Here are two interesting tours that you may want to try out:
1. Chemnitz - Zeisigwald - Chemnitz. Leave the main station through the main entrance and go on for some 250m, turn left and cross the bridge. Turn left immediately again and right at the next traffic lights. Up the hill to the third next traffic lights and down left again until the end of the road. Turn right there and you'll already smell the fresh air of the forest (Zeisigwald). Because of the multitude of paths in there, I'd recommend to just choose anyone yourself and start cycling. If you are in the mood for some refreshments, stop at Zeisigwaldschänke in the middle of the forest which has a nice beer garden but also is a very good restaurant. The chef has already cooked for the German TV host Günther Jauch! Going back from there is pretty easy - there are several signs indicating the correct way to Chemnitz main station. Time: Roughly 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hours. Distance: ca. 10km Difficulty: Quite hilly in the forest, but possible if one is not completely untrained.
2. Chemnitz - Rabenstein - Chemnitz. Leave the main station through the main gate and go towards the centre (always straight on). Turn left onto Zwickauer Straße and follow it for 1,5km. Then it turns left in a slight bend and you can finally leave the big street to go right on some smaller roads. There are usually quite many cyclists around there, most of them going towards Rabenstein. Thus, just follow the paths straight on for roughly 5km. Eventually you will reach a small mall called Rabenstein Center. Follow the road behind it to the right up the hill until you reach the top of the hill. There is Lake Oberrabenstein, a wonderful place to spent an afternoon swimming. Go back the same way or turn left immediately after you started back down on the road. At the end of this road you should somehow be able to find Limbacher Straße (it's the biggest road around, but not too heavily frequented by cars) which you have to follow to its very end in order to reach the centre again. Time: 3 hours without a swimming break. Distance: ca. 20km. Difficulty: A very steep and long hill shortly before the end - but you can go swimming afterwards.
This is not about political rhetoric or so, but simply about the fact that Chemnitz's most prominent sight was not found on my pages so far: the giant bronze Karl Marx head, built by Lew Kerbel in the 1970s. The photo shows what it's all about, namely the head of the philosopher in front of a wall with the inscription "Working Men of all Countries Unite" in several languages. After the political changes in the 1980s/90s, the plan was to tear down the head, but it was much too large and also too adored by Chemnitzers. So it's still standing and attracting tourists...
In case you are interested in buying Marx: Souvenirs such as Marx heads made from Chocolate or Marx liquors can be purchased at the tourist information in the city centre.
By the way, Chemnitzers refer to the head as "Nischl", the Saxonian dialect term for "head".
This is an amazing 18th century ensemble, one of the most beautiful ones in Saxony. It is located on a hill above the Zschopau valley, some miles east of Chemnitz. There was a medieval castle at this place, but it was torn down after 1722 and in 1726 the magnificent Baroque Palace was completed. The architect is unknown but it was for sure one from the Elector Duke's court in Dresden.
From the parking lot you walk along a cobbled alley, lined with the old economy buildings that were turned into shops, restaurants and cafes, the last 100 or so metres to the palace the alley is lined with trees and you have the beautiful view of the main portal/facade - a very nice start of the visit (see pic 1). The palace has three wings that form a courtyard (backside). Also in the courtyard are a former tea pavillion on octogonal ground plan (exhibit, free) and the castle church which goes back to a Romanesque chapel but was reconstructed in the 15th century and 1622/23. Unfortunately the church is only open for services and on special days like European Heritage Day. I heard it has a beautiful interior, though.
The palace itself has a number of originally preserved rooms from the 18th century, among them vestibule, library, Red salon, Chinese room, dining room and winter garden. The latter two are part of the restaurant nowadays so you can see them without paying any entrance fee :-) The vestibule is also free, of course.
The historic rooms aside you can see an amazing permanent exhibit of pieces from Asia and Africa as well as a collection of papercuttings (one of the largest in Germany). These collections were private and given to the palace some years ago. Calculate at least an hour for the visit of this "Treasure chamber" (Admission 8 Euro).
There is also an area where temporary exhibits of students of an art school in Schneeberg/Erzgebirge are on display. (Admission 2 Euro).
Do NOT miss the see the wonderful park! It is one of the most beautiful in Saxony, a combination of formal (Baroque) garden, made for representation, and a more intimate Rococo garden. A plus is the topography on a hillside, the elevation differences were masterly used for terraces. And the views of the surroundings, toward the Erzgebirge and of the Zschopau valley, add to the experience. There are fountains, sculptures, trimmed hedges, flower beds, pavillions, stairs ... even a concert place and a restaurant. (Admission 2 Euro)
Combination ticket for Palace, Gallery and Park: 9 Euro. Photo permit for the museum: 2.50 Euro.
Open: Tue - Sun and bank holidays 10-18 h (in winter -17 h)
Bus #640 from Chemnitz (or train to Niederwiesa, then walking uphill to the palace).
This late medieval church, a former pilgrimage and collegiate church, is a real gem and unfortunately mostly overlooked by tourists. It is located in the eastern outskirts of Chemnitz in lovely rural setting (see pic 1).
In the first quarter of the 15th century a pilgrimage church was built, replacing a former Romanesque church in a fortified churchyard. This churchyard is still preserved and makes for a very picturesque ensemble.
The church has two naves and a chapel from 1460/70 on the northern side. The main altar with two aspects (1513) has excellent woodcarvings and paintings (Hans Hesse and Hans von Cöln). There are two baptismal fonts, one from the 15th century, the other from 1540. The Miraculous Madonna is a work from the 14th century, reason for the pilgrimage. Not to miss is the small chapel on the northern side, a former burial place for the patrons of the church. The ceiling shows angels with instruments of torture.
Take your time to stroll across the churchyard, too. See the small octogonal chapel there (15th century), the walls, and have a look at the picturesque so called "priests" houses - remember, a former collegiate church! - around the churchyard from the 18th and 19th centuries.
This is the smallest castle in Saxony. And it is *really* small regarding dimensions, but *huge* regarding ambience and authenticity!
The castle is located in the northwestern hills outside Chemnitz in a forest (Rabensteiner Forst). Right next to it is a mansion from 1776 with beautiful garden which was restored and turned into a hotel in 2011.
The donjon and the two-storey palas (residential quarters of a medieval castle) are still from the 12th century. The interior was redesigned after a fire in the 15th century (frescos in the upper hall). Otherwise not much is preserved; the lower parts of the castle were torn down in the 18th century, only the cellars are preserved. Don't miss to climb the tower for the fabulous views.
Open May - October Tue-Sun 10-12/13-18 h
Admission fee: 1.20 Euro, kids 0.60 Euro
In the southwestern outskirts of Chemnitz, at the foot of the Erzgebirge mountains, is a picturesque castle with moat located: Schloss Klaffenbach. It was built in Renaissance style 1555 - 60 for the owner of a silver mine. The preserved economy buildings which form a nice large courtyard were turned into hotel, restaurant, (work)shops. Next to the castle is a golf course, you can also go walking and hiking.
Honestly, the exterior is more exciting than the interior. The ogival arch shaped gables on all four sides, the setting in a park, an old stone bridge with three arches leading over the moat to the portal of the castle ... all that is very picturesque and romantic. Not much of the original interior is preserved except for the pure architecture. On the ground floor is a room with fresco/secco paintings from the 16th and 18th century, used for wedding ceremonies. The second floor has a room with nice trompe-l'oeil painted walls from about 1800, on the third floor is a painted wooden ceiling and timber-framed walls from 1616 preserved. Most impressive for me was the huge and complicated roof framework on the top floor, though. The upper floors are used for temporary exhibits, when I was there they prepared a puppet/doll exhibit with works that a Swiss guy had collected.
Train CityBahn #522, station Neukirchen-Klaffenbach
Open: Tue-Sun 11-17 h, in summer 11-18 h
Admission: 4 Euro
The entrepreneurs of the 19th century made lots of money and built beautiful homes with it. One of them is an incunable of Art Nouveau architecture: Henry van de Velde designed a villa for textile factory owner Samuel Esche. 1903 the family moved in, the garden and an addition to the villa were built 1911, also by van de Velde.
Rooms and interior were also created after plans of van de Velde. The first floor with dining room and music salon are mostly originally furnished (the furniture had to be bought back, though, after 1990). Upstairs an exhibit gives an overview on van de Velde's works (single pieces on display). I liked the first floor in particular - wonderful ambience of the early 20th century. The garden is also very nice - maybe give the (upscale) restaurant a try, good lunch deals.
Open Wed, Fri, Sat, Sun 10-18 h
Admission: 5.50 Euro (includes guided tour)
Tram #4, stop Parkstraße, only 5 minutes from the old town (Zentralhaltestelle)
Where else in Saxony than in Chemnitz would be the perfect place for a Museum of Industry? It's the city where industrialization began. After 1990 when lots of plants were closed and buildings were abandoned the state Saxony decided to buy one, restore it and open the Museum of Industry there. The building was the former tool manufacture Escher and casting hall of Schubert & Salzer, constructed shortly after 1900 and an outstanding example of industrial architecture.
The museum gives an excellent overview on the industry in Saxony starting in the late 18th century with textile manufactures and ending with the microelectronics in the 1980s in East Germany. Very informative, often entertaining, made me smile quite often when I saw the products I bought and used back in the communist era. Highly interesting was the demonstration in the textile/cloth department. The old machines still function and the ladies are happy to show you how.
They often have temporary exhibits that are interesting, too. When I visited they had one on the heavy industry in the Pittsburgh area and its influence on the arts. Liked it a lot.
Calculate at least two hours there, better longer.
Mon - Thur 9-17 h
Admission fee: 6.50 Euro, kids up to 18 years free.
Photo permit 2 Euro (no flash)
Tram #1, stop Industriemuseum, only 5 minutes from the old town (Zentralhaltestelle)
In 2003 the Munich based art gallery owner Dr. Alfred Gunzenhauser gave his collection of German art of the 20th century to Chemnitz, all in all more than 2,400 pieces. The former Sparkasse building, opened in 1930 and an excellent example of the architecture of that era, was restored and became home of this stunning collection.
The most important part of the collection are 290 works of Otto Dix. Works of other famous painters are to see in the permanent exhibit also, think of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, all of them related to Chemnitz (went to school here) or Alexej von Jawlensky and Gabriele Münter. You can see works of the second half of the 20th century, too. Focus is on Germany here as well (Eastern Germany is interesting in particular) but occasionally there's a piece from outside Germany (see pic 5).
They also have several temporary exhibits per year, so far all of them well worth to see.
Open Tue - Sun and bank holidays 11 - 18 h
Admission fee: 7 Euro.
Photo permit 3 Euro if I recall correctly.
The remaining buildings of the former Benedictine monastery and later ducal castle are nowadays home of a museum on city history and art, mostly medieval sculptures from all over Saxony. Especially the architecture on the ground floor is very interesting alone: The easter part of the cloisters is from about 1274, the southern part from the 14th century. Other parts of the building date from the reconstruction works after the monastery was closed and turned into a castle 1540-48: The eastern gable with a decoration in honeycomb pattern, the large hall upstairs (600 sqm) with beautiful wooden ceiling in early Renaissance style e.g.
The ground floor has a permanent exhibit of Gothic sculpture works in Saxony, a co-operation of the Art Collections Chemnitz and the State Art Collections in Dresden. Most pieces on display are from churches all over Saxony, one highlight is the Holy Sepulchre from St. Jakobi church in Chemnitz.
The upper floor is dedicated to the history of Chemnitz. You can see pictures and other pieces collected all over the centuries that illustrate the life in the city. There are also models that show how Chemnitz looked in the past.
Opening hours: Tue - Sun 11-18 h
Admission fee: 6 Euro
Photo permit 3 Euro (if I recall correctly)
Not much is preserved of the Benedictine monastery that was founded by Emperor Lothar on that hill above the later town Chemnitz in 1136: The few buildings beside the church, like cloisters and refectory, were turned into a museum. The name "Schloss-" results from the use of the complex as ducal castle from 1546 on, after the monastery was closed during reformation.
The Schlosskirche is an outstanding example of the typical Gothic churches in Saxony. It was constructed 1484 - 1526 using some of the Romanesque structures of the previous church (one Romanesque apse is preserved e.g.) The beautiful vaulted ceilings remind in some ways of those in St. Annen in Annaberg-Buchholz, note the excellent paintings depicting the four Evangelists in the vaults in the choir.
Absolutely fascinating is the former northern portal (1525), a co-operation of Hans Witten and Franz Maidburg, both leading artisans of their time. The portal was transfered to the inside 1977-79 to protect it from pollution. The portal has four storeys, the figures depict Emperor Lothar and his wife, Benedict and Scholastika, Maria and both John Baptist and John Evangelist. The decoration is in the typical late Gothic stlye that modeled architecture after nature (trees).
Another gorgeous work of art is the flagellation column, also by Hans Witten (1515). It is a 3.60 m tall column, carved from oak wood with several full-bodied figures. The scene depicts Jesus tied by one hangman's assistant to a tree and flagellated by two others. At his feet another assistant who draws the crown of thorns. I have never before seen such an drastic and haunting depiction of that scene.
Several altars have paintings of Lucas Cranach, Hans von Cöln, the main altar was transfered from St. Katherine in Großenhain, which was torn down in 1869, and is a masterpiece by Pancratius Gruber (1499) with woodcarved and paintings.
The church is open Mon, Wed, Fri 10-12 h and Tue and Thu 14-16 h.
This is Chemnitz's largest park in central location. It is situated between the old town and the castle hill (Schlossberg). The lake in the centre of the park was created for fish breeding in 1493.
In 1860 the city bought the lake and surrounding area, designed and constructed the park. In the 1930s the neighbouring Hartmann machine building plant was torn down and the park enlarged. On those grounds the sculptures of the "Four Daytimes" by Johannes Schilling, originally in Dresden, found their new home - very beautiful.
Other attractions are the rose garden with the sculpture "Aurora" by Richard Scheibe (1937), more sulptures and fountains, cafes, a boat rowing rental. The park offers nice views of the Schlosskirche up on the hill.
This church is one of the remarkable structures forming the Theaterplatz ensemble (theatre, art museum and Günnewig hotel being the others). It was designed by architects from Leipzig and erected 1885-88 in Neo-Gothic style, obviously inspired by French cathedrals. The appearance is quite picturesque with brickstone walls and sandstone framed large windows. Sandstone was also used for decorations and to accentuate corners, gables etc.
Unfortunately the beautiful stained-glass windows were destroyed in WWII. The windows you see nowadays are works created after 1945 and in recent years - more modern style.
The interior is mostly originally preserved. Altar, pulpit, baptismal font as well as the sculptures depicting Luther and Melanchthon are made of of French limestone and green marble from the neighbouring region - beautiful, good quality. An impressive piece is also the organ by Ladegast, modified by Jehmlich in 1912/13, with small damages in 1945 and well restored.
The church is open Tue - Sat 10 am - 5 pm.
An outstanding but little known sight of Chemnitz is the Petrified Forest. Pieces are on display in the building "DASTietz" which also hosts the Museum of Natural History. Some of the petrified woods are to see in the main hall - free, daily. For more details, smaller pieces and explanations visit the Museum of Natural History.
The first pieces of petrified wood were found in Chemnitz-Hilbersdorf in 1737. The words mean "wood turned into stone" which happens when the organic materials have been replaced with minerals (mostly a silicate, such as quartz), while retaining the original structure of the wood. Thus you can still see the tree rings e.g.
Here in Chemnitz this happened 290 million years ago when a volcano erupted at the place where nowadays the Zeisig forest is located. The wood was covered by 80° - 100° C hot pyroclastic material and due to lack of oxygen were petrified instead of burned.
In 1953 Chemnitz was renamed "Karl-Marx-Stadt". It was a decision of the communist government in East Berlin, the local people in Chemnitz had no saying in this. They never got used to that name, so in 1990 when they were asked in a referendum the outcome was an overwhelming "YES" to renaming the city back to "Chemnitz" again.
The name of the city aside, the communists wanted a physical place to commemorate Karl Marx in the city. They picked one of the wide streets, Brückenstrasse, renamed it "Karl-Marx-Allee" and designed it as a modern street for parades and marches. A 7 m tall sculpture depicting the head of Karl Marx was created by Soviet artist Lew Kerbel and in 1971 put in front of the large block along the street which was headquarter of the communist party and administration in the District of Chemnitz. The block building in the back has an inscription (huge!) citing the the final sentence of the communist manifest by Karl Marx: "Working men of all countries, unite!" in several languages.
While the people of Chemnitz are certainly no fans of Karl Marx and the communist ideology they accept this monument as part of their history and voted for keeping it.