Schloss Neschwitz is one of the beautiful rural Baroque ensembles in Saxony, and when in the area you should not miss it.
The property was purchased by Duke Friedrich Ludwig von Württemberg und Teck in 1721. He tore down the Renaissance style moated castle and built a Baroque hunting manor. He also gave order to create a garden, designer was J. F. Karcher from Dresden. In 1766 the property was sold to a wealthy banker who built a new palace. Unfortunately this new palace burnt down in 1945.
What you can see and enjoy nowadays are the formal Baroque garden with sculptures and three (out of originally four) pavillions in the centre, the English garden east and north of it and the old manor. One pavillion in the garden is home of the Saxon Agency for Nature preservation, in another the Saxon Bird watchers have their office, a third is home to the tourist office and a cafe (the latter open on weekends only).
Admission to the garden is free, for the new palace adults pay 2.50 Euro. They have one permanent exhibit on the history of the manor and park and the latest owners, some other rooms are for temporary exhibits - when I visited in April 2013 there was an Easter exhibit (very nice, about regional Easter traditions) and an art exhibit which I enjoyed a lot, too.
(You need to ask and get the ticket at the Tourist Info, the folks there have the key to the manor.)
Opening hours: Apr - Oct
Wed/Thur 13-17 h
Fri-Sun 10-12 / 13-17 h
This Cistercian convent is one of the oldest that still exists in Germany. It was founded in 1248 and quickly became - and still is - the religious focal point of the Catholic Sorbs in the area around Bautzen. Since it deserves more than just one tip I built a separate page on St. Marienstern which is found under the location Panschwitz-Kuckau.
In brief: It is absolutely worth seeing. The whole complex is well preserved and was thoroughly restored for the first Saxon State Exhibit in the 1990s. I attended this exhibit and was stunned. At that time we even could visit the cloisters, refectory and some cells where usually the nuns live. Of course, that's history - now the nuns took over again and there's no chance to see all that.
But there is still enough to see in St. Marienstern. The grounds are beautifully landscaped (English garden along the creek, large herb garden etc.), the beautiful buildings and Trinity columns/sculptures are mostly from the 18th century except for the church which is Gothic style. Definitely visit the treasure museum. Don't miss the bakery! And if you're very hungry and thirsty have a hearty meal in the restaurant Klösterstübel.
Bautzen's city walls, towers and city gates are in large stretches well preserved, especially above the Spree river valley west and north of the old town which makes for gorgeous views from the opposite banks of the river and the bridges. Most parts of the city walls at the east and west sides of the old town were torn down in the 19th century and their grounds were turned into garden-like green areas and used for buildings that were urgently needed for the prospering city - like huge school buildings.
Reichenturm, Lauenturm and Alte Wasserkunst are described in separate tips, Matthiasturm and Burgwasserturm in the 'Ortenburg castle' tip, Pulverturm and Nikolaitor (separate tip) are part of the Nikolaifriedhof (another separate tip).
Wendischer Turm in the northeast corner of the old town is a massive tower with crenellations on top. It was bult 1490-92. 1841-44 Gottfried Semper included the tower in the construction of the neighbouring barracks in neo-gothic style. Nowadays the building is home of the tax and revenue office.
Schülertor is a city gate from the late 15th century. The tower has a square ground plan with a tent-shaped top. Worth to see is the sanstone embossment with a Crucifixion group, created about the year 1400, at the outer side of the gate.
Gerberbastei is a very massive five-storey tower with a flat roof, built 1503 and rebuilt after damages 1703. It is used as youth hostel (highly recommended).
Mühltor is a city gate from about 1500 at the western side of the old town next to Alte Wasserkunst. The name results from the path that led down to the mills along the river. Nowadays the upper rooms (where the guards stayed) of the gate host a small museum on Sorbian culture.
Mönchsbastei was turned into an apartment house. It was originally built 1324, later for about 130 years connected by a passageway with the Franciscan monastery (thus the name).
Since 1952 Fischerbastei is a storage place for the neighbouring Sorbian National Ensemble (theatre company of the Sorbs). It was built 1469, damaged in the 30-years war and reconstructed in 1676. 1870-90 it was included in a hotel and restaurant that was built right next to it.
Neue Wasserkunst is the southernmost tower along the Spree river valley. It was built 1606-10, damaged in 1620 and reconstructed 1724/25. Until 1890 it functioned as water works for the city (separate tip).
This village is located on the main road B6 some miles before you reach Bautzen, coming from Dresden. The place was first inhabited more than 1,000 years ago, relics of the slavic settlements are still found in the outskirts of the actual village.
But the main sight is the Ev.-Lutheran Collegiate church, with its massive tower with two spires it is a landmark that greets you from far away. The first church at this place was founded by legendary Bishop Benno in 1076 (nothing left). The lower parts of the tower date from 1220/30, the rest of the present church is from 1505-14. Over the centuries the interior has been redecorated a couple of times, the last time by Friedrich Press in the years between 1976 and 1981.
Thus the interior nowadays is a mix of old and modern. I like this a lot. The window tracery is Gothic, partially (northern side choir) like in the famous Albrechtsburg castle in Meißen. The Gothic vaulted ceiling is very beautiful, with a few inscriptions/ornamental frescos, too. The - on first sight unimpressive - massive baptismal font of granite is from the 13th century. The colourful pulpit is from 1514, stairs and pulpit cover added in modern style in 1982. Quite striking is the contrast between the crucifixus from the 15th century (an excellent work of a master from Meißen) and the modern organ (by builder Eule, Bautzen, design by Friedrich Press) - see pic 3!
The Baroque painting depicting the Last Supper on pic 4 is a relic of the main altar from 1714.
On pic 5 you see the modern interior of the choir - eleven apostles and Jesus Christ in the centre (foreground the Romanesque baptismal font).
Don't miss the entrance hall on the ground floor of the tower. It also has a Gothic vaulted ceiling while the walls are Romanesque - very thick/massive, with tiny windows. The decoration is from 1892. Along the walls are some sculpted tombstones from the 16th century and another one from 1597, probably a work by Michael Schwenke (famous master, see churches in Pirna and Lauenstein).
The church is open May - Sept, Fri - Sun, 9 - 18 h.
The village itself is also worth a look. Quaint is the word to describe it, despite the main road B6 that cuts through. Walk along the side alleys, drop into the small pottery Gagel and buy a piece (inexpensive).
One of the most important buildings and *the* landmark of Bautzen is the so called "Alte Wasserkunst" (old waterworks). Aside the fact that it was part of the fortification system, the water works provided drinking water for the citizens of Bautzen - which is located on a hill, so no other source of water - by pumping it from the Spree river up to the town.
The earliest water works were built at this place 1495/96 of wood. The water ran through pipes to the square between Dom and town hall, later to other fountains all over the old town. In 1558 a building of stone was erected - exactly as you see it today. The Alte Wasserkunst was in operation until 1965, the machines of the 1920s were restored in the 1980s and produce electric power nowadays.
Not only is the technical museum interesting, you can also climb the tower for stunning views.
April - Oct daily 10 - 17 h
Nov, Dec, Feb, Mar daily 10 - 16 h
Jan Sat/Sun 10 - 16 h
Admission fee 2 Euro
Hauptmarkt (main market) square is the most central, historically important and best place in Bautzen to start your sightseeing tour. The tourist information is right there on the ground floor of the town hall which dominates the square.
The town hall was first mentioned in 1213. The tower was erected 1489-93 / 1582. The whole building was severely damaged by the fire in 1634. Reconstruction followed 1668, redesign in the early 18th century by an architect from the royal court in Dresden. Well worth to see is the so called English staircase (which has two totally separate flights of stairs) and the vaulted halls with a scale model of the city (accessible during working hours). Accessible only on special occasions like Heritage Day are the beautiful City countil's meeting room and the Mayor's office. Please note the large sun dial at the southern facade (tower) that displays not only the current time but also the day and month as well as the lenght of day and night.
The square is surrounded by a number of beautiful townhouses. Most of them have medieval substance inside but were reconstructed in the 17th/18th century so the facades appear in Baroque style.
The fountain in the centre of the square is called 'Marktbrunnen' and is a copy (1985, using relics of the original fountain) of the fountain that was created 1572-75 and demolished in 1855. The figure on top depicts knight Dutschmann (copy, original in the city museum).
A closer look at the cobblestones will show you the place where the gibbet once stood.
Since 1619 St. Michael's is the Parish church for about 2,500 Sorbians from 35 villages around Bautzen.
I only managed to go in on a day in August 2010 after many years during which the church had always been closed. I read now that it is open on a regular basis in summer, at least on weekdays 10 - 17 h.
The church was built about 1450. The interior is beautiful: gothic vaulted ceiling (from 1498) which symbolizes heaven - stars and the sun, flowers for the paradise; the large, beautiful Baroque altar from 1693 with typical Lutheran program; a stunning pulpit that was relocated to this church from Chemnitz and high quality Renaissance font by famous Michael Schwenke from Pirna.
The church - like the entire Wendischer Kirchhof - was part of the fortification system of the city; the uppermost floor of the tower was a parapet walk (redesigned in the 17th century).
Wendischer (=Sorbian) Kirchhof (=churchyard) is one of the most picturesque architectural ensembles in Bautzen. The dominant building is the church St. Michael, an evangelic-Lutheran church used by the Sorbian people of Bautzen. See separate tip, please.
The other landmark at W. K. is the Alte Wasserkunst - see next tip.
At the northern end of W. K. you see the small Mühltor, one of the remaining city gates, with a tiny museum on Sorbian garbs and customs inside (upper floor). Opening hours: Easter - September 14 - 18 h.
The grounds of W. K. are a very nice place to enjoy the views of the Spree river valley and Friedensbrücke that spans the valley, or to have a rest/picnic.
This is one of the most romantic places in Bautzen, especially on a cold and sunny winter's day. It definitely reminds you of a Caspar David Friedrich scene, could be right from one of his paintings.
St. Nikolai church was built 1407 - 44 (consegration, the choir completed 1467), the surrounding cemetery was established at the same time. 1620 the building was included in the city walls, a parapet walk was built - you can still see/walk it today. The church, however, ws destroyed in 1634 in the big fire and never rebuilt - so it is a very picturesque ruin. Since 1745 they started burying people on the grounds of the former church. A small chapel, southern annex of the choir, is now used by the Sorbian catholics.
Only a few steps from the Reichenturm the city museum is located. The building dates from 1912 and was recently restored. As the name indicates the museum focuses on the history of the city, but also of the region. They also have a permanent exhibition about the nature/geology of the region and a very nice art exhibit.
When we visited in December they had a special exhibit on glass art - mostly Christmas items - from Jablonec n. Nisou in the neighbouring Czech Republic.
Opening hours: Tue - Sun 10 - 18 h (winter until 17 h, Thursdays until 20 h)
Admission fee is 3.50 Euro
Bautzen's main shopping street - pedestrian zone - is Reichenstrasse which leads eastwards from the Hauptmarkt square to the tower of the same name - Reichenturm. Along the street you'll see many beautiful townhouses with mostly Baroque facades, decorated with fine stucco works, oriel windows, cartouches/signs that relate to the history of the houses. As the name indicates, the street has always been home of the wealthy and noble citizens of the town.
Note the facade of house No. 12 in particular: the stucco works were done by the same Italian masters like those of the famous stucco ceiling in the Ortenburg castle.
Reichenturm was erected 1492 and once protected the city gate which was demolished in 1837. This is Bautzen's leaning tower, the incline is 1.44 m at a height of 55.25 m - which is quite a lot. After WWII works at the basement were done to prevent further leaning. I highly recommend to climb the tower. The views are stunning. It is open daily April - Oct 10 - 17 h. Admission fee is small, 1.50 Euro or so.
Ok, the correct name of the street is: Innere Lauenstrasse. But that was too long for the title of the tip, sorry :-)
Anyway, this relatively short street which leads from the Hauptmarkt square south to the main thoroughfare (if you'd want to call the 2-3-lane B6 road that) is probably the street lined with the most magnificent Baroque townhouses in Bautzen. Most are thoroughly restored, a few are not (see pictures). The so called 'Hartmann's house' is the first one seen from Hauptmarkt square. It was built 1720-24, has four wings around a courtyard and very ornate facades, decorated with pillars, sculptures, cartouches etc. It has 4 entrances, 12 chimneys, 52 rooms - and is said to have 365 windows. The latter is a legend, of course, but they counted the sashes of the windows and claim these would add up to the number. Maybe they're right since some of the windows have 16 sashes!
At the end of the street you'll see one of the towers that once were part of the city walls - the Lauenturm. It is the oldest of those towers, built 1400-03 to protect the city gate of the same name. The monument (1913) at the southern facade of the tower commemorates King Albert von Sachsen. At certain times the tower is open for visitors. I haven't climbed it (yet).
Just north of the Dom/cathedral you'll see the Domstift buildings, the house of the canons. The ornate entrance gate from 1755 will definitely catch your attention. If you compare pictures 1 and 2 you can see the difference before and after recent restoration - not sure which I like better.
Until 1980 - when they moved to Dresden - the buildings were seat of the Bishop and his administration. After the move some vacant rooms were turned into a treasure chamber, first with three, now five rooms. The liturgical vessels, vestments, crucifixes, sculptures etc. are very beautiful and worth to see. Opening hours Mon - Fri 10-12 and 13-16 h, free but small donation welcome.
The courtyard alone is beautiful. Please note the small figure of a canon climbing out of a chimney in the southwestern corner - the legend goes that during a riot (the evangelical citizens attacked the catholic Domstift) in the year 1619 the Dean of the canons climbed the chimney and sent signals to the Ortenburg castle for help.
St. Peter is one of the largest and oldest bi-confessional churches in Germany. Since 1524 it has been simultaneously used by both the Roman-Catholic and Evangelic-Lutheran confessions. The first use the eastern part of the church and the latter use the western part. There is a low fence with a small gate that separates them. Each congregation has their own altar, pulpit, organ etc. The service/mass times are co-ordinated - usually the Ev.-Lutherans start on Sunday mornings, the Roman-Catholics follow later. Duty while the church is open for visitors alternates between the confessions as well on a weekly basis.
For Ev.-Lutherans this is the town's main Parish church, for Roman-Catholics it is (since 1980) con-cathedral of the Dresden-Meißen bishopric (see tip on the Domstift).
The western portal is preserved of the previous building (1221), the structure of the church as you see it today dates from the 15th century - remarkable is the visible bend between the fifth and sixth pair of pillars (counted from the western end). You can see that on the main picture. The interior was destryed by fire in the 30-years war and redesigned in Baroque style. Very beautiful is the Prince's box in the Ev.-Lutheran part from 1673/74 - ornate woodcarving. In the Roman-Catholic part you'll note the large main altar, an excellent co-operation of Dresden's J. Benjamin Thomae and Giovanni Maria Fossati, the painting by Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini.
There's more to see in this church but you better go and discover yourself. Don't miss to climb up the tower - the views are stunning.
If you have a closer look at the glass front of the modern theatre building (from 2005) at the southern side of the Ortenburg castle you'll notice a number of statues, made of sandstone and not quite fitting into that place. They were created by famous sculptor Ernst Rietschel for the gable of Gottfried Semper's first opera house in Dresden (1841). After that opera house was destroyed by a fire the whole set of sculptures was sold to Bautzen for their theatre where it was admired by visitors until 1969 - when the communists decided to blow up the building. Thank god the statues were saved and are now on display again.
The figures depict the most important scenes of the 2nd and 3rd part of Aischylos's trilogy 'Orest'. If you understand German you might want to have a look at this website to get more information: