OT Travel Itinerary: Seeing The Unseen In Chemnitz For 72 Hours

From museums and monasteries to castles and churches, you should stop by the industrial town of Chemnitz in Saxony for an unforgettable visit
Karl Marx Monument in Chemnitz
The 12m-tall statue of Karl Marx in Chemnitzaquatarkus/Shutterstock

A monumental 12m-tall statue of Karl Marx, with the head alone towering at 7m, stands right in the heart of Chemnitz. It is a reminder of the Soviet regime when the town was renamed as the Karl Marx Stadt. At its heart though, the third-largest city in Saxony is a 12th-century mediaeval town founded by Benedictine monks which flourished as one of the wealthiest cities in the land. Known as the “Saxon Manchester” at one time for its textile industry, this industrial hub of Germany is now the newly minted European Capital of Culture 2025. Look around and you will “C the Unseen” as the city invites visitors to discover its diverse history through its art and architecture, its industrial heritage now infused with modern influences while continuing to maintain an old-world charm.

Here then is your three-day itinerary of Chemnitz’s museums, monasteries, castles and churches.

Day 1

Morning: Potter Around Marktplatz Or Market Square

All roads lead to the Market Square in Chemnitz
All roads lead to the Market Square in ChemnitzCopyright: Lakshmi Sharath

All roads lead to Market Square but your first stop is the iconic Karl Marx Monument for a selfie. It is believed that there was a mediaeval market here right in the heart of the city during the 12th century, but only a few monuments have since survived the ravages of time and war. At the Market Square, you can see the Old and New Town Halls, the Gothic St James Church, the Roter Turm—one of the oldest monuments in Chemnitz dating to the 14th century—and the Baroque facade of the 18th century Siegert’s House (Siegertsches Haus). Soak in the atmospheric vibe of the square and potter around the cobbled streets and lanes that are reminiscent of an old-world charm. Climb the High Tower of the Old Town Hall for sweeping views of the city.

Afternoon: Museum Hopping

The Museum of Natural History showcases a 290 million-year-old “Petrified Forest"
The Museum of Natural History showcases a 290 million-year-old “Petrified Forest"Copyright: Lakshmi Sharath

Continue exploring the historic and cultural tapestry of Chemnitz by taking in the artistic and architectural legacy of the city. Over 6,000 exhibits dating from the Paleolithic age to the industrial era are in the State Museum of Archaeology (SMAC), housed in a former Schocken department store which is an architectural gem of the classical modernism period. Another department store, the DAStietz, houses an even more intriguing museum: the Museum of Natural History which showcases a 290 million-year-old “Petrified Forest.”

Next, art and architecture enthusiasts should flock to the Museum Gunzenhauser, where you can see 2,400 works of German art. Head to the Villa Esche and stop by to admire the Stadthalle Civic Centre which hosts events. To learn more about the history of Chemnitz, visit the Schlossberg Museum which is housed inside a mediaeval Benedictine monastery. You will find a rare and priceless Holy Sepulchre there, of which only three are left in Europe.

Evening: Theaterplatz Or Theatre Square

The Theaterplatz is one of the most beautiful squares in Chemnitz
The Theaterplatz is one of the most beautiful squares in ChemnitzCopyright: Lakshmi Sharath

One of the most beautiful squares in Chemnitz, the Theaterplatz is known for hosting concerts and events. It is dominated by the charming Opera House, the towering St Peter’s Church and the King Albert Museum with its fabulous 70,000-strong art collection. If you are here on a Wednesday, the museum is open until 9PM. Don't miss a mesmerising performance at the Opera House either. As the sun goes down, Chemnitz gets prettier at night, especially as the city glows with fairy lights.

Day 2

Morning: Industriemuseum Chemnitz

Exhibit at the Industriemuseum Chemnitz
Exhibit at the Industriemuseum ChemnitzCopyright: Lakshmi Sharath

Chemnitz is synonymous with the industrial heritage of Saxony and to get a glimpse of the “Saxon Manchester,” head to the Industrial Museum which is housed in a massive factory building that is over a century old. Showcasing the industrial milestones of the last three centuries, it takes you to the time when the first cotton mills came up in the region followed by factories. Auto-Union, or Audi as we know it today, was founded in Chemnitz as well. Look around and you will find machines, steam engines, industrial robots and legendary vehicles that have been “Made in Saxony.” Take a guided tour where you will hear stories about Chemnitz’s innovative spirit and technical masterpieces.

Afternoon: August Horch Museum In Zwikau

Cars in the August Horch Museum
Cars in the August Horch MuseumCopyright: Lakshmi Sharath

After a quick lunch, drive about 30km to Zwikau, the birthplace of Audi and where Trabant and DKW cars were manufactured. Your first stop here is the mammoth August Horch Museum where you can learn about a century of automobile manufacturing and see over 160 vehicles displayed in a space of 6,500 square metres. Fall in love with its vintage charm as you journey into a world of wheels.

While you are here, enjoy a delicious meal before setting out to explore the city centre. Visit the mediaeval priests’ houses and the residence of the legendary composer Robert Schumann. In the evening, stroll around the banks of the River Mulde and feel the vibe.

Day 3

Time Travel To A World Of Castles

Waldenburg Castle located near Zwikau was once the royal residence of the Schonburg-Waldenburg family
Waldenburg Castle located near Zwikau was once the royal residence of the Schonburg-Waldenburg familyschloss-waldenburg.de/Website

Step into a world of fairy tales and romances as we visit some of the most beautiful castles around Chemnitz. There are several stunning mediaeval fortresses set amidst picturesque landscapes but I will recommend the following three.

The stunning Waldenburg Castle located near Zwikau was once the royal residence of the Schonburg-Waldenburg family. The doors open into ornate halls; there are also fanciful rooms with varying themes, elaborate libraries and grand living rooms at this castle.

Rochsburg Castle dates back to the 12th century
Rochsburg Castle dates back to the 12th centuryschloesserland-sachsen.de/Website

Towering over the Zwickauer Mulde River and standing majestically on a hillock is the imperial Rochilitz Castle with its two towers. Built initially in the 10th century as the princely home of the Wettin family, the castle is now a museum and also hosts special events and weddings. It truly doesn’t get more beautiful and regal than this.

The third castle is straight out of a fantasy book. Rising atop a cliff and surrounded by the Zwickauer Mulde River, the mediaeval Rochsburg Castle dates back to the 12th century is an example of Renaissance architecture in Saxony. Even as you feel like a time traveller here, don’t forget to try the chocolates at the factory within the castle complex.

Getting There

Chemnitz is located in Saxony and is connected to the capital Dresden by train. Dresden is connected by air and train with Munich and Frankfurt and only by the latter from Berlin. You can also take a train to Chemnitz from Leipzig.

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