vrijdag 28 juni 2013

Germany, Classical Weimar

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the small Thuringian town of Weimar witnessed a remarkable cultural flowering, attracting many writers and scholars, notably Goethe and Schiller. This development is reflected in the high quality of many of the buildings and of the parks in the surrounding area.


The high artistic quality of the public and private buildings and parks in and around the town testify to the remarkable cultural flowering of the Weimar classical period. Enlightened ducal patronage attracted many of the leading writers and thinkers in Germany, such as Goethe, Schiller and Herder, to Weimar in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, making it the cultural centre of the Europe of the day.
Weimar became the capital of the Duchy of Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach in 1572. For many years the painter Lucas Cranach the Elder worked in Weimar, where he died in 1553. This marked the start of a long period of growing cultural importance in which many painters, writers, poets, and philosopher lived in the city - Johann Sebastian Bach, Christoph Martin Wieland, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Johann Gottfried Herder, Friedrich Schiller, Franz Liszt, Henry van de Velde, and Walter Gropius.
The World Heritage site comprises eleven separate buildings or ensembles:
  • Goethe's House : A Baroque town house was built in 1707-9 and underwent a number of alterations during Goethe's occupancy. The original interior furnishings are preserved in a number of rooms. Schiller's House: A simple late Baroque house built in 1777 incorporating part of a 16th-century outbuilding (the Mint). Most of the rooms are furnished as they were during the lifetime of the poet.
  • City Church, Herder House and Old High School : A three-aisled hall church with five bays and a pentagonal chancel and a west tower surmounted by an octagonal spire, containing an altar triptych by Lucas Cranach the Elder. The three-storey Herder House was built in the mid-16th century on the foundations of an earlier Renaissance structure. The Old High School, commissioned by Duke Wilhelm Ernst, was built in simple Baroque style.
  • City Castle : The present ensemble is an imposing slightly irregular four-winged building round a large courtyard. The decorations and furnishings of the interior are in classical style.
  • The Dowager's Palace: The centre of intellectual life at the height of classical Weimar consists of a group of relatively plain Baroque two- and three-storey buildings round a courtyard. The Duchess Anna Amalia Library: in 1761 Duchess Anna Amalia commissioned the State Architect to convert the Renaissance 'Little French Castle' into a library. The main central section is a three-storey building on a rectangular plan in Baroque style. The Princes' Tomb and the Historic Cemetery: Grand Duke Carl August commissioned the construction of a family tomb from Clemens Wenzeslaus Coundray in 1823. In addition to members of the family, Schiller and Goethe were also buried in this mausoleum.
  • Park on the Ilm with the Roman House, Goethe's Garden, and Garden House : South of the town in the valley through which the Ilm flows. It is dominated in the north by Goethe's Garden House and in the south by the Roman House.
  • Belvedere Castle, Orangery and Park : The castle is a two-storey Baroque structure; the central section is square in plan and has a small tower surmounted by a cupola. On either side there are connecting buildings leading to oval-plan pavilions with pointed cupolas. The orangery is U-shaped in plan, with the house of the head gardener in the centre.
  • Tiefurt Castle and Park : A modest two-storey Baroque building linked by a wooden-framed to the former farm building, with buildings and memorials within the park.
  • Ettersburg Castle and Park : the Old Castle consists of three wings round a spacious courtyard. The shorter east wing abuts the castle church. The New Castle is a more compact four-storey structure. The park is relatively small and abuts the surrounding forest.
Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC


Historical Description

The earliest documentary reference to Weimar dates from 899, when it was the seat of the Weimar- Orlamünde dukedom. It passed in the 14th century to a branch of the royal house of Saxony, becoming the capital of the Duchy of Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach in 1572. The Ducal Court encouraged Martin Luther, who visited the town on several occasions. For many years the painter Lucas Cranach the Elder worked in Weimar, where he died in 1553. This marked the start of a long period of growing cultural importance. Johann Sebastian Bach was invited to the town by Duke Wilhelm Ernst in 1709 and spent nine years there, a very important formative period in his artistic development.
It was during the lifetime of Duchess Anna Amalia (1739-1809) that its Classical period began. She appointed the poet Christoph Martin Wieland (1733- 1813) as tutor to her sons in 1772. It was after Carl August (1757-1828) had succeeded to the Duchy that Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749-1832) settled in the town (1775). Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803) came to Weimar in the following year. The high point of the town's cultural influence resulted from the creative relationship between Goethe and Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805) that began in 1794 and was intensified when Schiller moved to Weimar in 1799.
Weimar's cultural importance did not disappear on the death of Goethe there in 1832. It was favoured by Franz Liszt, who wrote a number of his most important works in Weimar. Later it became a seminal centre for the development of new movements in the fine arts and architecture. One of the leading exponents of Art Nouveau, Henry van de Velde (1863-1957), was Director of the School of Arts and Crafts, and it was on his recommendation that Walter Gropius (1883-1969) was appointed to succeed him in 1919, when he gave it a new name, the Bauhaus.

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