Gotha is one of the oldest towns in Germany which I have visited. It dates back to the year 775 and is an attraction for tourists from all over the world who are interested in culture, art and history. Already in the 12 th. century it became a town. Today it has a population of approximately 49 000. Gotha is besides Eisenach and Weimar another cultural center in Thuringia.
Gotha is dominated by the "Friedenstein Castle"
Please visit first the:
Gotha Tourist Information
Tel. 03621/222138 (local)
to collect helpful information and to get advise about ongoing events, guided tours etc.
We consider the "Friedenstein Castle" to be the main attraction. Unfortunately, I forgot that we had Monday - so I found it closed. When do the Thuringians learn that the available time of visitors is limited and decide to open these attractions at least in the high season every day?
A special exhibition was going on in which I was interested and I also was looking forward to see the inside of this old baroque fortress. Sorry, I could not do it, so I proceeded with sightseeing.
The "Friedenstein Castle" under renovation
Many thanks to the town of Gotha who helped me with some pictures. The next one shows the "Ekhof-Theater", an old baroque theatre. Here you can also see all the original machinery required to move the scenery used for backdrops and wings within seconds.
The theatre was installed into the ballroom of the castle in the year 1683.
To visit the theatre an extra fee is charged.
Gotha, the "Ekhof Theatre" - many thanks for the picture to the town of Gotha
In summer 1996 a "Festival of the 18 th Century" started in which original plays from this period are performed in the "Ekhof Theatre".
In order to go to the "Friedenstein Castle" I had to climb a steep hill and may stairs. Because of the heat I was so exhausted that I did not have the energy to check out whether other attractions were open.
Margarethenkirche in Gotha
Frustrated I walked back all the way - I really wanted to spend some time in the castle.
Then the beautiful downtown area of Gotha cheered me up again. I forgot about the missed visit of the castle, the lost luggage with important business documents and computer hardware by the airline and enjoyed the sights.
I remembered that guided walking and bicycling tours are offered and even tours in horse drawn coaches. I should have called the tourist information and booked one of those. On the other hand with all the rich food which I had, exercises were mandatory.
Back in Canada, I saw the rewards - I had lost at least five pounds during this trip!
The church dates back to the year 1064 and went through many changes. It became later a Lutheran church.
It was badly destroyed during WWII and renovations started already in the fifties under the communist system. This included the shown organ which was added in 1961.
It was recommended to me to listen there to one of the concerts which must be an unforgettable experience because of the excellent acoustic.
Unfortunately none was scheduled for the time when I was in Gotha. I also missed a service.
Please plan your trip to Thuringia carefully. We can only give you a brief overview what to see, to do and to experience.
It will never be boring. Even on rainy days you can have a full program, but don't forget a dictionary!
Even in tourist offices they may not speak English which is a shame. In Jamaica they had a German speaking person in the resort where I stayed and even at the "hot springs" in the Indonesian jungle, I got a warm Coke served by a German speaking native.
I did not see too many other tourists. I always draw attention when I took pictures. These friendly teenagers wanted to have their pictures taken and I promised them to put it on Internet. Here they are!
Teenager - almost an endangered species in Thuringia
Enjoy walking in the pedestrian zone
Naturally, Gotha is also a great place for people who are "born to shop", like my wife Elizabeth. She can spend hours by going in each store with clothing, gifts, perfumes, jewelry and so on and on.
I only decided to get a nice haircut. Talking to the girl I got confirmed again that many Thuringians do not understand the English advertising of the companies they work for. Why do they do this? Are they ashamed to be German? My saying to such people is: "I am proud to be a Kraut". But not any longer - now I got my Canadian citizenship.
However, everybody was very friendly and helpful and that is very important when you come as a tourist.
The "Margarethenkirche" in the background
I really can't understand why I did not see more tourists in Thuringia. The prices are very reasonable when you avoid really fancy places. It is clean, the scenery is great, you have clean air in the Thuringian Forest and the attractions and offered activities can keep you busy for months.
I believe that Germany must not keep its beauty and culture hidden as a secret. We hope that we help a little bit to uncover some of the hidden treasures at least from Thuringia.
After each corner a new sight
There are always places where you can sit outside and enjoy an "Eisbecher" (special ice cream) or something to drink.
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