Things to Do in Saxony
A church dating back to the early 18th century, the Frauenkirche in Dresden was damaged during World War II bombings in 1945. After its dome collapsed, the ruins of the church were left as a war memorial. But after the reunification of Germany, the church was reconstructed and completed by 2005.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Explore a Renaissance castle that dates back to the late 1400s during a visit to the Dresden Royal Palace. Once home to Saxony’s kings, today the palace houses the Dresden State Art Collections including the acclaimed Green Vault. Plan a visit here to learn about the building’s history, including damage from World War II bombings, and see a wide variety of art and antiques.
Located within the Dresden Royal Palace, the Green Vault is one of the city museums featuring a collection of historical art and antiques. Go inside this treasure chest to see precious objects made of ivory, gemstones, gold, and silver. The museum offers the opportunity to admire art and artifacts up close.
Officially named the Loschwitz Bridge, the Blue Wonder Bridge in Dresden stretches across the Elbe River. The bridge was painted a bright blue color and earned the nickname it’s known by today. While much of Dresden was destroyed during bombings in World War II, the Blue Wonder Bridge survived.
One of Central Europe’s major rivers, the Elbe River runs through the heart of Dresden. It has played an important role in Germany’s history, forming part of the border between East and West Germany during the Cold War. Today the Elbe River is a popular spot for boat tours and views of landmarks like the Dresden Opera House.
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.
More Things to Do in Saxony
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.
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.
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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