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Chemnitz

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Chemnitz market square
Schlossteich ("castle pond")
Soviet style building styles from the DDR era survive in Chemnitz

Chemnitz [1] is situated in southwest Saxony, Germany. Originally based around a monastry, the setlement was granted city status in 1170. Due to its location at the foot of the Erzgebirge (literally ore mountains) in the sixteenth century Chemnitz began to grow in size an importance. Initially as a place of trade and later as the base of industrial production.

The increase in Sachsen coal mining during the 18th century allowed Chemnitz to develop into one of the most important centres of the German machine and textile industries - factors which gave it the nickname of "little Manchester". Several large areas of the city were built during this period including Kaßberg and Sonnenberg. Due to the economic importance of Chemnitz it was a prime target for the Allied air force during World War II. By 1945 the city had undergone near to total destruction. Between 1953 and 1990 Chemnitz was renamed as Karl-Marx-Stadt (even though Marx himself had never visited nor had anything to do with the city's contemporary history). A great deal of new building occurred during this period, much of which remains today. The large bronze head was presented to the town's people in 1971.

Today the city has a population of around 250,000, making it the fourth largest city in East Germany.


Understand[edit]

Unlike Berlin and Leipzig, Chemnitz has experienced much less of demolition and rebuilding since the reunification. Modern buildings like the new department store, communist era flats and more historic buildings are within walking distance of each other. Parts of Chemnitz allow a glimpse into how a city of the DDR felt and looked, something that is increasingly hard to find in the neuen Bundesländer.

Even with this the centre of Chemnitz has been described as "Germany's most recent city centre". The initial commercial investment after reunification focussed on large out-of-town shopping centres and it wasn't until 1999 that major building activity started in the city centre. Comparable only to Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, a whole new quarter of the city has been reconstructed in recent years. New buildings include the Kaufhof Department Store by Helmut Jahn, Galerie Roter Turm (facade by Hans Kollhoff) and Peek&Cloppenburg Clothing Store by Ingenhofen and Partner.

Get in[edit]

By train[edit]

Chemnitz, as part of the Sachsen-Franken-Magistrale (train route connecting Saxony and Franconia), can be easily accessed by train from several of the other cities in Saxony but also from Bavaria and Thuringia.

  • Leipzig (connections every hour, travelling time is about 50 minutes only)
  • Dresden and Zwickau (mostly 2 connections every hour)
  • Nuremburg (once every hour)
  • Erfurt, Weimar, Jena and Gera (every two hours)

Although there is only one direct train from and to Berlin each day (with the so-called "Vogtlandbahn"), Chemnitz is well linked within the German railway system which is widely regarded as the most developed rail network in the world.

By plane[edit]

Unfortunately Chemnitz doesn't have its own airport anymore. The nearest airports are:

  • Dresden (80km) Especially Lufthansa, Air Berlin, Germanwings and during sumer flights to many destinations in Southern Europe and Northern Africa
  • Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) (100km) Flights to Russia and France
  • Leipzig-Halle (117km) Wide range of operators including Lufthansa, Air Berlin, Germanwings and many more
  • Erfurt (165km) Mainly Lufthansa
  • Berlin Schoenefeld Airport (240km) Large International Airport
  • A private airfield for business and small private charter can be found in Chemnitz-Jahnsdorf 12km away.

The airports in Dresden and Leipzig both have their own train stations and can comfortably be reached with one stop over in either Dresden Main Station (Hbf) or Leipzig Main Station (Hbf).

By car[edit]

Chemnitz is situated at the junction of the motorways A4 and A72.

  • Dresden A4, travelling time is about 45mins
  • Leipzig A72 and B95, 1h30mins
  • Weimar and Erfurt A4, 1h45mins
  • Berlin A4 towards Dresden, then A13, 2h45mins
  • Nuremburg A72 towards Hof, then A9, 2h45mins
  • Prague either A4 towards Dresden and then A17 or B174 towards Marienberg, both about 3hours
  • Munich A72 towards Hof, then A93, 4h45mins

Get around[edit]

Like many East German cities, Chemnitz has an expansive network of public transport comprising mainly of buses and trams.

A map of the tram/bus network can be obtained from the tourist information office, found near to the main square in the city centre.

See[edit][add listing]

The bronze statue of Karl Marx, Chemnitz
  • Charlie The city was called Karl-Marx-Stadt during the DDR period, and on Brückenstraße may be found a seven-meter-tall bronze head of Karl Marx - known as "Charlie" or "the Nischel" to the locals. Various souvenirs along with a selection of sweet shops selling Karl-heads made of marzipan or chocolate can be bought.
  • Klaffenbach Moated Castle (Wasserschloss Klaffenbach) Located in a small suburb in the South of the city, this is a sight seeing highlight you must visit, especially during the summer season.
  • "The Red Tower" (Der Rote Turm) This red-bricked tower right in the city centre survived many wars and centuries and is all what is left from the former Chemnitz city wall.
  • Burg Rabenstein (Rabenstein Castle) This is a beautiful small castle known as the smallest castle in Saxony.
  • Opera (Oper) To be found at the Theatre Square (Theaterplatz) in the centre, it is one of the most beautiful buildings in Chemnitz
  • Küchwald The major green areas of central Chemnitz are the Schloßpark and the Küchwald, to the north-west and west of the city centre. The miniature railway and Kosmonautzentrum found in the Küchwald are worth a visit, especially if you're visiting the city with children.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Chemnitzer FC, [2]. is a soccer club in the highest amateur league in Germany (3rd Division) and former GDR national champion.
  • Industriemuseum The museum of industry can be found a little way out from the city centre (Maps of the city centre can be got from the tourist information shop, in the front of the town hall). Much of Chemnitz's industrial heritage is detailed here with several working peices of machinery and an old fireless steam engine. There is also a souvenir shop and restaurant.
The Kosmonautzentrum "Sigmund Jähn" within the Küchwald

Cinema[edit]

Chemnitz has several cinemas dotted around the city. The majority of films will be in German (it is Germany!). These cinemas include:

  • CineStar - Der Filmpalast am Roten Turm, Neumarkt 2, 09111 Chemnitz. (+49 (0) 371 69 04 90) (+49 (0) 371 69 04 99 (program guide))
  • Metropol Filmtheater [3] - Zwickauer Straße 11, 09112 Chemnitz. (+49 (0) 371 30 46 04) E-Mail: info-mc@metropol-chemnitz.de
  • Clubkino Siegmar - Zwickauer Straße 425, 09117 Chemnitz. (+49 (0) 371 85 19 71) E-Mail: clubkino@gmx.de

Buy[edit][add listing]

The city centre has several larger chain stores, as well as many smaller independent stores.

Chemnitz comprises a large number of shopping malls, both located in the city centre and in the suburbs (e.g. Sachsenallee, Chemnitz/Centre, Vita-Centre, Neefepark, Galerie Roter Turm, etc.

  • GDR Souvenirs The usual nostalgic souvenirs can be bought from various stores e.g. model Trabis and Ampelmänner postcards. There are also several second-hand stalls (especially in the train station) selling items from the former GDR.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Restaurants[edit]

There are several good, reasonably priced restaurants dotted around the main square (in front of the town hall). Several have tables and chairs extending out into the square, something worth doing if the weather good.

  • Turmbrauhaus, Neumarkt 2, [4]. open every day from 10AM. The mixture of a traditional wooden interior with copper brewing vessels and home brewed beer make this a great place to sit down, relax and enjoy an evening. The food served here comes from Saxony/Bavaria, is very good and also reasonably priced. Get there relatively early if you want to be able to pick your table. A night club can also be found in the basement.

Snacks[edit]

Again situated around the main square, bakeries/butchers can be found. If the market is on, there are also several Imbiss stalls selling freshly cooked sausages and other snacks.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Chemnitz has a wide range of bars and pubs. Some of these, especially those in the city centre, offer both outdoor and indoor seating areas.

Alex, Neumarkt 2, [5]. M-Th 9AM-1PM, F,Sa 9AM-3PM, Sun & Bank Holidays 9AM-2:30PM. Alex bar's and restaurants are found in many German towns and cities. The bar-restaurant-cafe is found on the main square in the city centre and has a large summer terrace.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

There are about 20 hotels and a large number of guest houses ("Pensionen" or "Fremdenzimmer") in Chemnitz and its nearest suburbs.

  • Youth Hostel [6]

There is a youth hostel, found within the eastern suburbs.

  • Mercure This hotel is the large landmark "radiator" building found in the centre of Chemnitz. At 386 rooms its one of the largest hotels in the area. The rooms are equipped with modern amenities and the hotel also offers seminar and conference facilities for up to 300 people. Parking can be found nearby and the main railway station is within five minutes walk. Facilities include a restaurant, bar, WiFi Internet access and currency exchange. Staff at reception also speak English (in addition to German!). Pets are accepted and there are some smoking rooms. £30-50 per night.

Get out[edit]

Chemnitz is undoubtably THE place to stay if you would like to discover Saxony, Thuringia, Franconia and Bohemia with all of their amazing cultural and archeological highlights as well as the stunning and scenic landscape of Saxony and the Ore Mountains!

  • Berlin - Only one direct train a day (in the morning which takes approx. 2.5 hours and same train returns daily in the evening) but hourly connections with 1 stop-over in Leipzig or Dresden
  • Dresden - 45 minutes by car using the motorway A4 or 1 hour by train
  • Leipzig - 1.5 hours by car or just 52 minutes by train
  • Ore Mountains - discover this beautiful area by car (between 30 minutes and 1.5 hours)
  • Oberwiesenthal - highest town in Germany, located in the Ore Mountains just at the border to the Czech Rep., during winter large and famous ski resort, discover by taking the train to Cranzahl and then the old steam train to Oberwiesenthal
  • Elbe Sandstone Mountains - accessible via Dresden (motor ways A4 and A17) or by train (also via Dresden)
  • Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary or Karlsbad) in the Czech Republic - 1.5 hours by car
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