This former vineyard house in the Park on the Ilm was Goethe’s first residence in Weimar in 1776. This is where he wrote the ballad of the “Erlkönig” and the poem “To the Moon”. The cottage, furnished with original pieces of furniture such as the high desk and sitting trestle, was an important retreat for Goethe in his later years.

„I have a charming little garden at the gate on the Ilm, beautiful meadows in a valley.
Within lies an old cottage which I am having repaired.“

Goethe to Countess Auguste zu Stolberg, May 1776

The Goethe Gartenhaus in autumn
The Goethe Gartenhaus in autumn

Exhibition

The tour of the cottage takes visitors through the dining room – the so-called “Erdsälchen” – and kitchen on the ground floor to the four rooms on the top floor which comprised Goethe’s study, living room and sleeping area.

The furnishings on display are part of the original inventory and accompanied Goethe during different periods of his life. These include rare and original pieces of furniture such as the high desk with sitting trestle in the work room and the fold-out bed. The artworks and manuscripts belong to Goethe’s estate and refer to the time he lived here. On display is a selection of his drawings, the majority of which he sketched in and around the Gartenhaus.

History

The presumably 16th-century vineyard cottage had been vacant for many years and had fallen into disrepair when Duke Carl August of Saxony-Weimar and Eisenach purchased the property for Goethe and gave it to him as a gift. As the principal owner, Goethe had numerous repairs carried out and extensions made to the house. It was the primary residence and workplace of the poet and state minister until he moved into the house on Frauenplan in 1782.

The Goethe Gartenhaus became a pilgrimage site not long after the poet’s death. It was opened to the public by Goethe’s grandchildren in 1841, and in 1886, the cottage was designated a commemorative site. Renovation measures in 1995/96 restored the original colour scheme that Goethe himself had chosen for the interior of the house.

Gate to the garden
Gate to the garden
Facade with trellis
Facade with trellis

Garden

Shortly after acquiring the property and while the renovation was underway, Goethe began designing the uncultivated garden. He had workers terrace the hillside and lay new paths. Stairs were installed, and flowers and trees were planted. Today one can still recognise the three distinct sections of the garden – the shady slope behind the house, the adjacent grove of fruit trees and the vegetable garden on the lower grounds. The beds where potatoes and strawberries used to grow are now covered with lawn. In 1777 Goethe installed an extraordinary statue in his garden called the “Stone of Good Luck”, one of the first non-figurative monuments in Germany designed by Goethe and his drawing teacher Adam Friedrich Oeser.

Projects of the Klassik Stiftung Weimar are funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Free State of Thuringia, represented by the State Chancellery of Thuringia, Department of Culture and the Arts.

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