Gotha – another Thuringian town, another duchy, and another palatial ducal residence! Schloss Friedenstein on Schlossstraße, the largest Early Baroque palace in Germany – a room for every day – was constructed in 1643-55 as the residence of the dukes of Saxe-Gotha. The exterior is relatively simple, but inside the rooms are richly decorated in Baroque, Rococo, and Classical styles. The palace houses several museum collections. The art gallery specializes in German paintings of the 15th and 16th centuries but also has some Dutch paintings from the 17th century. The most famous is The Gotha Lovers (1484), the oldest German double portrait. The Egyptian Collection is one of the oldest in Germany. Further collections include coins, glasswork, porcelain and ceramics, and prints
In 1681, Duke Friederich I von Saxe-Coburg-Altenburg changed the ballroom into what is now known as the Ekhoftheater. In 1775 the first permanent court theater in Germany was established here, paving the way for society’s acceptance of actors as an honorable profession. The original stage machinery and footlights are still in use. Concerts are mainly scheduled in July and August for the Ekhof Festival.
Gotha can be reached, from both Eisenach and Erfurt, in 15 minutes on irregular ICE/IC trains, or in 24 minutes on the regional trains (at least one per hour).
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