Sonneberg is the capital of the district by the same name, located at the southern edge of the Thuringian Forest nature park. Much of the town was destroyed by fire in 1840, allowing urban planners to create a aesthetically pleasing and highly functional new town design.
Look to St. Peter’s Church for an example of the neo-Gothic style. Stroll down Coburg Avenue and admire the stately villas with their precision landscaping. Both the old and new town halls offer striking façades, while the Bügeleisen was obviously modeled after the famous Flat Iron Building in New York.
Toy manufacturing was the major industry here until the 19th century. Pay a visit to the lovely German Toy Museum to see three floors full of playthings from antiquity to the present.
Included here are dolls, teddy bears, stuffed plush toys, puppets and miniatures. There are also exhibits featuring a roller coaster and a carousel, as well as an extensive model train layout.
On the north side of town, in the Neufang area, a huge double-domed observatory was built in 1925 as an institute of the Academy of Science. Known today as the Sternwarte Sonneberg, its oldest building serves as a museum, where you can learn about the heavens and star-gazing history.
Panels display information about our solar system, the Milky Way and the formation of the Earth. You will also see a real meteorite and a refracting telescope from the 18th-century workshop of Joseph Fraunhofer, the famous optician. A portion of the museum shows the history of the observatory and lifework of its founder, Cuno Hoffmeister.
The Marine Aquarium Nautiland is also worth a visit. With two floors of displays covering 500 square meters, it features fish, reptiles, plants and coral from 15 different countries.
Among the many creatures you will encounter here are exotic rainbow fish from Australia, renowned sturgeon from Russia, and seahorses from Kenya. Exchanges with other zoos and marine aquariums around the country ensure that the exhibits are constantly refreshed.