Sonneberg, the town of toys, was founded in the Gründerzeit (Wilhelminian era) as an industrial settlement with checker-board pattern streets, composing a structure of urban blocks. Over 90 percent of the buildings dating to the time between 1840 and 1940 were dedicated exclusively to toy production and trade and mirror the architecture of the historicism and International Style (“Neues Bauen”), including Art Déco, Bauhaus and neoclassicism. Most important witnesses to the toy industry are the German Toy Museum, the New Townhouse as the Town of Toys’ representative office, and the former US-American department stores Kresge and Halbourne.
Further highlights of Sonneberg are the German Teddy Bear Museum, the SOMSO Museum for anatomic models as part of the toy production, and St. Peter’s, an outstanding neo-Gothic hall-shaped church with adjacent cemetery hosting cenotaphs of the city’s toy traders. Numerous prominent buildings and mansions evoke Sonneberg’s international status as town of toys.
Sonneberg is still home to several toy companies with factories or factory outlets, including PIKO, a model railway manufacturer, Simba Dickie Group producing a variety of toys, Plüti which is specialised on stuffed animals, and Martin Bären for Teddy Bears.
A circular tour, the “Historic Mile”, that starts at the station square leads to 14 signposted stations and introduces visitors to the toy industry’s history, its architectural heritage and the life and work of Sonneberg’s inhabitants.