One of the things I want to do next time I am in Eisenach is to go to the Reuter-Wagner Museum, which is said to have the second largest Richard Wagner exhibition in the world -- the largest being at his former home "Wahnfried" in Bayreuth.
Open Tuesday - Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm. Closed Mondays.
Admission EUR 4.00, or EUR 2.00 if you get a reduction. (Prices as of 2013.)
The Bach House in Eisenach is a 600-year-old house which for nearly 100 years has served as a museum and study center devoted to the life and works of the composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750).
When the museum was opened in 1907 it was thought that this was the house where Bach was born. In the meantime some doubts about this have arisen about this, and no one really seems to know exactly which house it was. But he was born in Eisenach, in any case, on March 21, 1685, and was baptized here two days later.
In 2005 they started building a new museum building next to the old one (off to the right). The plan was that after the new building was finished in March 2006, the museum would be moved over there so the old building could be thoroughly restored and renovated.
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission is now EUR 8 for adults and EUR 4 for students (as of 2012). This includes an introductory lecture on Bach's life and work.
When visiting Eisenach it is inevitable that you visit the town house where the Bach museum is situated. The myth is carefully kept alive that 'it is said to have been the house where J.S. Bach was born'. However, it isn't. It's just one house that was like one that Bach could have been born in.
Having said that, it is an interesting museum. In the new annex you can learn about his (then) very innovative music through manuscripts, explanation (in English) and sound fragments.
In the old part (the original house from Bach era) you can see how the Bach's could have lived, more info on his personal life and a music room with historical instruments. When you buy your ticket, you can find the time (on the whole hour) when you are welcome into the music room where someone will tell you a bit about the instruments and will play on them.
The highlight there is the Silbermann cembalo which dates from the time that Bach lived.
I must say that the pieces played I could've played too, that was not so impressive. The explanation was in German but the lady spoke very clearly and it was easy to follow.
Of course every tourist wants to come here, and there can be buses full of them. Entrance fee (2010) is a hefty 7.50 euro per person. However, a family ticket (2 adults, any number of children of school age) is just 15 euro.
Whenever I visit a new place I always try to find the Tourist Information office to get some suggestions or at least some tourist brochures about the visited area. With the changeable weather during our short trip to Eisenach we were lucky to enter the Tourist Information just in time to find shelter from the downpour outside. Here I learnt about the narrowest half-timbered house in Germany so after the rain, equipped with a new city plan we set off to find it.
The Narrow House, located on the Johannisplatz, looks really charming with its colourful facade. It is just 2.01 m wide and 8.5 metres high (much lower than the adjacent houses). Since 1991 a small exhibition of pictures, sculptures and historical furniture is on display here.
Today the house is one of tourist attractions of Eisenach but in the past its existence was threatened. At the beginninig of the 20th century the city council wanted to pull the house down together with two adjoining buildings to make place for taller stately houses. Luckily, the owner of the Narrow House, Wilhelm Kohler, demanded the unrealistic sum of ten thousand Goldmark to deter the sale. He turned to court and demanded funds for the new facade. In the end he won and the house received the facade in the form that we can see today. All renovations were completed in 1903. In 2000 the professional restoration was done and hopefully the Narrow House which is now over 250 years old will remain a tourist attraction for a long time.
J.S. was associated with many German towns, but Eisenach as his birthplace and the place where he spent his childhood years, takes a special position in his biography.
Born in 1685 as the son of John Ambrosius Bach - a town musician, John Sebastian was baptised in St George's church in the market square. His family lived in the house in Frauenplan wher today is his museum.
He attended school in Eisenach till 1695 when he moved away to live with his older brother because both his parents died.
Today in the Bach house (it is not the actual house, but they lived nearby) visitors can see the artifacts connected with the life and work of the composer. You walk through the living quarters furnished with objects and artwork from the epoch. In the instrument hall you can get acquainted with the musical instruments from the times of J.S. Bach. There is a short musical presentation (I don't know if on regular basis) when some of the instruments are played. In summer it is also possible to visit a charming Baroque garden at the back of the house.
Next to the house we can see the statue of J.S. Bach in his choir-master'sclothes and wig.
Entrance to the Bach house - 6.00 Euro
The Nicholas Gate and adjacent Nicholas church make a very photogenic couple.
The church dating back to 1180 is said to be the last Romanesque church built in Thuringia. It used to be the parish church for the Benedictine convent which had existed here before the Reformation. It underwent alterations at the end of the 19th century.
The impressive Nicholas Gate is the only preserved one of the original five Romanesque gates leading to the town.
I entered St. George's church just because it was on our way across the market square, only then did I realize its significance.
St. George's church is strictly connected with the history of Eisenach and its most outstanding personages.
It was here (strictly speaking in the predecessor of the present late-Gothic church) that Landgrave Ludwig IV and the Hungarian princess Elizabeth married.
Here Martin Luther was a choir boy.
Here John Sebastian Bach was baptised in 1685 (the baptismal font is still in use) and some members of the talented Bach family were the church organists.
On the church courtyard there is one more memento to a significant historical figure - the tombstone of Ludwig Springer - the legendary founder of the Wartburg castle.
No wonder that looking around the church gives you that special feeling of being in a very special place.
Althugh the Wartburg castle is undoubtedly the greatest tourist attraction of Eisenach, the city itself is also worth visiting. After all, it was a birthplace of J.S. Bach and the place where M. Luther spent his childhood, so we are sure to find the traces of their lives here.
We started our short walk through Eisenach from its market square surrounded by charming merchants' houses. In the centre there is a gilded fountain representing St. George (patron of Eisenach) fighting with a dragon. Opposite there's an entrance to St. George's church.
It is so exciting to visit new places, whether they are famous or not. I love admiring different styles and looking for architectural features and details that make the place special. But a building starts 'speaking' to me only when I 'populate' it in my imagination with people who used to be linked with it. In Wartburg and Eisenach it was fairly easy - so many outstanding figures, so many sources of stories about them that I could easily feel their presence in places visited.
Martin Luther was strictly connected with the Wartburg castle. He hid here for a year (1521-22) under the name of Junker Jorg ( Knight George) after being excommunicated and outlawed. Here he translated the New Testament into German.
Visitors can see a small room called the Lutherstube where he lived and worked. The room is furnished very modestly but what attrats most tourists' attention is not the objects but a barely visible inkspot on the wall. It is said that Luther tormented by a devil threw an ink bottle to chase him away.
In the museum in Neue Kamenate we can see a lot of Reformation artifacts, including furniture, paintings and sculptures. The most valuable are probably the paintings by Lucas Cranach presenting Luther's parents.
One of the rooms on the ground floor of the Palas is called the Elizabeth bower. Architecturally, it looks similar to other roooms on the floor - it has vaulted ceiling and a massive column supporting it, but it is covered with beautiful mosaic laid here in the early 20th century. it is devoted to the most remarkable woman in the history of Wartburg - Saint Elisabeth of Hungary.
Princess Elizabeth came to Wartburg at the age of four and was betrothed to the infant son of the landgrave of Thuringia. She married Ludwig IV when she was just 14 and gave him 3 children. Elizabeth was all her short life ( she died at the age of 24) a very pious person. There are numerous stories about her generosity and kind heart and the best known is probably the legend of roses. She used to give bread to the poor in town, although she had been forbidden to do it. One day she was asked what she was carrying in her basket and although there was bread inside she replied that she had just picked roses. Ordered to show the basket,she opened it and thanks to the divine help the bread was turned to roses. That's why she is often represented with red roses and a loaf of bread.
Another place where the visitors can get acquainted with the life of St. Elizabeth is her gallery. In this narrow room you can see large frescoes depicting the life of the saint.
The Grand Hall is the biggest hall of the Palas. With approximate 350 square metres it extends over the entire length and width of the Palace. The room was restored in the 19th century according to the perception of that time of the Middle Ages.
The Hall was the witness to some important historical events. In 1817 five hundred students gathered here for the 300th anniversary of Reformation and the 4th one of the Battle of Leipzig. They are said to have fought for unified Germany under the motto 'Honour - Freedom - Fatherland". To remember this event, the flag of the students' fraternity was placed on the middle chimney. Its colours: black, red and gold were later to become the German national flag.
The Grand hall made such a great impression on the Bavarian king Ludwig II that he had its copy made in his fairy-tale castle in Neuschwanstein. ( We had a chance to compare the two halls on our visit to Neuschwanstein four days later).
Today, thanks to its outstanding acoustics the Grand Hall is the venue for numerous concerts and other cultural events.
One of the best known rooms in the Palas is the Hall of Minstrels. The reason for its fame is the legendary Sangerkrieg - singing contest.
At the beginning of the 13th century Wartburg was the leading centre of culture in Europe. The fine arts were generously sponsored by Landgrave Hermann I who organised the contest of minstrels called the Praise of Princes. As the legend goes in 1206 six poets were invited to take part in the contest and it was decided that the loser would be hanged. As can be guessed, most contestants praised their host Hermann, but there was one who chose to sing about his own prince - the duke of Austria. No wonder then that the minstrel was the one to lose the contest. However, thanks to merciful landgravine the man's life was spared.
The Contest of Minstrels was immortalized in Wagner's opera - Tannhauser.
The oldest part of the castle is the Palas dating back to the 12th century. It used to house the landgraves' private quarters besides official ones. Its interior architecture is typical of the Romanesque epoch with stone floors and cross vaulting supported by massive columns adorned with beautiful capitals. What's interesting, we can see today the elements of the floor heating system and latrine bays.
The restoration works done here in the 20th century makes it possible for us to picture what the place looked like at the height of its importance.
One of the several rooms that we visited on the tour was tha chapel built around 1320. Here you can see the wall paintings showing six apostles. The columns with their capitals, the crucifix and the baptism basin come from the Romanesque era.
Nowadays the chapel is used for concerts and for both Catholic and Protestant services.
Eisenach is full of lovely halftimbered houses, because after WW II there was not enough money in the former DDR to build new, modern houses, so they had to restore the old ones and especially after 1989 a lot of these old buildings had been restored by new owners or investors from the former western Germany.
On my 1st picture : the tourist information on "Markt"
Alte Stadtapotheke was one of my favorite buildings in the centre of Eisenach. It is the oldest pharmacy of town, a lovely building beautifully decorated with woodcarvings and stone-reliefs in the facade and the bay-window.
Fritz-Koch-Strasse 12, Eisenach, Thuringia, 99817, Germany
Good for: Business
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