Every Saxon town must have a Postmeilensäule. These were erected under the reign of August the Strong in the 1720s to mark the distances to towns along the post routes, usually right outside a town gate where the post carriages arrived and departed. Distances are given in hours, but they do not mean actual travel times. The "hour" is the distance a post carriage was supposed to cover in one hour, which is half a mile. 1 Saxon post mile = 9.062 kms.
Annaberg has even two of them. One is in Köselitzplatz, it lists two routes into Bohemia to Prague and Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary). The former post building in this square is also preserved - the pale pink house with the little post horn above the door. The two arches, now clsoed by walls and windows, must have been open passages that lead to the backyard and stables.
The other column is at Wolkensteiner Tor where the roads North leave the town. This place is still a transport hub. The successors of the post carriages as public transport carriers on country roads are the buses and Annaberg's bus station is a few metres further up this street.
Other roads that exited the town were also marked with smaller stones in a different shape. One such stone is preserved in Buchholzer Straße by the town wall. Here distances to neighbouring towns are given in miles.
The Catholics live in diaspora in Lutheran Saxony, and they seem to feel it. The little catholic church of Annaberg is located in the same street as the huge protestant Annenkirche but it looks tiny tiny in comparison. Only in the mid 19th century the catholic community of Annaberg were able to build their own church. It was dedicated to the Holy Cross and consecrated in 1844.
The church shows a simple shape that has been common in church architecture already 150 years earlier: a rectangular hall, a choir with polygonal end, a wooden spire in baroque shape, although the style of that time was neoclassical. The interior has been refurbished in 1981 in modern style, the organ is even younger (1992). The painting of the altar, however, is the original 19th century one, it shows Saint Joseph of Calasanza, the founder of the Piarist order.
The stained glass windows are remarkable. They were created in 1943, during World War II. The style of the figures, especially the martial Archangel Michael, indicates the era of their origin. The central window on the left, the Heart of Jesus window, shows the figures 1914-1918 and lists the names of the soldiers from the parish who died in World War I.
The dead of World War II were to be listed in the Archangel Michael-window, the central window on the right. Only the two "19's" have been inserted - in 1943 obviously no one knew how long the war would last. However, this list has never been done because the DDR regime forbid the installation of new monuments to soldiers of the war.
Location: Upper end of Große Kirchgasse, corner Köselitzplatz
The church is open in the daytime - that is, it was when we came.
Parts of the town wall are preserved along the Southern and Western side of the old town. A promenade trail leads along the outward side of the wall through a small park.
The Southern wall runs up a very steep slope. Hence the promenade walk does not lead straight up but in a zigzag line, that's why it received this witty name, the "zigzag promenade".
The walls are a bit crumbled, grass grows on them - they are not too spectacular, to be honest.
The "other half" of Annaberg-Buchholz is hardly on anyone's schedule. Buchholz was founded shortly after Annaberg, also as a mining town, on the opposite side of the valley. Why two towns that close together? There was a boirder between them and Buchholz belonged to a different territory. Since the division of Saxony in 1485 the small valley between them was the border betwen the Albertine and the Ernestine state. After the rich finds of silver ore in the area the other line also wanted to participate. The founder of the town was Elector Friedrich der Weise - the protector of Martin Luther and the beginnings of the Reformation. In those times the valley was also a confessional border. Buchholz became protestant already in 1524 while Annaberg stayed catholic until 1539.
Reaching Buchholz from the old town of Annaberg is easiest by bus. If you want to walk, best walk along Buchholzer Straße to the end, then cross the bridge to the quarter on the ridge between the two (which has some remarkable art nouveau architecture, though unfortunately in bad shape) and another bridge to te edge of Buchholz - that way you avoid descending to the bottom of the valley and climbing the whole ascent. There are still enough ups and downs on this way, too. Buchholz is located on a rather steep hillside, so the town was built on terraces.
The parish church of Buchholz, St Catherine (Katharinenkirche), is also an early 15th century, gothic building. However, unfortunately it was destroyed almost completely in World War II. The pesent church is a reconstruction with a modern interior. It is currently (September 2011) under renovation, so I could not enter. My guidebook lists two notable 16th century altarpieces.
Buchholz's town hall is a neorenaissance building (1840-1842) with a pretty facade. The square in front of it has a monument of Elector Friedrich, the founder. The square under the old trees would be a nice location for an outdoor cafe or beer garden (ok not in this weather), but - nothin.
I have to confess that i was underwhelmed with Buchholz. Okay it was pouring and chilly and I wasn't in the best of moods because of that. Anyway, apart from the town hall and the church the town is lacking flair. Unlike Annaberg this place is not tourist-oriented, it is a suburb where people live, with shops for everyday needs and that's it.
On our walk up to Pöhlberg we visited the city park that has a game reserve, playground for kids and restaurant/beergarden. I am sure both the younger and older kids have fun there - we enjoyed watching the animals a lot. The racoons looked cute but our favourites were the very young lambs. Quite impressive was the royal stag.
Admission is free. Location is just north from the start of the road up to Pöhlberg mountain (off major road B 95).
The local mountain of Annaberg is Pöhlberg, elevation 832 m. Doesn't sound very high, but it is definitely a landmark in the plateau-like landscape of the Erzgebirge. Like its neighbours Bärenstein and Scheibenberg mountains the Pöhlberg is a leftover of a volcano. The basaltic columns are clearly visible on the western western side of the mountain, a few metres off the road (parking) and also the hiking path from Annaberg up to the top.
I was not exactly sure whether to make this an Off the beaten path or Sports tip. Either is possible - if you have a car you can easily drive up but if you don't you face a (nice) hike of about 45 minutes uphill from Annaberg's centre. Once on top you're rewarded with wonderful panoramic views, Annaberg below and the mountains of the western Erzgebirge in the background. As the top plateau is wooded you need to walk around a bit to have views in all directions - or you climb the top of the viewing tower (free with guest card of Annaberg) which we did not due to lack of time.
See also my restaurant tip - the mountain hotel with restaurant and beergarden is worth a recommendation. Absolutely not to miss is the sunset from there. Just wow.
I'll admit it: I am a fan of libraries. I am not only fascinated by the knowledge they keep for use (also called reading :-)), I often go to libraries when travelling because I think they tell a lot about the town and their citizens. Well stocked and and organised libraries in beautiful buildings are a hint for civilised, educated, knowledgeable citizens.
Annaberg's library fulfills the criteria. The building is 500 years old, with beautiful cellular vaults and wooden ceilings from that time. It is well restored, the library is well stocked, use is free. Anyone can register for free - tourists also.
I also liked the bench in front of the library - a nice work of art. See pic 2"
(almost vis-a-vis Hotel Wilder Mann)
Annaberg was hit hard by the Black Death July - Dec 1568. All in all 2228 people died of this epidemic plague. The dead bodies were buried on this cemetery after being brought outside the city walls by the two so called "Pest Parsons" Wolfgang Uhle and Petrus Schüler through this gate.
The cemetery is now closed but it was turned into a park and you can still find some interesting graves. The small chapel, originally erected 1529-29 and reconstructed a couple of times over the centuries, is sadly in poor condition and of course always closed but you can see one interesting detail from outside: a pulpit at the OUTSIDE from 1685. I have never seen that before.
Directions: Geyersdorfer Strasse, about 5-10 minutes northeast of the Market square
I have stayed in this hotel in the meantime, and it is a very good choice for accommodation. However, it is also a sight due to its history and architecture.
The hotel is located right on the Market square. It was built around the year 1500 for Albrecht von Schreibersdorf who was appointed as the state's master of the mint and mines in town. Since 1604 it is an inn/hotel. The third story was added in 1835, the facade redesigned in 1920.
Go inside and have a look at their public areas: the lobby has a magnificent cellular vault, the restaurant Silberkeller has a very beautiful, massive wooden ceiling from 1501.
These so called "Postdistanzsäulen" are to find all over Saxony. They list travel distances in hours/minutes to several destinations. Duke Elector August gave the order to map out Saxony with exact distances in 1721 which was quite a progressive idea at that time. Friedrich Zürner went to work and did an excellent job. A 'Saxon' mile equated two hours, nowadays 9.062 km. So don't dismiss the distances as useless in our days even though they are listed in 'hours' - they are still accurate!
Annaberg has still two of those Distance Columns: One at Wolkensteiner Strasse, the other at Köselitzplatz (former Bohemian city gate) south of the Market square. Both were erected in 1727.
Unfortunately there are only a few relics of the former Franciscan monastery in Annaberg preserved. You can see the ruins of the choir of the former church and a few walls. There's a small exhibit on the history of the monastery in the remaining cellars (restaurant Klosterkeller).
The monastery was built 1502-12 upon order by Duke Georg. The abbot's house was erected until 1518. Due to the reformation in this part of Saxony in 1539 the monastery's history was very brief. The excellent works of art were transferred to other places in town: The "Beautiful Door" is now with a few smaller pieces in the Annen church, the main altar was moved to Katharinen church in Buchholz. The big fire in 1604 destroyed most buildings of the former monastery.
Directions: northwest of the market square, down the alley next to Hotel Wilder Mann.