Ilmenau on the northern slopes of the Thuringian Forest calls itself 'Goethe town'. The poet visited Ilmenau 28 times – both as a statesman and to enjoy the surrounding countryside.
Running from Ilmenau through the Thuringian Forest to Stützerbach, the Goethe Trail links a succession of places connected to Goethe's creative output. The walk starts at Ilmenau's guildhall on the market square, where Goethe stayed on several occasions while carrying out his official duties in Ilmenau. From the windows of the upper floor, he watched the colourful goings-on in the market and later used them in his Wilhelm Meister novels. After leaving Ilmenau, the Goethe Trail reaches the Schwalbenstein outcrop. Here, on 19 March 1779, the poet penned the prose version of the fourth act of Iphigenia in Tauris. 'Helenenruhe' offers magnificent views across the Ilm valley and the village of Manebach. An old trading route then takes you up to Grosser Hermannstein hill. A cave at the foot of this rocky outcrop often provided Goethe with a place to shelter. After a short climb, the trail arrives at Mount Kickelhahn with its lookout tower and Goethe's wooden lodge. He wrote the short poem Wayfarer's Night Song on the walls of this hunting lodge on 6 September 1780. Another place associated with Goethe along the trail is the 'dark hole', a narrow gorge that provided the night-time setting for a scene from his poem Ilmenau. The walk ends in Stützerbach at the Goethe Museum in Gundelach House, which is open to visitors at weekends and on public holidays.
Goethe and Municipal Museum at the guildhall in Ilmenau
The guildhall is one of the most historically and architecturally important buildings in the town. Goethe used the grand function rooms on the upper floor as his official residence when he came to Ilmenau. Nowadays, part of the building houses a Goethe museum.
At a glance