"Here, you feel as grand and free as the wondrous nature before your eyes" – Goethe's words still ring true today and are a perfect description of what awaits visitors to Ettersburg Palace Park. The park comprises a total of seven historic landscape parks both large and small, which are strung together in and around Weimar. The renowned German writer Adolf Stahr once said that "Weimar is a park containing a town", a fitting way to describe the spectacular natural beauty that Weimar radiates.
Weimar's extensive country parks are well-known, particularly the park on the banks of the Ilm river, with its classical characteristics that Goethe helped to design, Belvedere Palace Park with its baroque origins and Tiefurt Palace Park. This trio of parks along with Goethe's gardens and Herder's house garden are all part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Not to forget Ettersburg Palace Park with the Pücklerschlag forest meadow – a gem of Thuringian landscape gardening. They are all a testament to Weimar's unparalleled tradition of parks and gardens, which is complemented by gorgeous palaces and gardens accessible to the public.
The 48-hectare landscaped park on the edge of Weimar’s Old Town is part of a kilometre-long stretch of green along the Ilm. It was laid out between 1778 and 1828 and features both sentimental, classical and post-classical/romantic styles. The City Palace is closely linked to the Ernestines as a Protestant dynasty, which presided over the fate of its lands between the Reformation and the Revolution and influenced their destiny for years to come. Members of the Ernestine line are still to be found in several royal dynasties in Europe, for example in Belgium and Great Britain. Goethe’s close attachment to the countryside, especially the Ilm Valley, is reflected in many of the poems he wrote in his summer residence, and he often visited the house until shortly before he died. It was here, where he wrote famous poems such as ‘Iphigenie’, ‘Egmont’ and ‘Torquato Tasso’.
Goethe also played a leading role in the construction of the Roman House between 1791 - 1797. It is located in the Park on the river Ilm and it looks as though it was built on the ruins of an ancient structure because of its temple-like construction. Inspired by the villas surrounding Rome, the Roman House has the status of a classical show home embodying Goethe’s architectural theories, which developed in the light of his journey to Italy.
Belvedere Palace stands on a hill south of Weimar and is surrounded by 43 hectares of parkland. Duke Ernst August of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach had a Baroque summer residence including an orangery, pleasure gardens and labyrinth built here. Since 1923, Belvedere Palace has been used as a museum of 18th century crafts.
The building, built in 1765 as a tenant house on ducal property on the bank of the river Ilm, served as Duke Carl August's younger brother's residence from 1776 on. Until 1806 it was the summer residence of Duchess Anna Amalia and a place for literary and social encounters.
Tiefurt Park covers an area of 21 hectares on both sides of the Ilm. Gently sloping fields with beautiful groups of trees stretch to the bank of the river. A steep slope covered with dense forest rises on the far side. Numerous memorials and park-constructions invite visitors to linger.
The Ettersburg Palace complex consists of the old palace itself, the adjacent church, and the new palace in front, and was originally used as Anna Amalia’s summer residence. During this time, a literary and artistic circle met here, to which Wieland, Goethe or Herder belonged, among others. Where great minds met some hundred years ago, today a restaurant invites to linger.
The palace grounds, a jewel of Thuringian horticulture, are adjoined by Pücklerschlag (‘Prince Pückler’s Patch’) – an elongated glade with beautifully fashioned contours. One of the woodland aisles laid out 250 years ago has been opened again and runs from Ettersburg Palace to Buchenwald concentration camp.