Weimar – Thuringia, Germany
A Provincial City as Center Stage of German Classicism
Home and inspiration to Cranach the Elder, Johann Sebastian Bach, Franz Liszt, Richard Strauss, and Friedrich von Schiller, Weimar is also closely associated with the much revered German poet Goethe, who lived here for close to sixty years (he penned most of his major works here, including his epic drama Faust) and is buried here.
Nietzsche spent his last years here, and Walter Gropius founded the revolutionary Bauhaus movement of architecture here. Long marooned behind the Iron Curtain, its recent honoring as a European Capital of Culture has inspired a cultural and intellectual revival.
All the traditions of the fine arts, music, literature, architecture, and philosophy are kept alive in Weimar in its small museums, institutes, theaters, and festivals. Long protected as a cultural jewel, it went untouched by WW II bombing and was kept intact during the decades of Communist rule. New life is now being breathed into the small cobblestoned city.
Local officials are divided about the other legacy Weimar left: the Buchenwald concentration camp, located 6 miles north of town. Ignore it and accentuate the positive? Embrace it, acknowledge it, and then move on? Certainly the city has seen the very best and the very worst of German history.
Stay in the historic Deco-and Bauhaus-decorated Elephant Hotel, on the stage-set Marktplatz; dating from 1696, no one can remember the origin of its name, but everyone from Richard Wagner to Hitler has found lodging here. From Weimar, wrote Goethe (who celebrated his 80th birthday at the Elephant), “the gates and streets lead to every faraway place on earth.”