Apolda - Town of Bells & Knitwear
First mentioned in documents in 1119, the town of Apolda developed into a manufacturing and trading town with noteworthy bell foundries and a flourishing textile industry in the 18th century. Knitwear from Apolda is still synonymous with fashion and quality to this very day. Over 20,000 bells cast in Apolda and now scattered all over the world – including the large bell of Cologne Cathedral – bear testimony to the skilful craftsmanship of the bell casters of yesteryear. Even today, numerous public buildings, villas and town houses in Art Nouveau style and dating from the turn of the century give Apolda its distinctive character.
Highlights/Places of interest
GDR Barracks Museum: “Olle DDR”
If you experienced it, you’ll recognise a lot of the items on show here; if not then you’ll be able to get an idea of what everyday life in the “Olle” (old) GDR was really like. With over 12,000 exhibits the museum shows everyday items used by normal GDR citizens.
The former “warehouse, administration and factory building” of the company Christian Zimmermann & Son, the biggest knitwear producer around 1890, is now the seat of the administrative district office of the Weimarer Land. The terracotta frieze, which is positioned on the building at eye level, deserves particular attention. It vividly illustrates the “way of the wool”, the production process of knitted fabrics.
Christian Zimmermann Monument
The monument was inaugurated in 1892 and is dedicated to the founder of the first trading house for knitted goods in Apolda. During the GDR era the monument was banished from its original location and experienced a little odyssey around Apolda, until finally returning in 1997.
Visible from afar, the fort, which later became a castle, dominated the townscape in the 12th century. Its current appearance was mainly achieved during the construction work in the 16th/17th century. Nowadays the site houses the Apolda Cultural Association, a music school and the town’s Culture and Social Department.
Since 2004 it has been possible for visitors to climb to the top of the tower again. It was inaugurated in 1904 and is located close to the B87. On weekends in the summer season, visitors can take in the fantastic views over Apolda, Weimarer Land and all the way to the Finne hills from the approx. 24m-high tower.
To mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the “National Doberman Pinscher Club of Apolda”, Europe’s first ever Doberman monument was unveiled in 1999. The Doberman can actually be traced back to the breeder Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann from Apolda, which makes it the only breed of dog to be named after its breeder.
The museum, founded in 1952, shows the cultural history of the bell from its beginnings until the present day and pays tribute to the Apolda bell casters. And the special thing about the museum is that visitors are allowed to touch and even ring most of the bells. Regularly changing special exhibitions complement the museum’s offer.
Town Hall Glockenspiel
For his hometown the last bell-founding master craftsman from Apolda, Peter Schilling, cast the bells for a 40-chime glockenspiel. In 1999, eighteen bells were chosen and put together to form a glockenspiel, which can be heard daily at 9:55 am, 11:55 am and 4:55 pm.
Built between 1890 and 1894 in Neo-Gothic style, the Lutheran Church is Apolda’s most striking building. Colourful stained-glass windows, an impressively designed interior and the sound of the Sauer organ attract visitors to this brick church, which is untypical for Thuringia, from May to October.
Art House Apolda Avantgarde
Internationally significant exhibitions attract thousands of visitors to the Apolda Art House every year. Since 2005 young artists have been able to exhibit at the “Kabinett im Kunsthaus”, which gives them the chance to present their work to a larger audience.
The Town Museum shows the development of the local knitwear trade and has old textile machines on display for visitors to marvel at. For more than 400 years the textile industry was the main source of income for a whole region.
The fountain’s bowl is modelled on Apolda’s coat of arms, a tree stump with sprouting branches. Four relief plates show what made Apolda famous: the bell-founding, the brewery, the knitwear factory and the breeding of the Doberman dog.