Visit Weimar, Germany and quickly be captivated by its obvious charm within minutes of your eager-eyed arrival. A picture book of classicism and grandeur seeping from every one of its pastel-hued buildings, quaint open squares and magnificent surrounding green parks, this 1000-year-old city certainly holds true to its significance as an artistic and cultural hotspot of the country.
Referenced mostly in relation to its artistic residents that have bestowed upon it an array of cultural glory, Weimar is known as the home of literary dramatists and poets Goethe and Schiller, composers such as Bach and Liszt, and the founders of the Bauhaus art and architecture movement of progressive design, Van de Velde and Gropius – names immortalised by statues, restored houses and museums.
Yet such cultural acclaim was both Weimar’s downfall, as well as its saving grace after its entanglement in war and politics.
It was in Weimar that Germany’s first democratic constitution was drafted after the First World War – the period between 1918 and 1933 referred to as the Weimar Republic. A favourite of Adolf Hitler because of its large cultural heritage and atmosphere, it later became an early centre of Nazism and a place idolized in Nazi propaganda and caught up in its devastation – the Buchenwald Concentration camp being minutes away from the city. Then came heavy damage to historical buildings during bombing raids in 1945, before becoming the capital of the Thuringia state by the East German government in 1948. Its cultural persona lost, it became nothing more than a well-positioned East Germany city, and the site of one of the Soviet army’s main headquarters.
But Weimar’s long established heritage sealed its future rebuild and saved it from the full destruction that could have wiped its heritage off the map for good. Not only was more money invested into the upkeep of the city during the Soviet occupied years (remaining in better condition than most of its East German neighbours) but after German Reunification in 1990, Weimar was lucky enough to receive significant funding to restore it to it’s former brilliance.
Today, the preserved city boasts 16 UNESCO World Heritage sites relating primarily to both its classical and more contemporary (Bauhaus) architecture, and luckily only one soviet apartment block remains. Weimar is, quite simply, a picture perfect city…
Things to Know about Weimar Travel:
- Weimar is a short 15 minute journey from Erfurt, the capital of the green state of Thuringia, making for an easily accessible and budget day trip. A single tickets costs approximately €5.
- For further inspiration and to plan your time in the city (including plenty of ideas should you wish to stay for longer) check out the official Weimar Tourism website.
Weimar was the last stop on my ‘Fall of the Wall’ trip to former east Germany towns and cities in conjunction with the German National Tourist Office, to look at modern Germany and how it’s changed since reunification. All opinions remain my own, and I admit I only remember the term ‘Weimar Republic’ from school – the cultural insight was all new to me!