Frankfurt is one of the biggest cities of Germany, and there has always been a national capital for culture, art, and commerce. During the Early Modern Era, science and innovation have rapidly grown after the invention of the printing press.
John Wolfgang Goethe was a resident of Frankfurt who was born on August 28, 1749. John Wolfgang and his family had a high socioeconomic status, and they had a beautiful house in the center. Goethe spent his early years in Frankfurt until he left the city to get a higher education, and this was very influential in forming his mindset, social and intellectual attitude.
Goethe was a polymath, and he had diverse interests ranging from being a poet, novelist, playwright, scientist, administrator. His varied expertise attracted the interest of the Duke of Weimar in his late years and asked him to be his private counselor. Goethe has become a famous intellectual figure who lived in the Early Modern Times and influenced the cultural development of the 18th century. His most significant contribution to the intellectual world is his work on literacy.
I visited Goethe’s house when I traveled to Frankfurt. It was a fulfilling experience that I learned about this intellectual. Goethe’s house is also an example of how the lifestyle of an 18th-century high-class family would be. Visiting Goethe’s house was an exciting experience and attracted my interest in this polymath intellectual. Afterward, I also read an autobiography book to get more acquainted with his life. The book emphasises that personal growth and acquiring new skills were essential for Goethe that he perceived a task as a matter of journey that would help him mature himself. Furthermore, travel, administration, romance were perceived as stepping stones for Goethe in personal development.
Goethe loved to travel, and Italy was one of his favorite destinations. By then, he didn’t have a camera, so he used his drawing skills to keep his memories vivid. This is one of Goethe’s drawings of Rome from Monte Pincio.
Goethe valued love and sensuality more than status, power, and wealth. He was particularly interested in psychological reflection of things or personal meaning more than the physical aspect. He studied colors and came up with the color theory. According to this, he emphasises how colors are perceived more than what physically it is. Click to read more about Goethe’s theory of colors.
The house was initially owned by Goethe’s grandmother Cornelia Goethe, a guest house hostess. By that time, the buildings had two houses attached. Goethe’s father united them as a single house in 1755 when he inherited the building.
Goethe was born after the reconstruction. His father, John Caspar Goethe, was 40 years old and way older than Catherina Elizabeth Textor’s mother. She was 18 when Goethe was born. John and Catherina had six children; only two of them survived after infancy. John and Cornelia grew up like twins. They were closer to their mother than their father, probably because of her age.
Young Goethe was tutored privately at home, prioritising liberal arts during his education. He learned Latin, Greek, French, English, and Italian as part of his education. He left Frankfurt for the first time to study law. First, he went to Leipzig to study administrative law, then he continued his education in Strasbourg and earned his diploma of Jurisprudence. Goethe left Frankfurt in 1775 and headed to Weimar when he was 26.
The original Goethe house survived until the 20th century. The house was destroyed in 1945 during World War II and the medieval city center. After the war, the house was restored based on the original plan. In 1954, it was opened to visitors as a museum and could be visited.
There are four floors in the house. There is the yellow room, the blue room, and the kitchen on the ground floor. The yellow room is the reception room used to welcome the visitors. Today a portrait of Goethe greets them. The blue room was used as the dining room, where the visitors are invited when they are welcomed. The stairs on the first floor are original that they survived the bombings.
The upstairs was mainly for the household residents except for the peeking room on the 1 st floor. The peeking room is used to receive household members and is one of the most elegant rooms of the house. Upstairs, the places that attracted my attention were the music room, gallery paintings, library, Cornelia’s room, press linen, giant astronomical clock, Goethe’s room, writing desk, and the puppet theater.
What fascinated me was the family’s importance to art and science. The library has 1,000 books, an impressive amount considering the century he lived. In the art gallery, the artworks are exhibited by artists who Dutch artists like Rembrandt influenced. This home gives many clues about how such a great poet and intellectual can be trained. Goethe has been a great figure. His environment and family supported his development very well.
Goethe’s house was my priority during my visit to Frankfurt. By visiting Goethe’s house, I became acquainted with this intellectual, but it also gave me an experience of social life in Germany during early modern times. Goethe’s house is in the city center, which is easy to access for visitors.
The address of Goethe house is Großer Hirschgraben 23-25, 60311 Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The entry price to the museum is 7E for adults, 3E for the students, 10E for family. You can read books from the museum store to learn more about Goethe and the house; however, there are not many options in English because most of the books in the store are in German. Ordering books online before traveling would be the ideal option if you want to read over Goethe. You can access Goethe’s house by car (approximately 8 minutes) or on foot (about 15 minutes). Check out Goethe House’s official website for more information.