Dornburger Schlösser

Top choice in Thuringian Forest & the Saale Valley

About 15km north of Jena, you'll find this hillside trilogy of magnificently restored palaces in medieval, Renaissance and rococo styles, with stunning views and immaculate gardens. The Altes Schloss, the oldest, blends Romanesque, late-Gothic and baroque elements, but can only be viewed from the outside. You can enter both the 1539 Renaissance Palace (where Goethe sought solitude after the death of his patron, Duke Carl August) and the youngest, most beautiful Rococo Palace, used for temporary exhibitions, concerts and weddings.

It won't cost you a cent to stroll around the beautiful landscaped gardens and baroque park, enjoying wonderful views over vineyards to the Saale valley and admiring the palace exteriors. Trains travel frequently from Jena-Paradies to Dornburg (€2.80, 11 minutes), from where it’s a steep 20- to 30-minute climb.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Thuringian Forest & the Saale Valley attractions

1. Zeiss Planetarium

6.33 MILES

The world’s oldest public planetarium (1926) has a state-of-the-art dome projection system, making it a heavenly setting for cosmic laser shows paying…

2. Botanischer Garten

6.45 MILES

Goethe himself planted the ginkgo tree in these wonderful botanic gardens, which have grown since their inception in 1794 to a collection of more than 12…

3. Stadtkirche St Michael

6.47 MILES

This late-Gothic church, one of the largest in Thuringia, is famous for having Martin Luther’s original bronze gravestone, modelled on a portrait by Lucas…

4. Stadtmuseum & Kunstsammlung Jena

6.49 MILES

This handsome fachwerk townhouse at the northern end of the market square dates in part to the 13th century. It now houses the Stadtmuseum (city museum)…

5. Rathaus

6.54 MILES

One of the oldest maintained town halls in Germany, Jena’s Rathaus (1377) is graced with an astronomical clock in its baroque tower. Every hour, on the…

6. JenTower

6.55 MILES

Built in 1972, but deceptively modern in appearance, the 128m-tall cylindrical JenTower was intended to be a Zeiss research facility, but proved…

7. Universität Jena – Collegium Jenense

6.61 MILES

Jena’s university faculties are spread throughout town, but this was where the university was founded as Collegium Jenense in 1548, in a former Dominican…

8. Optisches Museum

6.75 MILES

Carl Zeiss began building rudimentary microscopes in 1846 and, with Ernst Abbe’s help, developed the first scientific microscope in 1857. Together with…