A few months ago I, with a group of friends went on a trip to Frankfurt, Germany. As we were planning it, we decided to have a conference call and talk about it together. Whilst calling, I looked at Google Maps where was Frankfurt actually located and what else is there to see or visit. And then I saw Wetzlar.
Every photographer knows Leica. For me personally, Leica meant something. It was always my dream camera. I’ve always wanted one. Predominantly their film cameras, whether M3, M2 or M6. Therefore for me, Wetzlar was not just an ordinary city on the map. It was in this town that Ernst Leitz found his company in 1869.
In May 2014, Leica Camera AG completed the construction of their new factory in the industrial part of Wetzlar, and moved there, where it all had begun. And here I was.
Leitz-Park is a unique place where enthusiasts, photography lovers and other people of the world, have the opportunity to explore its history. There is a museum, gallery, exhibition centre, café and of course Leica Store.
Gallery and the museum
As soon as you enter the main building you will find yourself in a beautiful gallery. Photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Elliott Erwitt, Ara Güler, Robert Frank, Bruce Gilden, Bruce Davidson, Inge Morath, Martine Franck, Sebastião Salgado, Alex Webb, Joel Meyerowitz, Garry Winogrand, and many others have their photographs shown here. And they were all photographed with Leica camera.
For lovers of history, there is a historical tour, where you can learn more about the fascinating history of Leica. Also, you can have a look into the production process and experience, as Leica says, “the most beautiful art of precision engineering and hand-made perfection right in Germany”.
You can learn how today’s Leica digital cameras are made. How lenses are made, how lenses are mounted, and even the way other lenses such as binoculars are manufactured. If you’d like to take a closer look at the production, you may book a personal guided tour inside the factory.
There is a big Leica Store, where Leica’s current portfolio of products is available. You are able to try them and of course purchase them. They were kind enough to let me try Summicron 35mm f / 2 and photograph some portraits inside the store, as well as Leitz-Park itself.
If necessary, there are experts available who are really nice and willing to help with anything.
Leica has a very long and rich history. In fact, today it has become a cult. It is sought after by photographers and collectors. Their cameras, lenses, accessories or even literature are considered collectables. Early products or some rarer pieces can reach high or very high values.
I cannot recommend visiting Leitz-Park enough. In addition to some beautiful photographs and area around, the city of Wetzlar with its historic centre and architecture will definitely refresh you.