Meißen: china town with knight’s castle
Dby far the most beautiful way to approach this city is from the east. If you stand in Meißen on the eastern bank of the Elbe (for example because you are currently on the Elberadweg) and let your gaze wander over the stream, you will be served a panorama that will burn into your memory: the backdrop in the form of the mighty Albrechtsburg is proverbially outstanding. which rises majestically on the other, western bank above the old town of Meissen and is reflected in the Elbe. Long before Instagram was invented, travelers made the pilgrimage here to experience their personal goosebumps moment.
The castle dates back to the year 929, it sits so memorably together with the Meissen cathedral on a rock high above the Elbe that popularly invented the appropriate nickname “Saxon Acropolis”. The complex is the first in Germany where the defensive character of a weir and a representative castle style marry perfectly – with its turrets and battlements, battlements and vaults, it is the bedrock of all knight’s castle fantasies, which has served as a model for castle builders all over the world, from the King of Bavaria Ludwig II (for Neuschwanstein) to Walt Disney (for his cartoon dream castles).
The castle and old town survived the Second World War almost intact, but not the GDR decades. In view of crumbling facades, vacant houses and collapsed roofs, the saying “Visit Meißen while it is still standing” had appeared in 1987. Fortunately, with the turnaround an extensive renovation began, one of the most beautiful old towns in Germany was saved.
A sightseeing tour should be arranged in such a way that you stand in front of the Frauenkirche tower at 6.30, 8.30, 11.30, 2.30, 5.30 or 8.30 p.m. to listen to the carillon which, at these times, sounds chorales with a unique sound the 37 bells are made of Meissen porcelain. They were hung in 1929, for the 1000th anniversary of Meissen, and manufactured in Europe’s first and Germany’s most famous porcelain factory.
Since 1710 and for more than 150 years, the Albrechtsburg was the production site for the porcelain with the two crossed swords (one of the oldest and best-known trademarks worldwide). Today production is still carried out in the urban area. How porcelain is made, how painstakingly it is painted by hand, what historical shapes there are – all of this is shown in the porcelain museum including a show workshop, and in the flagship store of the manufactory you can also stock up on cheap porcelain souvenirs.
Then the former Electoral Winery should be on the program. This is where Meissen’s wine cooperative is based, here you can book tours through the labyrinth of old wine cellars, here you can try out the range of more than 1000 winegrowers in the vinotheque, who work on the sunny steep slopes of the Elbe valley around Meißen, mostly on terraces, grow excellent wines.
Their quality is as great as the names of the historic vineyards: Where else can you get a Pinot Blanc from Proschwitzer Katzensprung or a Riesling from the Goldener Wagen melted in your mouth? Sönke Kruger
Naumburg: Bach organ and capybaras
What do Käthe Kruse, Johann Sebastian Bach, Martin Luther, Umberto Eco and the capybara Rodrigo have in common? They all work or worked in Naumburg an der Saale and can still be experienced today in the almost 1000-year-old cathedral city. In the Wenceslas Church you can listen to concerts on the world’s largest authentic Bach organ, which the composer himself designed.
Luther, on the other hand, consecrated the first Protestant bishop in the world, Nikolaus von Amsdorf, in the Naumburg Cathedral in the Reformation – a house worth seeing, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since July 2018 and art treasures such as the oldest stone sculpture of St. Elisabeth of Thuringia (dated around 1235 ) and altar wings by Lucas Cranach. The cathedral also achieved world fame through the donor figure Uta, who Umberto Eco praised as the “most beautiful woman of the Middle Ages”.
You will meet the doll maker Käthe Kruse in Bad Kösen, today a district of Naumburg with spa tradition and graduation tower. 250 Käthe-Kruse dolls are exhibited here in the Romanisches Haus. This is also worth seeing for people who have nothing to do with dolls: after all, Germany doesn’t have too many Romanesque-style buildings from 1100.
The history of Pforta Abbey, located at the gates of the city on the Saale, is also shown here. The former Cistercian abbey – also part of the Romanesque street – should of course also be seen. Because of the fascinating silence of the monastery architecture, but also because of the monastic winery, which upholds the wine-growing tradition on the Saale that was introduced by the monks. In the meantime, there are already 850 vintages here.
And Rodrigo? The capybara is one of the stars of the Kösener toy manufactory. For over 100 years, the company founded by Käthe Kruse has been producing plush toys of the highest quality, made in Germany, often so realistic that the West Pedant with the button in the ear looks rather stiff. The Transparent Toy Manufactory is not only exciting for children, where you can watch the production and create your own plush toy in the creative area. Maike Grunwald
Annaberg-Buchholz: Time travel to Siberia from Saxony
Traveling by train is cumbersome, but recommended. A first highlight of a trip to Annaberg. You fall a bit out of time, the excursion appears further than it really is. You have to take a regional train to Chemnitz central station, which is as gray and uncomfortable as a cliché about the east.
Long-distance trains no longer stop in Chemnitz, to the pain of the region. But the Erzgebirge Railway runs there. A good hour after Annaberg-Buchholz, lower station. The route becomes more beautiful and more beautiful, the forest thicker, you look out of panoramic windows into a river valley, in winter, if you are lucky, snow will fall at some point.
It no longer falls as reliably as in the days when the Ore Mountains were called “Saxon Siberia” and after arrival you could visit the “excellently managed train station restaurant”. The city travel guide, which you can buy in Annaberg, speaks of both.
The train station is now only a platform, without a restaurant. The travel guide is from 1908, a reprint, you can get it in the “Manufactory of Dreams” (a museum for toys and Christmas decoration from the Ore Mountains). The purchase is worth it, including the drawn city map.
The streets in the center of Annaberg are as they were 112 years ago, and the houses have been restored since reunification. During the Second World War, Annaberg was spared bombs. The neighboring Buchholz was less fortunate. After the war, the Soviets made one out of both cities, after all they merge almost directly.
But many old Annabergers have hardly had anything to do with bookholder to this day, the districts seem to lead independent lives. Most of the sights can be found in Annaberg. One should not underestimate the climbs if one comes from the Netherlands, the warning from 1908 still applies.
Up to St. Annenkirche, “the greatest sight that human hands have created in the Upper Ore Mountains”, shortly after the city was founded in 1497. Silver had been found in the Ore Mountains, the area was booming, Annaberg was a silver metropolis for about a century.
You can climb the tower of the church or go down to a visitor mine at the Erzgebirge Museum. Past the church it goes to the Stadtwäldchen and further to the Pöhlberg, “Looking back on the ascents are very grateful”, at 831 meters there is a restaurant with a beer garden. There you can plan excursions in the area or just sit and look at them. Wiebke Hollersen
Prenzlau: Mediterranean flair on Lake Unteruckersee
Everyone in Prenzlau knows “Uncle Albert”. The passenger ship chugs constantly over the Unteruckersee, stops at the Uckerpromenade and Am Kap and does a few laps. Nice: Bicycles (they can be taken along free of charge) and dogs (under the size of a cat free, otherwise four euros) are allowed on board.
From the railing there is the best view of the 20,000-inhabitant town that winds around the entire northern lakeshore: brick-red its landmark, the Marienkirche with its two towers, plus plane trees and chestnuts on the shore, a city wall, beach cafes, a seaside resort with diving platform, beach chairs, water slides, open from July 13th. All of this has a Mediterranean flair, but with kingfishers in the reeds and ospreys in the sky.
In midsummer, the shore is the playground for bathing holidaymakers who enjoy a little Rimini ambience in the Uckermark, just over 100 kilometers from Berlin. On the lake you can see oarsmen and motor boats, water treads with a pink flamingo look, sun and grill islands, and there is even a diving station: the Unteruckersee is crystal clear, rich in fish and up to 19 meters deep. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of water, bike to one of the hidden bathing bays that the seven-kilometer-long Unteruckersee offers, or enjoy the old town.
It goes up high to the stone gate tower, at least 234 steps have to be mastered. The view over the city and the lake is spectacular. The Seepark begins right behind the city wall. Redesigned for the Landesgartenschau 2013, the green slopes stretch from the bank to the vineyard on the city wall near the Dominican monastery, which is now a museum.
Monks started growing wine in the early Middle Ages until the monastery was closed in 1519 after a fire. It was not until 500 years later that the first 99 vines were planted again, now cultivated by the local winemaker Christian Soyeaux.
Since then, locals and visitors have enjoyed Prenzlauer Federweißen once a year, which is only served at the city festival (next date: September 5, 2020); The winemaker only sells 100 bottles of Prenzlau red wine called Roter Regent every year as a rarity – and they are quickly sold out. At the weekly market there are other Prenzlau delicacies to taste, such as elderflower chutneys, robinia honey and the hearty Uckerkaas, which goes perfectly with the red wine. Kira Hanser
Wittenberge: New life in old factories
Learn to dive in an oil tower on the Elbe and encounter a shark? You can only do that in Wittenberge. The town is located in Brandenburg, halfway between Hamburg and Berlin. Most ICE rush through without a stop, but some stop here as planned, as does the IC.
Getting out is definitely worth it, not just for divers. For example, because of the old oil mill. Since its historic restoration, the former rapeseed oil factory in Wittenberge has not only been home to Germany’s only combination system for climbing and diving (the shark in the pool is made of plastic, by the way). The complex also houses a fine hotel, a loft spa with a view of the Elbe and a sophisticated restaurant with a show brewery in the 1878 warehouse.
Another highlight of Wittenberge is the Singer clock tower, not far away: According to city information, the largest tower clock in Europe with a diameter of 7.30 meters has been shining on the water tower of the old sewing machine factory since 1928. Inside, an exhibition explains the history of the factory, which began in 1904 as the German branch of the American Singer Manufacturing Company and made the city the largest production location for sewing machines in Europe. During the GDR era, it became the VEB sewing machine factory in Wittenberge, which produced millions of Veritas sewing machines until it was wound up in 1992.
Beyond the industrial monuments, tours through the lavishly renovated old town are worthwhile, which has another tower to climb: that of the historic town hall, with a view of the stone gate tower and the pencil tower of the Protestant church. On top of that, Wittenberge is an ideal location for tours into the Elbe – where black storks nest in untouched nature, where aircraft noise means the snapping of the gray geese and where courageous eccentrics run organic restaurants in nowhere. Maike Grunwald
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