Eisenach Travel Guide

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As a result of the district reform of July 1st, 1994, the Wartburg-city of Eisenach grew dramatically with the addition of new districts. As a “city in county jurisdiction”, Eisenach is the fourth largest city in the middle of Thuringia and has become a centre of production, service and educational facilities.

The international recognition of Eisenach comes above all from the Wartburg Castle, The works of Landgrave Elisabeth of Thuringia, the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, Martin Luther`s translation of the New Testament and the auto industry.

Rich in monuments and memorials to its humanistic, historical and artistic tradition, the Wartburg-city Eisenach is a magnet for domestic and international tourists.

The world-wide reputation of companies such as Opel, Bosch and BMW belies the importance of Eisenach as an economic centre.

Accommodations: 18 hotels with 1679 beds, 13 bed and breakfasts with 208 beds, 1 youth hostel with 102 beds

Facilities for conferences, seminars and events are offered by the “Bürgerhaus” and the hotels.

Gastronomy: Thuringian hospitality in fine restaurants and cafes; traditional pubs; Greek, Italian, Mexican, Croatian and Chinese restaurants; the historic wine restaurant at the Nikolai Gate.

Sports and hiking: The sports and recreation centre “Katzenaue” with the “Werner Assmann Sporthalle” (multi-purpose gymnasium), an outdoor swimming pool, an indoor pool with sauna and tanning saloon, the Wartburg Stadium with track and field facilities, one hard ground court, a shooting range, a six-lane bowling alley, facilities for recreational sports, tennis complex “Johannistal”. 243 km of marked hiking trails.

Historical points of interest:

Eisenach; City of the Wartburg Castle:  Eisenach, the small city located in central Germany, is situated in the middle of the Thuringian forest.   This city attracts thousands of national and international travellers every year to its green countryside and historical buildings, most notably the Wartburg Castle.   This three story castle, known as the gateway to the Thuringian forest, is closely connected with figures of great stature such as: protestant reformer Martin Luther, famed author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, as well as the charitable St. Elisabeth.   Following are historical points of interest located in Eisenach, Germany.

Karlsplatz:  Located near the train station are Karlsplatz and the Nikolai gate.   This is the oldest market place in town.   This city square was formerly home to jugglers and street performers.   Today it still holds a market every Saturday, a tradition that dates back to 1368.   The Nikolai gate, attached to the St. Nikolai church, is the only surviving city gate in Eisenach and the oldest Romanesque style gate in Thuringia.  

Jakobsplan:  This city courtyard was named after a chapel destroyed by fire in the middle ages.   Today there is a monument to St. George in the center of the square.   Jakobsplan includes the Bechtolsheim palace, parts of the old town wall (including one of the lookout towers) and the Goethe Garden.

Marktplatz:  The current location of the Eisenach town hall is on the Marktplatz.   This marketplace features an elaborate fountain displaying a guilded St. George conquering the dragon.   The fountain, dedicated to the town’s patron saint, was designed by the town’s architect, Hans Leonardt, in 1549.

Frauenplan:  This small courtyard gets it’s name from the church called “Our dear woman” that belonged to the knights that were located at this high point of the city.   The church was strategically demolished in 1306.   Frauenplan is today’s location of the Bachhaus and Bach memorial.

Stadtschloss:  Constructed on the north end of the Market place between 1742 and 1745 is the Stadtschloss, or city palace.   This palace was built on the plans of Gottfried Heinrich Krohne, first architect of the duke Ernest-Auguste Saxe-Weimar.   Later J.W. von Goethe frequently stayed here as a minister duke starting in 1777.   Today the Stadtschloss houses the Thuringian museum that displays several artistic and historical artifacts from Thuringia.

Rathaus:  This former wine cellar came to hold the Eisenach Council in 1596 on the Marktplaz.   There was a fire which destroyed the building in 1636 but it was rebuilt in 1641.   The southern part of the complex fell to a bombing raid in 1945 during WW2.   It was later renovated in 1996 and now houses the city administration offices and is connected to the Sparkasse Bank.

Maison Creutznacher and Residenzhaus:  This early Renaissance building, featuring a tower with spiral stairs, was formerly owned by a medieval landgrave.   It was constructed after 1500 and was later connected with another 16 th century house behind it.   This house was owned by the wealthy merchant Creutznacher.   Today, the Creutznacher house holds the tourism office of Eisenach.

Lutherhaus:  The Lutherhaus is one of the oldest remaining buildings in Eisenach built in a half timber style.   Martin Luther is said to have lived here as a pupil during his school days in Eisenach from 1498-1501.   Currently, this house is a museum featuring a multimedia exhibit.   The museum is split into five parts where one can see a depiction of Luther’s life and times as well as his teachings.  

Monument to Bach:  The monument was constructed in 1884 by Adolf von Donndorf.  It is located on the Frauenplan next to the Bachhaus.   The monument shows Bach wearing a wig and a chapel master dress.

Bachhaus:  The Bachhaus was the first museum world-wide to be dedicated to the life and work of Johann Sebastian Bach in 1907.   The house is over 600 years old and is said to be the house Bach was born in on March 21, 1685.   Today, the museum holds several artifacts and a variety of 18 th and 19 th century instruments.   Tours are available in German and English and the Bachhaus also hosts its own concert series performed by guest musicians.  

“Goldener Löwe” memorial site:  On August 7, 1869 the Social Democratic Worker’s Party held their founding congress here at the memorial site.   Currently there are three permanent exhibitions that can be seen as well as an archival library available to visitors.   The August Bebel Society offers lectures and seminars on topics of historical and current political interest.  

Reuter Wagner Museum:  Built by Ludwig Bohnstedt between 1866 and 1868, this neo-Renaissance house was the home of Fritz Reuter, a famous poet of the Low German dialect.   After his death his home was acquired by the town council.   Currently the museum houses the second-largest   Richard Wagner exhibition in the world.  

Kartaus Garden:  This attractive garden, consecrated to St.Elisabeth, was developed in 1380.   In 1700 it became a royal kitchen garden and during the time of Goethe was changed into a park of natural beauty.   Today visitors are attracted by its variety of trees, manicured paths and flower beds.  

Narrow House:  This house is believed to be the smallest half-timbered house in Germany.   It was built before 1750 and is only 2.05 meters wide.   Inside, visitors can view a small variety of pictures, sculptures and historical furniture.  

Luther Monument:  Located on Karsplatz is a monument dedicated to Martin Luther.   This monument was designed by Adolf von Donndorf and was dedicated on May 4, 1895 on the 374 th anniversary of   Luther’s arrival to Wartburg Castle.   The monument features a larger-than-life Martin Luther on a pedestal that depicts several events in his life leading up to his stay in Eisenach as well as the title of one of his most famous hymns, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”

Nikolai Church:  The Nikolai church, located on Karsplatz, is attached to the former city gate and served as the parish for the Benedictine convent located in the area.   This triple-naved basilica was built in 1180 and is considered the last example of the Romanesque architecture in Thuringia.   The St. Nikolai church was heavily damaged during the Peasants’ War but evangelical services were held there as early as 1555.  

Eisenach State Theatre:  The state theatre was established by Julius von Eichel-Streiber in 1879 and was later renovated in 1993.   This theatre holds 600 guests and has 2 balconies.   The theatre has a full schedule of plays, concerts, operas, and ballets.  

St. Elisabeth Church:  The St. Elisabeth church was the first church dedicated to Catholic worship in Eisenach since the Reformation.   This neo-gothic structure was founded in 1888 however, services were being held in a smaller parish on this land since 1884.   The old foundation stone is still recognizable as it has a cross chiselled into it.   A statue of St. Elisabeth is in the lateral chapel formerly known as the page chapel but renamed the “Elisabeth Chapel” in 1965.

Bechtolsheim Palace:  The Bechtolsheim Palace was the former home of Vice Chancellor Ludwig von Bechtolsheim.   This giant structure is located in today’s Jakobsplan.   The classical style building dates back to the end of the 18 th century and was frequented by J.W. von Goethe.   Goethe and the Chancellor’s wife, Julia, spent hours in intellectual conversation.   This same woman later became Goethe’s inspiration for “Wieland”.  

St. Anne’s Church:  The church started as a hospital founded by St. Elisabeth in 1226.  Originally the building was outside the city but was still accessible.   After the Reformation the building served many functions, including that of a garrison church.   Today, St. Anne’s is one of Eisenach’s Protestant parishes.  

Goethe Garden:  This garden, located behind the Bechtolsheim Palace is a constant reminder of Goethe’s time in Eisenach.   The garden also includes parts of the old city wall and an old lookout tower.

Hellgrevenhof:  This medieval building was once the home of the Hellgreve family, a family that produced several town councillors and mayors.   This is believed to be Eisenach’s oldest Patrician town house.   This property has also been linked to the arrival of St. Elisabeth and the medieval singing contest.   Today it houses the municipal library after renovations in the 18 th and 19 th centuries as well as more recent renovations.  

Storks Tower:  This structure is part of the old city wall and is located near the old cemetery.   Storks tower was one of 15 watch towers in the old city wall.   This particular tower usually held gunpowder and prisoners.   One of the most notable prisoners was the Anabaptist Fritz Erbe who was held in this tower for several years until he was transported to the southern tower of the Wartburg Castle.  

Old Cemetery:  The old cemetery is located just next to the old city wall.   This cemetery was developed after the Reformation when cemeteries next to three parish churches were relocated to the Priest’s Gate.   This cemetery is said to hold the family of J.S. Bach and is commemorated by a contemporary memorial stone.   In addition, the headstones of several city council members can be seen lining the former city wall.  

Prediger Monastery and Mint:  This monastery was dedicated to St. Elisabeth in 1240 and is the only surviving monastery in Eisenach as well as one of the oldest surviving monasteries in all of Thuringia.   After the Reformation the monastery became the St. George’s Latin School, the school J.S. Bach attended.   Currently the building is the Martin Luther School.  

Black Fountain:   On September 1, 1810 several Napoleaonic vehicles of munition exploded killing 62 people and destroying 24 houses.   The black fountain was built in 1817 in memory of those who died in the tragedy.  

The Old Malt House:  The Old Malt house dates back to 1873 when it served as a Malt and Malt coffee factory.   Now it is an industrial museum and a romantic, industrial monument.   In the process of renovation workers were able to refurbish the machine system and discovered it was still completely functional.   In addition this building holds jazz archives and a jazz cellar since 1999 and has hosted performances of the Eisenach state theatre.  

Gründerzeit Villas:  Three residential neighborhoods in the south and southwest of the city are filled with villas.   These villas were built between 1862 and World War I by wealthy civil servants, industrialists, military personnel, and artists from all over Germany.   These villas were built in a variety of historical and art nouveau styles.   This area has become one of Europe’s largest collection of villas.   

Fraternity Monument:  Built in 1902, the monument stands opposite the Wartburg Castle in memory of those who were killed in the struggle for a united Germany between 1864 to 1871.   The monument, that reaches a height of 33 meters and proclaims “Honour, Freedom, and Fatherland,” was dedicated on May 22, 1902 and was extended to honor those who fell in World War I in 1933.   Since unification, fraternities continue to meet in Eisenach in memory of the demonstrations held at the Wartburg Castle.  

The Automobile World:  This museum pays homage to the over 100 year tradition of car manufacturing in Eisenach.   The museum was founded in 1967, however was moved to the old 1935 O2 factory building.   Construction in this new building is still underway but an exhibition of cars manufactured in Eisenach, from Dixis to BMWs and the last Wartburg 1.3 ever created in 1991, can still be seen.  

 

 

Contributors

April 20, 2005 change by giorgio

May 17, 2005 change by eisenach

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