is a town in Thuringia
, within the central core of Germany
. It is the capital of the district of Gotha
The town has existed at least since the 8th century, when its name was mentioned in a document signed by Charlemagne
, in which it appears as Villa Gotaha
("Good Waters"). Its importance derives from having been chosen in 1640 as the capital of the Duchy of Saxe-Gotha
. In the 18th century, an extended stay by the French philosopher Voltaire
turned the court into one of the centres of the Enlightenment
in Germany. From 1826 to 1918, Gotha was one of the two capitals of the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
Gotha has played an important role in the Germany's workers' movement: the German socialist party (SPD) was founded here in 1875, by the merging of two organizations: the Social Democratic Workers' Party, led by August Bebel and Wilhelm Liebknecht, and the General German Workers' Association, founded by Ferdinand Lassalle. The compromise was known the Gotha Program and was strongly criticized by Karl Marx in its time for its reformist bias (see Critique of the Gotha Program).
Gotha has also been traditionally a centre of publishing. The firm of Justus Perthes (now called Hermann Haack) began in 1763 the publication of the Almanach de Gotha, an authoritative directory of the world's major ruling dynasties and Europe's high nobility.
From 1949 to 1990 the city of Gotha belonged to the German Democratic Republic.
- The main attraction in the town is the Schloss Friedenstein, the former ducal palace, built in 1643-1655. This imposing rectangular structure, with low square towers on the corners, is Germany’s oldest early Baroque palace. The Palace Museum is home to valuable historic collections of art and cultural artefacts. The palace also houses the Museum of Regional History including the historic Ekhof Theatre, the oldest preserved baroque theatre in the world.
- Town Hall, built between 1567 and 1577 in Renaissance style, noteworthy for a richly decorated façade in its north side.
- A Market place (Hauptmarkt) surrounded by restored patrician houses with Baroque doorways.
- Augustinian Church (Gothic, 13th century), with former abbey.
- St Margaret’s Church (Margarethenkirche), from the end of the 15th century.
- Gotha is host to the annual Freakstock Christian music festival.