The church is the greatest treasure of art and architecture in Lauenstein, and the family tomb in the Bünau chapel is the greatest treasure of art in the church. Günther von Bünau had the tomb made for himself, his two (successive) wives and children. The family members are kneeling in front of a five-storey retable-like sturcture: Günther and his six sons on the left, the wives and five daughters on the right. The men are depicted in full armour, the women in festive dresses and rich jewellery. The two children figures represent a son and a daughter who died at or soon after birth.
Have a close look at the details of the figures and their costumes: the hair and beards, the lace, the folded collars, the spurs... the quality of the sculpted work is jawdropping.
Don't overlook the wrought-iron portal and its elaborate stone frame.
Lauenstein's greatest treasure of art and architecture is definitely the parish church. After a big fire it was rebuilt and refurbished around 1600, roughly the same time as the renaissance palace and under the same patron, Günther von Bünau. The architecture is in late, latest gothic forms but the furnituring, like altar, pulpit, tombs and epitaphs, show the new renaissance style. Günther von Bünau donated these pieces, and he was wealthy enough to hire the best stonemasons he could hold of. The sculpted works are masterpieces, especially the tomb in the Bünau chapel, which deserves a separate tip.
The church underwent a thorough restauration in the 1990s. When it was finally finished, an unlucky short-circuit caused a fire in the organ and soot blackened the vaults and the entire upper half of the walls, scuplted works and everything. The water caused addtitional damage. Restauration had to start from scratch again. They made it, though, and the church has regained its splendour.
The church can only be visited with guided tours. During the winter tours take place on Saturday and Sunday, 14:00. From April 2011 onwards there will be daily tours (Tues-Sat 11:00 and 14:00, Sun 14:00, closed on Mondays). If these times don't match your plans, contact the parish or one of the guides via the website to make an appointment.
The history of the place begins in the middle ages, probably around 1200, with a castle on the point of the steep rock. The castle has long fallen into ruins. Around 1600 it was substituted by a renaissance palace that befitted the lifestyle of the nobility much better. For 300 years the castle and town belonged to the noble family von Bünau. They were wealthy and influential and owned large estates in both Saxony and Bohemia.
From market square all you see of the palace is the pretty renaissance gatehouse. Walk through into the courtyard. I visited in winter and deep snow. So all I could access was the courtyard and the museum in the main wing (see separate tip). If you visit in summer you can also explore the ruins and walk the reconstructed castle garden.
Goldener Löwe, the Golden Lion, is a typical small-town inn with local food, but in very good quality. It is located right in market square on the corner of the street that leads to the church. Hard to miss. Service was quick and friendly and the food good and abundant.
[satire modus on]
The paintings on the wall (photos 4 and 5) tell an amazing story... Obviously the ancestors of Lauenstein's inhabitants had some kind of time machine and were able to travel through the centuries. paintings show people in medieval dress, according to the inscriptions from the 14th century, but they are standing in front of the renaissance palace and the church with its baroque steeple...
[/satire modus off]
Favorite Dish: A hot spicy Soljanka is just the perfect soup to have when wet and chilled to the bone on such a winter's day!
The hot chocolate also deserves a honourable mentioning.
Visiting Lauenstein by train is no problem. The little town is located on the Müglitz valley train from Heidenau, where it connects to the Dresden S-Bahn, to Altenberg. Trains run hourly in the daytime (but better check the timetable twice).
My photo of the red train was taken on Dec 11, the last day this train line was operated by DB, thus has the value of a historical document. From Dec 12, 2010 this line is not operated by Deutsche Bahn any more but by Städtebahn Sachsen, a private carrier. Nevertheless VVO tariff applies.
From the station it is a walk of about 15 minutes to the town. Follow the road uphill. From the road you have a panoramic view of the castle ruin, the renaissance palace and the town on the hill.
Goldener Löwe served us, apart from delicious warming food, these little works of art. How did they fold those napkins into that sailboat shape?!?
It took us a bit to figure it out, but I *think* we succeeded.
Here are my instructions!