Classical Weimar

Schiller Residence

Friedrich Schiller purchased the house where today is known as Schillerstrasse in Weimar for himself and his family in 1802. The house was originally built in 1777. He had to go deep into debt to finance the purchase. The family lived in the house until Charlotte von Schiller’s death in 1826. It became municipal property in 1847, and in the same year also became the first publicly accessible memorial to a poet in Ge ...
Founded: 1777 | Location: Weimar, Germany

Duchess Anna Amalia Library

The Duchess Anna Amalia Library in Weimar houses a major collection of German literature and historical documents. The library contains 1,000,000 books, 2,000 medieval and early modern manuscripts, 600 ancestral registers, 10,000 maps etc. The research library today has approximately 850,000 volumes with collection emphasis on the German literature. Among its special collections is an important Shakespeare collection of a ...
Founded: 1761 | Location: Weimar, Germany

Goethe House

The Goethe House is the main house where poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe lived in Weimar, though he did live in several others in the town. Goethe House is one of sites in a UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting of multiple structures related to Weimar Classicism. Johann Wolfgang Goethe lived in the house on Frauenplan for 50 years until his death in 1832, apart from his journeys and a lengthy stay in Italy. He first mov ...
Founded: 1709 | Location: Weimar, Germany

St. Peter and Paul Church

The church St. Peter und Paul in Weimar, also known as Herderkirche after Johann Gottfried Herder, is the most important church building of the town. The first church was built on the same location from 1245 to 1249, but destroyed by fire in 1299. Only the foundations remain. The second building was badly damaged in the 1424 town fire. The present building dates back to the a hall church in late Gothic style, built betwee ...
Founded: 1498-1500 | Location: Weimar, Germany

Schloss Weimar

Schloss Weimar was the residence of the dukes of Saxe-Weimar and Eisenach, and has also been called Residenzschloss. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site 'Classical Weimar'. In history, the palace was often destroyed by fire. The Baroque palace from the 17th century, with the church Schlosskirche where several works by Johann Sebastian Bach were premiered, was replaced by a Neoclassical structure after ...
Founded: 1619 | Location: Weimar, Germany

Tiefurt Mansion and Park

Built in 1765 as a tenement house for a grand ducal demesne, Schloss Tiefurt served from 1776 as the residence of Prince Friedrich Ferdinand Constantin, the younger brother of the reigning Duke Carl August of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. After the expansion of the tenement house to a country mansion, he and his tutor Karl Ludwig von Knebel designed a landscaped park in English style. Meandering paths were laid together with the ...
Founded: 1776 | Location: Weimar, Germany

Schloss Belvedere

Belvedere Castle stands on a hill at the south of Weimar and is surrounded by 43 hectares of parkland. Duke Ernst August of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach had a Baroque summer residence including an orangery, pleasure garden and labyrinth built here between 1724 and 1748. Since 1923, Belvedere Castle has been used as a museum of 18th century crafts. The castle, which originally served as a hunting lodge, is surrounded by stables w ...
Founded: 1724-1748 | Location: Weimar, Germany

Ducal Vault

Weimar’s Ducal Vault is not a typical burial place for a royal family. Since 1832, the members of the House of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach have shared their tomb with the two most famous poets of Weimar classicism, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller. As a result, the mausoleum has been a popular site of veneration for the poets ever since the mid-19th century. The construction of the Ducal Vault was commiss ...
Founded: 1823-1828 | Location: Weimar, Germany

Park an der Ilm

The 48-hectare landscaped park on the edge of Weimar’s old town is part of a kilometre-long stretch of green along the Ilm. It was laid between 1778 and 1828 and features both sentimental, classical and post-classical/romantic styles. The creation of the park on the Ilm river is closely linked with Goethe’s life and work in Weimar. In 1776, Duke Carl August gave the poet a small house with a garden, today kno ...
Founded: 1778-1828 | Location: Weimar, Germany

Ettersburg Castle and Park

Ettersburg Castle lies on the edge of the forest on the northern side of the Grosse Ettersberg. This woodland has been the hunting ground for the Dukes of Weimar since the 17th century. Duke Wilhelm Ernst started building the castle at the beginning of the 18th century; the work was completed by his nephew Ernst August. From 1776 to 1780, the Dowager Duchess Anna Amalia of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach held her summer court in Ett ...
Founded: 1706 | Location: Ettersburg, Germany

Wieland Estate

The Ossmannstedt estate is closely linked with the name of Christoph Martin Wieland (1733-1813). The poet purchased the Baroque complex of buildings and park in 1797 and lived there with his family for six years (see Wieland estate in Ossmannstedt). Even in Wieland’s day, very little of the original Baroque garden remained, as the previous owners had used the three terraces sloping down to the river Ilm for agricult ...
Founded: 1797 | Location: OƟmannstedt, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.