Martin Luther’s ties to Weimar are closer than is generally known. Luther’s sovereigns, who chose Weimar as their secondary residence in 1513 and as one of their prime residences in 1531, were the reason he visited the city so frequently between 1518 and 1540. As part of Elector John’s entourage, and later John Frederick’s, Luther gave counsel about the implementation of the Reformation and received instructions. The Franciscan monastery at the palace served as one of his places of accommodation, which is now commemorated by a plaque. During his visits Luther repeatedly preached in the Palace Church and in the Town Church St. Peter and Paul. In the latter, now called the Herder Church, Lucas Cranach the Elder’s painted three-winged altar (1552-53) is located. The altar is a major pictorial representation of the Lutheran doctrine, in which the reformer himself is depicted, symbolically pointing to the bible.
A small but lively city
Weimar is a major point of attraction in the centre of Germany. Visitors from around the world come to this city on the Ilm River and are enchanted by its friendly and cosmopolitan atmosphere. They stroll through the narrow streets of its lovingly restored old town, take walks in the parks past magnificent palaces, discover the houses in which Goethe and Schiller lived, and experience the modern era’s Bauhaus legacy. The diversity of cultural activities and interesting things to see in Weimar easily equals that of a much larger city.
The late Gothic Town Church St. Peter & Paul was built as a three-aisled hall church between 1498 and 1500. The first church on this site was built between 1245 and 1249. The foundations of the church’s western tower are among the city’s oldest structures. Of the church’s original late Gothic elements, the baptismal font, the staircase to the baroque pulpit and parts of a wall painting of Saint Ursula underneath the organ loft are the only ones that remain.
The main point of attraction in the church is the winged altar begun by Lucas Cranach the Elder in 1522 and finished by his son. The Cranach Altar is considered one of the major works of 16th century Saxonian-Thuringian art, and is an important testament to the ideas of the Reformation. The Luther Shrine is also noteworthy, a triptych from 1572 that shows Martin Luther as a monk, as Junker Jörg (Luther’s cover name during his stay at the Wartburg Castle), and as a teacher. Martin Luther preached in the church numerous times.
The Duchess Anna Amalia Library has been one of the most famous libraries in Germany since the 18th century. It owes its fame to its royal patrons Wilhelm Ernst, Anna Amalia, and Carl August, as well as to its librarians, of whom Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was undoubtedly the most significant.
The Lutherhof, which was built in 1492, was once the home of one of Martin Luther’s friends and thus often served as accommodation for Luther when he was in Weimar.
A small museum in the building now serves as a memorial to Johannes Daniel Falk (1768-1826), who was active in Weimar as a writer, diplomat, and social worker from 1797 until his death. The author of the Christmas song O du fröhliche, educator of children in need,and founder of the Inner Mission moved into the building in 1821, which he then renamed ‘Lutherhof’. It served as his last place of residence and work.
The monarchy abdicated a mere five years after the Baroque, three-storey palace was completed in 1913. The classical state rooms, including a ballroom, grand staircase, and large gallery, are among the finest in all of Europe.
The Lucas Cranach Gallery is home to a variety of important art collections, where works by Cranach, Dürer, and their contemporaries can be admired. Lucas Cranach the Elder, who died in Weimar in 1553, produced numerous paintings and portraits of Martin Luther and his wife Katharina von Bora.
The Franciscan Monastery opened in 1453. Martin Luther preached in its church, where a plaque commemorating him can be found. The building is now part of the Liszt School of Music.