What do the perky angels in the painting "The Sistine Madonna" and the striking rocks of the Bastei Bridge have in common? One is a masterpiece of art, the other a wonder of nature. To be found in the Old Masters Picture Gallery in the Dresden Zwinger and in the Saxon Switzerland National Park: in Saxony. The Cultural and the natural landscape of Saxony form an unbeatable combination.
There are simply landscapes that are unforgettable in any weather, almost mystical. The ancient viewing platform on the Bastei, with its 76.50 meters in length and seven arches, rather daringly spans a 40-meter-deep gorge. Like it, many other spectacular formations called "Lokomotive" or "Kuhstall" with their panoramic views awaken the desire for hiking and climbing tours in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains. From up here, the historic paddle steamers on the Elbe and the villages winding along the river seem tiny.
At 25 kilometers as the crow flies, a stone's throw away, so to speak, spreads out Dresden and the Elbland confidently in the Elbe Valley - easy to see on a ride on the funicular from the White Deer. The famous "Blue Wonder" in Loschwitz takes you right into the hustle and bustle of Elbe Florence. It's nice to experience the hustle and bustle around the rebuilt Frauenkirche on a sunny late afternoon, to stroll along the Elbe terraces, to take a look at the Residenzschloss, Hofkirche and Semperoper. And in the evening? The Bunte Republik Neustadt (Colorful Republic of New Town), Dresden's crazy trendy "Neustadt" district, with its countless pubs, stores and courtyards, awaits. In the cheerful tangle of many languages, the congenial "Nu" of the Dresdeners can be heard again and again. The favorite castle of the Saxons is not far from the Saxon capital: The legendary fairy tale film "Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella" was filmed at Moritzburg Castle north of Dresden. In Meissen, you can not only store for porcelain, but also take a look behind the scenes of the famous manufactory.
Leipzig, incidentally the largest city in the Free State, is currently one of the hippest, liveliest metropolises in Europe. Classic and modern are close together. Gewandhaus and Kunstkraftwerk, Monument to the Battle of the Nations and cotton spinning mill. Passages and canals. It's hip to canoe from the city harbor to Lake Cospuden in the Leipzig New Lake District to paddle. Similar to Upper Lusatia, a recreational paradise for water sports enthusiasts and bathers has emerged from flooded lignite mines. There are now more than 20 lakes, some of which are connected by navigable canals. Action is the name of the game at Kanupark Markkleeberg.
The Vogtland in the very south is not only a destination for hiking. Here the sky also hangs full of violins and bubbles radon and thermal springs for a perfect health vacation. And Chemnitz, the third largest city in the state? It has at least three extraordinary museums that you don't really focus on: the Saxon Museum of Industry, Villa Esche as a stop on the European Henry van de Velde Route, and the Gunzenhauser Museum with the most important Expressionist collection in Germany. Chemnitz has an unusual landmark: the Long Lulatsch. In 2025 Chemnitz will be European Capital of Culture be. From groundbreaking inventions and bold decisions to cultural innovations - Chemnitz is full of ideas and surprises. As the "Saxon Manchester," the city is one of Germany's industrial cradles. Under the motto "C the unseen", the following will come together at a first virtual meeting the treasures, surprises and the previously undiscovered in Chemnitz.
"Good luck!" shouts the Ore Mountains to welcome - one of the most charming low mountain landscapes in Europe, characterized by silver ore mining. Today, silver is no longer found. Those who hike here will find a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The highest elevation is the 1,215 meter high Fichtelberg in Oberwiesenthal. In summer, people thunder down it on monster scooters, e-bikes or mountain bikes, in winter on skis. The coolest guys are carved out of wood in the Ore Mountains: Nutcrackers, smoking men & Co. Many also admire candle arches and Christmas pyramids. Saxony also has "Görliwood", a leaning tower, a Stones museum, mustard and Sorbian Easter eggs. And that's where you roll "R" so beautifully: in the Upper Lusatia.
With an area of 18,450 square kilometers and a population of around four million, Saxony is one of the medium-sized German states. More than 8.5 million guests visit the state every year, more than one million of them from abroad. The defining theme in Saxony's tourism is culture. Whether at the Semper Opera House in Dresden, the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, the Chemnitz Opera House, or in palaces, castles and historic sites, top-class theater and music productions characterize the Free State. Music festivals ranging from classical to jazz to klezmer have their fans worldwide. More than 500 museums bear witness to the great heritage of the over 1000-year-old cultural landscape. About 1,000 Castles, palaces, gardens and manor houses travelers can experience - among them gems such as Pillnitz, Moritzburg and Augustusburg, the castles Albrechtsburg, Lichtenwalde or Rammenau. Saxony also has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites - the "Muskauer Park / Mużakowski Park" as a joint Polish-German cultural heritage in Bad Muskau and the "Mining Region Ore Mountains/Krušnohoří" as German-Czech cultural heritage.
The Saxons love it sweet: A really internationally known Saxon specialty is quite wintry - the Christstollen, which is best bought from one of the approximately 125 stollen bakers in Dresden and the surrounding area. Around the year, there's the Dresdner Eierschecke (a special layer cake made of lots of curd cheese and eggs) and chocolate - after all, milk chocolate was invented in Dresden in 1839. From Leipzig come the Leipziger Lerchen, a pastry in the form of a pie, and the vegetable Leipziger Allerlei. Oh yes, and you should also try the Saxon Quarkkeulchen.
In addition to local beer, sparkling wine and wine also taste good in this country. In one of the smallest wine-growing regions in Germany, along the Saxon Wine Route between Pirna and Diesbar-Seußlitz, pressing wine is a great art. In cozy wine bars and fine restaurants you can taste the quality wines of different grape varieties. For more than 850 years, wine has been cultivated in the Elbe Valley on an area of about 450 hectares, mainly on steep slopes.
A glance at the menus of regional restaurants reveals the specialties of Saxon cuisine: Saxon Sauerbraten, for example, Saxon potato soup or Sorbian wedding soup from Upper Lusatia. At Saxony's culinary calling card are also small cheese dairies, beekeepers, fishermen, farm stores, coffee roasters and chocolate makers. The highest culinary delights? There are also six Michelin-starred restaurants in Saxony.
When it comes to their dialect, the Saxons don't have it easy. Actually, all Germans speak Saxon. They just pronounce it wrong! Since the Middle Ages at the latest, it has been clear that Saxon is still the closest to High German, because it was the basis for the uniform, High German lingua franca. Once you get used to the pronunciation, you will easily understand Saxon. K becomes G, T becomes D, P becomes B: Gronentor, Daschenbergpalais or Baraderäume - it's quite simple. Behind some of the vocabulary that one encounters from time to time are wonderful anecdotes. Bliemchengaffee (little flower coffee) or Scheelchen Heeßn (cup of coffee) are among them. The Saxons love to tell them.
Cover photo: The Bastei is the most famous rock formation in Saxon Switzerland © Sebastian Rose
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