Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

March 2013: Weimar & Erfurt

Weimar and Erfurt lie in the German federal state of Thuringia (local name Thüringen); Erfurt is the state capital, while smaller Weimar is famous for the extraordinary scope of its cultural heritage. The two cities are only 15 minutes apart by train and therefore make an ideal pair of twin destinations. It's worth noting that, prior to German reunification in 1990, this area lay within the former (so-called) German Democratic Republic.

"Where else can so many good things be found in such a small spot?"
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Most people will have heard of this town because it gave its name to the Weimar Republic, the new constitution established in Germany following the First World War. Long before this, however, Weimar was known for its hugely impressive contribution to culture. Writers Goethe and Schiller both settled in the town and jointly founded the famous Weimar Theatre. In the field of music, Weimar attracted a number of composers including JS Bach (whose son CPE Bach was born there), Hummel and Liszt. Hungarian-born Liszt appears to be honoured more than native giant JS Bach, with a museum and a music school dedicated to his memory. Additionally, this small city gave rise in the early 20th century to the Bauhaus movement, which created a revolution in art, design and architecture.

Weimar's old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the city was European Capital of Culture in 1999. It lies on the River Ilm, a tributary of the Saale which itself flows into the Elbe.

Due to time constraints on this trip I felt that I left much unfinished business in Weimar, seeing the inside of only one of the many museums and historic buildings. Hopefully I shall return some day for a more leisurely visit in a warmer season, when I can enjoy wandering in the footsteps of some of this town's celebrated residents.


As previously mentioned, state capital Erfurt lies 15 minutes by train west of Weimar. Protestant reformer Martin Luther had strong links with the city in his earlier years: he attended university, served as a monk and was ordained to the RC priesthood in Erfurt. The most striking sight today, from a tourist's perspective, is formed by the twin Catholic churches of St Mary and St Severus, the first of which is better known as Erfurt Cathedral and both of which are improbably perched on the narrow confines of the Domberg (Cathedral Hill). The citadel complex on nearby Petersberg comes a close second, while the narrow streets of the old town are full of architectural interest.

Base: Hotel Elephant, Weimar

Linked reports from same trip: