Zittau Things to Do

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Most Recent Things to Do in Zittau

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    Klosterkirche

    by yumyum Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Klosterkirche

    In 1244 a Franciscan monastery was founded. The monastery and its church were built from 1260-90. With the death of the last monk after 310 years the monastery closed in 1554. From 1658-62 the church was renewed with a baroque interior. During the 7 year war Zittau was mostly destroyed but the church survived almost intact.

    Today, the Klosterkirche is a lutheran church.

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    Johanniskirche

    by german_eagle Updated Jan 7, 2011

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    Western front of Johanniskirche
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    This church is Zittau's main parish church, first mentioned in 1291. When the Austrians destroyed the town in 1757 the Johanniskirche also burnt down. It was rebuilt from 1766 - 1832 in Classicistic style by Christian August Schramm after plans of famous architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel.

    Somehow the church appears to be too large and imposing for the small town. The interior and decoration - pulpit, baptismal font, lamps, paintings in the apse - are mostly originally preserved. The organ was remodelled in 1930 by a workshop Schuster, using parts of the original Jehmlich organ from 1843.

    A must is to go up the tower, see the guard's room there and enjoy the fabulous views.

    Open daily, free of charge. Watch out for concerts.

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    City museum

    by german_eagle Updated Jan 7, 2011

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    Gothic cloisters
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    The former Franciscan convent was turned into the city museum (currently named: Museum on Art and History, but that changes from time to time :-)).

    Aside from the exhibits (small Lenten Cloth the most prominent piece) the buildings alone are worth a visit. You can see the remains of the Gothic cloisters, chapter house, refectory and the Baroque Banquetting hall in the magnificent Heffter-building (Renaissance style) for example. Upstairs are the former monk cells, now used for the exhibits. In one of the rooms they recently found fresco and secco paintings, one of them depicting a fountain of youth, totally amazing. It's fun to see what sorts of amusement the monks used to fantasize (or not?) about. LOL

    The exhibts are very interesting and range from local/regional history/customs over paintings/drawings of surprisingly high quality (Cranach workshop, Louis de Silvestre e.g.) to medieval works of art and scientific instruments from past centuries.

    A combined ticket for museum and church of the holy cross is available for Euro 6.50, admission fee for the city museum alone is 2.50 Euro.
    Opening hours: 10 - 17 h, April - Oct daily, the other months closed on Mondays.

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    Petri-Pauli church

    by german_eagle Updated Jan 7, 2011

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    Petri-Pauli church
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    The Petri-Pauli church, the former Franciscan convent's church, is with its tall and very slender tower (70 m) another landmark of Zittau. The church was built in 1480 in Gothic style, later several additions were made.

    A specialty are the Baroque boxes at the southern side of the church. They were built by Patricians from Zittau between 1696 and 1748 in Baroque style. The most beautiful is the box of the Noack family.

    The interior of the church is mostly Baroque. Remarkable are the altar (1668/69) by local artists and paintings by a Dresden artist and the pulpit (same time, same local artists). Once inside you may also take notice of the beautiful epitaphs commemorating Zittau's noble families.

    Open on Saturdays in summer only or upon request.

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    Church of the Holy Cross

    by german_eagle Updated Jan 7, 2011

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    Church of the Holy Cross with tombs
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    The Church of the Holy Cross was built in the 14th century and its shape has not changed since 1410. Have a look at the Gothic vaults (Bohemian influence - only one, central pillar!), altar and pulpit from 1654 and the statues of Maria and Johannes from 1450, the oldest wood-carved figures of Zittau. Well worth to see are also the Gothic frescos in the main nave.

    Since 1999 this church is home of the Big Lenten Cloth. (Admission fee see separate tip)

    Absolutely stunning are the tombs and burial vaults on the church's cemetary. Their styles are Renaissance, Baroque, Roccoco and Classicism. I like in particular the Baroque burial vaults with tuscan pillars, iron-wrought gates and beautiful sculptures.

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    Small Lenten Cloth

    by german_eagle Written Jan 7, 2011

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    Small Lenten Cloth

    The small Lenten Cloth is not really small, only compared to the other, bigger Lenten Cloth in Zittau. It has a size of 4.30 x 3.40 m. This one is of an even rarer type of Lenten Clothes called "Arma Christi" type, six worldwide, only this one in Germany. One other specialty is that this is the only known Lenten Cloth that was commissioned and manufactured AFTER reformation (in 1573), by a Lutheran-evangelic congregation.

    Like the big Lenten Cloth it was restored free of charge by the Abegg Foundation in Switzerland in the 1990s. It found its home in the former Franciscan convent, now City Museum, in Zittau.

    The small Lenten Cloth shows the crucifixion scene in the centre and the instruments of torture and symbols of Jesus Christ's passion on the edges. You get an audio guide, available in several languages.

    Admission fee is 2.50 Euro, in combination with the Big Lenten Cloth 6.50 Euro

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    Big Lenten Cloth (Grosses Zittauer Fastentuch)

    by german_eagle Updated Jan 7, 2011

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    Grosses Zittauer Fastentuch

    The highlight of a Zittau visit is definitely to see the Big Lenten Cloth.

    This "Fastentuch" was donated by Zittau's citizen Jacob Gürtler in 1472. In many ways this Cloth is unique - it is the only one of the "field"-type which is preserved in Germany (18 worldwide). It has 10 rows and 9 cols - 90 fields and the size is 56 m2 (8.20 x 6.80 m). The pictures in the fields of the upper half tell the stories of the old testament, those in the lower half tell the stories of the new testament.

    Unique is also the story of the Lenten Cloth itself: In the last days of WWII Russian soldiers cut it into 4 pieces and used it for decoration of their steam bath (!). Later it went lost and was found by a farmer in the mountains south of Zittau, who brought it back. Only in the 70s first restorations were made - w/o much success.

    A BIG THANKS goes to the Abegg-Foundation in Riggisberg/Switzerland, where the Lenten Cloth was restored 1994/95 for FREE.

    Since June 12 1999 the Big Lenten Cloth is to see in Zittau's church of the Holy Cross. Audio guide included in admission fee (4.50 Euro or 6.50 Euro in combination with the small Lenten Cloth/City Museum), guided tours a couple of times daily.

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    Town Hall

    by german_eagle Updated Jan 7, 2011

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    Town hall
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    The town hall looks a bit like an exotic building amidst all those Patrician houses with Baroque and Rokoko style facades on the market square. It reminds of an Italian Palazzo than a Saxon town hall. Reason for that is that after the town hall was destroyed in the war 1757 they rebuilt it according to plans of Carl August Schramm in eclectic style (a mix of Gothic and Italian Renaissance styles) in the years 1840 - 45. Some remains of the previous building are preserved (e.g. the lower parts of the tower).

    If you have a closer look you'll see a number of statues at the outside, created by Carl Gottlob Beyer in the 1840s, a student of Ernst Rietzschel, as well as some coats-of-arms that were preserved and transfered from the previous building.

    The grand citizens' hall (Großer Bürgersaal) is the most beautiful room. It is richly decorated with statues depicting people related to Zittau's history (like the Bohemian Kings e.g.), coats-of-arms, statues depicting good virtues. A highlight to find all over the town hall and not only in this hall are the excellent stained glass windows, manufactured in the Royal Saxon Glass Manufacture Türcke & Schlein.

    Tours of the town hall are offered on Wednesdays 3 pm (and upon special request). Tickets at the Tourist Information northern side in the town hall. Tickets are 3 Euro.

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    Zittauer Gebirge (mountains)

    by german_eagle Updated Jan 7, 2011

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    view from Hochwald mountain
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    When in Zittau don't miss a side trip to the nearby Zittauer Gebirge. This mid-range mountain range is located a few kilometres south of Zittau right on the border to the Czech Republic. It is the smallest mountain chain in Germany, reaching only 793 metres elevation (P. Lausche).

    It offers a variety of beautiful mountain views, though. Especially the rocky sandstone formations are spectacular. Nice small mountain villages to see are Oybin, Jonsdorf, Grossschönau and Waltersdorf. They all have numerous of the cosy "Umgebindehäuser" (a sort of timber-framed houses).

    Hiking opportunities are endless. The panoramic views from the peaks (Lausche, Hochwald) are excellent. And for those who love art and architecture - the church in Oybin is a gem, and the ruins of the former convent on top of Oybin mountain are great, too.

    In winter skiing opportunities are very good. There are skilifts in Waltersdorf and Lückendorf and cross-country skiing trails are groomend as well.

    A narrow-gauge railway takes you from Zittau to both Oybin and Jonsdorf (see transportation tip also).

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    Hainewalde - Burial Vault

    by german_eagle Updated Jan 7, 2011

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    Kanitz-Kyaw burial vault
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    The second reason to visit Hainewalde is the stunning burial vault for the Kanitz-Kyaw family on the cemetery right by the parish church. The architecture reminds of Borromini's works in Rome ...

    The burial vault was erected in 1715 by an architect from neighbouring Bohemia, Franz Biener, who also built the Loreto chapel in Rumburk. It is richly decorated outside with plenty of sculptures, depicting death, illness, health, sorrow, peace etc.

    In the centre of each side there is a plate with inscription in Latin. On top you see a figure - Fama, the greek goddess.

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    Hainewalde - Parish church

    by german_eagle Updated Jan 6, 2011

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    Inside; Patronage boxes to the left
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    Hainewalde is a small village about 5 km west of Zittau. It is well worth a visit - one reason is the beautiful Parish church.

    The church was built 1705 - 11 by local architects and craftsmen in Baroque style. The highlights are the altar and the patronage boxes.

    The altar is quite huge for a village's parish church - a pillar to each of both sides, a crucifixus in the centre, at the left side a sculpture of Moses and at the right side a beautifully sculptured figure of John Baptist.

    Especially the upper patronage box is very beautiful, decorated with wooden carvings, paintings of the patron and his wife (Otto Ludwig and Victoria Tugendreich von Kanitz, born Kyau) and with figures depicting love etc.

    Open usually in the mornings till 2 pm. If closed ask in the nearby parish house.

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    Climb up St. John's

    by Leipzig Updated Feb 24, 2010

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    Do not miss to climb up the 266 stairs of the right tower of St. John's Church. At the topmost point, in a height of about 60 meters, is a kind of apartment in the style of the early 20th century where a sympatic man sells tickets and gives you hints what to see. It is possible to have a cup of tea here and perhaps some cookies.

    Price is 1.00 Euro for kids and students and 1.50 Euro for other visitors. It worth the money!

    The tower is open:
    May to October
    Monday - Friday: 12.00 am - 6.00 pm
    Saturday-Sunday: 10.00 am - 4.00 pm

    November to April
    Monday - Friday: 12.00 am - 4.00 pm
    Saturday-Sunday: 10.00 am - 4.00 pm

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    A Constitution Pillar

    by christine.j Written May 21, 2008

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    This is a constitution pillar, the only one still in existence today.

    In the first part of the 19th century there were several attempts in Germany to introduce more democracy and to break away from the rule of the aristocratic families.

    In Saxony the first liberal constitution was drawn up in 1831, giving the people more rights. This pillar has been erected in memory of this constitution.
    Again something I hadn't heard of before, but I think it's a good idea to put up memorials for democratic ideas, even if they failed in the course of history.

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    A Clock of Flowers

    by christine.j Written May 21, 2008

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    I had heard about the flower clock in ZIttau, but couldn't understand what this was supposed to be. It is a clock, dug into the ground, surrounded by flowers to indicate the time.

    I had never seen such a clock before, but later saw a similar one in Görlitz. It is such a nice idea, but needs careful planning by the gardeners.

    It was first planted in 1907 and has to be replanted - obviously - each year, needing about 4800 flowers!

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    Just walk around...

    by christine.j Written May 21, 2008

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    city hall
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    ...in the town centre. There are many beautifully restored old buildings to be seeen, the city hall for example is magnificent. Several old fountains, squares with cafés, it must very pleasant to sit there on a summer evening. When we were walking around everybody was getting ready for the music festival, the 16th Music Night of Zittau.
    The 17th will be on 4th October 2008, so if you happen to be in the area, you can enjoy it.

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