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 commissioned by the Grand Duke Carl August and was built between 1823 and 1828 on the grounds of the Historic Cemetery, which had been established a few years earlier in 1818. The architect Clemens Wenzeslaus Coudray was in charge of overseeing the work on the Ducal Vault. Following the construction of the inner crypt, the sarcophagi of the ducal family, which were rescued from the flames when the City Castle burned to the ground in 1774, were transferred to the Ducal Vault. The first interment occurred on 16 December 1827 with the reburial of the alleged remains of Friedrich Schiller. Carl August died on 14 June 1828 before construction of the vault was completed. On 26 March 1832 Johann Wolfgang Goethe was laid to rest in the vault next to Schiller’s casket. By 1905 another 14 people had been buried there. After workers broke through the foundation wall separating the Ducal Vault and the Russian Orthodox Chapel, built in 1862, the grand ducal couple Maria Pavlovna and Carl Friedrich were reunited in death, each buried under the buildings of their religious beliefs.

A short time later, Augusta, the queen of Prussia, provided funds to remodel the interior of the chapel to reflect the historic affinity of the time.From 1952 to 1994, the official name of the ducal family’s vault was the »Goethe and Schiller Mausoleum«. In 1993/94, the vault underwent extensive renovation which reversed the alterations carried out in the previous decades. The chapel itself was remodeled in 2011.

The Ducal Vault is regarded today as one of the major works of classical architecture in Thuringia. The square, two-story structure is abutted by a Doric portico. When visitors enter the building, they find themselves in the chapel which features neoclassical artwork, a star-spangled dome over an oval opening in the floor and original interior furnishings dating back to the age of Empress Augusta. An especially new addition to the chapel is the large-format Bible presented in the altar vitrine. To the left of the entrance, a narrow staircase descends to the vault below containing the caskets of the poets and ducal family. Coudray arranged the caskets chronologically based on the date of death, starting with Duke Wilhelm IV (1598 -1662) at the north wall. The monumental bronze sarcophagus of Carl August lies along the main axis below the altar. A total of 43 caskets had been stored in the vault until 1994 when ten caskets of members of the ducal family had to be removed for conservational reasons. As part of a research project in 2008, scholars discovered that the remains inside Friedrich Schiller’s casket belonged to those of several individuals. Therefore, Friedrich Schiller’s casket is now empty.

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Details

Founded: 1823-1828
Category: Cemeteries, mausoleums and burial places in Germany
Historical period: German Confederation (Germany)

Rating

4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Torsten L (11 months ago)
Funny reception .. we were already expected. Otherwise the fastest visit to a paid museum ever! Down the stairs ... Schiller and Goethe on the left in the box .. Up the stairs
Oscar Zhu (16 months ago)
A very important place, especially if you are interested in Goethe and Schiller. The admission prices are in the upper price segment, you have to decide for yourself whether this visit is worthwhile. You can also place a rose on the grave of these wonderful arts.
Tristan (2 years ago)
In no way should anyone have to pay a fee to see the graves of German elite and pioneers, just as someone shouldn't have to pay a fee to see a church. If these places are sacred, they shouldnt be exploited to generate a small income like this. Above all, even with this nonsense in place, you can pay only in cash, and the nearest atm is 15 minutes away.
Julia Koster (3 years ago)
Das war toll. Das heutige Wetter hat genau zu der dortigen Atmosphäre gepasst. Beeindruckend. In meinen Augen ein Muß für Kulturliebhaber.
Kai Warmus (3 years ago)
Sehr sehenswert, genau wie der Rest des großen historischen Friedhofs.
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Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

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20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.