Sights and history of Ilmenau
Ilmenau is situated in the northern part of the Thuringian forest, in an attractive scenery in the valley of the river Ilm, that lend its name for the town. There is not much known about the beginning of the settlement of Ilmenau. But it will have existed in worth mentioning size already in the 13th century. The location on a trading way, that led from Erfurt to Nuremberg, encouraged the development of Ilmenau. In the 14th century Ilmenau was mentioned several times, the town first time in 1341.
The earliest known masters over Ilmenau were the earls of Kaefernburg, who sold the town to the earls of Henneberg in 1343. Till the end of the 15th century the masters over Ilmenau changed several times by disposal and pawn. But in the end Ilmenau came back under the reign of the Hennebergs. After they died out Ilmenau came under the reign of the House of Saxon and was granted to the duchy of Sachsen-Weimar in 1660/61, where it remained until 1918.
Presumable there was mining in Ilmenau already in the 13th century, most of all for silver and copper.
In 1776 Johann Wolfgang Goethe came to Ilmenau on the behalf of the reigns of Weimar the first time, to inspect the neglected and complicated finance and tax system. Much bigger and laborious were his efforts for a revival of the mines of Ilmenau, which were unexploited since 1739. Goethe visited the town 28 times, his mining office led him to Ilmenau, his love to the beautiful thuringian landscape let him stay at several places in and around Ilmenau. At the mountain Kickelhahn (861 m above sea level, picture above on the right) he wrote the poem "Wandrers Nachtlied" in 1780.
The first glassworks in Ilmenau was founded in 1675. In the 18th century the production of china started in Ilmenau. Until the new millennium the production of china and glass was an important part of the local economy. After 1838 in Ilmenau started the development of a cure and bathing business by the construction of cold water nursing homes, but by the growing industrialisation and a fire of the swimming bathes in 1920 the cure business lost its meaning at the beginning of 20th century.
In 1894 the Thuringian college of technology in Ilmenau was founded, a higher educational establishment for mechanical and electrical engineering. In 1926 renamed to engineer school of Ilmenau, it had a good reputation beyond the borders of Germany because of its solid and practice-oriented education. This was the decisive factor for the establishment of an technical college in 1953. The education in Ilmenau got its recognition in 1992 by the promotion to the Technical University of Ilmenau.
Today there live about 30.000 inhabitants in Ilmenau. Many tourists come to the town every year, which is because of its location a popular starting-point for walks and trips to the "Rennsteig", and the cultural cities Erfurt and Weimar are within easy reach. The visitor of the town can follow the tracks of Goethe and enjoy the nature on the "Goethewanderweg".