Explore Saxony on the architecture trail
London, February 2019. Splendid historic buildings, beautifully restored towns and some top-notch contemporary architecture – Saxony has it all. “The Architectural Landscape of Saxony”, a new, free brochure, for the first time collects everything worth knowing about the region’s architectural treasures in one place.
The brochure, published by the Tourism Board of Saxony, is a handy tool for discerning travellers, inviting them to explore the region on the architecture trail. It provides a comprehensive overview of Saxony’s unique architectural heritage that spans a thousand years of outstanding building culture and offers deeper insights into individual periods and styles, including icons of Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Art Nouveau, Bauhaus and contemporary architecture:
Outstanding examples of medieval architecture
Freiberg and Meissen are among the destinations to put on your architectural travel list to see some of the most impressive churches and cathedrals built in the Gothic style: Freiberg Cathedral is particularly famous for its “Golden Gate”, a significant work of Medieval art, as well as the imaginatively designed “Tulip Pulpit” (1505) and “Miner’s Pulpit” (1638), featuring ornate imagery. Meissen Cathedral (stunningly located on the Elbe river!) is known as one of the purest examples of Gothic architecture in Germany.
For an entire town displaying Renaissance splendour, head to Torgau where the local Hartenfels Palace is also the biggest preserved early Renaissance palace in Germany. Further south along the river Elbe, Saxony’s capital Dresden enjoys worldwide fame for its beautiful Renaissance buildings including the Residenzschloss, or Royal Palace, a real feast for the eyes. Its courtyard, featuring delightful Sgraffito facades by Italian artists, and adjacent buildings such as the Stallhof, where in the 17th centuries horse shows were held, are further examples of the splendour at Dresden court. The Royal Palace was destroyed in 1945 and today, the majority of its rooms have been beautifully restored and house museums of the Dresden State Art Collections, such as the Historic and New Green Vault and the Rüstkammer as one of the most valuable collections of parade weaponry and costumes in the world. Currently still under restoration, the Royal Palace’s State Apartments will reopen in September 2019.
We stay in Dresden for some Baroque beauties: Jewel in the crown is the Zwinger Palace, a sensual, enticing and elegant ensemble of buildings placed around a large garden courtyard that features an array of orange trees. A fixture until the end of the 19th century, the trees were reinstalled in 2018. The Zwinger’s “Semperbau” (Semper Building), which is home to museums displaying treasures of the Dresden State Art Collections, has been under gradual renovation in recent years and will fully reopen in December 2019. Saxony’s kings also commissioned fortresses, hunting lodges and pleasure palaces in the Baroque style that are today popular sights, including Moritzburg Palace and Park, Pillnitz Palace and Park or Wackerbarth Palace in Radebeul.
Art Nouveau in Saxony
Not many know that one of the largest and most beautifully restored Art Nouveau districts in Europe can be found in Chemnitz, an hour west of Dresden: The elegant and well-proportioned Kassberg quarter is nowadays the city’s “posh” neighbourhood and for a touch of exuberance, head to Barbarossastrasse and marvel at the so-called “Majolikahaus” with its beautifully ornate glazed tiles. In complete contrast, Henry van de Velde-designed Villa Esche as an architectural monument of international renown exemplifies the strict and linear aspects of Art Nouveau. Once the residence of the local textile entrepreneur Herbert Eugen Esche and his family, it is now open to visitors.
Bauhaus and icons of classical Modernism
With the Bauhaus design school celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, the spotlight is also on Saxony’s Bauhaus heritage. Anyone interested in this period of renewal that was in art and design characterised by a pioneering spirit will find a number of hidden treasures in the region, including Germany’s first garden city “Hellerau” which was initiated by the “Deutsche Werkstätten für Handwerkskunst“ (German Workshops for Craftmanship). Take a walk through this Dresden district with its small houses and pretty front gardens and see how conveniently and purposefully this living and working space was laid out. Or take a closer look at some of Saxony’s eminent Modernist buildings, such as the former Schocken department store in Chemnitz that now houses the State Museum of Archaeology, or the Schminke House in Löbau, an outstanding example of the so-called “organic Modernism” in architecture that has been fully renovated in preparation for the “Bauhaus 100” year. The house is open to visitors and you can even spend the night there!
Saxony’s innovative architectural side is displayed in a variety of creative designs: Examples are Volkswagen’s “Gläserne Manufaktur” (Transparent Factory), the Museum of Military History in Dresden where Daniel Libeskind added a transparent arrowhead to the neo-classicist facade as a striking element of innovation, Leipzig university’s new Paulinum building as well as the Porsche factory and “Museum der bildenden Künste” (fine arts) in Leipzig.
Tip: architectural wonder Görlitz
Walk no more than a few hundred metres in the eastern Saxon town of Görlitz and you’ll see architecture spanning half a millennium, including late Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque or Art Nouveau buildings. The city benefits from not having suffered a lot of damage during World War II and in the Old Town, visitors can marvel at the ornately decorated facades, artistic arches and painted ceilings of historic houses. Altogether around 4,000 lovingly restored historic buildings, more than in any other German city, offer unique insights into architectural history.
Be inspired for your very own Saxony architecture trip and order “The Architectural Landscape of Saxony” brochure free of charge online or by mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to the editor
Easy access to Saxony: All major airlines to Frankfurt and Berlin, onwards journey via Deutsche Bahn’s frequent and fast ICE high-speed rail connections to Dresden and Leipzig or connecting flights from Frankfurt. With the introduction of a new ICE high-speed rail link in December 2017, Nuremberg has become another suitable airport option (Nuremberg-Leipzig: 2 hrs).
Saxony Tourism, www.visitsaxony.com, is part of the Cultural Heart of Germanywww.cultural-heart-of-germany.com, a tourism initiative of Saxony and Thuringia Tourism. The neighbouring states of Saxony and Thuringia feature a unique cultural heritage and rich musical tradition that the Cultural Heart of Germany promotes in the UK.
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