„The Baroque Universe of Gotha“ in Friedenstein Castle brings past centuries to life as only a few other castles or museums can. In the heart of an extensive park, the imposing castle, with its many different historic rooms, the Baroque Ekhof Theatre and the chapel, and also its unique collections covering art, nature and history, has survived almost unchanged. The history of Friedenstein Castle dates back to the Thirty Years War. From 1643 onward, the Protestant Duke Ernst I of Saxony-Gotha, known as Ernst the Pious, built what is now Germany‘s largest Early Baroque castle in just twelve years on the ruins of the demolished fortress of Grimmenstein.
The Duke gave the new castle the symbolically significant name of Friedenstein („stone of peace“), heralding a new era. The art chambers established when the castle was built formed the nucleus of the wide range of collections that are housed today in several museums, the research library and the Thuringian State Archive. As part of an extensive restructuring of the Gotha museum landscape, the collections have been reorganised since 2009. The Ducal Museum, built in 1879, will display the art collections from 2013, and the Museum of Nature will present its treasures in the Castle for the first time. The project is generously supported by the Federal Republic of Germany, the Free State of Thuringia and the City of Gotha.