CHILDHOOD IN EISENACH (1685–1695)
Johann Sebastian Bach was born on 21st March 1685 in Eisenach and lived here until the age of ten. He was baptised in the Georgenkirche at the baptismal font that can still be visited today, and like Martin Luther, he visited the grammar school in the old Dominican monastery. The young Johann Sebastian had much to thank his father Ambrosius, who taught music in Eisenach, for his extraordinary talent as a violinist and viola player. He probably not only sat at the organ and pulled the stops for his uncle Johann Christoph, who was organist of the Georgenkirche, but also for his elder brother of the same name.
A city tour in Eisenach
Rich as Eisenach is with traditions and history, for lovers of the works of Johann Sebastian Bach the town with its 41,000 inhabitants is the be-all and end-all, since Eisenach is the place where the great composer was born. This is where it all began. In contrast to the tours of Weimar and Arnstadt, where the Bach memorials act as starting points for city tours, in Eisenach the George Church is the perfect place to approach the many traces of Bach in Eisenach.
The central protestant church stands in the middle of the town centre and appears majestic, not just from the outside. After extensive restoration the interior now also shines with new radiance. Above all the font attracts Bach fans from round the world as this was where Johann Sebastian Bach was baptised in 1685. The church is the location of many Bach Festival concerts. The traditional Eisenach Bach Choir, which was founded in 1925, regularly performs works by Bach and other composers here.
Eisenach is not just a Bach town; other major figures are also connected to the town. Saint Elisabeth was one of the most fascinating women in the Middle Ages and left traces in the town and on the Wartburg, along with Martin Luther, who attended the Latin school in Eisenach for three years from 1498 and preached in the George Church in 1521. A year later he translated the New Testament from Greek into German in a few weeks while on the Wartburg. The Luther House is dedicated the life of this great church man.
Johann Sebastian Bach has also been especially honoured in Eisenach. The New Bach Society opened the Bach House as early as 1907 as the first museum of its type. The aim then was simple: “to collect and preserve everything related to Johann Sebastian Bach and his life’s work”. In 2007 the museum added a modern extension with more than 250 exhibits which makes it the world’s largest Bach museum with thousands of visitors each year.
Eisenach also has far more to offer than Saint Elisabeth, Luther and Bach. High above the town is another attraction for visitors to Eisenach. The Wartburg is one of the most famous and well-loved sites in the region, receiving more than 350,000 visitors and with a history stretching back more than a thousand years.
History, music and culture are one side of the coin but car enthusiasts can also enjoy themselves in Eisenach. In 1899 the first Wartburg motor cars left their place of manufacture; less than 30 years later the motor builders BMW took over as manufacturers of the small Dixi cars and thus became car builders. In the historic factory hall “Car World Eisenach” displays numerous examples from this time. Ramblers will also have plenty of opportunity to enjoy and explore the countryside around Eisenach, since Eisenach is close to the Rennsteig and the World Heritage region of Wartburg-Hainich with its many attractive sights and natural phenomena.