Dynastic diversity and rival culturally devoted courts...
Thuringia’s history is closely connected to the names of famous castles and monasteries, palaces and parks dating from the Middle Ages to the late 19th century. Nowhere else in Germany such a density of architecturally and art-historically remarkable buildings and parks has been preserved in such a small area. Thuringia’s cultural landscape shows a unique wealth of significant architectural monuments, which has grown over many centuries. Frequent distributions of the estates since the Middle Ages led to a great number of small states, a situation which existed until 1920 as a Thuringian peculiarity.
During the Middle Ages monasteries such as Paulinzella or St Peter and Paul in Erfurt were spiritual centres in Germany. The remains of the monastery churches arouse admiration to this day. Castles such as Weissensee, Wandersleben or Ehrenstein were centres of power for princes and even kings. These buildings have outstanding architectural decorations.
After the Middle Ages in many states in Thuringia residences of the highest quality were erected. The sizes, most of all however the splendid interiors of such residences as Gotha or Rudolstadt bear witness to the political power and artistic sensitivity of the princes. The parks – nowadays often the “lungs” of the towns – did not develop naturally; instead they were integral parts of the palaces and deliberately planned in every detail. The oldest English landscape park on the continent in Gotha or the park of Altenstein House are unparalleled.