laid to rest in the "dukes vault" ("Fürstengruft"). Goethe married Christiane Vulpius on October 19th, 1806 in the sacristy of the Church of St. Jacob. When a connecting city wall was built in the 13th century, this church remained outside the city walls.

First mentioned in 1257, is the Town Church St. Peter and Paul , also known as "Herderkirche", because J. G. Herder worked here as general superintendent from 1776 until his death in the 1803. It is also his final place of rest. The square in front of the church has the "Herderdenkmal" from 1850. named after him. A commemorative plaque marks Herders domicile directly behind the church. Located close to the church is the House of Kirms-Krackow. The house was considered as an informal centre of the city and today reflects an impression of tradition and life-style of the middle class in classical Weimar.
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