A Magical Place – The Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland

There aren’t many places that enchant me as much as the Goetheanum, in Dornach, Switzerland. Luckily, for me, it’s only about a ten minute drive from Basel, where I live. In the past, I used to visit at least once a year, mostly in spring because then the surrounding landscape and the gardens are at their most beautiful. Although I enjoy it so much, I haven’t been there in a while and was surprised to find many, lovely changes inside.

The Goetheanum is the world center for the anthroposophical movement. The building was designed by its founder Rudolf Steiner and named after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. It is the only place in the world, where you can see an unabridged version of Goethe’s Faust cycle.

The Goetheanum is a center of study and art. You can attend workshops, see plays, take courses and study many of the branches of anthroposophy. Dancing, painting, health courses, bio-dynamic farming, astronomy, astrology . . .

Anthroposophy is a very complex philosophy and I can’t go into details here. One aspect of it, however, is worth mentioning here: the idea that forms should be organic. That’s why the architecture is so stunning. The are no sharp angles or rectangles. Everything is rounded or many angled. The color scheme is very unique too. I’d call them strong pastels.

When I saw the house last, it was all grey concrete, inside and outside. I was pleased to discover that they started to paint the inside. It enhances the delicate, intricate architecture. One stair case was particularly stunning. Every floor was painted a different color, ceilings included and that gave you the impression of experiencing the color, bathing in colored light. Truly magical.

The buildings surrounding the Goetheanum, or close by, are equally built in an anthroposophical style. You can also find artwork in the gardens, mostly of angels and other cosmic beings.

If you’re ever in Switzerland, you shouldn’t miss this. It’s such a peaceful place. The entrance is free and you can enter pretty much every room and walk through all the corridors unhindered, as long as there isn’t a workshop/play/study group inside.

And for those who read German – there’s another special treat – one of the best book shops I know.

30 thoughts on “A Magical Place – The Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland

    • My pleasure. I love it a great deal. I never expected them to start painting the concrete but it’s done so well.
      How interesting that your husband studied there. I’ll be taking some courses this year. Not sure what. They offer so much.

  1. The mail building and the surrounding buildings look so impressive. This isa place that I would like to visit. I know nothing about anthroposophicalism. It sounds very interesting.

    • Yes, anthroposophy is very fascinating. Should you want to explore, I would suggest a book about Steiner and not his own work first as he’s an extremely unwieldy writer. Anthroposophy came from theosophy, led by Mme Blavatsky. Another fascinating figure.

  2. Looks amazing. I am not familiar with it at all. Would love to see the Faust cycle. And the roundness really appeals to me, too. Maybe one day…

  3. What a fascinating place. Thanks so much for sharing the photos. Like Guy, I’m more of an armchair traveller these day, so it’s lovely to have a virtual tour of the building and grounds. The use of colour inside is very interesting – quite striking and yet calming too.

    • It is my pleasure. I’ve done a lot of armchair trvelling myself, for various reasons.
      I totally agree with you and found it very surprising that such strong colors would be so soothing. They aren’t pure colors. They mix something into all of them and you don’t even notice how one color ch ges into the next going upwards.

  4. What a lovely place, Caroline. I can understand why you would visit so often. It seems so soothing — inside and out — an excellent place to learn and be inspired. Thank you for sharing your visit!

    • I like them very much as well. All over the hill, around the main building, you can spot houses in this style. It’s lovely.
      The Goetheanum is the masterpiece.

    • My pleasure, Carole. I could have added more angles, the back and that’s entirely different story again, but I didn’t want to overdoe it. It’s a wonderful place.

  5. Beautiful post and pictures, Caroline! This looks so beautiful and brilliant! Would love to visit one day! Thanks for sharing!

      • It looks so beautiful from your post, Caroline! I loved what you said – that the architecture is beautiful and it doesn’t have sharp lines by soft corners. Loved the pictures you posted!

        • Everything is rounded, the windows have the forms of gemstones. Even the door on the elevator has a different window and tha5 gnarly looking bluish thing is a cupboard. 🙂

  6. What a magical place! It looks worth visiting just for the architecture, and then you have all the cultural events and classes, and then… a bookshop! What more could you ask for? 🙂 I’ve added it to my list of places to visit when we go to Switzerland, probably next year. I’d like to learn more about anthroposophy too, which is new to me—do you know of any good introductory books?

    • Not much more one could ask for, I agree. 🙂 I hope you’ll get to visit it.
      If you go to Switzerland, don’t miss visiting Gruyère. It’s so stunning and has H.R. Giger’s Alien museum and bar, castle, Buddhist museum. It’s tiny but so much culture and the setting is so awesome.
      Obviously, there are many lovely places to visit but that’s very special.
      I can’t really suggest any books on anthroposophy as I’ve read everything in German. We have whole book shops dedeicated to anthroposophy here. As I mentioned, Steiner’s books are very chewy. Possibly, they are easier in an English translation but in German they are hard work.

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