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Friedenstein Castle rises above the city of Gotha on the site of the former Grimmenstein Castle. The medieval castle was converted into a fortress in the 16th century, which was destroyed in 1567. After the Ernestine division of land in 1640, Gotha became the residential town of the newly created Duchy of Saxony-Gotha. Duke Ernst I, the Pious, laid the foundation stone in 1643 for the palace building planned by Andreas Rudolph, which was given the name Friedenstein, programmatic for the period of the Thirty Years' War. Until 1825, the palace was the residence of the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and Altenburg and then, along with Coburg, the residence of the Dukes of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha until 1918.

Friedenstein castle

Inner court

The three-winged complex opens to the south, facing away from the city. The residential area in the north, as well as the pavilions as the end of the side wings in the south, have three upper floors, the side wings two. The facades are almost unadorned, with the exception of a few architectural elements.

Festival hall

Inside, the banqueting hall and reception and living rooms from the second phase of furnishing from 1683 to 1697 under Duke Frederick I are preserved. They were executed under the direction of Giovanni Caroveri. The stuccoworkers Johann Samuel and Johann Peter Rust and the painter Seyfried Lammers were active in the palace church, which was refurnished from 1695-1697. Further living quarters were decorated in the rococo style between 1747 and 1751 according to designs by Gottfried Heinrich Krohne. In the course of the 18th century, new rooms for the ducal family were also built in the east wing. From 1796, the court sculptor Friedrich Wilhelm Eugen Doell was involved in the furnishing of neoclassical living rooms in the west wing. From 1804, Duke August also had his room creations, influenced by his own ideas, realized in this suite of rooms.

Stucco ceiling Coats of arms, figures, pictures
in the castle

Wearing felt slippers, I slog reverently through the castle, take a look at the collections - for example, the Egyptian museum with sarcophagi and mummies - and visit the baroque theater built by Conrad Ekhof in 1775.

Ekhofsches Theater

The west pavilion of the castle houses the Ekhof Theater, completed in 1683, with its original stage equipment and auditorium rebuilt in the 18th century. It experienced its heyday under Conrad Ekhof between 1775 and 1779 as a German-language stage with its own ensemble.

In the east pavilion, which burned out in 1677, the pillared hall, furnished in 1687, with original library equipment is preserved.

To the east of the palace is the Orangery Garden with an orangery building and a greenhouse on each of the north and south sides, which were built from 1747 onwards. In this garden area the widely praised potted plant stock with up to 3000 plants was presented. After the destruction of the war, the exterior of the buildings has been restored, except for the southern greenhouse. The associated garden area shows the design from the time around 1930.


View from the castle: In front on the right is the monument of Ernst the Pious. Down the castle hill and the square you can see the town hall with the red tower in the background.

Blick auf die Mar­garethenkirche

View of Gotha from the castle. In the center the Margarethen church.

Cranach house

Further down on the main market is the Lucas Cranach House.

Lucas Cranach the Elder, born in 1472 in Kronach, Upper Franconia; died October 16, 1553 in Weimar, was a German Renaissance painter and graphic artist.
In 1501, at the age of 29, Cranach went to Vienna and remained there until 1504. In 1505, he appears for the first time in the documents of the city of Wittenberg and was given a position as court painter to Elector Frederick the Wise of Saxony. Around 1512 Cranach married Barbara Brengebier. She was born here and was a daughter of Jobst Brengebier, the mayor of Gotha.

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Note on the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha family

Through clever marriage policies, several European royal houses descended from the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha dynasty.

 Way of St. James Erfurt - Eisenach

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