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Weimar - Town of Goethe and Onion Ice Cream

Weimar is one of the largest cultural centers in Europe, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. German classicism was born here at the turn of XVIII-XIX centuries; great poets Goethe and Schiller wrote here, and composer Liszt and philosopher Nietzsche worked in Weimar. People visit the cozy town to explore the unique palaces and parks, sit at Goethe’s favorite pub, as well as taste the incredibly delicious onion cake at the onions fair that has been held in Weimar since the mid XVII century.

The town of Weimar on the Ilm River was first mentioned in historical documents of the X century. For centuries it was a small provincial town. In the XVI century, it was granted the status of the main city of the Duchy of Saxe-Weimar. That's when they started to build the first palaces, hunting residences and vast parks.

At the beginning of the XVIII century Johann Sebastian Bach lived and worked as an organ player in Weimar. But the real fame came to the city at the turn of XVIII-XIX centuries, when the great poet and outstanding educator Johann Wolfgang von Goethe came here. In 1775, Goethe, who had become famous by that time, was invited by Grand Duke Karl Alexander of Saxe-Weimar. The poet settled in Weimar, where he remained until the end of his life and where he wrote Faust. There is a legend that there are almost no old buildings in Weimar, where Goethe hasn’t been. Tourists today are offered a route through the places connected with the life and work of the great German man. Here are some of the milestones along the route: the poet’s house-museum at Frauenplan Square, his favorite pub White Swan, Tifurt Castle, the monument in front of the German National Theatre, which Goethe headed for many years. Another honorary citizen of Weimar, Friedrich Schiller, is immortalized in bronze there. The route ends on the old cemetery, where the two poets are buried in a prince's sarcophagus.

The XX century was quite controversial for Weimar. In 1919 a new democratic constitution was adopted here. The German government, known as the Weimar Republic lasted until Hitler came to power in 1933. One of the saddest chapters in Weimar’s history is connected with World War II. Buchenwald concentration camp was established near the town in 1937 where more than 56,000 people were killed. Today, this place is a memorial complex and a commemorative alarm bell rings there. 

Despite its small size, Modern Weimar is crowded with all sorts of attractions. Even the local restaurants here somehow remind of the famous natives of Weimar. For example, Zum Weißen Schwan pub (The White Swan), which serves traditional Thuringian dishes, is called the favorite place of Goethe. It has a guest house established 450 years ago, is considered one of the oldest in Europe and is included in the Michelin restaurant guide. At various times, composers Johann Sebastian Bach, Franz Liszt, painters Cranach, poet Friedrich Schiller and members of the Danish and Japanese royal families stayed here and dined. The highlights of the local cuisine include Thuringian sausage with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes (Thüringer Bratwurst mit Schmandsauerkraut und Kartoffelpüree), as well as Goethe's favorite dish, which is so named in the menu - Goethes Lieblingsgericht. It is boiled beef with Frankfurt green sauce. Such a square dinner should be seasoned with the "White Swan» (Schwanenblond) beer brewed at a special tavern. 

In summer Weimar hosts a wine festival (Weimar Weinfest) marking Goethe’s birthday. Main August festivities, including wine tasting and choosing the festival Queen, are held right in front of the house where the great poet lived. The colorful and flavorful Onion Fair (Zwiebelmarkt) is Weimar’s another gastronomic attraction. Fairground festivities take place in the entire city. The appetizing onion cake zwiebelkuchen - another favorite dish of Goethe- is made at this festival, which has been taking place annually since 1653 in the second weekend of October. You can also enjoy the traditional onion soup, onion casserole, onion bread and the very specific onions ice cream. In winter, the traditional Christmas market, Weimarer Weihnacht, opens at the historic center of Weimar.

The scenic Weimar on the Ilm River, surrounded by stunning parks and ancient palaces, filled with the poetry of Goethe and Schiller, with the music of Bach and Liszt, continues to delight all visitors. In this city there is a place for everyone- from discerning connoisseurs of opera, architecture and literature to connoisseurs of national traditions of German cuisine and lovers of gastronomic festivals.

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