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 a fire in 1774. Four rooms were dedicated to the memory of poets who worked in Weimar, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Johann Gottfried Herder, Friedrich Schiller and Christoph Martin Wieland. From 1923, the building has housed the Schlossmuseum, a museum with a focus on paintings of the 15th and 16th centuries and works of art related to Weimar, a cultural centre.
The building has been developed over the past 500 years. The first building on the site was a medieval moated castle, which was first documented at the end of the 10th century. After a fire in 1424, and again from the mid-16th century, when Weimar became the permanent residence of the dukes, it was remodelled. After another fire in 1618, reconstruction began in 1619 planned by the Italian architect Giovanni Bonalino. The church was completed in 1630, where several works by Johann Sebastian Bach were premiered between 1708 and 1717. Johann Moritz Richter changed the design to a symmetrical Baroque structure with three wings, open to the south.
The building was destroyed by fire in 1774. Duke Carl August formed a commission for its reconstruction directed by Johann Wolfgang Goethe. Architects Johann August Arens, Nikolaus Friedrich Thouret and Heinrich Gentz kept the former walls of the east and north wings and created a 'classical' interior, especially the staircase and the banqueting hall. Decoration was supplied by sculptor Christian Friedrich Tieck. In 1816, Clemens Wenzeslaus Coudray began plans for the west wing, which was reopened in 1847 with a court chapel. The wing contained the so-called Dichterzimmer (poets' rooms), initiated by Duchess Maria Pavlovna. They commemorate Christoph Martin Wieland, Johann Gottfried Herder, Friedrich Schiller and Goethe. From 1912 to 1914 a south wing was added under Duke Wilhelm Ernst.
The Herder Room was restored in 2005, the restoration of the Goethe Room and the Wieland Room was completed in 2014.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.