Gotha gō´tä [key], city (1994 pop. 52,260), Thuringia, central Germany. It is a rail junction, and its manufactures include machinery, vehicles, textiles, chemicals, and soap. Gotha was known in the late 12th cent. In 1485 it passed to the Ernestine line of the house of Wettin and became (1640) the capital of the duchy of Saxe-Gotha (from 1826 to 1918, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha). Gotha has long been a center of geographical research and publishing. The well-known publishing house of Justus Perthes (founded in 1785 and now called Hermann Haack) began (1863) the publication of the Almanach de Gotha, an authoritative reference work on the royal houses and the nobility of numerous countries. In 1875 an important congress of the German Social Democratic Party was held in Gotha. Among the chief historic buildings of the city are the early 15th-century Church of St. Margaret; Friedenstein, a 17th-century ducal palace; and Friedrichstal Palace (18th cent.).

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