German travel destinations

The Germany is Wunderbar guide

Germany Holidays: Weimar, classic with a twist

Ask anyone who’s been there and they’ll tell you the place is a gem. Weimar has a unique classical heritage and an air of elegance, but is also a very vibrant modern Thuringian town, on the river Ilm southwest of Leipzig, where enjoying life is as much a priority as celebrating culture.

Historically, Weimar is a bit of an overachiever, punching well above its weight. It may have only 65,000 inhabitants today but boy, has it left its mark. One UNESCO World Heritage listing wasn’t enough, so the city has been given two: one for classical Weimar with 13 buildings and architectural ensembles, and one for its Bauhaus sites.

More than just one UNESCO World Heritage site

The Weimar classic period from 1775 to 1832 flourished under the reign of Duchess Anna Amalia, and her library with the exquisite Rococo Hall is probably the most famous in the collection of eminent classical buildings. And while on the subject of libraries, Weimar is still best known around the world for its associations with Germany’s ‘national poets’ Goethe and Schiller who lived and worked in the town during the classic age. Goethe’s Home, part of the classical Weimar collection, also houses the Goethe National Museum. In August 2012, a new permanent exhibition was opened to honour the über-author, entitled ‘Floods of life, storm of deeds”’.

Fast forward into the 20th century and Weimar was again the birthplace of a movement, this time of the world’s most influential art and design school. In 1919, Walter Gropius established the Bauhaus School and assembled the whole of the European avantgarde of the time in Thuringia to teach at the new school of design. ‘Haus am Horn’, the most famous example of Bauhaus architecture, was built as a model house for the first architecture exhibition in 1923 and is one of three Bauhaus sites in Weimar.

Masters of Modernism

As befits an institution that is dedicated to the roots of Modernism, the Bauhaus Museum, currently in a neoclassical building opposite the National Theatre, will finally get a new home. The winners of an international architectural competition for the new museum were announced in summer 2012 and the design sounds spectacular; a geometrically clear shape forming a dominant solitaire at the edge of the Weimarhallen park in the town centre, it is set to open in 2015.

Apart from all its elegant palaces, museums and beautiful parks, Weimar is also a very liveable town, keen on letting its hair down now and then. Every October since 1653 the Onion Festival celebrates the humble vegetable, and it is the biggest such festival worldwide. Onion garlands, decorated with colourful dried flowers, are popular souvenirs, there are stands selling handicrafts, food and drink, music and an Onion Market Queen who reigns for one year. The whole historic town centre is one big party and 350,000 visitors make this the biggest festival in Thuringia. Not quite UNESCO World Heritage material yet, but another reason why Weimar is more than worthwhile.

Looking for more? See other destinations in Eastern Germany

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