The Markt [market square] is surrounded by a hotch-potch of buildings, but all of them quite attractive. The tallest is the neo-gothic town hall on the west side, built in 1841 and featuring – to my eye – a somewhat incongruous tower which seems to be fitted on top of the roof tiles. But the tower contains a set of Meissen porcelain bells, clearly visible from below, which were chiming as I arrived in the square for the first time; a wonderful, delicate sound, and I wish I'd had a recorder with me. There's a similar set of Meissen bells in the Zwinger in Dresden, but they didn't chime for me when I was there.
Opposite the town hall, and now housing the large Tourist Information office, is the decorative green and white gable of the Stadthaus, rebuilt to the original design on a modern interior after damage in the war. Originally used for trade, it was a centre for concerts, lectures and masquerade balls from about 1800. Attached to it is the brightly-coloured Cranach House, built in 1549 for the son-in-law of Lucas Cranach the Elder; Cranach spent the last 12-months of his life here, until his death on 16 October 1553.
On the south side of the Markt is Hotel Elephant, the setting for most of Thomas Mann's 1939 novel Lotte in Weimar. Hotel guests have included Mendelssohn, Liszt, Wagner, Rubinstein, and the 19th Century poet and playwright Franz Grillparzer, as well as Adolf Hitler. Now (still) decidedly upmarket, the Rough Guide describes its Elephantenkeller restaurant as 'surprisingly affordable', but after a glance at its menu outside I begged to differ...