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For the municipality in Austria, see Meiningen, Austria.
City center
City center
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)
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 MGN, SM

Meiningen is a town in central Germany, being located in the southern part of the state of Thuringia. The city is the capital of the Schmalkalden-Meiningen district, and had 21.033 inhabitants on June 30, 2014.[2] Meiningen was from 1680 to 1920 the capital and duke seat of the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen.

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


Middle Ages[edit]

Meiningen originated during the formation of the Frankish Empire in the 6th or 7th century, which was operated with the creation of trade routes, river crossings and boundary markers.[3] An intersection of two trade routes and a ford was located at the present-day southern end of the Old Town near the Werra river.

Meiningen 1676

Meiningen was first mentioned in 982 (extract certificate: …in villis Meininga in Meiningermarca…).[4] The village was first a Crown land in Duchy of Franconia and later possession of the King. Around the year 1000 began construction of the town church. It was several times expanded and rebuilt over the centuries. Emperor Henry II donated Meiningen in 1008 to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Würzburg, and it remained for 534 years part of Würzburg.[5] The Würzburg, built in the 11th century to protect their property a moated castle (today Elisabethenburg palace). 1153 the Plague (disease) raged in Meiningen, further received the place awarded the first city charter of the jurisdiction by the rulers. Würzburg and House of Henneberg in 1222 fought for possession of Meiningen, while the city suffered extensive damage. The place was first mentioned in 1230 as a city and received largely autonomy in 1344.[6][7] During this time the citizens built a powerful fortification with double wall and three moats. From 1239 to 1242 built Friars Minor of the Franciscan Order between the castle and the Lower Gate, the Franciscan Monastery. 1380 destroyed a city fire around a quarter of the city, including the Council of Archives. The city joined together with ten other cities of the Bishopric of Würzburg and participated in 1396-1399 in the "Franconian city war" against the diocese. Würzburg troops besieged Meiningen, until it capitulated in 1399. In an uprising on August 10, 1432, the citizens destroyed the Würzburg castle. In the years 1443-1455 the city church was enlarged in the Gothic style.

Early modern period[edit]

Meiningen had about 2,000 inhabitants in 1450. End of the 15th century destroyed two devastating Conflagrations almost the whole city. 26 people found this death. The city church was spared from the fire. Bishop Lorenz von Bibra made by 1509 to build a new castle until 1511. In the city the textile craft, metal machining and trade was mainly operated. Meiningen in 1542 came to the 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, the city went to the Wettin family. The Wettin family established its seat of transitional government for the Country of Henneberg in Meiningen until 1660. The town experienced a great economic boom by the fustian- and linen weaving, dyeing and fabric trade, which lasted until the beginning of the 17th century, resulting in higher population increase to about 5000. 1614 introduced, for example, 234 master craftsmen 37.312 cloths ago that were traded throughout Europe. This period ended abruptly by the Thirty Years' War in 1634, as Croatia troops plundered the town, and in 1641, when Sweden troops besieged the city. Meiningen lost thousands of inhabitants by death or expulsion.

As the residence[edit]

Meiningen Bernhardstreet 1835

Between 1680 to 1918, it was the capital of the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen. In 1692, the Duke Palace ″Schloss Elisabethenburg″ was built and in 1690 has already started to the Court Orchestra. Since 1782 to put the English landscape garden Englischer Garten in the city center. In and around Meiningen camped the Russian army of 70,000 soldiers and 2,300 officers under Grand Duke Alexander in his campaign against Napoleon, in 1813. The Tsar had his quarters in the inn "For Brown Deer". The same time served for the entrained Prussian army as headquarters. 1782 was in this hostel, Friedrich Schiller guest.

city church

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. Georg II, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, a great son of the city, is born in 1826. The first Meiningen Court Theatre opened in 1831. The fairy tale collector and writer Ludwig Bechstein was an archivist in Meiningen. The city was connected by the Werra Railway with the German railway network in 1858. In September 1874 major fire destroyed a third of the city. The reconstruction took place in Eclecticism style with the financial help of many German and Austrian cities. In the same year, the opening of the Schweinfurt–Meiningen railway line was held. A new city hall was built 1878th.

By end of the 19th century and by the beginning of the 20th Century, the existence of several large banks led to Meiningen becoming an important financial centre in Germany. During these decades, the city stretched out far beyond their ancient limits. New residential areas were built, and the population grew rapidly. Many beautiful buildings were built at that time. 1889, the city church was enlarged in the Gothic Revival style in part. A large fire destroyed the Court Theatre in 1908, it was rebuilt in New Classical architecture and reopened in December 1909. Built in 1914 to the Meiningen Steam Locomotive Works.

Modern times[edit]

The Duchy was abolished at the end of the First World War. Meiningen was then since 1918 the capital of the successor state ″Freistaat Saxony-Meiningen″ and belonged from 1920 as the district town to the newly founded state of Thuringia. Meiningen State Archives was foundet in 1923. In 1927, with the airport Meiningen an airfield, the part of the German airline network. October, 1931, landed on the Meiningen airfield airship LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin before 100,000 spectators, followed by the airship LZ 130 Graf Zeppelin II July 9, 1939. During the Second World War, Meiningen was the location of a prisoner of war hospital, and many German hospitals. In the barracks ″Dragon Mountain″, the German government agency Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt) was 1943–1945 accommodated. A heavy air raid on Meiningen on February 23, 1945, by the USAAF caused 208 deaths, destroyed 251 houses and two bridges in total, and damaged 440 buildings. Meiningen was liberated by American armed forces in April 5, 1945.[8]

A part of Justice Center

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. During the construction of a plant for microelectronics, the ″Robotron Meiningen″, from 1967 to 1983 in the north between districts Helba and Welkershausen the new district of Jerusalem (Meiningen) created, with around 6,000 inhabitants. Meiningen was an important center of political upheaval in southern Thuringia in 1989. Among the many events included a total of 25 demonstrations, the number of participants amounted 1,000-25,000 people to remain citizens' forums and strikes.

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 the city there was a new construction boom in the 1990s, many houses have been renovated and embellished. July, 1994, Chancellor of Germany Helmut Kohl visited the city, Angela Merkel did so in April 2012. The new Justice Center was built in 2000. In 2003, the city was connected to the Autobahn No. 71. With the opening of the new chamber theatre in June 2008, the city created another theater venue, underlining its national significance as a cultural city. 2013 was the city built the industrial area Rohrer mountain near the motorway junction Meiningen-North (Autobahn No. 71).

Geography and climate[edit]

The town is situated in the valley of the Werra River between the Thuringian Forest and the Rhön Mountains. Meiningen lies 60 kilometres (37 miles) east of Fulda, 80 km (50 mi) south of Erfurt and 104 km (65 mi) north of Würzburg, across the former frontier with East Germany. The town has about 21,000 inhabitants. Together with neighbouring Untermaßfeld, Obermaßfeld-Grimmenthal, Einhausen, Sülzfeld, Rippershausen, Ritschenhausen, Walldorf and Utendorf, Meiningen forms a small conurbation with a population of about 28,000.


The relation to the surrounding mountain ranges of the Rhön mountains and the Thuringian Highland deep and sheltered Werra valley and the dense city buildings provide a regional level, for a mild climate in Meiningen. The following values are averages from 1990 until 2012.[9] The average annual temperature is 9.1 °C (48.4 °F). Temperature extremes since 1960 at Meiningen have ranged from 34.8 °C (94.6 °F) in August 9, 2003, down to −18.5 °C (−1.3 °F) in February 12, 2012. The rainfall is 656 millimeters and the sun shines 1,559 hours per year.

Administrative division[edit]

Meiningen has nine parts of town. The urban districts are City center, North, East, South, Jerusalem (Meiningen) and the rural communities are Helba (incorporated in 1923), Welkershausen (1936), Dreißigacker (1990) and Herpf (2010).

Meiningen abuts the following municipalities, which are all part of Schmalkalden-Meiningen district: Walldorf, Thuringia, Utendorf, Kühndorf, Rohr, Thuringia, Ellingshausen, Obermaßfeld-Grimmenthal, Untermaßfeld, Sülzfeld, Rhönblick, Stepfershausen and Rippershausen.



State Theatre

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" (Southern Thuringia State Theatre). 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]

Art house Old Post Office

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.
  • Museum of Literature "Baumbachhaus" is mainly an exhibition on the life and work of local poet Rudolf Baumbach. Furthermore, the interaction of Friedrich Schiller, Jean Paul and Ludwig Bechstein is treated during their Meininger time. There is a department of urban and local history.
  • 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.
  • The Meininger Zweiradmuseum (MZM) shows all in the GDR produced two-wheel types and a variety of police vehicles. This is done by a private club whose members acquire the models in every state and restored to its original condition.
  • On Meiningen Steam Locomotive Works created in 2015 as an interactive museum. Here, visitors can learn all about steam locomotives. Center is a locomotive that can be visited on multilevels.



Market square

Meiningen has a residence urban cityscape. The town has a historic downtown, classicist streets and extensive parks in the city center. Around the center grouped with villas interspersed residential areas.

The historic old town is still surrounded by parts of the city wall with moats. It originated mainly in the 12th and 13th centuries. City fires and wars often destroyed the buildings. A great fire destroyed nearly half the city's Old Town in September, 1874. This part was rebuilt in the Eclecticism style with ornate buildings and straight streets. This style also characterizes itself running here's main shopping street Georgstraße. In other parts of the Old Town is still half-timbered houses from the 16th to 17th century and big mansions from the 18th to the 19th century, since 1990, some modern new buildings were added. In the center stands the city church dominant. In the western part is the cityscape formative Castle Schloss Elisabethenburg.

The old town is surrounded by residential and business districts with classical villas and palaces that were built in the 19th and 20th centuries. Here are the theater and big bank buildings. North of the old town is the English Garden, west of the castle park as an English landscape park. In the north and south of the city are the industrial areas and shopping centers. While the city center and densely built-up residential areasin the valley, many residential areas are situated along the mountain slopes.


Castles and palaces[edit]

  • Schloss Elisabethenburg castle, built 1692, baroque castle with three wings of a building and Castle Church inside and a rotunda, former seat of the Dukes of Saxe-Meiningen. Today there are here museums, town hall, concert hall “Johannes Brahms”, wedding room, the restaurant “Schloßstuben”, a tower cafe, City Archives and the State Archives.
  • Landsberg Castle, built 1840, inspired by his visits to his sister Adelheid, queen consort of the United Kingdom, was Duke Bernhard II under the direction of architect August Wilhelm Döbner a new castle in neo-Gothic style after the style of the English stately homes built.
  • Little Palace, built 1823. The Little Palace (also known as Princess Palace) is a classical palace of the Dukes of Saxe-Meiningen. Duke Bernhard II had built it by the architect Johann Andreas Schaubach as his summer palace.
  • Great Palace, built 1823. The palace was built in classical style by architect Johann Andreas Schaubach as widow seat for the Duchess Luise Eleonore. 1863 was a renovation and expansion in the Neo-Renaissance style under the direction of architect Otto Hoppe.
  • Strupp Villa, magnificent palace in the historicism style, built for the banker Gustav Strupp in 1909, architect was Karl Behlert.


  • Protestant parish church of Our Lady (city church), begun in the year 1000. The church received its present form after conversion in between 1884 and 1889th.
  • Catholic Church Our Lady, built in 1972.
  • Castle Church, baroque style, located in the south wing of Elisabethenburg castle, today concert Hall.
  • Crypt Chapel in neo-gothic style in English Garden, built in 1839 as a burial place for the Duke family.

Fountains and monuments[edit]

  • Bechstein Fountain, also called “Märchenbrunnen” (Fairy Tales fountain). The poet and collector of fairy tales lived in Meiningen. In his honor, erected the fountain from Robert Diez in the English Garden in 1909.
  • Emperor Henry II Fountain. Built in 1872, the fountain located at the marketplace.
  • Fountain Chapel, very old fountain on the small square At The Chapel.
  • Monument to Johannes Brahms. The 1898/99 created monument is the work of sculptor Adolf von Hildebrand (1847-1921) from Munich and at the same time the first monument erected to Brahms in Germany.
  • Monument to Jean Paul, located in English Garden, built in 1858.
  • Monument to Max Reger, it stands in the English Garden since 1935.

Other sights[edit]

  • Meiningen Court Theatre, built 1909 by the architect Karl Behlert in the classical style. Duke George II had built the magnificent theater after the first court theater was destroyed by fire in 1908.
  • Goetz-Höhle, guided cave tours. Largest accessible gap cave in Europe with 50 meters high clefts. The cave was discovered in 1915 by Reinhold Goetz in his mountain garden and open to the public in 1934.
  • Dampflokwerk Meiningen (Meiningen Steam Locomotive Works), the factory was built in 1914. Here steam locomotives from Western and Central Europe are repaired or rebuilt. The factory is a popular attraction for railway enthusiastic people.
  • The English Garden is located in the city center and was built in 1782. The park was several times altered and enlarged in the 19th century.
  • Districts in the eclectic style. A large part of the old town was named after a fire with stately buildings in the style of the period “Gründerzeit”.
  • Some half-timbered houses (Examples: Büchner Behind House, Henneberg House, Hartung House, Rassmann House

Economy and infrastructure[edit]

Agriculture, industry and services[edit]

Winkhaus, hardware for doors
Cleanroom of company Aifotec AG

Meiningen offers over 13,000 jobs in around 2,000 small and medium-sized companies, medical facilities, cultural institutions and administrations. Most jobs offers hospital “Klinikum Meiningen” with nearly 1,000 employees.

Agriculture is not very important in Meiningen, because the hilly city offers little space for this. The soils are not very fertile. But, by the rural districts Herpf and Dreißigacker is the agricultural area of the total municipal territory of 17,6%.

Meiningen is a center of Electrical Engineering and future technology. Numerous companies founded here or is settled in this industry form a Business cluster. This includes the global high-tech enterprise ADVA Optical Networking (ADVA AG). To name Next is the international company "Nano Plus GmbH", the Distributed feedback lasers for measurement and spectroscopy, and telecom applications made. They are sold in the Americas, Europe and Asia and arrived on Mars by NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Rover in "Curiosity" is used.[10]

In optical valley of "Industrial Area Meiningen", optoelectronics companies like Aifotec AG, Fibotec Fiberoptics GmbH, PiMON GmbH, u-GPS Optics GmbH, Fisec GmbH, SmartM GmbH, etc. are located. These companies are portfolio companies of mic AG(Headquarter in Munich).

A Europe-wide known company is the Meiningen Steam Locomotive Works. As the only plant in Western and Central Europe can steam locomotives completely repair and maintain. There are also new locomotives built and historic passenger coaches, diesel locomotives and other railway vehicles repaired. Other companies provide hardware for doors and windows (Winkhaus), tools (Weißkopf, Lemuth), ovens (Miwe), electric goods and radiator (Purmo). In the food industry, the wholesale bakery “Nahrstedt” and the meat plant “Meininger Wurstwaren” known nationwide. Significant companies continue to be the bank “Sparkasse”, the Municipal Services, the theater and museums, the railway company “Südthüringenbahn”, health surgeries und facilities.

The showrooms of car companies like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, Honda, Toyota, etc. are also available here which provide facility to the customers to buy the car as per their need.



Meiningen is located at the Bundesautobahn 71 (SangerhausenErfurtSchweinfurt). Furthermore, there are two federal roads to Eisenach and Würzburg (B 19) and to Sonneberg and Kronach (B 89) as well as some regional roads to Fulda in Hesse, Suhl and Mellrichstadt in Bavaria. A bypass road around Meiningen was built in the 2000s in the eastern; northeastern continuation are in planning.


Meiningen has been a railway node since the late 19th century. The Werra Railway was opened in 1858, the Schweinfurt–Meiningen railway in 1874 and the Neudietendorf–Ritschenhausen railway from Erfurt also in 1884. The Meiningen station was built in 1858 as the second train station was added the Bavarian station in 1874. On the three railways run seven train lines to Meiningen station. The station is located near the city center.


Urban transport is operated by bus routes. Of two bus nodes leads 13 lines with about 100 stations serve every district. A total of 350 trips are completed daily.

By bike

Biking is getting more and more popular since the construction of quality cycle tracks began in the 1990s. Both connect points of tourist interest, the first Werratal-Radweg along the Werra valley from Thuringian Forest to Weser river, the second Main-Werra-Radweg from Meiningen to city Würzburg on the Main river. A third cycle path of city Haßfurt in Bavaria to Meiningen. For inner city every-day traffic exist some cycle lanes along several main streets.


After reunification, the educational system was reformed. In 1994, the Thuringian Police academy Meiningen was founded and in 1998 there is a Police Hochschule (tertiary education / German name: Fachhochschule Polizei) added. On campus, about 500 policemen are in the study and training. Continue to exist in Meiningen two medical schools and a technical school for Emergency medical technicians. Furthermore, there are one public and one evangelical Gymnasiums in Meiningen.


City Hall
District Office
Angela Merkel in Meiningen, 2012

Meiningen is a district town and a medium-sized town in Thuringia, with a catchment area of approximately 120,000 inhabitants as the county town as well as 70,000 inhabitants as the regional center. The city continues to practice in some areas the function of a great center of southern Thuringia (Justice, theater, State Archives, hospitals). Meiningen, together with the communities Untermaßfeld, Sülzfeld, Henneberg, Stepfershausen and Rippershausen an administrative unit with 25,647 inhabitants (2014).

Mayor and city council[edit]

The current mayor Fabian Giesder, SPD is in office since 2012. His predecessor was Reinhard Kupitz, Freie Wähler (in office 1992–2012).

Election results[edit]

The last municipal election was held in 2014 with the result:

Party Percentage Seats Seats in council
SPD (social democratic) 26.5 8 10*
CDU (conservative) 23.7 7 7
The Left (post-socialistic left) 16.8 5 5
Pro Meiningen (municipal) 15.7 5 4*
Greens (green) 7.9 2 2
NPD (far-right) 3.2 1 –**
Herpf (borough representation) 2.8 1 1
Dreißigacker (borough representation) 2.2 1 –*

* One mandat from Pro Meiningen and the mandat from Dreißigacker changed in June, 2014, to SPD. / ** until Februar 15, 2015 (Resigned mandate).

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]

Hans von Bülow


  1. ^ "Bevölkerung der Gemeinden, erfüllenden Gemeinden und Verwaltungsgemeinschaften nach Geschlecht in Thüringen". Thüringer Landesamt für Statistik (in German). 13 July 2013. 
  2. ^ Thuringian State Bureau of Statistics (TLS, Thüringer Landesamt für Statistik)
  3. ^ Meiningen State Archives. Bernd W. Bahn: South Thuringia research, booklet 17, Section: Meiningen before the first mention, 1982.
  4. ^ First mention Certification from the year 982, Meiningen City Archives
  5. ^ Meininger Deed Book No. 3-5. Reg. Thur. I, No. 614, 616, 618 -. City Archives Meiningen
  6. ^ Mon. Boica XXXVII Nr. 205; Reg. Thur. II Nr. 2194 – City Archives Meiningen.
  7. ^ Mon. Boica XLI Nr. 32 – City Archives Meiningen.
  8. ^ Thuringia under American Occupation (April until July 1945),
  9. ^ Weather station Meiningen the German Weather Service
  10. ^ TDLS on MARS