Freital is a town in the Elbe Valley region of Saxony. One of the major centers of coal-mining, Freital preserves late 19th century buildings and a number of technical landmarks, including the historical narrow-gauge railway Weißeritztalbahn.
Location and orientation
Freital lies few km south-west from Dresden in the valley of the Weißeritz river, the left tributary of the Elbe. The elevation is about 160 m near the river and up to 350 m on top of the neighboring hills. The Weißeritz valley is rather narrow. Upon arriving from Dresden, you will certainly feel approaching to the Erzgebirge mountains that lie south and south-west from Freital. Outside Freital, the northern part of the valley narrows to a ravine that leads to the Plauen district of Dresden. South from the town, the Weißeritz splits into (or, actually, merges from) two smaller rivers that flow in separate narrow valleys.
Freital is separated into several districts with easily-recognized borders. Till the beginning of 20th century, each district constituted a separate town or village, and these individual settlements are still not fully merged into the unified town. The railroad and the main street (Dresdner Str.) run through the whole valley. As you come from Dresden, you first enter the Postchappel district. Then follow Döhlen and Burgk (west and east from the railroad, respectively). Further south, one finds Deuben, Hainsberg, and Coßmannsdorf.
First settlements in the Weißeritz valley date back to 13th century. Since Middle Ages, the valley was known as a coal reserve. The coal mining began in 16th century and was rapidly enhanced in the end of 18th century. In the first half of 19th century, the Weißeritz valley was a leader of coal-mining in Germany. The latest technical inventions were introduced here: for example, the first German steam engine was installed in the Burgk village and is now on display in the local museum. The Freital valley was also pioneering in the coke production and in street gas lighting. Finally, the first mine railroad with electrical locomotives also appeared in the Freital valley in 1882.
In 1921, small towns and villages of the Weißeritz valley merged into the town of Freital (Frei Tal means 'free valley'). In the middle of 20th century, coal mining was gradually ceased. However, after the World War II some of the mines were used again, this time for the mining of uranium. During 40 years (till re-unification of Germany in 1989), the region produced more than 3000 tons of uranium. Presently, any mining is abandoned. The population of Freital is about 39000 (2007).
Railway stations are located in Potschappel, Deuben, and Hainsberg (two stations – Hainsberg and Hainsberg West) districts. All the stations are served by S3 S-bahn line Dresden – Tharandt and by RB trains running to Chemnitz or Zwickau. These trains operate every half an hour between 4.30 and midnight. RE trains make a stop at Freital Deuben, IRE trains do not stop at Freital. The trip from Dresden Hbf takes 7–15 minutes.
All the stations within Freital are regular German railway platforms with ticket machines and without any human service. There are no lounges as well.
The historical narrow-gauge railway Weißeritztalbahn starts from Freital Hainsberg station and has one more stop at Coßmannsdorf. This railway continues to Dippoldiswalde.
Bus station is located near the Freital Deuben train station. Here, one finds buses to Wilsdruff and Dippoldiswalde (#348) as well as the long-distance regional bus T-400 that runs to Freiberg and other towns of the Erzebirge region.
The bus station also serves as a hub for local buses A–F. Bus A starts from Dresden (Löbtau district, connection to trams at Tharandter Str.) and passes through all of the Freital districts. This bus runs every 20–30 minutes between 4.30 and 1.00.
From Dresden, follow the S194 road (Tharandter Str.) It is also possible to come to Freital from Tharandt and Freiberg (the same S194 road), Dippoldiswalde (B170, then S193), and Wilsdruff (S36). While arriving from other directions, drive via Dresden. The A17 motorway is just few km north from Freital, but there is no direct exit to the town. The best option is to use exit #2 and follow the S36 road.
Districts of Freital are distant from each other. If you are going to visit several districts, the public transport may be necessary. Trains will bring you from one district to another (see above). Yet buses provide more convenient tranfers. There are 6 local buses, labeled A to F. Once again, note bus A with the regular weekend service and convenient route spanning the whole town (Potschappel – Deuben – Hainsberg – Coßmannsdorf).
Each of the Freital districts has its own landmarks. The most important sights are probably the town museum in Burgk, the town halls in Döhlen and Potschappel, and the narrow-gauge railway that terminates at Hainsberg.
- Town hall at Dresdner Str. (near the train station) is one of the most remarkable buildings of Freital. It was constructed in 1903 and stylized at medieval architecture. The front of the town hall is richly decorated with red flowers that give the building a truly festive appearance.