Does the name Saxe-Coburg-Gotha sound familiar? It should if you know anything about Victorian England.
I know you’re asking, what’s Victorian England got to do with Germany? Well, Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, was a prince from the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha family. Therefore, his family “ruled” over Friedrichroda.
Don’t look at me like that… You never know when you’ll be on a game show or want to impress a girl. ;-)
And befitting a prince married to a Queen, I should tell you that you’ll find a most spectacular castle here.
Schloss Reinhardsbrunn wasn’t always a castle, it was an 11th century monastery that was run-down after the Peasants’ War in the 16th century. Some duke had the foresight to build a schloss over the ruins, and was owned by the family until World War II.
The castle chapel is most noteworthy, with grave slabs in the Church of St. George dating back more than a handful of centuries. Wait, that sounds a bit misleading… the grave slabs are reproductions as the originals were destroyed by a fire.
While technically not in Friedrichroda, the Friedstein Palace is in nearby Gotha if you’re interested in seeing one of the most stunning early Baroque palaces in Germany. Gotha also hosts an annual Christian Music Festival every year, known as the Freakstock, so you’re closeby if you want to go.
What is in Friedrichroda is the old Gypsum mine. It was mined from the 18th to 20th centuries, with many artisans using Gypsum to make jewelry.
Also here in town you can go from below the Earth’s surface to the top of the nearby mountains, when you hike along the Rennsteig. This is Thuringia’s oldest hiking route — and the views are worth your weight in gold. I mean, Gypsum. ;-)
Save the Rennsteig or shopping along the Hauptstrasse Pedestrian Zone for when there isn’t any snow. This way you try Cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, bobsledding, or ice skating.
I wonder if Prince Albert did any of these things? I guess I better go find out — you never know when I might show up on a game show… ;-)