Meissen, Germany is famous all over the world for its stunning porcelain – the first porcelain manufactory in Europe was here. Before visiting Meissen that’s all I knew about the town.
I went for a trip to Meissen with no expectations at all and was blown away with the beauty of the place.
As it turned out there are so many more things to do in Meissen than just the porcelain (that I didn’t see after all).
Table of contents
Where is Meissen?
Meissen is located in the eastern part of Germany, some 25 km away from Dresden and it’s one of the most popular day trips from Dresden. That’s how I went to visit Meissen too.
But to be honest I wouldn’t mind spending there more than just one day!
A few words about Meissen, Germany
Meissen was founded in the first half of the 10th century. Shortly after the Albrechtsburg castle was built on the steep rock above Elbe river and the town has been developing ever since.
The history of Meissen has been always troublesome, the town has changed its belongingness numerous times and eventually became part of united Germany.
While most of the people visit Meissen for the porcelain I’ve decided to skip this part of the town’s legacy and see Meissen beyond its most popular product.
It turned out to be a good idea as I could focus on the town itself and find numerous Meissen attractions.
Albrechtsburg – the impressive Meissen castle
Meissen is home to one of the most beautiful castles in Germany and one of the oldest cathedrals in the country that is adjacent to the castle anyway. That’s where you should start your Meissen sightseeing too.
Albrechtsburg might not look that majestic from when you are about to enter the castle (but it’s impressive enough to catch your attention) but inside you can find real wonders.
As soon as I opened the heavy door and stepped into one of the many incredible rooms my jaw has dropped, and it was dropping even lower with every minute.
During my whole visit to Albrechtsburg I was in awe, I felt like I traveled back in time into the Middle Ages thanks to the distinctive architectural features. Some of the ceilings reminded me a bit of what I’ve seen in Iran (especially in Kashan). It was just too beautiful!
My only encounter with Meissen porcelain was in Albrechtsburg too. There was a small exhibition of beautiful vases that were made in the distinctive Meissen style that cannot be mistaken with anything else.
The reason it was there is that the Meissen porcelain was actually invented in Albrechtsburg, in 1707, and the porcelain manufactory used to be located at the castle. It was invented by accident – the local scientists were supposed to find a way to produce gold, instead they found out how to make porcelain!
When you are in the upper town of Meissen don’t miss the gothic cathedral with its hidden garden.
Next door you can also find the entrance to the castle terrace from where you can admire the beautiful view of Meissen surroundings.
One thing that caught my attention right away were numerous vineyards spread on the nearby hills, soon I found them even on the slopes of the castle hill. You might not know that (I didn’t) but Saxony produces really good wine and Meissen with its surroundings is well known for it!
Charming Meissen Old Town
While you will find the biggest Meissen attractions in the upper part of the city, don’t miss the center too!
The lower town is full of beautiful colorful houses (some of them have “eyes”, just like in Sibiu in Romania), cobbled winding lanes and charming corners. If you have the image in your mind of the typical German lovely small town – Meissen fits this image perfectly well.
The lower town is also surprisingly large and the maze of streets is the best place to just wander aimlessly around, get lost and find some hidden gems.
And if you get tired of walking you can relax in one of many cafes or restaurants that Meissen Old Town is full of.
If you are lucky and you are in the Old Town at the right time you might hear the gentle sound of the porcelain bells from the Church of Our Lady.
Final thoughts on visiting Meissen
To be honest I didn’t know what to expect from visiting Meissen, everything was in the shadow of famous porcelain.
But coming to a new place with no expectations at all can go a good thing – I let Meissen surprise me and eventually, the town stole my heart.
It’s just the prettiest and so full of attractions that the few fours I had there were definitely not enough to see them all.
I know I will be back there one day, not only to learn more about Meissen porcelain but to enjoy the town some more. To me, Meissen, together with Goerlitz and Hannover, is among the most hidden gems of Germany.
Tips for visiting Meissen
- Meissen in German is Meiβen so when planning a trip to the town look for its German version on the schedules.
- Meissen is a perfect day trip from Dresden. You can come here by train, bus or boat and you should definitely use this last option as the views along the way must be really lovely. Besides, that’s a pretty unique way to travel around! Click here to book a boat tour from Dresden to Meissen.
- If you visit Meissen by train from Dresden you should choose “Meissen Altstadt” station, it’s much closer to the Old Town than “Meissen” station.
- It’s better to start your Meissen sightseeing in the Upper Town as then you need to take gazillion stairs down to the center of the town (and it’s still better than climbing all the way up to Albrechtsburg). There is the elevator that, for €1, can take you directly to Domplatz, right in front of the cathedral and Albrechtsburg.
- The entrance ticket to Albrechtsburg is currently €8 for the adult (and extra €2 for photography permission). You can save a bit and buy the combo ticket to the castle and cathedral (€11) or the castle and the porcelain manufacture (€15). You should also ask for the free audioguide in Albrechtsburg, it’s available in seven languages (German, English, Polish, Czech, Russian, French and Italian). You can find all the details here.
- For lunch, you should choose one of the restaurants in the upper town with an outdoor terrace that offers amazing view of the lower town. I ate at Domkeller and can definitely recommend this one.
- Meissen is full of beautiful photo locations so be sure to have your camera fully charged! For the best view of impressive Albrechtsburg cross the Altstadtbruecke bridge. You can also visit one of the vineyards on the hills – I was in the one next to Proschwitz castle and the view from there was amazing.
To show you how beautiful Meissen is here are a few more pictures that will hopefully inspire you to travel to Meissen to!
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