Weimar and Erfurt- living the old world
Updated: Jul 1, 2020
"Have you ever been to Weimar"? Asked my good French friend from Berlin "I think you would appreciate this city. The home of Goethe,and Schiller,among the most significant writers and philosophers of all times in Germany. It is a combination of antique beauty and modern ones. When you stroll in its streets. It feels like stepping back to the 18th or 19th Century."
He didn't need to continue to persuade me to visit Weimar. I was already quite keen to discover it.
I arrived there on a hot day in early August. The first thing I have noticed was the enormous statue of Goethe and Schiller standing one next to each other in the Theater square.
I have learned that Weimar is proud of Goethe, who was based there for years,as Prague in Kafka. You can bump into his statue while walking in the city in unpredictable places. His powerful charisma is felt through the decisive features of the sculpture and in his superior posture.
Even though the city is not too big, there is quite a lot to explore It contains important monuments which are a walking distance from each other.
The city was about to celebrate 100 years of the Bauhaus. My attention was drawn to the new Bauhaus Museum which was inaugurated in April 2019.
It was in Weimar, where the school of this revolutionary method of design and architecture was created for the first time. In the late 20s by its leader Walter Gropius and his collaborator's artists Kandinsky and Paul Klee.
Even at night, the building glitters in shiny white. It glares contemptuously to the massive red structure, standing right opposite to it. The Gauforum,built by the Nazis. They pursued the Bauhaus architects and shuttered their school in the 30s.
As the bauhaus architecture is very present in Tel Aviv.I was enchanted to learn about its sources.The rich and original world of the Bauhaus technique inside this new Museum. From housewares till Costume designs for ballet.
Later in the city, I discover the marvelous house of Goethe. Inside,it's like a hymn of admiration to the baroque Italian treasures, with massive sculptures everywhere. Enchanting colours as vivid red,green,gold embracing the visitor. Outside there is a nourished garden welcomes you peacefully.
In another corner of the city, I visited Schiller's modest house. It was a bit dreary, like a metaphor for the writer who was weak and ill often in his lifetime
People were eating huge portions of ice cream in the cafes. It was as if everyone was on vacation. Coaches with horses were seen on the paved roads a reminder for the Romantic Weimar, today they serve mainly as tourist attraction.
I happened to arrive in Weimar, where there was a Yiddish celebration festival for a week.
The venue" Mon Ami" was crowded with spectators from all over the world. Just before the Yiddish cabaret had begun, few young people from the States and Europe who were sitting behind me were chatting in fluent Yiddish. They were in Weimar for an intensive course in this language. After the show, they invited me to their own cabaret that took place in their language school.
It was a charming night. I could have literally spotted one of the greatest Yiddish writers, Issac Bashevis Zinger, through the smoke ,wine,and the musicians.
He was sitting in the corner of the room, delighted, that his native language in which he had created, continue to live in the year 2019.
A day before I left the city, I had the chance to visit the stunning Anna Amalia library. It was designed in a Rococo style. It is easy to imagine Goethe, who was acquainted with the duchess Anna Amalia or Schiller,often frequenting this beautiful building tainted in gold, blue, and white.
Just to confirm the fact that Weimar an exquisite city, i went to see the Schloss Belvedere, that is placed in the outskirts. It is a beautiful castle,the gardens around it were so diverse and enchanting. Among them a wonderful botanic garden,
I got a recommendation on a very good bakery and a Cafe not far from the theater square belongs to an Israeli who had moved years ago to Germany. Aviv Koriat.It was pleasant to sit in the little terrasse,eating a tasty brioche with apricot jam(both hand made), drinking a bio coffee and chatting with Aviv in Hebrew,( He took a pause after a cake he had just finished baking) finding out about cultural influences and flavours that we are taking from home. They join us apparently as a loyal companion where ever we go.
A secretive garden, I found in "Kirms Krackow haus" The coffee house was already closed. There was just one man who was simply sitting on a bench leaning on a table,writing something in his notebook
I could feel inspired only by staying there for one hour. Hearing the calm whispering of the wind, the birds singing.surrounded by colourful flowers in this hidden garden, in an early afternoon on an August summer day.
Only 25 minutes journey from Weimar to Erfurt by train. Erfurt is the largest city in Thuringia, the capital of the state of Germany.
"Are you visiting Colmar? France is lovely, enjoy."
This is one of the messages I get from my friends after I have posted images of Erfurt.
"Thank you. I am in Germany right now."
Erfurt owns this "Alzacien beauty." Old colourful, half -timbered small houses built in a typical architecture for that region.
In the city passes the river, Gera. Under.many little,quaint bridges. It is enjoyable, walking on them, looking at the horizon
The scenery is beautiful and relaxing. It feels like a mixture of a city and a village. There are streets that are only for pedestrians. You can hardly hear any car passing by,so peaceful. and others very busy, filled with many shops,restaurants,traffic as in any big city.
It is an exciting place, where I have discovered the hidden history in variable, unexpected meetings that have occurred on my way.
I received a profound and detailed explanation of the Jewish buildings in Erfurt from Maria Sturzebecher who is the representative of the jewish world UNESCO heritage.
I was very impressed by the sight of one of the oldest medieval Synagogue in Europe,This baffling building from the 11th century is exceptional. It treasures a painful history.In 1349 when there had burst deadly pogroms against Jewish people, the Synagogue was taken away from them. It had become a storeroom, then a ballroom. The changes it went thorough were so extreme that its origin as a magnificent Synagogue was barely recognizable. Only after 1990, thanks to massive archeological digging, the treasures from the Jewish past were emerged.Unique pieces of jewelry,from copper and gold. A majestic wedding ring is exposed in the center of the room, it catches straight away the attention of the viewer . As it symbolizes a whole world that had disappeared and was reborn from the wreckage.
Maria speaks and reads some Hebrew. It seems that the project of giving the monuments the importance they deserve, so they will be a part of UNESCO patrimoine is dearly meaningful to her. "Those discoveries are really revolutionary. They possess great value.
I enjoy often visiting Tel -Aviv and Jaffa. Strolling in the flea market. With those low-cost flights,when I have a free weekend, I travel spontaneously, to Israel.To benefit as well from the warm weather and the delicious food" in her eyes sparkle a smile.
As I continued to explore the city, I have reached the Kramerbrucke(the merchants bridge). I was thrilled by the sight of it. It was bewitching .While I was walking on it, eating a delicious ice cream, I happened to see a mysterious puppets theater on the bridge. It is called Theater Mundi. As the name of my father,who was a playwright, Was it coincidental or not? impossible to know.
I enjoyed getting lost in the picturesque lanes, discovering the majestic Dom, on the hill from where I could have endured the panoramic view over the town. Sitting in the one of the cosy coffee shops. At night, Erfurt is illuminated. The center is quite hectic. later in a French wine bar, I hear" Cabatte shalom." Its Friday night. They were not Israelis who are greeting each other but a group of non-Jewish German, Swiss, and Hungarian. I was interested if they were speaking Hebrew. Apparently, they have learnt it with a teacher via Skype. Even though only some of them were living in Erfurt, they gathered here from time to time to share their love for Israel and the Hebrew language.
"Do you love the Organ's music? Asked me Andrea Melchen. She is an Organist.She plays in churches.She is also a teacher.
"I have a key to the closest Church" And, so a group of people went at 11 at night listen to the compositions of Bach and other cheerful melodies of French Composers in a deserted church. When you hear the Organ instrument, it sounds as if an entire orchestra plays only for you. It's an incredible sensation. Andrea plays the Organ brilliantly.
She told me she has lived some years in Israel and even had played a concert of melodies she has composed for Holocaust survivors.
"It was very emotional."Later she sent me the recorded Concert.
In a few hours, I would leave Beautiful Erfurt, not before I have visited the Anger Museum, which gathers a collection of Thuringia paintings. I passed next to the statue Martin Luther, the monk. He is a crucial figure to the residents of Erfurt as he translated the New Testament from Latin to accessible German.
I returned to a café I liked in Fischmarkt square, where there is a delightful town hall. In Erfurt, the buildings are colourfully decorated. It's never dull to look at them. As everyone seems not to hurry up, it's easy to immerse in dreams while wandering around slowly.
There is one more place I had to check its Ega Park, located a few bus stops from the town center. It is a massive park with various impressive gardens.Its a solely celebration from plants and flowers ,arranged perfectly. In a few months, the Rose garden will be reopened
Personally I was enthusiastic from the Japanese gardens. They were the biggest that I have seen so far in Europe.The pouring rain in the early morning hours has left wet benches and a fresh after-rain scent in the air.
Between the fountains and the flowers, still perfumed from the serene atmosphere, I advanced to the exit gate, I heard suddenly a voice " Will you come back to visit?"
I certainly will!
The past flows in the veins of the present, like an endless river...
Images credit : Tourism Office :Weimar and Erfurt