Wetzlar (vĕtsˈlär) [key], city (1994 pop. 54,188), Hesse, central Germany, on the Lahn River. Situated in a region where iron ore is mined, the city has a metallurgical industry. Other manufactures include optical equipment (cameras, microscopes, and binoculars), and iron ware. Wetzlar was a free imperial city from 1180 to 1803. The supreme court of the Holy Roman Empire (Ger. Reichskammergericht ) was located in the city from 1693 to 1806. Goethe was a young lawyer in Wetzlar when he met (1772) Charlotte Buff, the Lotte in his novel Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (1774). The city passed to Prussia in 1815 and formed an enclave between Nassau and Upper Hesse. It suffered considerable damage in World War II. Noteworthy structures include the cathedral (9th cent.) and the ruins of Kalsmunt castle (13th cent.).
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