|Bundesland: Freistaat Thüringen||Thuringia|
Gotha is situated at an elevation of 300 m at the southern edge of the Thuringian Basin, about 20 km west of Erfurt and 25 km east of Eisenach. Gotha is also the seat of the administration of the district of the same name. At a population of about 45,700 (2018) it is the fifth largest city of Thuringia.
The oldest known written document mentioning Villa Gotaha dates from AD 775. During the 11th century, the nearby Ludowingians received the village and established the city in the late 12th century, as Gotha became their second most important city after Eisenach. The town generated wealth because it was conveniently located at the junction of two important long-distance trade routes: the Via Regia from Mainz and Frankfurt to Leipzig and Wrocław (Breslau) and a north-south route from Mühlhausen over the Thuringian Forest to Franconia. In 1180, Gotha was first mentioned as a town. As the Ludowingians died out in 1247, Gotha became part of the Wettins' territories, where it remained until 1918. The Reformation was introduced in Gotha in 1524 and the castle was rebuilt as a larger fortress between 1530 and 1541. Gotha was already part of the Ernestine Wettins territory after the 1485 Treaty of Leipzig. However, the Ernestines' loss of power after the Schmalkaldic War in 1547, the Treaty of Erfurt in 1572, when the city became part of Saxe-Coburg, and the Thirty Years' War resulted in Gotha's decline. After the partition of the Saxe-Weimar territories in 1640 (see chart) Gotha became the residence of Saxe-Gotha (1674 Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg) under Duke Ernst I the Pious. Friedenstein Castle was built between 1643 and 1654 and is one of the first large Baroque residence castles in Germany. From 1826 to 1918, Gotha along with Coburg was one of the two capitals of the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-and-Gotha. Industrialization started in Gotha around 1850, as the city was connected to the Thuringian Railway in 1847. The Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD), a left-wing breakaway of the SPD was founded in Gotha in 1917 in opposition to the SPD's war policies during World War I. During the German Revolution, the last Duke, Carl Eduard, abdicated in 1918. After a referendum, the state of Gotha joined the newly created Free State of Thuringia in 1920. During World War II, luckily about 95% of the city's buildings survived the war unscathed. After the war, Gotha found itself in the Soviet occupation zone and the German Democratic Republic founded in 1949. During this period, some historic inner-city quarters were replaced by Plattenbau buildings. Many other buildings fell derelict during the later GDR period and the city's time of shrinking in the 1990s, whereas others were refurbished after German reunification in 1990. Gotha's economy was hit by the transition from state to market economy after 1990, nevertheless, some companies survived or were newly founded and have made Gotha an economically relatively successful city.
The Hauptpostamt (main post office building) between Arnoldiplatz (Ekhofplatz) was built in
1889 and was one of the most prominent buildings of the 'Gründerzeit' period in Gotha. Because of its three distinctive
domes it was nicknamed 'Stephan's inkpot' alluding to the name of the then postmaster general, Heinrich von Stephan. The
domes were removed in 1938. Apart from this alteration the building still today operates as Gotha's main post office.