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Saxony has a wealth of attractions on offer. On the one hand, culturally rich cities like Dresden and Leipzig. On the other, historic cities like Bautzen and Görlitz where time has stood still for centuries. Then again, there is Pirna, the gateway to the verdant Saxon Switzerland National Park. Let’s take a look.
Dresden is easily the most popular, albeit touristy, city in Saxony. Pristine nature and some of the most stunning architecture in Germany combine to make Dresden an achingly beautiful place to explore. Historic architecture like Frauenkirche, Royal Palace, Dresden Zwinger and Semper Opera House share space with striking, futuristic structures like the Military History Museum, adding immense character to Dresden‘s skyline. Dresden also boasts some of the most celebrated art, history and automobile museums in the world, and a long heritage of excellent wine production in rolling vineyards by the River Elbe.
Leipzig is a vibrant, bustling, multicultural city, with majestic architecture like St. Thomas Church, St. Nicholas Church, New Rathaus, Old City Hall, Monument to the Battle of the Nations, Gohlis Palace and more. It is also a city where the music never stops. You’ll also find world-famous museums of art and history here.
Meissen has a rich history spanning more than 1,000 years. The long heritage of porcelain production has earned the city international repute, while its 850-year-old experience in wine-production beckons wine connoisseurs from near and far to head towards Meissen’s rolling vineyards by the River Elbe. The most famous sight in this beautiful town has to be the hilltop Gothic Albrechtsburg Castle.
Görlitz is the easternmost town of Germany and the location of several famous Hollywood movies. It is the proud home of almost 3,500 listed historic monuments, including the highest number of Renaissance buildings in a German city and several examples of stunning Wilhelminian and Art Nouveau architecture. The landmarks in town that deserve special mention are St. Peter and Paul’s Church, St. Marienthal Abbey and Fat Tower.
Often considered to be the most dramatic historic town in Saxony, Bautzen perches on a massive granite rock and gently slopes down to the bank of the River Spree. The skyline of Bautzen is graced by the soaring tower of still-active Alte Wasserkunst that was used to pump water from the river to the rest of the town, Ortenburg castle, the crooked Reichenturm tower and the Bautzen Cathedral. Don’t leave town before tasting Bautzen‘s famous mustard at the Bautzen Mustard Museum.
Freiburg is the first site where silver was mined in Saxony in the 12th century, thanks to which it soon evolved into an affluent city. Even today, Freiburg welcomes visitors to learn about its rich 800-year-old mining and smelting heritage at the Mining Academy of Freiberg. When in town, don’t miss the world’s most spectacular collection of minerals at the Freudenstein Castle.
Pirna is one of those rare places in the world that seem to be unaffected by time. Nothing much has changed in this town by the River Elbe, since the 18th century. Pirna is a very popular base to explore Saxon Switzerland National Park, though the town itself certainly warrants your attention too. Sonnenstein Fortress towers over the ancient Renaissance architecture of the old town of Pirna. The Late Gothic architecture of St.Mary’s Church and the Rathaus add palpable historic charm to the city skyline.
The beautiful city of Torgau served as the seat of the Electors of Saxony till the mid-16th century. The great Reformer Martin Luther spent a lot of time in this city, and also consecrated the first modern Protestant church in the world at Hartenfels Castle in 1544. Speaking of Hartenfels Castle, its magnificent spiraling staircase that has been standing for centuries without any support is a work of pure artistic genius. The fact that Soviet and US soldiers met on the bridge over the Elbe River in Torgau at the end of the Second World War considerably adds to the historic importance of the city.