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Thuringia and the Royals of Europe

The Ernestine dynasty who ruled in Thuringia for many centuries has not only left amazing palaces, castles and museums but also established links with the royal families of Europe by a busy marriage policy. From England, via Denmark, Sweden and Belgium up to Bulgaria and Monaco – there are plenty of connections, the most famous family offspring certainly being Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Queen Victoria.

Friedenstein Castle in Gotha was one of the residences of the dukes of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and is now home to various museums.

The festive hall of Friedenstein Castle was the site of balls and receptions. Among the illustrious guests were also Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

The baroque Ekhof Theatre in Friedenstein Castle comes back to life every year in July and August.

The Baroque Garden of Friedenstein Castle is one of several gardens and parks surrounding the palace and museum complex.

The Ducal Museum of Gotha presents the magnificent art and antiquities collections of the dukes of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

Gotha, where Queen Victoria was royally amused

The town of Gotha was one the favourite residences of the dukes of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, with Prince Albert, Queen Victoria and their children being frequent guests. The queen loved visiting Thuringia – ‘I feel so at home here’ is what she wrote into her diary on 2nd September 1845.

Her husband Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha had a special relationship to Gotha. The town was the home of his beloved grandmother Duchess Karoline Amalie of Saxe-Coburg-Altenburg, whom he visited very often.

With Friedenstein Castle, the Ekhof Theatre, the Ducal Museum, the Orangery and the gardens – a Baroque Universe from the late 1600s has survived in Gotha.

Friedenstein Castle

Friedenstein Castle

Friedenstein means ‘rock of peace’ – a name that was chosen by Duke Ernest the Pious as a symbolic expression for the longing for peace after the 30 Years' War. The palace was one of the residences of the dukes of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Today it houses various museums and the ducal rooms. A tour of the palace always includes the beautiful festive hall, where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert used to dance during balls.

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Ducal Museum

Ducal Museum

The Ducal Museum houses the exquisite art and antiquity collections of the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha dukes. Highlights include paintings by Peter Paul Rubens or Lucas Cranach, sculptures by Houdon, Italian majolica from the 16th century, 17th century Meissen porcelain and many other objects. In 2015 the museum received the Merit Award of the British Guild of Travel Writers.

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Ekhof Theatre

Ekhof Theatre

The Ekhof Theatre is the world’s oldest still working Baroque theatre with stage machinery from the late 1600s. Every year in July, it awakens from ‘hibernation’ for the Ekhof Festival: The bell rings, the scenery trolleys spring creakily into action and the sound of wind and thunder can be heard. Between twelve and fifteen stagehands help create the theatrical illusions – exactly the way it used to be more than 300 years ago. Outside the festival period, the theatre is open for visitors of Friedenstein Castle.

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Gardens of Friedenstein Castle

Gardens of Friedenstein Castle

Friedenstein Castle boasts various beautiful gardens, among them the ornamental Baroque Garden with the Orangery and the romantic English Garden, which was in parts designed by John Haverfield the Younger.

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