former residence of the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha

Gotha - former residence of the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha

"Gotha is old – Gotha is beautiful". Delightfully situated between the Thuringian Forest and Hainich National Park Gotha is a fascinating town with much to offer. It is a rewarding place to visit either for a cultural break or to explore the beautiful countryside. The first recorded mention of 'Villa gotaha' was in 775 in a deed issued by King Charlemagne. Under the rule of the Landgraves and Electors of Thuringia, Gotha became one of the most important towns in the region. In the 17th and 18th centuries, it acquired an international reputation as a centre of publishing. As well as maps and atlases, the town was famous for the Almanach de Gotha, a directory of the German nobility.

Highlights/Places of interest

Friedenstein Palace

Friedenstein Palace is the largest early baroque palace in Germany. It is quite extraordinary that such a historical ensemble – including a palace, park, church, theatre, library, archive and the ducal collections – has survived intact to this day. The exterior of the palace may be somewhat understated, but the ducal rooms inside are magnificent. The famous baroque Ekhof Theatre is located in the west tower. The theatre's original stage machinery is still in working order and facilitates scenery changes in seconds. Visitors to the popular Ekhof festival in the summer can see the theatre in action.

Museum of Nature

South of the palace is the ducal museum, built towards the end of the 19th century, which today houses the Museum of Nature. It originated in the natural history collections of the Dukes and now includes exhibitions on the Thuringian Forest, species conservation and the dinosaurs fossils discovered near the Thuringian town of Tambach.

Palace park and orangery

Friedenstein Palace is set in extensive parkland which was landscaped in the 18th century and is the oldest English-style garden on the continent. The orangery is a magnificent spectacle. As visitors walk down from the palace in summer, the orangery stretches out beneath them like an amphitheatre covered in flowers.

Fountains and Cranach House with pumping station

The Leina Canal was built in the 14th century as a means of providing the town with water and was converted into decorative fountains at the end of the 19th century. The Cranach House, a two-storey baroque building, is located at Hauptmarkt 17. This is where Cranach's wife was born, and the family's double coat of arms can be seen to the right above the door (depicting a winged snake for Cranach and a bag for his son-in-law Dasch). In the cellar of the house is the pumping station for the fountains which dates back to 1895. The pumping station is open to visitors on special occasions or by arrangement.

Augustinian monastery and church

The Augustinian church was part of an abbey complex built by the Augustinian Order of Hermits. The beautiful Gothic cloister from 1366 still serves as a reminder of this era. The interior of the church was modified and baroque elements added between 1675 and 1680 under Duke Ernst I. Inside the church a plaque commemorates several sermons given here by the former Augustinian monk Martin Luther. Friedrich Myconius, a church reformer and friend of Luther who died in Gotha in 1546, is buried here.

Town hall and main market square

The first recorded mention of Gotha as 'Villa gotaha' was in 775 in a deed issued by King Charlemagne. The magnificently restored town houses with baroque doorways on the market square and the historical town hall, a grand renaissance building erected between 1567 and 1574 as a merchants' hall, are reminders of the prosperity of this era.

St. Margaret's Church and Neumarkt square

The Protestant town church, an impressive building dominating Neumarkt square, has been the final resting place of the family of Duke Ernst I of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg since 1675. Today it a venue for concerts with recitals on the Schuke organ. From the tower of St. Margaret's Church visitors can enjoy spectacular views over the town of Gotha to the hills of the Thuringian Forest.


The Buttermarkt owes its name to the days when farmers from the surrounding area would sell meat and dairy produce here. All three market squares have buildings with historical signs denoting families or trades, as well as doorways which date back to the baroque and Renaissance eras.

Schloss Friedenstein Gotha
Schloss Friedenstein Gotha


Tourist-Information Gotha/Gothaer Land

Hauptmarkt 33
99867 Gotha


Tel.:  +49 (0) 36 21 / 510 450
Fax:  +49 (0) 36 21 / 510 459