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City Breaks: Online Travel Guide for Gotha
In Gotha you
climb down to the subterranean casemates,
have a look at 18th century's theater,
take a tram to the Thuringian Forest and
Gotha is noted for a family of noble descent and for a socialist convention.
Before the first World War the house of Saxony-Coburg-Gotha had relatives in almost all European monarchies.
The British royal family used to be named Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, since Queen Victoria had married her cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. In 1917, towards the end of the First World War the royal family changed their name to Windsor for patriotic reasons. The daughters of Victoria and Albert married German royalty, the eldest Victoria, Kaiserin Friedrich for the 88 days her husband lived to reign, was the mother of Kaiser Wilhelm II.
The Gotha Almanach is a yearbook listing the members of the European aristocracy.
From 1763 until 1945, when the Sowjet Army marched in, the Gotha Almanach decided on noble status. With reunification and - partly - restitution, European nobility began to update their genealogy, so that you can acquire a very recent Gotha Almanach if you wish.
In 1875 the "Eisenachers" August Bebel, Wilhelm Liebknecht and the Social Democratic Workers Party reached an agreement with the General German Workers Club, founded by Ferndinand Lassalle. The compromise became the Gotha Program and was critized intensely by Marx and Engels: It was the foundation program of the German Social Democracy.
The Tivoli was the meeting location of the Gotha socialist convention of 1875, some minutes west of Friedenstein Palace in Cosmarstrasse.
In 1918, the Gotha Workers' and Soldiers' Council forced Duke Carl Eduard of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to resign.
Martin Luther preached in Gotha. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe traveled repeatedly to the Gotha palace and Voltaire stopped over, as he fled from Potsdam.
You should plan several hours for the visit to Friedenstein Palace: The Baroque, Rococo and Classicist rooms, the art collections are remarkable. Friedenstein is the first palace built in Germany after the Thirty Years' War.
The baroque gardens lead you to the Orangery built by Gottfried Heinrich Krohne between 1747 and 1767.
Below the palace on Hauptmarkt there is the Renaissance town hall, built between 1567 and 1577, used originally as a store.
Not far from here, you find the house of mayor Brengebier, who was the father in law of Lucas Cranach the Elder.
Continue Augustinerstrasse from Hauptmarkt to the west. You reach the Gothic Augustinerkirche, a church with a cloister from the 14th century.
The Augustinian monk Martin Luther stayed in the cloister several times.
Parts of the Baroque fortress below Friedenstein Palace have been excavated, you can visit the subterranean casemates.
You walk circa 0.2 mile of the 1.6 mile long 17th century vault.
The Ekhof Theater is the oldest Baroque theater in the world with the original stage scenery still preserved.
The three stage wings stand on cars located under the stage. In slits in the stage floor the scenery can be pushed in and out of the stage.
In this historical Palace theater an annual festival takes place in summer, presenting 18th century's musical plays and concerts using stage scenery and costumes as they were 300 years ago.
The theater is named after Conrad Ekhof. From 1775 to 1778, the actor directed the court theater.
Collections in Friedenstein Palace
Painted by an anonymous artist around 1480, the Gotha lovers are the highlight of the Palace's art collection.
In addition, you find paintings of Lucas Cranach the Elder and Dutch artists, among them Pieter Breughel the elder and Frans Hals, and oil sketches by Rubens.
The extensive Egyptian Collection is one of the oldest in Europe, it also contains some mummies.
The Gotha dukes collected anything they were interested in: Copper plate engravings, sculptures, antiques, East Asian art and craft, fans, oistrich eggs, anything remarkable in craft and technology, porcelain and ceramics, coins.
The Natural History Museum at the end of the Palace gardens shows real life reconstructions, skeletons and footprints of dinosaurs.
The objects, displayed in the museum, have been part of the collection of the Gotha dukes for more than 300 years.
You find the village of Wechmar 6 miles from Gotha on the road to Wandersleben. The recently renovated building of the Obermuehle mill dates back to the year 1585: From here the musicians' family Bach went on their way through centuries, churches and concert halls. The miller, baker and zither-player Veit Bach lived here with his son Hans, who was an apprentice of the Gotha town-piper, his grand-sons Johann, Heinrich and Christoph Bach were to become professional musicians in Erfurt, Weimar and Arnstadt ...
There is an exhibition "500 years musicians' family Bach" in the mill.
Gotha Tramway No. 4, the "Thueringerwaldbahn", takes you to the Thuringian Forest holiday resorts Friedrichsroda and Tabarz in 60 minutes.
The Thueringerwaldbahn stops at the palace of Reinhardsbrunn, the hunting seat of the Gotha dukes. Queen Victoria spent her summers here repeatedly.
In Tabarz you may climb on Inselsberg (3000 feet) - or use the Inselsberg-Express.
Walk through the gardens of the palace at Reinhardsbrunn, the large romantic landscape park is remarkable. The trees are more than a hundred years old. The gardens were laid out in the 19th century according to the style of English gardens. Fuerst Hermann von Pueckler-Muskau, who was the authority on landscape gardening at the time, gave his approval.
In Friedrichroda and in Tabarz you find hiking trails, open air and indoor swimming pools. The Rennsteig Trail through the Thuringian Forest passes Friedrichroda.
In winter you can ski on Inselsberg, there are ski-lifts and cross-country ski runs. There is a sauna in the family swimming pool in Tabarz.
The tobbogan run near Tabarz is opened throughout the year.
Children can go to a fairy tale park in Tabarz.
Some of the figures in the fairy tale park are taken from the "Struwwelpeter" - Slovenly Peter. Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann, the creator of Struwwelpeter, spent his holidays in Tabarz.
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