Monday, April 26, 2010

Hier bin ich Mensch, und hier darf ich sein

[ Here I am man, and here may I be ]

Inge has left for a few days on a personal trip, so it has been Andreas and myself together in Göttingen together. The other day, on Andreas' day off we planned an outing together for a one day roadtrip. About 2.5 hours away from Göttingen, in the bundesland of Thüringen, we visited the very historic city of Weimar.

Bach, Nietzsche, Martin Luther, to name a few of the international known names come from this city, along with some integral figures in German literature, including Goethe and Schiller. The list of famous people that come from this city is extensive. On many accounts, this small town [ on appearance and how dense everything is, smaller than Göttingen!] is considered the center of German culture, and a central point for European culture as well. After all, important authors, playwrites, composers, even religious reformers all came from this rather quaint German city.

Located right in the middle of Germany, Weimar seems to capture a scene of Germany that is frozen in time. The buildings, lined on the cobblestone pedestrian streets, are little German flats, often times with wooden window shutters and brightly colored facades.

Being a city of so many acclaimed academics, the city is full of locations that have preserved this history. Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek - Dutches Anna Amalia Library - is one of the most important collections in all of Europe.

The library itself has an incredible aura about it with its huge shelves of books encased by marble statues and gold lief. The collection numbers into the hundreds of thousands of volumes, including maps, compositions and other important documentations of classical German history.

When learning about the history of Weimar while incredibly being able to experience its well preserved history, it is also fascinated to learn how many of these notable figures in German arts and sciences were all quite interconnected in society, often as friends or neighbors. The city itself created a society of great minds, earning it its credit as a heart of German culture.

Along with the library, I also saw the houses of Goethe and Schiller. These names are largely unknown in the English speaking world, but they are two of the most important figures in German literary history. Goethe, as I have mentioned before, is hailed as the Shakespeare of the German language, and the author of the masterpiece "Faust".

Their houses were perfectly preserved museums, and along with every incredible creak from the wood paneled floor, it was living history right in front of you. Legend has it that Goethe and Schiller were life long friends and a statue to commemorate their relationship stands before the Weimar theater. I also heard that the skull of the young deceased Schiller remained on the desk of his good friend Goethe!

From libraries to houses of timeless academics, Weimar also had a castle within walking distance of its central square. Everything was so condensed. The castle had room after room of important art movements in Germany, and a collection that only a city as eclectic and historical as Weimar could have.

Before heading out, Andreas and I were sure to enjoy a Thüringen classic, their bratwurst, as well as hearty German Knödel as well. And to our surprise, continuing on our on-running joke from Easter, our favorite slogan was proudly displayed on one of the buildings in the city commemorating Goethe.

Andreas and I had an excellent time in the city, and for me it was an excellent opportunity to see so much German history at one time in one place. Weimar was a pleasant surprise, and definitely a recommendation for a perfect stop in Germany for travelers to view an immense amount of German and European history, perfectly preserved, in an area so dense that all these sights are within minutes of each other in the city center!

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