The oldest town in central Germany

Arnstadt - The oldest town in central Germany

The lovingly restored old quarter is a fusion of half-timbered houses and baroque architecture. The town has an Italian feel, with red tiled roofs, numerous fountains, lofty linden trees and brightly coloured flowerbeds. In fact, Martin Luther once compared it to a pot of boiled crabs garnished with parsley!
Every cobblestone here exudes music and history, and many legends permeate the walls of the town's ancient buildings. As a young man, Johann Sebastian Bach took his first post as an organist here. The modern Bach exhibition in Arnstadt gives visitors a comprehensive insight into the Bach family, and also includes the original organ console from 1703. Another attraction well worth seeing is the palace museum with the baroque dolls' town, 'Mon plaisir', the only one of its kind in the world.

Highlights/Places of interest

Bach statue

The Bach statue on the market square was created by Professor Bernd Göbel and depicts the composer as a young man. It was unveiled on 21 March 1985 to mark the 300th anniversary of the composer's birth.

Bach's House

Kohlgasse 7 in Arnstadt is one of the most significant of the former Bach family residences. No other 'Bach town' in Germany can boast a house that Johann Sebastian Bach is known to have frequented and where he is even thought to have lived for a while. The house belonged to the Bach family for 45 years, making it a meeting place for other family members from across Thuringia.

Bach Church

First records of the former Church of St. Boniface on the market square date back to 1333. The organ builder Johann Friedrich Wender made an organ for what was by then called the New Church which was tested by Bach when he was only 18 years old, just after he had been appointed as organist there in August 1703. He remained in Arnstadt until 1707. The church also houses a romantic Steinmeyer organ.

Church of Our Lady

The Church of Our Lady was built for the most part in the 12th and 13th centuries. Together with Naumburg Cathedral, it is considered the most significant ecclesiastical building in central Germany from the transition period from Romanesque to Gothic. Inside the church, the sculpture of the 'Beautiful Madonna' carved in linden wood and the ornate 15th century winged altar are particularly striking.

Jacob's tower and carillon

Jacob's tower was formerly the bell tower of St. Jacob's Church, first documented in 1369. The nave was removed in 1676 and the tower was repaired several times. A carillon was added to the tower in 1996.

Gallery on the market square

On the east side of the square is a gallery with 18 sandstone pillars, once used as a cloth-making hall.

Ruins of Neideck Castle

The renaissance castle of Neideck (1553-1560), located on the northeastern fringe of the old quarter, was built on the spot where the old Hersfeld Castle stood. The original tower (65m high) with its copper cupola and dome is one of the town's famous landmarks and can be seen from miles away. An impressive model of the town from around 1740 is on display in the lovingly restored gardener's cottage in the castle grounds.

Arnstadt Kunsthalle – gallery of contemporary and modern art

This gallery of modern art was converted from an old factory site, formerly a torch manufacturer (Artas). It offers constantly changing exhibitions showcasing contemporary, German and international artists as well as permanent displays of works by local artists.

Theatre in the palace gardens

Converted from a royal horse riding arena in 1842, the theatre in the palace gardens is a popular cultural venue for the Ilm district. It offers a wide, varied and interesting programme featuring its own company and guest theatres.

Upper Church

The Upper Church and adjoining buildings were built in the 13th century as a Franciscan abbey. The tower was added at a later date to provide greater stability to the building. Particularly noteworthy are paintings depicting Old Testament scenes in the galleries.

Arnstadt palace museum

The palace museum in Arnstadt is inseparably linked with 'Mon plaisir', the unique baroque village in miniature which is on display there. Over 82 scenes present an intimate picture of life in an 18th century regal town. The former royal palace, an unpretentious baroque residence in the town centre, also houses the Bach exhibition which has become renowned far beyond Thuringia's borders.

Town Hall

The town hall (1582-1586) was built in the Renaissance style after the great town fire of 1581. Its exterior is adorned with decorative gables and ornate features and it dominates the north side of the market square.

Riedtor Arnstadt
Riedtor Arnstadt


Stadtmarketing Arnstadt GmbH

Tourist Information
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99310 Arnstadt


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