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From Bach to Bauhaus: uncover the tradition of Thuringia, Germany | Thuringia – Germany’s hidden gem

Martin Luther spent his teenage years in Eisenach.
Photograph: Tais Policanti/Getty Images

Thuringia is the cultural coronary heart of Germany, a spot of inspiration for world-famous artists, writers, musicians and intellectuals. Remarkably, a lot of Thuringia’s cobbled streets and outdated stone structure has barely modified because the time of Bach et al, so in addition to touring the numerous museums devoted to those well-known inventive and mental figures, you have the chance to actually stroll of their footsteps. Start proper right here …

Interior view of Bach Church in Arnstadt, Thuringia, Germany. The church is located on Market Square. Johann Sebastian Bach played this organ from 1702 to 1707.

Arnstadt boasts the church organ that Bach performed. Photograph: anyaivanova/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Johann Sebastian Bach: baroque delivered to life
Germany’s biggest baroque composer was a jobbing musician all through his life, and Thuringia is stuffed with traces of his industrious profession. Bach was an organist at Arnstadt, however his legacy is well known on the annual Thuringian Bach Festival in spring, and Eisenach (the place he was born, in 1685) boasts the world’s greatest Bach museum. Housed in a splendid medieval constructing, the Bach House is dedicated to the Bach dynasty – not solely Johann Sebastian, but additionally his quite a few musical family. The home is stuffed with artefacts from Bach’s life and instances, and every go to features a brief concert, performed on unique baroque-period devices. If you’re a fan of classical music, you’ll additionally need to go to the Liszt House in close by Weimar, the place the nice Hungarian composer Franz Liszt lived and labored.

Martin Luther: the daddy of Reformation
Luther spent his teenage years in Thuringia, first as a schoolboy in Eisenach, after which as a pupil on the University of Erfurt, graduating with an MA from its college of arts. While he was a pupil, Luther lived in Erfurt’s Augustinian Monastery (open to guests – you’ll be able to even keep the evening). However, probably the most spectacular Luther web site is Wartburg Castle, close to Eisenach, the place Luther hid, in disguise, from 1521 to 1522, and translated the New Testament into German – cementing the Reformation and establishing German as a nationwide language. You can go to the room the place Luther wrote his meisterwerk, the place there was an ink stain on the wall – now not seen – supposedly made when Luther threw an inkpot on the satan, who was making an attempt to distract him.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: the grasp of all trades
It’s arduous to overstate fairly how essential Goethe is to German tradition. Poet, playwright, novelist, thinker and scientist, his genius encompassed nearly each avenue of German mental life. Born in Frankfurt in 1749, he got here to Thuringia as a younger man, contemporary from the success of his sensational first novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, and hung out in Erfurt, Jena and Gotha, earlier than settling in Weimar. The baroque home, the place he lived for 50 years, till his demise in 1832, is now the Goethe National Museum. There are numerous different websites related to Goethe throughout Thuringia, from the Liebhabertheatre in Kochberg Castle to the Botanical Garden in Jena.

Goethe’s summer cottage in the park by the river Ilm in Weimar during summertime. Goethe lived in this building until 1782, and also helped landscape the park.

Goethe’s summer time cottage in Weimar. Photograph: Nikada/Getty Images

Lucas Cranach (Elder and Younger): Renaissance father and son
Lucas Cranach is certainly one of Germany’s most celebrated painters, and Thuringia is stuffed with work by this Renaissance grasp and his son. Lucas the Elder was the higher painter, however his son was nearly nearly as good, and their types are so related that it’s typically arduous to inform them aside. Born in 1472, Cranach the Elder settled in Weimar close to the tip of his life to reside along with his son’s household, and his adopted hometown is stuffed with mementoes of his life and work. There are loads of work by each Cranachs in Weimar’s Castle Museum, however the crowning glory is the magnificent altarpiece within the Church of St Peter & St Paul, began by Cranach the Elder and accomplished by his son. If you’re travelling round Thuringia, don’t miss the Friedenstein Palace in Gotha and the town’s artwork museum in Erfurt, which each have high-quality Cranach collections, and St John’s Church in Neustadt an der Orla, with its valuable altarpiece. However, probably the most atmospheric setting for Cranach’s moody masterpieces is Wartburg Castle, the place Cranach’s good buddy Martin Luther hid away. The fortress incorporates a number of acute portraits of Luther by Cranach the Elder, in addition to some intimate, perceptive research of Luther’s mother and father and his spouse.

Walter Gropius: founding father of Bauhaus
Modernist architect Walter Gropius was born in Berlin in 1883, nevertheless it was in Thuringia that he made his title. In 1919 in Weimar, he based the Bauhaus – a revolutionary design faculty that reworked the way in which we reside right now. Gropius taught his college students to work throughout a variety of disciplines – from pottery to printmaking, and carpentry to ceramics. He taught them to throw out the chintz, to see that much less is extra. His home model was stark, minimal and, above all, sensible. Everything he made was match for function. His concepts have since grow to be commonplace, however within the 1920s they had been surprising. In 1925, native conservatives drove him out of Weimar, and when the Nazis got here to energy he was compelled to flee overseas. Yet, right here in Thuringia, his affect lives on. Next 12 months, bauhaus museum weimar marks the centenary of the Bauhaus with a transfer to a wise new constructing – a becoming discussion board for the world’s oldest Bauhaus assortment. There are loads of different Bauhaus websites elsewhere in Thuringia, together with the Haus Auerbach in Jena, constructed by Gropius, and a Bauhaus-era lodge, the Haus des Volkes, in Probstzella.

Carl Zeiss: a brand new imaginative and prescient
Born in Weimar in 1816, Zeiss skilled as a high-quality machinist in Thuringia, and in 1846 he opened a workshop in Jena, making telescopes, microscopes and different optical gadgets. By the time he died, in 1888, his little workshop had grown into a big manufacturing unit. By the start of the primary world struggle, it was the most important digital camera producer within the world. After the second world struggle, the Soviets stripped the manufacturing unit naked, and took a lot of the gear again to Russia, however though it ended up behind the iron curtain, Zeiss held its personal in opposition to western competitors – and when Germany was reunified it was one of many few East German companies to outlive and prosper as a viable concern. You can study all about Zeiss on the German Optical Museum in Jena, then go to the close by Zeiss Planetarium, fitted with state-of-the-art Zeiss telescopes.

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