WEIMAR, Germany -- This city, in the former East German state of
Thuringia, is a bit east of the country's geographic center and is
easily accessible along German Rail's InterCity Express route that
links Frankfurt (about 180 miles southwest of Weimar) with Leipzig
(60 miles east) and Dresden (120 miles east).
Even closer to Weimar, just a dozen miles away, is the
Thuringian state capital city of Erfurt, which, along with Leipzig,
expects to accommodate the overflow crowds headed for Weimar in
Because only about 15% of Weimar was destroyed during World War
II, much of the city's original architecture has been saved, and
most of it has been considerably rehabilitated and spruced up in
the years after German reunification, especially in the past year,
as the Cultural Capital festivities draw near.
Its relatively small size makes Weimar a great walking-around
city, with most of its main historic and cultural attractions --
such as Goethe's House, Schiller's House, Lizst's House, the
Bauhaus Museum, the Town Palace and Market Square -- clustered
around the center of the old town. The old town is ringed by a
series of well-maintained parks.
The contemporary visitor would never know from mere appearances
that Weimar was part of the bleak, no-frills German Democratic
Republic for almost 50 years. With its attractive parks, its many
sidewalk cafes and restaurants, its modern department stores and
boutiques, it looks like western Germany now.
A full refurbishment job was under way this past summer on the
German State Theater, which marks the civic and cultural center of
town. The theater has long been a focal point of German culture,
having hosted the first performances of musical works by Strauss,
Liszt and Wagner, and of plays by Goethe and Schiller (both
immortalized in a famous statue that stands in front of the
theater). But it also served for a while as the home of Germany's
National Assembly, which came here from Berlin in 1919 and created
a new republican government for the country -- albeit a short-lived
one -- since known as the Weimar Republic.
Many tourists take advantage of the WeimarCard, a three-day pass
good for transportation on city buses, admission to more than a
dozen museums and other attractions, and a 50% discount on
sightseeing tours. It costs 25 deutschmarks (about $16) and can be
purchased at hotels, museums and the city's tourist office on the