Arnstadt is a town you will want to stroll through at a leisurely pace. Many of its streets are closed to auto traffic, making it a pedestrians’ haven.
Try to imagine hearing a classical fugue as you walk along, for this is where Johann Sebastian Bach got his start in music and composed many of his works in the early 18th century.
As you might guess, a local Bach Festival is held here each year, newly established in 2005. If you come in late March, you should be able to join in the festivities, which last for two weeks. Concerts, of course, are the main focus of attention.
Among sights that will attract your eye are several churches. These include the 13th-century Church of Our Lady, the 12th-century Monastery Church of St. George and the Virgin Mary, and the ever-popular Boniface Church, first built in 1333 and reconstructed in 1676. The latter is often referred to as the Bach Church, as this is where the musician came for services and even played the organ.
Another piece of architecture for you to see is the town’s baroque 18th-century palace, which has been converted into the Castle Museum. The main feature here is a unique doll collection, “Mon plaisir.” Each year, visitors by the thousands arrive to see its 82 scenes with 391 characters, the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of its kind since 1930.
As for natural beauty, Arnstadt has often been called The Gate to the Thuringian Forest. Go for a bicycle ride along the Gera River to enjoy the wooded landscape. Or perhaps you would like to stop by the local zoo, Fasanerie, to admire fallow deer, monkeys, pot-bellied pigs, and llamas on display.
Because the town is a center for manufacturing, you will see foundries and glassworks in the vicinity, and mining for manganese ore takes place nearby. Glove making is a noted local industry, as is wood finishing — something to keep in mind as you shop for souvenirs of your visit. ;-)