Scharfenstein Things to Do
The museum in the castle Scharfenstein has a couple of sections: One is about the history of the castle and the Karl Stülpner legend (the Robin Hood of the Erzgebirge mountains), another one is about the typical Christmas items and toys manufactured in the Erzgebirge (great collection, the major part a donation of Johannes Martin from Hamburg, who was born in Leipzig, with family origins in the Erzgebirge). The most recently opened section is a collection of 'interactive' wooden items manufactured in the Erzgebirge. This means they have handles etc. which you can turn to make the move - often quite funny, and sometimes with music!
While visiting the museums you should keep an eye out for the architecture/decoration details (pics 1-3). The painted wooden ceilings from the Renaissance (pic 2) are worth seeing in particular.
Open Tue - Sat 10 - 17 h, Apr-Oct until 17.30 h; closed in January from Monday after New Year's Day on.
Admission fee: 5 Euro (Adults), small fee for photo permission. Donjon 1 Euro extra (open only in summer)Related to:
- Castles and Palaces
- Museum Visits
The history of the castle goes back to the 13th/14th century when the still existing donjon (pic 5) was built (accessible in summer). The castle keep (Palas) from the same era is a ruin since the late medieval times. After 1533 the other buildings were erected on the medieval basements, partially incorporating walls and towers. These buildings have elements of both late Gothic (gable pic 4) and Renaissance architecture.
Founded by the Waldenburg family in the dominion of Emperor Barbarossa's "Pleißeland", Scharfenstein came to the Margraves of Meißen, later Elector dukes of Saxony, in 1445 (economy rules!) who gave it as a tenure to the von Einsiedels who owned it until 1931 when the last owner went bankrupt. In the communist era the castle was juvenile home for troubled teens most of the time. In 1993 the state took over, restored the castle and opened the museum(s).
Due to a fire in 1921 not much of the interior has survived. However, there are still fascinating architectural details like Renaissance portals and painted wooden ceilings, painted decorations around windows etc. to see. Most interesting are the museum rooms, of course. Even without an entrance fee you can see the workshops of artisans on the second floor and the restaurant "Burgschänke" in the former chapel (and other historic rooms.) You will certainly not miss the magnificent Renaissance style entrance portal from 1630, the relief depicting the coat-of-arms of the families Einsiedel and Ponickau (pic 3.)Related to:
- Castles and Palaces
- Museum Visits
0 Hotels in Scharfenstein
The restaurant right in the castle is not to miss. For one, it's located in historic rooms that are well worth seeing alone, among them the former chapel, and then the food is also very good - hearty, regional food, filling and tasty. Service is competent, quick and very friendly, too - family run.
Favorite Dish: I had a roast venison with potato dumplings, mushrooms, red and white cabbage ... absolutely delicious, along with a cherry juice. The check was about 15 Euro incl. tip, if I recall correctly. Would go back in a heartbeat.Related to:
- Castles and Palaces
- Budget Travel
- Food and Dining
If you plan to visit more sights than just Scharfenstein, then you might consider driving. Of course, the roads in the Erzgebirge mountains are curvy, often narrow, quite busy as well - but it gives you more freedom to visit remote places.
Your best option is major road B 174 Chemnitz - Zschopau - Marienberg - Czech Republic, from where you take a turn somewhere near Zschopau. Either drive from Zschopau proper up the romantic river valley (but narrow, curvy minor road!) or turn right in Großolbersdorf and drive the few km down to Scharfenstein in the valley. From Freiberg take B 101 to Heinzebank, from there via Großolbersdorf, too.
Parking is a problem in Scharfenstein. As you can see on pic 1, the small street up to the castle is a cul-de-sac and parking is prohibited there. There is no street side parking allowed in the town below the castle, either. I was lucky to find one free parking spot (out of four available) right next to the train station, but usually you have to park your car near the bridge across the river, under the castle, on the relatively large parking lot - and pay. From there it is for sure a 10 minutes walk to the castle.Related to:
- Road Trip
Scharfenstein is a stop at the railway line Chemnitz - Flöha (where you change, coming from Dresden) - Annaberg-Buchholz. Some trains go farther to Cranzahl, two per day even go over the Erzgebirge main crest to the Czech Republic: via Vejprty to Chomutov.
It is a scenic train trip in comfortable cars, run by Erzgebirgsbahn, a subsidary of Deutsche Bahn. The whole region is coverd by the VMS public transportation network (www.vms.de), their rules and fares apply. The Sachsen-Ticket is valid, also on buses in the region.
Trains roughly run hourly, with the inconvenient exception of the 9:36 am train from Chemnitz, that only runs on weekends. It used to be a perfect choice for travel with the Sachsen Ticket (starting right after 9 am in Dresden), but not anymore, alas.Related to:
- Budget Travel
If your current health insurance doesn't cover you while your abroad, you should consider getting international travel insurance just in case something should go wrong.
Scharfenstein Local Customs
The "Robin Hood" of the Erzgebirge mountains, Carl Stülpner, was born in Scharfenstein 30 Sept 1762 and died at the same place 24 Sept 1841. He joined the army at the age of 18, deserted a couple of times, returned etc.
From 1794 to 1800 he lived in Scharfenstein again. In those years he was a poacher and smuggler. The locals had a tacit agreement with him that he supported them, provided (wild) meat/venison and other goods, and they protected him from the police. A couple of times he narrowly escaped the pursuers. He also started a relationship with the daughter of local judge Wolf, his later wife Johanna Christiane Wolf. Their daughter Johanna Eleonora was born 1799, after a son was born dead in 1796.
In 1800 Stülpner voluntarily returned to the Saxon Army to provide financial support for his daughter. He fought in the battle of Jena and Auerstedt vs. Napoleon, was captured by the French but could escape soon. He deserted from the Saxon Army and went to neighbouring Bohemia where he married Johanna Christian Wolf. He started a small business, but after Saxony announced a general amnesty in 1813 he returned to Scharfenstein. In 1820 he had to leave Saxony again due to involvement in a smuggling; his wife died the same year. He remarried, had another son, but left again to come back home in 1828.
He wandered through his home region and told people his stories as a poacher and smuggler to make a living. After some writers published books about his life (the first in 1832) he sold his story to publisher Schönberg in 1835. The money was spent quickly, and Stülpner died a poor man, almost blind and deaf, in Scharfenstein in 1841.
There are many novels (in German) out about Stülpner, even a TV series, starring Manfred Krug as Stülpner, was filmed by East German TV in 1973 - highly recommended.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
A great time for visiting Scharfenstein is Advent/Christmas season. The museum has a superb collection of Christmas items from the Erzgebirge anyway, and there are several events during this time like Christmas market on 2nd Advent weekend (I think), demonstrations of woodcarving, - turning etc.
Of course Scharfenstein has its own Christmas pyramid (pic 1). It is located on the main street below the castle (pic 2). As usual, the scene depicted is related to the town: There is the castle, besieged by local hero Karl Stülpner on 12/13 Oct 1795, depicted are also Graf von Einsiedel, owner of the castle, a bailiff, a hunter and an infantryman. The pyramid was made by a small local company, figures were woodcarved by two locals, and the whole thing was put up at this place in 1999.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
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Scharfenstein Sports & Outdoors
The region around Scharfenstein has a lot of marked hiking/walking trails. The town itself is located in the Zschopau valley, which is quite idyllic, narrow and windy, at an elevation of about 350 m. The mountains around the town reach about 500 m, toward southeast they soon reach 600 m. So most walks are gentle, not too challenging.
There are a couple of large boards with maps showing the trails all over the town - one down by the train station, another one near the entrance portal to the castle e.g. (pic 1). However, buying a map is recommended - much better for planning ahead.
I liked the Brauerbach side glen in particular (pics 3 and 5). It stretches from the Zschopau valley north of the castle up to the plateau near Großolbersdorf. A marked trail named "Carl-Stülpner-Rundweg" runs through it, continues to Großolbersdorf with the grave of Stülpner, then goes down via Grünau through another small glen to the Zschopau valley, and back to Scharfenstein. Easily doable in 3 hours.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking