Freiberg Things to Do

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Most Recent Things to Do in Freiberg

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    Burial chapel and Prince Elector Moritz's cenotaph

    by german_eagle Written Sep 17, 2011

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    Burial chapel in the High Choir
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    One of the highlights in the Dom (cathedral) is the High Choir which was converted into a burial chapel of the Lutheran rulers of Saxony (1541 - 1694), the Wettin family. The chapel is separated by a wrought-iron fence from the main nave so you can at least have a good view, guided tours often (mostly) include access to it.

    The outstanding work of art is the cenotaph for Elector Duke Moritz, commissioned by his brother and successor August in 1555. It was designed by Benedetto and Gabriele della Tola from Brescia, and created by Antonius von Zerroen in Antwerp (1563).

    Some of the best Renaissance artists and craftsmen worked on the redesign of the High Choir 1589 - 94. Giovanni Maria Nosseni designed it, Carlo di Cesare, a co-worker of Giambologna, and Pietro Boselli were some of the craftsmen who created the works of art. The result is similar to the Medici burial chapel in Firenze, unparalleled north of the Alps. The putti high up on the ceiling hold 21 original Renaissance music instruments, some of them totally unknown until the restoration of the High Choir. During restoration they were used for recordings of some music pieces from the era - available on CD.

    The northern side chapel has a number of magnificent tin coffins, the southern side chapel was turned into a classicist burial place with Baroque sculptures by Permoser for the mother and aunt of King August the Strong.

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    Cathedral

    by german_eagle Updated Sep 17, 2011

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    The main nave of the cathedral
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    The cathedral St. Mary is without any doubt the most important architectural site in Freiberg. A first Romanesque Basilica was erected at this place in the 12th century - some pieces like the great portal (Goldene Pforte), the impressive woodcarved crucification group and parts of the walls survived the big fire 1484.

    The cathedral was quickly rebuilt in Gothic style (1484 - 1501). Result was a magnificent, one of the most beautiful Gothic churches all over Saxony. In the following centuries the church was enriched by finest pieces of art, like e.g. the stunning pulpits, the organ(s) by Gottfried Silbermann and not to forget the burial chapel of the duke electors of Saxony with the monumental grave for Duke Moritz.

    The church can be visited daily. Fee is 3 Euro for adults, 4 Euro incl. organ play (Sunday 11.30 am and in summer Wed at 3 pm). Guided tours start a couple of times every day at the entrance of the church, tickets must be bought vis-a-vis in the old townhouse. Photography inside allowed for a fee. Highly recommended are tours that include visits of the burial chapel in the High Choir and also organ play (7 Euro). See website for dates ("Dom und Klang").

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    Mining around 1500: Portal of Lißkirchnerhaus

    by Kathrin_E Written Jan 5, 2011

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    Detail: mining scenes
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    One of the most beautiful renaissance houses in Obermarkt is Lißkirchnerhaus, built around 1530 and named after the first owner, mayor Georg Lißkirchen. Have a closer look at the beautiful portal with its stone reliefs.

    The tympanon shows a compilation of mining scenes. here we see miners at work, the way they did their job around 1500.

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    Untermarkt

    by Kathrin_E Written Jan 5, 2011

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    Untermarkt
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    The second market square, named the "lower" and indeed a few metres lower than Obermarkt, has not the worldly but the religious centre of Freiberg: the Dom, or cathedral (see separate tips). Next to the Dom you see the impressive house of the canons, now the town and mining museum (also, see separate tip). Residential houses surround the rest of the square, most of them with late medieval or renaissance origins, although they look less wealthy than those in Obermarkt.

    Untermarkt is much larger than Obermarkt and less regular. One half of it is a parking lot. The other half has some pubs, cafes and restaurants and I assume there is outdoor seating in summer. There obviously wasn't when they had 70 cms of snow. In the warmer seasons this should be a pleasant place to relax and enjoy food and drink.

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    Obermarkt

    by Kathrin_E Updated Jan 5, 2011

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    Obermarkt and steeples of Petrikirche
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    The "Upper Market Square" is the heart of the town. It is one of the few areas that are pedestrianized, in most other streets parked and running cars are a bit of a nuisance. But here pedestrians can walk freely. Obermarkt is the place for farmers markets, events and the Christmas market. So far I have never been in Freiberg at a temperature notably above zero; I expect this square to be much livelier in summer, including outdoor seating of the restaurants and cafes.

    The square is surrounded by historical houses, most of them with late medieval or renaissance origins. Freiberg endured a big fire in 1471, so hardly any building is older than that. Many of the present houses, however, including the town hall, were erected soon after the fire. The details of those hosues, especially the portals, are worth a closer look.

    The most prominent building in the square is the town hall with its white facades and tower. The late 15th century building underwent several changes and refurbishings through the centuries.

    The fountain in the middle of the square carries a statue of Margrave Otto the Rich of Wettin, the founder of the town in the 12th century. The fountain was created in 1896, so this is obviously no portrait.

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    Town and Mining Museum

    by Kathrin_E Written Jan 3, 2011

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    Stadt- und Bergbaumuseum
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    The Stadt- und Bergbaumuseum presents the history of the city of Freiberg and the history of mining. If you want to know more about the city and its life in former centuries and where the citizens' wealth came from, don't miss this museum.
    The permanent exhibition involves also local church art, renaissance sculpture, and history of the middle ages and early modern times. The most interesting part are the departments about mining and the art of the miners. The museum owns one of the oldest known Schwibbögen (they say it's the very oldest), parade uniforms and the silver treasures of the Knappschaft (miners' guild), the interior of a mine chapel and other religious pieces, folk art and miniatues like the fascinating so-called Geduldsflaschen ("patience bottles"): mining scenes inserted in glass bottles.

    Its seat ist the impressive Domherrenhof (canons' house) next to the Dom on the corner of Untermarkt. The late gothic house was built after the big town fire of 1484 and accommodated the cathedral chapter until the Reformation. For the following 300 years it hosted the Latin School of the town. Around 1900 it was restored and turned into a museum for the collections of the local history association.

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    Dom: The Golden Gate

    by Kathrin_E Written Jan 3, 2011

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    The Romanesque portal of the southern transept is older than most of the rest of the building. It originates from its precedessor and was spared in the fire that destroyed most of the Romanesque cathedral.

    The portal is ornated with a series of biblical figures, following an extraordinary theological programme.
    The tympanon shows the Epiphany of Jesus Christ as God's son, born by the Virgin Mary and announced by angels.
    The large figures on the sides are Aaron and Daniel, John Baptist and John the evangelist on the left, David and Bathseba, Solomon and the Queen of Sheba on the right.
    The smaller figures in the archivolts, unfortunately not complete any more, show the coronation of Mary and the Last Judgment with the resurrection of the dead. Have a closer look at the latter. There is no separation into blessed and damned, there is no hell. All the resurrected souls on the left and right are called to heaven. This could be a depiction of the Lutheran lore about redemption because of God's mercy and nothing else, but it was created 300 years before Luther. Astonishing.

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    Dom: The Tulip Pulpit

    by Kathrin_E Written Jan 2, 2011

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    The Tulpenkanzel has been on my (unwritten) list of Things To See Before I Die. It is a marvel of gothic sculpture. This piece alone would have been worth the trip to Freiberg. The tulip shape is absolutely unique - and it was created in times when tulips were not even known in Central Europe, around 1500.

    The freestanding stone structure seems to be a plant that is growing within the church. Ropes tie the leaves to the trunk. The chalice of the flower forms the actual pulpit. Tree branches carry the staircase which is supported by a miner boy. The figure of a seated elegant man has been interpreted as Daniel, the patron and protector of the miners, among lions.

    The suspended wooden pulpit cover shows the madonna with child.

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    Dom - the Cathedral

    by Kathrin_E Updated Jan 2, 2011

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    Dom and Untermarkt
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    From the outside, the cathedral is a strange building without a real facade, not impressive at all. It looks like a jigsaw puzzle of parts that don't match in size and don't really fit together. The steeples are short and incomplete. The only side that looks like 'something' is the choir seen from Untermarkt.

    However, don't let the disappointing outer appearance put you off visiting the Dom. The interior is full of art treasures of highest quality. If the outside is understatement, inside the rich silver mining city of Freiberg shows off all its wealth. The late gothic church contains works of art from eight centuries.

    I am devoting spearate tips to the two most valuable and most unique pieces: the tulip pulpit and the Romanesque golden portal.
    There is more, though...

    The Dom has two pulpits: the tulip pulpit was only used on high holidays. For everyday use, there is the "miners pulpit", carried by figures of miners.
    The choir, which was not used for services any more after the Reformation, was transformed into a burial chapel for the Dukes and Electors of Saxony. Nine ruling princes and 40 family members have been buried in Freiberg. When I visited in 2008, the chapel was under restauration - it should be finished by now. The ceiling is populated by angels holding musical instruments - real ones.
    The big organ on the western gallery (1711-1714) is the first big work of Gottfried Silbermann (who was a Freiberg local and had his workshop in town). Silbermann also built the small organ in the left side nave a couple of years later.

    Some more photos in the travelogue.

    Opening hours:
    November–April Mon–Sat 11.00 - 12.30 and 13.30 - 16.00 Uhr
    May–October Mon–Sat 10.00 – 12.30 and 13.30 – 17.00 Uhr
    Sun and holidays 11.30–12.45 and 13.45–16.00 resp. 17.00
    Entrance fee: adults 3 €, kids and concessions 2.50 €

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    Schloss Freudenstein

    by Kathrin_E Written Jan 1, 2011

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    Schloss Freudenstein
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    The history of Freudenstein begins in the 1170s when Margrave Otto von Wettin, the founder of the city, built a castle here. In the 16th century it became the temporary residence of the Saxon Dukes. They tore down the castle and built a 'modern' renaissance palace instead. In the late 18th century it was used for military purposes, later as storage.

    In 2003 the City of Freiberg bought the castle from the state and had it renovated. Since 2008 it has been the seat of the exhibition Terra Mineralia (see separate tip) and the Freiberg department of the state archive.

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    Terra Mineralia - marvelous collection of minerals

    by Kathrin_E Written Dec 31, 2010

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    Terra Mineralia
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    In 2008 Freiberg obtained a new attraction, and one that should not be missed. The city received as donation the collection of minerals of Erika Pohl-Ströher, a Saxon-born private collector who lives in Switzerland. Freudenstein palace was refurbished to accommodate the collection. It fills the three storeys of one wing, sorted by continents. The entrance fee of 7 € may seem steep but it is worth every cent of it. The ticket is valid for an entire day so you can have a break and then return.

    The good lady did not have a tough scientific approach, but her main criteria to select items for her collection was esthetics, looks, beauty. This allows visitors who know nothing about geology to come and enjoy the sheer beauty of the pieces. There are some scientific explanations available, too. A small exhibition called Travel into the Light presents fluorescent minerals in UV light, for example.

    The result is an amazing display of what seems like countless pieces (3.500 in total) and each of them is unique and beautiful in shapes and colours. Take your time to enjoy and look at the details, I recommend walking through the exhibition twice (at least, LOL). You will discover something new each time.
    Bring a camera (and pay the photo permit). The exhibition halls seem rather dark but the light on the minerals is bright enough for good results.

    Use your imagination. Many pieces resemble other things, like food, plants, or...
    Some results of my imagination are in the three travelogues:
    Terra Mineralia for Foodies
    Terra Mineralia Treasures and Beauties
    Terra Mineralia Fantasies

    Opening hours: daily 9:00-18:00
    All further information can be found on the website.

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    Mining museum "Alte Elisabeth"

    by german_eagle Written Jul 11, 2010

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    Alte Elisabeth
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    As mining in the Erzgebirge was the basis for Saxony's wealth and no development in Freiberg and the surroundings was possible without mining it is almost a *must* to visit one of the remaining pits that were turned into mining museums. "Alte Elisabeth" is one that is easily to reach in Freiberg, only a 10 to 15 minutes walk from the old town.

    This silver pit was known since the 16th century. The shaft and buildings date from the 19th century. You can see workshops, the (still working) steam engine from 1848, the praying room with organ where the miners gathered prior to work. Guided tours available (call ahead).

    The museum is run by the Freiberg University and used for teaching purposes also.

    While you can only see anything above ground at Alte Elisabeth there is another pit another 10 minutes north (Reiche Zeche, same website) where you can join guided tours that will take you to the underground. Haven't done that yet, so cannot comment.

    Btw, excellent view of Freiberg from Alte Elisabeth!

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    Castle (Schloss) Freudenstein - Terra Mineralia

    by german_eagle Written Jul 11, 2010

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    Schloss Freudenstein
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    The first castle was built in Freiberg in the 12th century. In the 16th century Duke Elector August (NOT "the strong" LOL) decided to replace it by a Renaissance castle because the cathedral in Freiberg had been chosen burial place of the protestant Saxony ducal family and they needed an appropriate residence in town. When Duke Elector August the Strong converted to Catholizism in 1697 to become King of Poland Freiberg's history as burial place for the dukes came to an end and the castle also lost significance. It often served as prison in the following centuries and was run down more and more. 2003-08 the castle was restored with funds of the State Saxony and the town Freiberg to use it for the mining archive and the mineral exhibit "Terra Mineralia".

    While the outside appearance was thoroughly restored and the southern wing where the restaurant is located even saw a reconstruction of details inside (go in and see yourself!) the two really huge buildings where the archive and the exhibit are located are mostly modern inside. So don't expect too much old architectural gems inside.

    However, the reason to see it - and IMO it is a *must* if you're in Freiberg - is the exhibit Terra Mineralia. It is the world's largest and probably most beautiful exhibit of minerals from all continents. Parts of the exhibit are pieces owned by the Freiberg University and other parts are pieces of the stunning private collection "Pohl-Ströher Mineralienstiftung", given as a permanent loan by the Swiss Dr. Erika Pohl in 2004.

    Opening hours: Daily 9- 18 h
    Admission fee: 7 Euro
    Photo permit: 3 Euro

    A hint: I found the restaurant to be somewhat overpriced and not up to the quality of Kreller's and Quake (see my restaurant tips).

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    The Upper and Lower Market

    by King_Golo Written Oct 7, 2006

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    Fountain on upper market

    Freiberg's two big central squares both come up with a number of fine baroque and renaissance houses. The upper market is more beautiful as the lower one is today used as a parking square.
    A good restaurant on the upper market is the "Ratskeller" - they offer good schnitzels.

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    St. Mary's church

    by King_Golo Written Oct 7, 2006

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    The Golden Portal

    St. Mary's church is Freiberg's number one sight - a sign of how wealthy the town used to be. The church was begun in the late 12th century as a Romanic church and after a disastrous fire rebuilt in Gothic style in the late 15th century. Its most interesting part, the so-called Golden Portal still exists. It's basically an entrance to the church decorated with numerous scenes from the Bible. Apart from that, the Tulip Pulpit is a piece of fine art dating back to the year 1505.
    When you visit the dome church, make sure to take part in a tour which is very informative. I'm not sure whether there are tours in English, but our German guide was really good.

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