Things to Do in Saxony
One of two places of worship in the center of Leipzig, St. Thomas Church is home to the remains of composer Johann Sebastian Bach, who once worked as the church’s music director. The current building dates to the end of the 15th century, and the roof above its vaulted ceiling is one of the steepest in Germany. Martin Luther preached at St. Thomas on Pentecost Sunday in 1539, but the church may be best known for the St. Thomas Boys’ Choirs founded centuries earlier, in 1212.
A 223-foot (68-m) church tower rises above the surrounding skyline, featuring four bells that ring hourly and on the quarter hour. The church contains two organs, one of which was built in semblance to Bach's in the Paulinekirche—as well as a Gothic altar. Next to the church is a sculpture of Bach, added in 1908.
The Frauenkirche in Dresden was built between 1726 and 1743. Its dome collapsed on Feb. 15, 1945, during the bombings of World War II. After the war, the ruins of the church were left as a war memorial. Once Dresden and the rest of East Germany were reunified with West Germany, reconstruction on the church began and was completed by 2005. As much as possible, the reconstruction of the church followed the original plans and methods and used the original materials. The church now serves as a symbol of reconciliation.
The reconstruction of the church was supported by donations from people all around the world. In order to honor those who donated, the church set up an exhibition area, which explains what was left after the destruction and what was was needed to start the rebuilding process. The exhibit includes original documents and finds from the archaeological site. Photographs and sketches outline the process from when the reconstruction idea was made public until the consecration of the church in 2005. There is also a computer to search for names of supporters.
A variety of guided tours of the church are available, and visitors can also climb the tower for views of the city.
Housed in a former gas storage tank, the Leipzig Panometer was created in 2003 to display the artworks of panorama artist Yadegar Asisi. Today there are two Panometers showcasing his unique, immersive work (the other is in Dresden), and Asisi’s pieces can be seen on display around the world.
Home to over 850 animal species from around the world, Leipzig Zoo (Zoologischer Garten Leipzig) is a leader in animal-welfare and -breeding programs. From jungle paths and treetop trails to river cruises and Germany’s largest indoor tropical rain forest, the sprawling zoo has something to entertain all ages.
The Green Vault (Grünes Gewölbe) is one of the city museums in Dresden, Germany, and it is located in the Dresden Royal Palace. This collection of historical art and antiques has been called one of the greatest treasure chests in Europe. It is divided into two sections, the Historic Green Vault and the New Green Vault. In the Historic section, visitors will find works of art in a baroque setting displayed in front of mirrored walls without being in display cases. Items found here are made of amber, ivory, gemstones, and bronze. This section is located in the reconstructed chamber that August the Strong created.
In the New Green Vault, visitors can see around 1,000 masterpieces of treasury art which are displayed in well-lit showcases made of anti-glare glass. This allows visitors to admire the art close up. Pieces in this section include precious objects made of gold, silver, enamel and gemstones, ivory, mother-of-pearl, coconuts and ostrich eggs, as well as cabinet pieces created by the Dresden court jeweler Dinglinger.
Standing at the intersection of two historically important trade roads, Via Regia and Via Imperii, St. Nicholas Church in Leipzig dates to 1165. The oldest church in the city, it was originally built in a Romanesque style, but was enlarged and converted into a Gothic hall church in the 16th century. An octagonal central tower was added at that time as well. Martin Luther is said to have preached at the church, which has been Protestant since 1539. The interior of the church is notable for the pillars in the nave that end in palm-like flourishes. Johann Sebastian Bach once served as the music director for the church and several of his works debuted in the church in the 18th century.
The church gained national prominence in 1989 due to peaceful demonstrations outside the church protesting communist rule in Germany. Today, it remains one of the largest churches in the Saxony region of Germany, holding up to 1400.
The Dresden Castle (Residenzschloss) is a Renaissance castle that was home to Saxony's kings and electors starting in the late 1400s. It was built with defense in mind and has limited gates and massive walls. The palace burned towards the end of World War II, and reconstruction began in the 1980s. Today it houses the Dresden State Art Collections. The museums here include the Coin Cabinet and the Collection of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, the first two collections to return to the museum after reconstruction began. Other museums include the New Green Vault, the Historic Green Vault, the Turkish Chamber, the Armory, the art library, and several other collections and galleries.
Visitors can explore the artwork, antiques, and other unique items found in the different sections of the palace to get an idea of what royal live was like during the renaissance period and other times throughout history. There are two courtyards attached to the palace, which have been enclosed in recent years for more practical use as part of a museum.
The Loschwitz Bridge in Dresden spans across the Elbe River. It was finished in 1893, and at the time, this truss bridge was one of the longest bridges that was not supported by pillars. It was painted a brilliant blue color, which is how it got its name. Despite the fact that much of Dresden was destroyed during World War II, the bridge survived, thanks in part to city residents who put their lives on the line to protect it.
The bridge was called the König-Albert-Brücke (King Albert Bridge) until 1912 and nowadays its lovingly called the Blue Wonder Bridge. Today the bridge brings road traffic across the river connecting the Blasewitz and Loschwitz neighborhoods within Dresden. It is a popular tourist attraction due to its stunning architecture and color. It is located near the Dresden TV Tower, the Standseilbahn Dresden funicular railway, and Schwebebahn Dresden, the world's oldest suspension railway.
Named after King Albert of Saxony, the Albertinum is an art museum located in the historic city center of Dresden. The museum focuses on painting and sculpture from the Romantic period to the present day, and its collections — which range from Rodin to Richter — have earned the museum a worldwide reputation as a center for fine art in Germany. With a large restoration program, the Albertinum's glass-fronted display storerooms allow visitors to get insights into the museum's internal workings and how the restoration process works. The Renaissance-style building that houses the museum, completed in 1563, was once a military arsenal and now has archives instead of weapons in its immense vaults, as a new arsenal was built for Dresden in the late 19th century.
The museum is especially unique because much of the original structure remains, having been spared from excessive damage during the 1945 bombing of Dresden, unlike many other museum buildings nearby. The Albertinum is also home to the Galerie Neue Meister and the Skulpturensammlung, two of Dresden's most illustrious art museums.
Presenting a visual representation of Dresden’s changing cityscape from 1695 to 1760, the Panometer Dresden is one of the city’s most unique museums. The creation of Austrian artist Yadegar Asisi, the gigantic, 360-degree display measures 344 feet (105 meters) long, stretching along the walls of a former gasometer.
More Things to Do in Saxony
Plauen is located in Saxony in the eastern part of the country near the border of Bavaria and Czech Republic. In the 1930s, Plauen hosted the first chapter of the Nazi Party outside of Bavaria, and about 75% of the city was destroyed during World War II. During the division of Germany, Plauen fell into East Germany. Plauen was also the site of some of the earliest and most significant peaceful demonstrations against the socialist regime in 1989, which helped lead to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The city of Plauen is well known for its lace production that began in the late 19th century. The lace is highly regarded throughout the world due to its quality. At the Plauen Lace Museum, the only lace museum in Germany, visitors can learn about the lace and embroidery industry and how it has developed over time. Plauen is also home to the Alte Elsterbrücke, the oldest bridge in Saxony, and the Friedensbrücke, the largest stone arch bridge in the world.
The Elbe River is one of the major rivers in Central Europe and runs through the Czech Republic and Germany. It winds through several major cities, including Dresden and Hamburg, and eventually empties into the North Sea. The river has played an important role throughout history, including forming part of the border between East and West Germany during the Cold War period.
Visitors can enjoy views of Dresden's skyline along the river. There are river boat tours along the Elbe that point out the local attractions that sit near the water. Some of the significant buildings include the Dresden Opera House, the Royal Palace, the Zwinger Palace, the Cathedral, and the Church of Our Lady. The river passes underneath the Blue Wonder Bridge, Dresden's most famous bridge. The Albrechtsberg Castle can also be seen from the river just outside the center of the city. The river separates Dresden's old town from the new town.
This all-glass automobile production plant, owned by Volkswagen, is a must-see for car enthusiasts who are visiting Dresden. Because the entire building is made of glass, you can view nearly the entire process of automobile assembly during a tour of the factory. The Transparent Factory was built in the middle of town on the Elbe River, just a ten-minute walk from the historic city center, as an intentional pairing of technology and culture. More than a million visitors have passed through the factory doors since they opened in 2002, watching VW Phaetons and Bentleys getting assembled at ‘Die Gläserne Manufaktur.’
For people who like cars, architecture, and/or engineering, this is a great way to see top-notch automobile manufacturing in action. The ultra-modern facility builds cars with the most up-to-date methods, including robots that deliver the parts. Before taking the educational tour, visitors can check out multiple video displays in the building’s upper lobby.
With a history dating back to 1804, the Halloren Chocolate Factory (Halloren Schokoladenmuseum) is the oldest in Germany and famous for its Halloren-Kugeln (chocolate balls). Today, it’s also a popular tourist attraction, offering chocolate tastings, interactive exhibits, and chocolate-making displays.
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