Photo by Robert Königshausen
Photo by Robert Königshausen

Visit the art chamber at the Friedenstein Castle

by Robert Königshausen
Stripes Europe

Europe’s nobility used to collect arts, some of which you can visit. Dresden and Vienna might be the best known, but there are also some smaller ones. In the cozy small town of Gotha, the art chamber is part of the museums in Friedenstein Castle. One of the biggest castles of the early baroque period, Friedenstein Castle is surrounded by a beautiful park.

Some of the ornate treasures in the chamber. | Photo by Robert Königshausen.

After you enter the living-room and the opulent ballroom, you will see the arts-collection, which is the chamber of curiosities. There’s fragile ivory-carving, so fragile to the point it might collapse by simply breathing is a marvel to look at. In the chamber, you’ll see Nautilus-cups ornately carved with painted shells. Ground in a brass-plate, is the portrait of the founder of Friedenstein Castle, Ernest I.

If you’re ready for more art, follow the round-trip, and you’ll find the first GDR-computer from the 1980s, a ball-shaped minibar designed by Bauhaus and a dog-shaped cup for the welcoming drink.  An original glass-harmonica is on display. It is said that Benjamin Franklin has developed it. With wet fingers, you get to play on rotating glass-rings that produces penetrative music. Be sure not to leave out Ekhof-theatre, which is also part of the castle. Built in the 1680s, it’s the only one with fully functional scenery-changing-machines from the 17th century. It’s also the place, where the genre “melodrama”, a stage-play with music, was invented. The exhibition continues in another building, the Ducal Museum, just across the street. Don’t miss the East Asia collection. Chinese teapots with more exuberant decor than in China, adjusted to European tastes are housed here.

Need some fresh air? Take a slow walk in the beautiful park. The island in the lake was used in the 19th century to bury nobles. Following the fashion, only a bunch of flowers marked the site (no tombstones). Flowers vanished, knowledge got lost – so today nobody knows who is buried there, nor where exactly. Outside the park, on Bergallee, you can find a little pyramid. It’s the grave of lord steward Studnitz, built in 1770 – and it’s the only burial-pyramid in “modern times”. 

At the Friedenstein Castle, there’s plenty of treasures and art to discover, which is guaranteed for a memorable day. 

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