Chemnitz

Travel Guide Europe Germany Sachsen Chemnitz

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Introduction

Chemnitz's Karl Marx Monument

Chemnitz's Karl Marx Monument

© king_golo

Saxony's third-largest city is by far not as often visited as Dresden or Leipzig, but even though it lacks many of the obvious sights of its bigger neighbours, Chemnitz is worth a visit. Shaped by a thriving machines industry in the 19th and 20th century, Chemnitz was more or less completely destroyed in World War II. The GDR authorities saw their chance and tried to rebuild the city as a socialist model city with extra-broad boulevards and lots of Soviet-style buildings. Much of Chemnitz's former beauty was lost in those years, and when the wall fell it took a long time to get rid of the worst architectural eyesores. Nowadays, though, Chemnitz is thriving again - a university with a strong focus on engineering and machine construction, an active cultural life and lots of things to discover that you won't see in other places. Even though the city lost 80,000 of its formerly 320,000 inhabitants after the collapse of the GDR, there are places in which you can feel almost like in other east German cities. Elsewhere, though, the scars of socialism are still visible, as is the flight of lots and lots of Chemnitz citizens. Empty and dilapidated houses abound along the main roads, but in popular residential areas like the Kaßberg, most buildings are fully rented out. Chemnitz calls itself "City of Modernity" which is visible in lots of buildings. Another nickname for this underestimated city is "Gate to the Ore Mountains". These begin just south of the city and are well-known for their manifold Christmas traditions and crafts.

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Neighbourhoods

Chemnitz is divided into 39 neighbourhoods, some of which are so far outside the town centre that they are legally considered villages. An average tourist might still pass through some of them, e.g. when hiking in the Zeisigwald forest or in Sternmühltal valley. From a tourist's viewpoint, the most interesting are Zentrum, Kaßberg, Schlosschemnitz, Rabenstein and Klaffenbach. While the former three are located centrally, Rabenstein is found at the western end of the city and Klaffenbach at its southern end, almost in the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains).

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Sights and Activities

Tourist sights include the Kaßberg neighbourhood with numerous 18th and 19th century buildings and the Karl Marx Monument by Lev Kerbel, nicknamed "Nischel" (a Saxon dialect word for head) by the locals. Landmarks include the Old Town Hall (Altes Rathaus) with its Renaissance portal (15th century), the Schlosskirche overlooking beautiful Schlossteich lake, and the ensemble of houses around the opera house. Another landmark is the Red Tower (Roter Turm) built in the late 12th or early 13th century as part of the city wall. Nothing is left of the wall, though, apart from a line on the ground which marks where it used to be.

Chemnitz's most curious sight is the Petrified Forest which is located in the courtyard of Kulturkaufhaus Tietz. It is one of the very few in existence, and dates back almost 300 million years. Also within the city limits, in the district of Rabenstein, is the smallest castle in Saxony, Rabenstein Castle.

The Petrified Forest in das Tietz - Chemnitz

The Petrified Forest in das Tietz - Chemnitz

© king_golo

The Chemnitz Industrial Museum (Industriemuseum) is an Anchor Point of ERIH, the European Route of Industrial Heritage. If you want to learn about the industrial history of the city, this is the place to be. The museum presents many items connected with Chemnitz's past, many of which can be tried out or will be shown to you by knowledgeable staff. Other museums include the newly opened smac (Saxonian Museum for Archaeology), the Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz displaying mostly impressionist and expressionist art and the Museum Gunzenhauser, exhibiting some 2,500 pieces of modern art, including many paintings and drawings by Otto Dix, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and others. Art nouveau design is on display in one of Chemnitz's most beautiful houses, the Villa Esche.

The Botanischer Garten Chemnitz is a municipal botanical garden, and the Arktisch-Alpiner Garten der Walter-Meusel-Stiftung is a non-profit garden specializing in arctic and alpine plants. Both are located a bit outside the centre.

As the city has changed considerably since German reunification, most of its industry is now gone and the core of the city has been rebuilt with many shops as well as huge shopping centres. Many of these shops are international brands, including Zara, H & M, Esprit, Galeria Kaufhof, Leiser Shoes, and Peek & Cloppenburg. For more shopping, you can also visit the Chemnitz Center just outside the city limits.

Frozen Schlossteich lake with the Schlosskirche in the background

Frozen Schlossteich lake with the Schlosskirche in the background

© king_golo

Chemnitz is home to quite a few nice parks. Most central is the Schlosspark with the Schlossteich lake on which you can drive around by paddleboat in summer. In the middle of the lake is the beautiful Schlossteichinsel which is sometimes used for music events and the like in summer. Küchwald forest is another park close to the centre. Visitors are attracted by the Kosmonautenzentrum Sigmund Jähn which concentrates on the GDR's famous cosmonaut Sigmund Jähn. Finally, the Stadtpark lines river Chemnitz in the southern part of the city and is a popular area for jogging or rollerskating.

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Getting There

By Plane

The nearest public airports are in Dresden and Leipzig.

By Train

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 Thüringen. Note, though, that the highspeed ICE trains don't go to Chemnitz at all.

By Car

Chemnitz is crossed by the two motorways (Autobahn) A4 Erfurt – Dresden and A72 Hof – Leipzig. The motorway junction Kreuz Chemnitz is situated in the northwestern area of the city. The motorway A72 between Borna and Leipzig is still under construction. Within the administrative area of Chemnitz there are eight motorway exits (Ausfahrt).

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Getting Around

By Public Transport

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

There are six tram lines currently in operation in Chemnitz, numbered from 1 to 6, and the special line 522. Do note that there is no line number 3. All of the lines stop at the Zentralhaltestelle, which is a collection of tram platforms on the corner of Rathausstrasse and Bahnhofstrasse in the very centre of the city. Do note that only lines 2, 6 and 522 reach the Hauptbahnhof. Line 1 and Line 4 form a continuum - trams on line 1 become line 4 past the Strasse der Nationen stop, and the other way around.

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.

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Eat

Chemnitz has a perhaps surprisingly large selection of good restaurants. Here are a few of them:

  • The restaurants at the bottom end of Schlossberg, e.g. the Kellerhaus Chemnitz.
  • The breweries-cum-restaurants, such as the Turmbrauhaus or Karls Brauhaus opposite the Karl Marx head.
  • The Indian restaurant Maharadscha Palast on Zschopauer Straße.
  • The Syrian restaurant Malula about 15 minutes away from the centre.
  • Lots of popular restaurants in the centre of Chemnitz, such as Alex, La Bouchee or Brazil.

Many of the central restaurants have tables and chairs extending out into the streets, something worth doing if the weather is good. Bakeries/butchers can be found around the main square, and if the market is on, there are also several Imbiss stalls selling freshly cooked sausages and other snacks. If you just want to grab a snack, several bratwurst carts offer "roster" (Thuringian bratwurst) for an unbeatable price.

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Drink

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.

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Sleep

There is a youth hostel, found within the eastern suburbs. There are about 20 hotels and a large number of guest houses ("Pensionen" or "Fremdenzimmer") in Chemnitz and its nearest suburbs.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafes (rates €1.50 to €5 per hour) are starting to become less common due to widespread offers of free wifi by shops, restaurants or cafes. Sometimes it requires minimum consumption but usually it's free within the premises. Phone shops will often offer internet access, too. In general hotels offer internet access. In several cities, projects exist to provide free "community" hotspots for wireless networking. Passenger lounges at some airports and central railway stations also provide internet access to their customers.

Several pre-paid SIMs allow Internet access for a monthly flat fee, for example those available at Tchibo coffee stores (o2 network, €10/month limited to 500 MB, €20/month for 5 GB) or Aldi (E-Plus network). A regular O2 sim card, which can be used for calls and text messages, is €15 and another €15 buys 1GB of data valid for 1 month. Vodafone offers a prepaid sim card for €25 which includes €22.5 of credit, out of which you can get 300 MB of data for 2 days for €15 and be left with €7.5 of credit.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The international call prefix in Germany is 00. To dial out of Germany, dial 00, followed by country code, area code, and the telephone number (for example 00 44 1234 567890). If you're using a mobile phone, simply add the plus sign "+" before the country code to call out of Germany (for example +44 1234 567890). The general emergency number is 112 and the additional number for less emergent issues for police is 110.

Mobile phone coverage on the four networks (T-Mobile, Vodafone, E-Plus and o2) is excellent across the whole country. UMTS (3G data and HSDPA) and EDGE is also available. UMTS is still somewhat limited to urban areas. All mobile providers use GSM technology on the 900 and 1800 MHz frequency ranges. If you stay for a longer period of time, consider buying a prepaid phone card from one of the mobile phone companies; you won't have trouble finding a T-Mobile (in a "T-Punkt"), Vodafone, E-Plus or O2 store in any major shopping area. In most supermarket chains (for example ALDI), there are prepaid SIM cards from their own virtual providers available. These are normally quite cheap to buy, but expensive for international calls (around €1–2/min), but incoming calls are always free and SMS cost around €0.09–0.19. They are available at: Aldi, Lidl, Penny, Netto, Tchibo, Rewe, toom. A registration via Internet or (expensive) phone call is necessary after buying to activate the SIM card.

The cheapest way to call abroad from Germany is to use the internet cafés run by immigrants. They sell special calling cards that give the best rate to certain countries as well as offer cheap international calls from phone booths. It is also the cheapest way to call landlines in Germany.

Post

Germany's postal system is very efficient, their logistics branch DHL is one of the best companies in this field world-wide, with domestic post or within a radius of 400 kilometres, send within a day. The website of Deutsche Post has an online calculator for postage fees as well as a post office finder. Stamps are available at post offices and sometimes at newsagents or shops selling postcards. Also stamp vending machines can be found at a lot of places around the cities. You can purchase every stamp you need from this machines. They are unique as they accept every coin from 1 cent to 2 euro but change is only given in stamps. It costs about €40 to send a small package to Australia and €1.70 to send an old-fashioned letter to any place in the world outside of Europe. Within Germany, sending postcards costs €0.45 and standard letters €0.55, within Europe it is €0.65 for a postcard, standard letters to places in Europe cost €0.75. Outside Europe, the prices for sending a postcard or standard letter are €1 and €1.70 respectively. Although you will find the old post offices (mainly in the city centre), most of the smaller neighbourhood post offices are part of a small tobacco shop or grocery store. For larger package, you might consider competitive private companies like UPS, DHL or TNT.

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This is version 10. Last edited at 9:53 on Mar 27, 17 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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