Meißen, internationally most known for European porcelain, (Meissen according to the standard conversion of the German Umlaut letter ß), is a town near Dresden on the river Elbe in the Bundesland (Federal State) of Saxony in the southern part of eastern today´s Germany. In very early times it was the first capital of Saxony. Points of interest are mainly the Meißen porcelain luxury label, the Albrechtsburg castle, the gothic Dom cathedral, the Meißen Frauenkirche, and the St.Afra high school for gifted children.
In 929 king Henry I erected a stronghold on the hill that is the center of today's old town, where formerly a slavonic castle had been located. The castle, called Albrechtsburg, was the centre of the margravate (Mark) Meißen, which later became the electorate Saxony and then the kingdom Saxony. With minor changes, its territory became what is the free state of Saxony today.
In 963 the diocese Meißen - Dresden was founded, so that Meißen became the seat of a bishop.
Around 1000 Meißen was granted Marktrecht, the privilege to hold its own markets, and in 1150 it was officially documented as town (Stadt).
The construction of the cathedral was started in 1260 on the same hill as the castle. This created a lack of space due to which the cathedral is one of the smallest cathedrals in Europe. The cathedral is also known as being one of the most pure examples of Gothic architecture.
The first European porcelain was manufactured in Meißen 1710 and the Royal-Polish-Electoral-Saxonian Porcelain Manufactory was opened in the Albrechtsburg-castle. Later, in 1861, it was moved in the Triebisch valley of Meißen, where the Porcelain Manufactory of Meißen can still be found today. Today it manufactures the world-famous (and often really expensive) Meissen porcelain and is a popular sight for visitors from all over the world.
Tourism is a major economic force in Meissen today.
Some of its attractions are:
- Historical old town: The area of the city located mostly around the market at the foot of the castle's hill. Its narrow serpentine streets make a picturesque scenery, complemented by several remarkable Renaissance buildings.
- Porcelain Manufactory: Visitors can watch how the Meissen porcelain is manufactured, or have a look at the exhibition hall which displays around 3000 selected items, historical and modern.
- Albrechtsburg and Cathedral: The hill on which the castle and the cathedral are built offers a view over the red brick roofs of the old town.
- Markets and festivals: From spring to fall, several festivals take place in Meissen, for example the pottery market or the Weinfest, which celebrates the wine harvest.
- Wine: Meissen wine is produced at the vineyards in the river valley around the town and stored in historical wine cellars.
Rulers of Saxony Meißen (district) Saxon Switzerland
- For the city's official website (in German), see http://www.stadt-meissen.de/
- For the official website of the Porcelain manufactory see http://www.meissen.de/engl/