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The combination of culture and nature makes Saxony unmistakable. No wonder that the list of must-sees is a colorful mixture of magnificent palaces and castles, beautiful landscapes and exciting cities where one sight follows the next. These eleven places show just how diverse this federal state in the east of Germany is.


Dresden: capital city with Italian atmosphere

If you take the Löschwitz cable car - the oldest cable car in the world - from Körnerplatz to Löschwitzhöhe in three minutes, you can enjoy a fantastic view of the city. And perhaps you will also understand why Dresden is often referred to as "Florence on the Elbe". In fact, the dome of the Frauenkirche is reminiscent of the cathedral of the Tuscan capital and, as in Florence, the Dresden cityscape is also characterized by numerous buildings from the Renaissance. First and foremost is the city's most famous building: the Semperoper Dresden is considered one of the most beautiful theaters in the world and was built in the style of the Italian early Renaissance. Not far from it rises a building of baroque superlatives: Imposing portals, countless stone figures and elegant arched galleries make the Dresden Zwinger a unique building. In the experience exhibition opened in 2021 Kennel Xperience you can experience the history of the building up close thanks to virtual reality. And of course, there is much more to discover in the state capital: the Old Town, the Residence Palace, the Neumarkt, the 101-meter-long Fürstenzug, the Golden Rider, the Brühl Terrace ... we could go on forever!

By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Dresden: Plan arrival.


The Zittau Mountains: Small but eventful

Anyone who thinks that there is little to see and experience in Germany's smallest low mountain range is mistaken. In the very east of Saxony, where Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic border on each other, lies the Zittau Mountains. It is characterized by a diverse landscape, buildings from different eras and a great love of the inhabitants for their traditions. The monastery of St. Marienthal in the Neisse Valley is devout and quiet. The monastery is the oldest active Cistercian convent in Germany and has existed without interruption since its founding in 1234. The sisters will gladly guide you through the baroque monastery complex with the monastery church, the Chapel of the Cross and St. Michael's Chapel, the fountain with the Trinity Column. A former mill, a historical sawmill and a vineyard are also part of the complex. Speaking of mountains, the Zittau Mountains are also ideal for hiking, climbing and cycling. In green valleys and on mountain meadows you can find many a botanical treasure. 435 kilometers of marked hiking trails crisscross the area. In addition, there are 13 cycling trails and four long-distance cycling routes. Small mountains, big choice.


Muskauer Park: Strolling across the border

The New Castle in Muskauer Park is a three-winged complex in the neo-Renaissance style © Mike Mareen - stock.adobe.com
The New Castle in Muskauer Park is a three-winged complex in the neo-Renaissance style © Mike Mareen - stock.adobe.com

North of Görlitz, the Neisse River flows through one of the most beautiful landscape parks in Germany, the Prince Pückler Park in Bad Muskau. Its creator, the famous landscape architect, lord of the manor and travel writer Hermann Fürst von Pückler-Muskau, created a garden of considerable size here between 1815 and 1845, inspired by the idyllic valley landscape. The special feature of the 830-hectare site is that it is divided by the Neisse River - so one part of the park is in Saxony, the other in Poland. A bridge connects the two halves of the park. As early as 2004, Muskauer Park/Park Mużakowski was designated a joint Polish-German World Heritage Site by UNESCO. On the Saxon side stands the rebuilt Prince Pückler Castle. The Marstall is now used as an exhibition and event building, while the Remise houses the visitor information center and a café serving the legendary Fürst Pückler ice cream (remember: it's the combination of vanilla, chocolate, strawberry). Also worth seeing are the historic tropical house with cacti, the Kavaliershaus (now a moor bath), the bathing and mountain park, the castle park and the orangery.

By train and bus comfortably to Bad Muskau: Plan arrival.


Meissen: city of porcelain

In 929, Henry I had a castle built high above the Elbe River. Today, Albrechtsburg Castle is considered the oldest castle in Germany. At its feet lies the Meissen old town. Around the late Gothic town hall you will find romantic courtyards, craft stores, quaint wine bars and the impressive Frauenkirche. And you're sure to find a nice spot here to taste a glass of Meissen wine, which matures on steep slopes around the city. Also inextricably linked with the city is the famous Meissen porcelain. In 1710, Augustus the Strong, then Elector of Saxony, founded Europe's first porcelain manufactory at Albrechtsburg Castle. In the meantime, the manufactory has moved to the nearby Triebischtal. However, in the MEISSEN® World of Experience you can learn a lot of interesting facts about the "white gold" and the 300-year-old craft. By the way, you have an incomparable view of the city not only from Albrechtsburg Castle, but also from the tower of the Frauenkirche. 193 steps lead up to the top - and past the first carillon made of Meissen porcelain in all of Europe.

By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Meißen: Plan arrival.


Saxon Switzerland: rocks and forest en masse

Striking table mountains in a unique rocky landscape, narrow gorges, idyllic forests and down in the valley? The Elbe flows broadly. In between, stately fortresses and pretty little half-timbered towns. No wonder with so much diversity that the Saxon Switzerland is one of the most popular German vacation regions. A network of a total of 1,200 kilometers of well-signposted hiking trails crisscrosses it. 400 kilometers of them lead through the national park. Many of these routes take you to unforgettably beautiful vantage points, such as the Kaiser Wilhelm Fortress overlooking the Biela Valley or the Brandaussicht, the "balcony of Saxon Switzerland" 170 meters above the Polenz Valley. You can also explore the unique rock formations of this landscape by mountain bike or steamboat. Highlights of the region are the Bastei, Hohnstein Castle, Stolpen Castle, the Felsenbühne Rathen and the Schrammsteine. 


Leipzig: trade fair and cultural city with tradition

It is an eventful history that Leipzig can look back on. The Sorbs settled here as early as the 7th century. They founded a trading post to which they gave the name Lipzk, "place by the lime trees". The granting of the imperial trade fair privilege by Maximilian I. in 1497 made Leipzig to a prestigious trade fair city. The heart of the city beats in the city center, which is only one square kilometer in size. Here you are spoiled for choice between 1,500 restaurants, bars and cafés, so it's best to fortify yourself first. In the Mädler Passage, which has been the city's most distinguished promenade for centuries, the Auerbachs Keller, made famous by Goethe, serves guests. Wine has been served here since 1525. In the café-restaurant Zum Arabischen Coffe Baum, one of the oldest coffee houses in Europe, composer Robert Schumann was once a regular guest. At the market stands the Old Town Hall, one of the most impressive Renaissance buildings in Germany. At the back are the Old Trade Exchange and the Goethe Monument. The Nikolaikirche, Leipzig's oldest and largest church, has also been known as the starting point of the "Peaceful Revolution" since 1989. It was here that the peace prayers took place (and still do), from which the Monday demonstrations developed that eventually led to the unification of Germany.

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Görlitz: film set in two countries

4000 restored buildings from late Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance and Art Nouveau: a city stroll through Goerlitz is like a time travel through half a millennium of European architectural history. The facades of the town houses are so richly decorated that the city has often served as a backdrop for Hollywood productions. On the "Walk of Görliwood®" tour, you can find out which directors and actors have filmed here. Görlitz is also unique because of its special location: half of the city is in Germany, the other half in Poland. Since 1998, Görlitz has been known as the European City of Görlitz/Zgorzelec and is therefore characterized by a lively German-Polish atmosphere. You can gain insight into the multifaceted cultural history of the city and the country at the Silesian Museum in Görlitz. The museum is located in the Schönhof, one of the oldest Renaissance buildings in Germany. Also worth seeing and a center of attraction for thousands of believers each year is the Görlitz Holy Sepulchre. It is considered the best preserved faithful replica of the Holy Sepulcher of Jesus in Jerusalem. The entire complex consists of the Double Chapel of the Holy Cross, the Anointing House and the Burial Chapel.

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Moritzburg Castle and Lighthouse: Like in a Fairy Tale

When it is windless at the Moritzburg lakes, all the splendor of the Moritzburg castle with its four round towers in the crystal clear water. Even if you've never been here, the castle may still look familiar. In the 1970s, the impressive baroque building was the setting for the film "Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella," which is a regular Christmas ceremony for many families. The interior of the castle is also like something out of a fairy tale. The Feather Room is decorated with over a million colored bird feathers, and the painted gold-leather wallpaper and hunting trophy exhibit are also of unique splendor. So is the lighthouse, which stands a lake away on the Großteich - probably a rather unusual place for a lighthouse. It was built in 1768 by Elector Friedrich August III, a great fan of staged naval battles, who had the appropriate scenery erected here. 74 steps lead up to the 21.90 meter high tower, the so-called lamp house. During a guided tour, you can enjoy the view of the large pond from here.

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The Ore Mountains: Mystical and legendary

Not only a place, but a whole region is in the Ore Mountains UNESCO World Heritage Site. For 800 years, the landscape here has been shaped by mining. Dumps, mines, research centers and numerous craft enterprises have grown out of the discoveries of silver, cobalt, iron, tin and uranium. The World Heritage Site includes more than 400 mining sites that can still be experienced today. In idyllic mining towns such as Freiberg, Annaberg-Buchholz or Schneeberg, you can marvel at magnificent churches and historic town centers. In their heyday, they were centers of research and development. Visitor mines, museums and exhibitions bring the history of the mining region Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří to life. Like the "terra mineralia" in the historic ambience of Freudenstein Castle in Freiberg. Over 3,500 rock finds from five continents make the show the most comprehensive of its kind in the world. And the nature of the Ore Mountains also has its charms: Dense forests, beautiful views and crystal-clear lakes can be discovered on numerous hiking routes, for example on the 285-kilometer-long quality hiking trail Kammweg Erzgebirge-Vogtland.


Freiberg: the silver city

According to legend, it was a shiny lump of ore on the side of the road that led the way Freiberg's to the Silver City®. That was 850 years ago, but the city's former wealth can still be felt everywhere today. For example, in the more than 550 listed buildings around the late medieval town center or St. Mary's Cathedral with the Silbermann organ and the Golden Gate. The magnificent Freudenstein Castle is also home to a real treasure: the "Terra Mineralia" is Germany's largest mineral exhibition with over 3500 minerals, gemstones and meteorites. And if you want to dig deeper into the mining tradition of the city? Then visit the Freiberg silver mine - 150 meters underground!

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Bautzen: The city of towers

Bautzen's old town proliferates with ensembles worth discovering, seen here from the Friedensbrücke © Katja Fouad Vollmer
Bautzen's old town boasts an impressive ensemble, seen here from the Friedensbrücke © Katja Fouad Vollmer

In 1002 "Budusin" or in Sorbian "Budyšin" was first mentioned in a document. The history of the Sorbs in Upper Lusatia dates back to the 6th century, when the West Slavic tribes of the Milzener and Lusizer settled the region - and the City Bautzen founded. Fourteen towers characterize the medieval town center. They are part of Ortenburg Castle, which sits enthroned on a rocky plateau above the Spree River in Bautzen's old town. For centuries, it was the ancestral castle of the Milzen people and the main stronghold of Upper Lusatia. Today it is part of the overall ensemble of the Old Waterworks with the viewing platform and the historic pumping station - the view of the city and the surrounding countryside from the many towers is very worthwhile. Just like a stroll through the romantic alleys of the city: proud town houses, filigree carved portals and again and again towers, such as the Reichenturm, which stands conspicuously crooked. And if you're now thinking all the time how you know the name Bautzen: Since 1866, the famous Bautzen mustard is produced here. 

By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Bautzen: Plan arrival.

Cover image: The hunting lodge in Moritzburg is one of the most photographed castles in Saxony © santosha57 - stock.adobe.com

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