The Natural History Museum in Gotha is the largest of its kind in Thuringia. It is located in a Neo Renaissance building to the south of the Schloss Friedenstein palace complex. It has a number of special exhibitions on the nature and landscape of Thuringia, such as the forest in the area and these change on a regular basis. Informative displays also cover the geological and palaeontology aspects of the area. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday and the entrance fee is 3 euros.
The Augustinerkirche was part of the monastery of the Augustinian heremit order. There is a Gothic cloister dating back to 1366.
The interior of the church is Baroque style from 1675-80. Martin Luther held a few services in this church and his friend, the reformer Friedrich Myconius, is buried here.
The church was under renovation in August 2008 and therefore closed.
If you want to visit the casemates then you need to book the tour at the Schlosskasse for 1 or 2 pm. They take a maximum of 10 people at anyone time. If you are already a group of 10, then you can book an additional time at the tourist office.
The casemates are around 350 years old and used to be 2,5 km long. They are a defensive systems on several underground levels. Today you can see around 300 m. They are thought one of the best preserved casemates system from the late middle ages as they have never actually been needed for defense purposes.
The hospital with its own church was Gotha's oldest social institution. It was donated in 1223 by the later holy Elisabeth and her husband Landgraf Ludwig IV. of Thuringa.
The building was modified from 1716-19 and was used as an old people's home until 1974. In the early 1990 it underwent renovations and has since been used for administration purposes.
The museum of nature was built from 1864 till 1879 as a museum under Herzog Ernst II. Most collections from the castle were moved to the museum. Only after WWII a lot of these were returned to the castle.
Outside the museum on the car park there is a public toilet but it takes 3x 10 cents only.
It has the same opening times as the castle.
The castle has been built on top of an earlier fortress by the name of Grimmenstein. The castle has been built from 1643 until 1656 by Herzog Ernst I. der Fromme.
The castle is situated above the old town of Gotha. The castle parks are a fair size and have a big pond where you can feed the ducks. In the park there is also a small tea time castle. It is situated above the Orangerie. The castle also contains a theatre and a chapel.
The castle museum is closed on Mondays. Opening times 10-16 and from May till October 10-17
What is today used as town hall, was originally built in 1567 as a shopping center. On the same spot there used to be a wooden shopping center. Some of the building materials are from castle Grimmenstein and from the previous shopping center.
The north side with its Renaissance style portal is one of the most beautiful in Germany. From 1641-46 the Herzog Ernst der Fromme lived in the building. He redesigned a lot.
Since when the building was used as the town hall is not so clear but certainly from 1666 if not already from 1632. The building used to have shop on the ground floor and only much later the fronts were closed.
The 23 m high tower can be climbed for the view.
The Cranach House is from Baroque times. Cranach's wife was born here. By the entrance to the courtyard you two coats of arms. Cranach's is the one with the winged snake and his son-in-law's a bag.
Today the building houses the pumping system for the Water art outside in the street.
At the Hauptmarkt you will find the fountain of the holy Godehard or Gotthard of Hildesheim (960-1038). The man later became bishop of Hildesheim under Kaiser Heinrich II. Gotthard became very famous from Scandinavia down to Croatia.
The famous Swiss mountain pass St. Gotthard is also named after him.
The Margarethenkirche is originally dating back to 1064. In 1494 and 1543 it was changed from a Roman style church to a Gotic one. From 1524 onwards it was a protestant church.
Fires destroyed the interior twice in the 17th century but it was rebuilt. In the 18th century it was turned into a Baroque style church. From 1675 on it was used as the burial place for the family of Herzog Ernst I. (or "der Fromme").
In the second world war the church was heavily damaged. It was reconstructed between 1952 and 1961.
East of the castle lies the Orangerie. This garden was constructed from 1747 onwards. The concept was made by Gottfried Heinrich Krohne but the Orangerie wasn't finished until after his death.
The entrance is free of charge.
The Orangerie was erected in the grounds of Schloss Friedenstein in 1742 and its gardens were laid out in 1770. Trees were placed outside in the summer and brought inside the buildings during the winter to protect them from the excesses of the weather. The buildings are now used as a café and the local library.
To the south of the Schloss Friedenstein is the oldest English Landscaped Gardens on the Continent. There is a lake in the centre of the park with a small island where the last Dukes of Saxe-Gotha are buried.
At the foot of the Hauptmarkt stands the Town Hall, built between 1567 and 1577 in a Renaissance style it is noteworthy for a richly decorated façade on its north side. The Town Hall has been used as a merchants hall, treasury and princes residence for Duke Ernst till Schloss Freidenstein was built.
The building that dominates Gotha is the Schloss Friedenstein. The castle was built between 1643-1654 for Duke Ernst of Saxe-Gothe and the triple wing building now measures 140m x 110m making it the largest palace in Thuringia. The palace was occupied by the Dukes of Saxe-Coburg-Gothe until the end of WW1. The palace now contains museums and a theatre.