In Köstritz, Thuringia, on October 8th, 1585, Heinrich Schütz, the son of an innkeeper, first saw the light of day. He spent his early childhood in this city on the ElsterRiver. Today, the birth house of the composer houses a research center and memorial site (the Heinrich-Schütz-Haus Bad Köstritz) dedicated to this master of the early Baroque. Baroque Music is only one of the four renowned “B’s” that Köstritz is nowadays known for. Baths, beer, and blossoms are the other three, and they turn the town into a place of enjoyment for all the senses – the music of Heinrich Schütz, the age-old spa tradition, the famous black beer, and the venerable tradition of breeding dahlias.
Numerous historical monuments, manicured parks, romantic spots, and traditional crafts invite visitors to linger for a while. Nestled in the scenic hills of the ThuringianVogtland, with numerous hiking trails, Bad Köstritz offers optimal conditions for active recreation and for nature-lovers, and the Elsteraue is home to rare breeds of fauna and flora.
Only a few kilometers from Bad Köstritz lies Gera, today the third biggest city in Thuringia, with its many attractions: from the valuable Otto Dix collection and the dahlia garden to the Gera Caverns, awalkable underground labyrinth from the 16th century, not to mention Castle Osterstein.
Heinrich Schütz’s mother came from Gera, and he visited there several times throughout his life. He forged a close bond with the count who resided in CastleOsterstein, Henry II, Count of Reuss-Gera. After the count died in 1635 at the request of his widow, Schütz composed the famous MusikalischenExequienas burial music. This piece was first heard at the ancient St. John’s Church (Johanniskirche) in Gera on February 4th, 1636. Another place directly related to the composer can be found in Gera market, the town pharmacy. One of his godfathers, the wealthy apothecary, confectioner (“Zuckermacher”), and mayor of Gera, Hans Hörel, had the house built in 1585. It was later embellished with a magnificent Renaissance bay window. Nowadays, the Gera Association of Artists can be found in this space.
But there’s more: The Stadtmuseum (City Museum) allows its visitors to gain insight into the diverse history of the place. Gera is also a place that is associated with classical modernism: The Schulenburg House, built by Henry van de Velde, and the Otto Dix House that honors the famous visual artist invite visitors to discover Gera as a valuable center of Central German culture.