Best of Ore Mountains
Did you know that the most elevated city in Germany lies in the Erzgebirge?
That title is bestowed upon the spa town of Oberwiesenthal, which lies 914 meters above sea-level on the Fichtelberg mountain. The Erzgebirge also boasts other record-setting and unique landmarks: o The oldest aerial tramway in Germany (opened in 1924) runs from Oberwiesenthal over the Fichtelberg mountain. o The peak of the Fichtelberg mountain is the highest point in eastern Germany.
o The 40 metre high basalt columns on the Scheibenberg mountain are unique in Europe in their form and material.
o Europe’s biggest tin chamber is found in Pöhla’s visitors’ mine.
o The Grünthal smelting hut is the only monument to non-ferrous metallurgy in Europe. o The craftsmanship involved in the Reifendrehen technique of wood turning in Seiffen is unique in the world.
o The technique of wood-shaving trees is also a craft which only exists in the Erzgebirge.
o Visit the only nutcracker museum in Europe, which is in Neuhausen.
o Germany’s only Hosiery Museum can in Gelenau
The Erzgebirge is also the cradle of the German Christmas tradition. With their combined customs, they are deeply ingrained in the Erzgebirge mining history, as the life of the mineworkers mostly took place below the surface – in the dark. It was their longing for light, that today bestows us with the warm glow from candles and candle arches in the windows. During Advent season, the people of the Erzgebirge proudly present their lovingly manufactured nutcrackers, incense burning figurines and angels. Then they gather into the warm cottages at the foot of the pyramids and light charming candle arches in the windows. Traditionally, they come together for Hutzenabend, telling stories, singing songs and bringing old customs to life. The smell of fresh Stollen and roasted almonds is everywhere. During these days, festive sounds of fanfare accompany the mountain people who march about in their fantastic costumes.
Tip: A total of 35 Christmas markets in the Erzgebirge offer booths with Erzgebirge wood art, toys, Christmas decorations, candles, and the inviting scents of Christmas sweets. In many places, Christmas markets feature the traditional pyramid design or light arrangements. Father Christmas is sure to stop by.
As the flow of ore decreased towards the end of the 16th century, and eventually stopped providing a sufficient for a source of income, the miners started looking for a new livelihood. The activities which had been hobbies or pastimes for centuries soon became professions: Erzgebirge craftwork. Today, the people of the Erzgebirge continue to pass on their unique craft techniques, such as the Reifendrehen (tyre turning) and wood-shaving trees, from generation to generation. The ‘Erzgebirge wood art’ stamp protects the unique and intricately carved figures from the Erzgebirge internationally. Around 220 stores, from family-owned shops to medium-sized businesses, still work with these traditional techniques. In demonstration workshops, you can observe the craftsmen as they work. At that time, the lace, trimmings, and wrought-iron industries also gained importance. With 20,000 active lace-makers, the Erzgebirge region of Germany remains THE centre of lace-making in Germany.
Tip: Anyone looking to learn these crafts can do so in the numerous workshops and museums. There are also countless activities available for children to take part in. These range from all varieties of woodworking to basket-weaving, decorative and aromatic candle making, and even paper weaving.
Kammweg (Ridge Trail)
If you want to get away from it all, observe the wildlife, and enjoy the unspoiled nature and beautiful landscape, the Erzgebirge-Vogtland ridge trail invites you to explore the mountains, with the motto ‘Nature, not business’. Spanning three provinces, four holiday destinations and with possible side trips to the Czech Republic, the almost 290 kilometer-long hiking trail runs from Altenberg Geising in the Eastern Erzgebirge through the Vogtland into Blankenstein in Thuringia. Those interested can keep hiking further, to the Rennsteig, the Frankenweg, and the Franconian mountain path. The hiking trail is the first region-wide, certified trail in Saxony, and is already one of the top 12 best long-distance hiking trails in Germany.
More at: www.kammweg.de
Griene Kließ, Schwammebrie, Raacher Maad, Ardäpplkuchn, Grünen Klitscher... these are all part of the traditional cuisine of the Erzgebirge. Potatoes are a key component of the hearty meals, with recipes dating back to long-forgotten times. Many dishes are tied to the traditions of the hard-working miners and their harsh everyday conditions. The traditional Christmas dish of ‘Neunerlei’ consists of nine separate dishes, each with its own history.
Tip: Of course, everything tastes better when it’s homemade. Those with no family or friends in the Erzgebirge can savor these delicious dishes at the True Erzgebirge Country Inns.
Thrilling anecdotes from long-gone eras are recounted by the steam railways, which hiss and puff through the picturesque landscape of the Erzgebirge. Only four trains remain out of the 19 narrow-gauge railways which used to run through here, each with a gauge of only 750 millimeters. The Fichtelberg, Preßnitzal, and Weißeritztal train lines, as well as the Schönheide Heritage Railway, run over a total length of 56 kilometers, through dreamy villages and idyllic valleys. Worth noting: this area is home to a number of voluntary workers’ unions, since most of the boiler men, train conductors, mechanics, and ticket inspectors are Erzgebirge citizens, who do their work out of love for the old steel giants.
Tip: Engineering enthusiasts and railway fans will have a grand time in Rittersgrün’s Museum of Saxon Narrow-Gauge Railways. Along with the permanent exhibit on the development of the Saxon narrow-gauge railways, visitors can learn about different historical locomotives, passenger carriages, trolleys, a railroad postal car from 1892, and even a locomotive metalworking shop. There are also exhibits on telecommunications and signaling, train ticket presses, old railway uniforms, and much more.
Fans of vintage cars will get their money’s worth in the Erzgebirge. At the beginning of the 20th Century in Zwickau, August Horch founded Horch and Audi, a cornerstone of the German automobile industry. In the exhibits at the August Horch Museum Zwickau, as well as in Zschopau or on the Augustusburg Castle, visitors both big and small can travel in time through the history of driving. Above all, the yearly vintage car rally that takes place in August, the ‘Sachsen Classic’, captivates those who love vintage automobiles. Over three, day-long levels, the rally winds through the beautiful landscapes of Saxony. More than 1,000 teams regularly participate in the consistency and the reliability tests.
Tip: In Europe’s most important motorcycle museum at the Augustusburg Renaissance Castle, thousands of motorcycle fans meet each year. Here the technical development of the motorcycle from 1885 to today is impressively displayed. Nearly all important and technically interesting constructions are present in original form. Special attention is given to the development of the Zschopauer motorcycle companies DKW, Auto Union and MZ.