Dominating the large, cobbled, and immaculately clean Platz der Demokratie is the equestrian statue, by Adolf Donndorf, of Grand Duke Carl Augustus, who was actually a good horseman (not always the case with rulers depicted on horseback!) as well as being interested and competent in literature, art and the sciences. Donndorf was himself born in Weimar, in 1835, and I came across his work elsewhere on the Grand Tour: the marble Schumann memorial in the old cemetery in Bonn, the statue of JS Bach outside the Bachhaus in Eisenach, and the statue of Martin Luther outside the Frauenkirche in Dresden.

Lining the south side of the square is the Baroque Fürstenhaus, since 1951 the main building of the prestigious Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt [Franz Liszt School of Music], where I returned one evening for an excellent chamber concert. Building work on the Fürstenhaus started in 1770, and on completion it almost immediately became the temporary home of the ducal family following a devastating fire in the nearby castle. As a result it's where Goethe was received when he first arrived in Weimar in 1775 to work for the then 18-year-old Duke Carl August. Since then the Fürstenhaus has had a range of government and educational uses.

To the left of the Fürstenhaus, on the east side of the square, is the Grünes Schloss [the Green Palace, although it's no longer green]. It now contains the Herzogin-Anna-Amalia-Bibliotek, one of the most important collections of German literature in the world. The Grünes Schloss was originally the home of Anna Amalia, Duchess of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach and the mother of Carl Augustus; she had the palace converted to a library in 1761. There was a devastating fire in the building in September 2004, the largest library fire in Germany since the war, and thousands of important books and book collections were lost (around 50,000 volumes).

North of Platz der Demokratie is the Rotes Schloss [Red Palace], built in 1576 as a widow's palace for the duchess Dorothea Susanna, while next to the Grünes Schloss is the Yellow Palace, built for the amazingly-named duchess Dorothea Sophia Dux Saxoniae Landgrafia Hasso Homburgiae. Beyond it, over the road from Frau von Stein's house, I found a bust of the Russian author Alexander Puschkin (1799–1837), installed in 1949 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of his birth; Puschkin was a great admirer of Goethe.

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