260km (162 miles) SW of Berlin, 22km (14 miles) E of Erfurt

Weimar, a beautiful 1,000-year-old town on the edge of the Thuringian Forest, is an important destination for those interested in German history and culture. Unlike many cities in the former East Germany, Weimar retains much of its old flavor: Many of its important historical monuments were spared bombing in World War II. Its atmospheric, narrow, winding streets, lined with houses with high-pitched gabled roofs, seem left over from the Middle Ages. A 19th-century writer called Weimar "one of the most walkable towns of Europe," and it still fits into that category.

Weimar's history as a cultural center is centuries old. Famed Renaissance painter Lucas Cranach the Elder worked here in the 16th century. From 1708 to 1717, Bach was court organist. In 1775, the great Goethe came to reside at the court of "Dowager Duchess" Anna Amalia and her son, Karl August II, and he attracted such notables as Herder and Schiller. Later in the 19th century, Franz Liszt was musical director of the National Theater; under his auspices, Wagner's Lohengrin had its first performance. It was also in Weimar that the German national assembly met in February 1919, in the aftermath of World War I, to draw up the constitution for what was to be called the Weimar Republic.