Meiningen was the childhood home of author Ludwig Bechstein, and you can just imagine a heroine of one of his folk fairy tales trapped somewhere in the town’s Elisabethenburg Castle. More so there than another old building in town, the Meiningen Steam Locomotive Works, at any rate…
The princess in question could even have been Adelheid Louise Theresa Caroline Amelia von Sachsen-Meiningen, who in 1818 became the wife of King William IV of the United Kingdom. The Australians also named a city after this beautiful princess — but were sensible enough to use the shortened name of “Adelaide.”
They have a habit for long names around these parts. The theater was called the Meininger, but the new owners found the name too easy to pronounce and changed it to the catchier Südthüringisches Staatstheater instead. (Yes, that long…)
And it’s not just the name of the theater that is big. Opera and drama are regularly on show in the cavernous arena, which employs over 300 people — around 1.5% of the local population, if my electronic mathematical calculating device is working correctly.
The great thing about this level of local commitment to the productions put on by the theater is that there is always a great buzz around the town when a production is being held — so attending a performance and soaking up the atmosphere is definitely recommended.
Many visitors like to tour the well-preserved Burgher’s Houses dotted around the area. I must warn you not to get confused though — it’s not a spelling mistake, and these are not fast food outlets. They’re 16th-18th century upper and middle class residences, which housed many of the city officials of the time.
You may have noticed that it’s all about arts and history in Meiningen, but when a town dates back to 982 that kind of comes with the territory.