Meissen is world famous for its porcelain manufacture, but the Old Town with the cathedral and Albrechtsburg on the castle hill also has star quality.
Having just risen in the Tharandter Forest, a place of natural beauty between Freiberg and Dresden, the Triebisch’s journey soon comes to an end when, after just 37 kilometers through the center of Saxony, it reaches the Elbe. Exactly where the little one flows into the great river, the millenary Meissen has placed its historic center in the corner of the two rivers: a tangle of picturesque alleys and squares, courted by carefully restored town houses from the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods and in the shadow of the mighty silhouettes of the Albrechtsburg and the cathedral, enthroned on the castle hill. A whole army of architectural treasures that would attract the undivided attention of visitors were it not for the distraction of the many cute local shops and restaurants.
As long as the weather cooperates, especially the bars on the market find their audience quickly. Here in the old town you can dine wonderfully in the open air and at the same time take a look at the sights of the large square: the majestic late Gothic town hall, the complex of beautifully decorated houses and then the Frauenkirche, which in the he southwest corner overlooks the dirty sandstone façade of its choir market square and provides a first indication of Meissen’s reputation as the cradle of European porcelain manufacturing. The three-nave church tower has housed the world’s first playable porcelain glockenspiel for nearly 100 years.
Several streets leave the market and show Meissen guests the rest of its beautiful old town. One of these is Burgstraße, whose narrow sidewalk, accompanied by the colorful facades of the houses, rushes directly towards Burgberg. Always uphill to the cozy Café Zieger square, where the city area of Meissen ended and the world of nobility and clergy began, whose courtyards can be seen at Freiheit or Am Schlossberg. Here, at the end of Burgstraße, you can catch your breath for the last climb to the Domplatz, which sits like a balcony high above the city and the Elbe. Charming houses, which give the square a romantic touch, share the large area with the cathedral and Albrechtsburg, whose exterior design could not be more different: one tall and somber, the other lower and lighter in the radiant white of his painting .
The magnificent cathedral building, modeled on the French Gothic style, and the von Wettin residence, built from 1471, are harmoniously combined. Germany’s first castle was never inhabited as intended and was empty most of the time. This only to change under Augustus the Strong, elector of Saxony, who in 1710 founded the first porcelain factory in Europe in the sumptuous rooms and thus announced the triumph of the “white gold” of Meissen, whose recipe developed the alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger with a little help for two years before “invented”.
A castle as a factory. This could not last long, because the production, which stretched from the floor to the basement, damaged the building enormously. After 153 years it was over. The Albrechtsburg could look forward to an extensive restoration and a future as a museum. And the production plant has moved to a new building outside the historic center. “It was a logistical masterpiece,” says Beate Debernitz, tour guide of the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory.
Even today, wonderful porcelain creations are made with kaolin, feldspar and quartz in Meissen – handcrafted, extremely valuable and sought-after all over the world. Anyone interested in the subject is welcome all year round in the “Haus Meissen World of Experience” in Talstrasse. A tour of the demonstration workshop gives visitors a good overview of production and design, shows them the work of turners, bosses and porcelain painters.
Filled with knowledge in this way, we continue to the museum, whose permanent exhibition promises an exciting tour: from the interactive introduction to the world of porcelain to the presentation of a magnificent collection of 300 years of manufacturing history. In order not to go home empty-handed, after the visit, a shop offers the opportunity to invest in a favorite Meissen item, recognizable by the famous brand of the crossed swords and by the price, because the noble dishes and Certainly not the cups.