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For the municipality in Austria, see Meiningen, Austria.
Market Square in Meiningen
Market Square in Meiningen
Coat of arms of Meiningen
Coat of arms
Meiningen   is located in Germany
Coordinates: 50°33′N 10°25′E / 50.550°N 10.417°E / 50.550; 10.417Coordinates: 50°33′N 10°25′E / 50.550°N 10.417°E / 50.550; 10.417
Country Germany
State Thuringia
District Schmalkalden-Meiningen
 • Mayor Fabian Giesder
 • Total 59.46 km2 (22.96 sq mi)
Elevation 287 m (942 ft)
Population (2013-12-31)[1]
 • Total 20,966
 • Density 350/km2 (910/sq mi)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes 98617
Dialling codes 03693
Vehicle registration SM, MGN
Bank buildings
city church
Henneberg House

Meiningen is a town in central Germany, being located in the southern part of the state of Thuringia. Meiningen is the district seat of Schmalkalden-Meiningen. It is situated on the river Werra and lies about 30 kilometres (19 miles) east of Fulda, across the former frontier with East Germany.

Meiningen is considered the cultural, judicial and financial centre of southern Thuringia and is economically reliant on tourism and high-tech industry. The city lies in the linguistic area of Franconia.


Meiningen Bernhardstreet 1835

Meiningen was first mentioned in 982. Emperor Henry II donated Meiningen in 1008 to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Würzburg, and it remained for 534 years part of Würzburg. The town was first mentioned in 1230 as a city. Meiningen in 1542 came to the House of Henneberg in exchange for the administrative district (Amt) of Mainberg from the Prince-Bishop of Würzburg, Conrad von Bibra. In 1583, with the extinction of the Henneberg family, Meinigen went to the Wettin family.

Between 1680 to 1918, it was the capital of the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen. The fairy tale collector and writer Ludwig Bechstein was an archivist in Meiningen. One of the princesses of Saxe-Meiningen, Adelheid Louise Theresa Caroline Amelia von Sachsen-Meiningen, became the wife of the future King William IV of Great Britain in 1818. The Australian city of Adelaide is named after her. The first Meiningen Court Theatre opened in 1831. The city was connected by the Werra Railway with the German railway network in 1858. By the beginning of the 20th Century, the existence of several large banks led to Meiningen becoming an important financial centre in Germany.

The Duchy was abolished at the end of the First World War. During the Second World War, Meiningen was the location of a prisoner of war hospital. A heavy air raid on Meiningen on February 23, 1945, by the USAAF caused 208 deaths, destroyed 251 houses and two bridges, and damaged 440 buildings in total. Meiningen was liberated by American armed forces in April 1945.[2] In July 1945, the town was included in the Eastern occupation zone along with the rest of Thuringia, and thus was part of the German Democratic Republic (DDR) until 1990.

After German reunification, Meiningen became the district town of Schmalkalden-Meiningen. In the Dreißigacker district, new businesses and the new Meiningen Hospital were constructed. In 2003, the city was connected to the Autobahn No. 71.

Main sights[edit]

Ruins at the English Garden in Meiningen



The Meiningen Theatre offers musical theatre (opera, operetta, musicals), plays, symphony concerts, puppet shows, ballet and youth theatre. The Meiningen Court Theatre was opened on December 17, 1831. It was destroyed in a fire in 1908 and was replaced in 1909 by a neo-classical building. The theatre was called the Meininger. It featured plays and gave concerts, and travelled throughout Germany and Europe. The activity of the Theaterherzog Georg II, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen (1866–1914) led to international celebrity. Today its name is "Südthüringisches Staatstheater". It employs more than 300 people and provides a huge area for opera and drama. The Director is Ansgar Haag.


The Meiningen Court Orchestra is one of the oldest and most tradition rich orchestras in Europe. The now 68-member orchestra is part of the Meininger Theatre and performs, in addition to opera accompaniment, regular symphony concerts and youth concerts. Philippe Bach has been the Music Director since 2010.

The court orchestra was founded in 1690 by Duke Bernhard I. In October 1880 began the most successful period of the orchestra which developed into an elite European orchestra under the direction of Hans von Bülow. During the Hans von Bülow period, Johannes Brahms came to Meiningen to collaborate with the court orchestra and to conduct occasionally. Other notable directors included Richard Strauss from 1885 to 1886 and Max Reger from 1911 to 1914.

Art House[edit]

The “Kunsthaus Meiningen” is a cultural institution in the historic half-timbered house "Old Post Office". It presents exhibitions of contemporary fine art and offers workshops and job opportunities for local and foreign artists.


Meininger Museen ("Meiningen Museums") comprise six cultural and historical museums which house the largest art collection in Thuringia. The main museum is in Schloss Elisabethenburg (Elisabethenburg Palace), the former residence of the Dukes of Saxe-Meiningen.

The newest museum, opened in 1999, is the Theater Museum "Magic World of Scenery" in the former riding school near the palace. It offers an annually changing exhibit of historically important theatre stage backdrops and historical information on the European tours of the Meiningen Court Theatre.


Election results[edit]

Party Kreistag
CDU 27,0 % 28,4 % 26,0 % 30,7 % 26,2 % 37,3 % 24,5 % 27,4 %
PDS/Die Linke 26,3 % 20,8 % 32,2 % 28,5 % 33,8 % 25,9 % 29,3 % 23,2 %
SPD 17,7 % 28,7 % 19,3 % 16,0 % 18,0 % 17,3 % 15,4 % 22,8 %
Grüne 13,0 % 11,1 % 7,8 % 6,3 % 7,2 % 5,2 % 7,5 % 5,6 %
FDP 5,0 % 2,0 % 6,2 % 1,8 % 8,4 % 2,3 % 6,5 % 1,6 %
Freie Wähler 11,0 % 9,1 % 3,2 % 1,1 % - 1,2 % 1,5 % 1,3 %
AfD - - - 10,1 % - 5,2 % - 7,3 %
NPD - - 3,9 % 3,8 % 2,9 % 3,0 % - 3,4 %
Piraten - - - 0,9 % 2,7 % 2,1 % 0,8 % 1,1 %
Voter turnout 46,3 % 47,8 % 43,1 % 48,9 % 49,5 % 60,4 % 40,2 % 44,4 %

International relations[edit]

Twin towns – Sister cities[edit]

Meiningen is twinned with:

Friendly relations exist with the city of Adelaide in Australia because it was named after Queen Adelaide (Queen of the United Kingdom), born and raised in Meiningen as Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen.

People born in Meiningen[edit]

Georg II, great son of the city

Notable residents[edit]