The Ore Mountain range stretches for 160 km (100 miles) along the German-Czech border, and makes for some of the most scintillating landscape in both countries. From traditional wood carving to winter sports, ancient castles to interesting museums, Erzgebirge (as it’s known in Germany) has something for everyone. Also, this region, aptly referred to as the Cradle of Christmas, transforms into a magical land in winter with wonderful festivals and rituals.
At 1,250 meter, Fichtelberg is the highest peak in Saxony Ore Mountains, and the most popular winter sport destination in the region. Fichtelberg offers perfect conditions for alpine skiing, snowboarding, bob-sleighing, cross-country skiing and snow kiting, as well as ski training for children and beginners. In Summer, Fichtelberg’s sprawling forests become irresistible for hikers and mountain bikers. As an added bonus, from Fichtelberg, you get to enjoy jaw-dropping all-round views of the Ore Mountains.
The picture-postcard town of Seiffen is the cradle of wooden toy carving, where you can watch expert carvers at work and buy a beautiful souvenir created in front of your eyes. The most loved attraction in Seiffen is the Spielzeugmuseum (Toy Museum), which traces the history of this folk art and displays amazing examples of wooden toys. For some giggles for the entire family, head to the Seiroba and try their Sommerrodelbahn (summer slide).
No tour of the Ore Mountains is complete without a visit to an ore mine. Bergbaumuseum Altenberg walks visitors through a 200-year-old Neubeschert-Glück mine. During the course of the one-hour tour, visitors pick up fascinating information on the methods, tools, processes and challenges related to ore mining, and get to see mining equipment in action. Also, the health resort and sports town of Altenberg offers excellent ski, toboggan and snowboard slopes and endless hiking trails.
The town of Annaberg-Buchholz has several feathers in its cap. It hosts one of the most stunning Christmas markets in Germany, the Grand Mountain Parade (December), the very glamorous Fashion Night (May) and the biggest fair in the Ore Mountains in June – Annaberg KÄT. When in town, don’t miss the Manufaktur der Träume (Factory of Dreams) boasting 1,500 objects of superb craftsmanship from all over Ore Mountains. To understand the industrial development of the region and for a chance to check out a totally off-beat attraction, head to Frohnauer Hammer (Hammer Mill).
When in Germany, you are never too far from a fairy-tale castle. The 800-year-old Scharfenstein Castle, set in the lap of beautiful green nature, exhibits a great collection of folk art, and also organizes scavenger hunts, fairy-tale weekends, lace-making, interesting exhibitions and fun family activities. If you find yourself in the Ore Mountains during Christmas, you can’t afford to miss the beautiful Scharfensteiner Adventszauber (Scharfenstein Advent Magic) at this castle.
Schlossberg 1 | D-09430 Drebach, OT Scharfenstein, +49 (0) 37291 3800
The existence of Freudenstein Castle can be traced back to the year 1525, though it has been refurbished and reconstructed several times thereafter. It is located in the town of Freiberg, where the first silver deposits were discovered in the Ore Mountains. Behind the simple, elegant walls of the castle is housed the world’s largest private mineral collection. This unbeatable collection includes 80,000 exhibits, including precious stones and crystals.
Wildeck Castle, perched on a rocky spur and towering over the River Zschopau, used to be a formidable fortress in bygone days, providing a safe passage for silver merchants. Later, it was converted into a hunting lodge. Today, this Renaissance castle houses a motorcycle museum, a book printing museum and admirable collections of foundry moulds, coin dies and minerals.
Altmarkt 2, 09405 Zschopau, +49 03725 2870
Perched at a height of 914 meters (2,999 ft), Oberwiesenthal is the highest town in Germany and is towered over by the Fichtelberg Mountain. Other than a wide range of summer and winter sports, this town is famous for a wide choice of rejuvenating health and wellness options and traditional handicrafts that are typical of the Ore Mountains. In Oberwiesenthal, you can also visit fascinating mines and ancient castles.
Nutcracker Museum, Neuhausen
The Scheibenberg is a table mountain reaching a height of 807 meters, and is unique because of its exposed basalt columns referred to as Organ Pipes (Orgelpfeifen). If you are into hiking or mountain biking, Scheibenberg Mountain is perfect for you, as it offers several exciting trails of varying difficulty.