Chemnitz is a city situated in southwestern Saxony, with around 250 000 inhabitants the third-largest city in the state, after Dresden and Leipzig. Originally based around a monastery, the settlement was granted city status in 1170. Due to its location at the foot of the Erzgebirge (literally ore mountains) in the sixteenth century Chemnitz began to grow in size an importance. Initially as a place of trade and later as the base of industrial production.
The increase in Saxon coal mining during the 18th century allowed Chemnitz to develop into one of the most important centres of the German machine and textile industries - factors which gave it the nickname of "little Manchester". Several large areas of the city were built during this period including Kaßberg and Sonnenberg. Due to the economic importance of Chemnitz it was a prime target for the Allied air force during World War II. By 1945 the city had undergone near to total destruction. Between 1953 and 1990 Chemnitz was renamed as Karl-Marx-Stadt (even though Marx himself had never visited nor had anything to do with the city's contemporary history). A great deal of new building occurred during this period, much of which remains today. The large bronze head was presented to the town's people in 1971.
Unlike Berlin and Leipzig, Chemnitz has experienced much less of demolition and rebuilding since the reunification. Modern buildings like the new department store, communist era flats and more historic buildings are within walking distance of each other. Parts of Chemnitz allow a glimpse into how a city of the DDR felt and looked, something that is increasingly hard to find in other parts of the former East.
Even with this the centre of Chemnitz has been described as "Germany's most recent city centre". The initial commercial investment after reunification focussed on large out-of-town shopping centres and it wasn't until 1999 that major building activity started in the city centre. Comparable only to Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, a whole new quarter of the city has been reconstructed in recent years. New buildings include the Kaufhof Department Store by Helmut Jahn, Galerie Roter Turm (façade by Hans Kollhoff) and Peek&Cloppenburg Clothing Store by Ingenhofen and Partner.
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 Thuringia. Chemnitz is one of the biggest cities in Germany to lack any InterCity or ICE service, in part because many routes through Chemnitz lack electrification.
- Leipzig (connections every hour, travelling time is about 50 minutes only)
- Dresden and Zwickau (mostly 2 connections every hour)
- Nuremberg (once every hour with a same platform change in Hof)
- Erfurt, Weimar, Jena and Gera (every two hours)
- The local airfield in Chemnitz-Jahnsdorf 12 km away serves business and small private charter only. The nearest passenger airports are:
- Dresden (DRS IATA) (80 km) Especially Lufthansa (to/from Frankfurt Airport), Germania, Eurowings and during summer flights to many destinations in Southern Europe and Northern Africa
- Leipzig-Halle (LEJ IATA) (117 km) Wide range of operators including Lufthansa, Air Berlin, Eurowings and many more
- Erfurt (165 km) very limited range of connections
- Berlin Schoenefeld Airport (SXF IATA) and Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL IATA) (240 km) Large but somewhat aging International Airports to be replaced by the new "Berlin Brandenburg International Airport" (BER IATA) eventually
- Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad) (100 km) Flights to Russia and France
- Prague (PRG IATA) International flights hub for Czech Airlines
The airports in Dresden and Leipzig both have their own train stations and can comfortably be reached with a change in Dresden Main Station (Hbf) or Leipzig Main Station (Hbf) respectively.
Chemnitz is situated at the junction of the motorways A4 and A72.
- Dresden A4, travelling time is about 45mins
- Leipzig A72 and B95, 1h30mins
- Weimar and Erfurt A4, 1h45mins
- Berlin A4 towards Dresden, then A13, 2h45mins
- Nuremberg A72 towards Hof, then A9, 2h45mins
- Prague either A4 towards Dresden and then A17 or B174 towards Marienberg, both about 3hours
- Munich A72 towards Hof, then A93, 4h45mins
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.
The current situation with Hauptbahnhof being a terminus rather than a through station is temporary, pending the completion of the works on the tracks passing through the train station itself.
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.
In the very centre
- 1 Charlie. The city was called Karl-Marx-Stadt during the DDR period, and on Brückenstraße may be found a seven-meter-tall bronze head of Karl Marx - known as "Charlie" or "the Nischel" to the locals. Various souvenirs along with a selection of sweet shops selling Karl-heads made of marzipan or chocolate can be bought.
- 2 The Red Tower (Der Rote Turm). This red-bricked tower right in the city centre survived many wars and centuries and is all what is left from the former Chemnitz city wall.
- 3 Chemnitz Opera (Opernhaus Chemnitz), Theaterplatz. it is one of the most beautiful buildings in Chemnitz
- Siegertsches Haus. A house on the main market square with a richly decorated baroque facade from 1741. Only a part of the original building survived the war and was restored to its current impressive condition.
- 6 Gunzenhauser Museum. Contains 2,459 works by 270 artists of the 20th century that have been collected by the art dealer Dr. Alfred Gunzenhauser, housed in a former headquarter of the Sparkasse Chemnitz, a building in the New Objectivity style completed in 1930.
- 7 Kulturkaufhaus Tietz. The former department store now houses a mix of retail and cultural institutions, with bits of the petrified forest in the atrium.
Outside of centre
- 8 Botanischer Garten Chemnitz, Leipziger Straße 147.
- 9 Arktisch-Alpiner Garten der Walter-Meusel-Stiftung, Schmidt-Rottluff-Straße 90.
- 10 Küchwald. The major green areas of central Chemnitz are the Schloßpark and the Küchwald, to the north-west and west of the city centre. The miniature railway and Kosmonautzentrum found in the Küchwald are worth a visit, especially if you're visiting the city with children.
- 11 Kulturpalast. Much like many other cities in socialist countries, Chemnitz was afforded a "Palace of Culture" in the post-war period. It is a rather elegant and nice neo-classicist building situated amidst green. It fell into disuse at the turn of the millennium and is now awaiting for the city to find it a new role and tennants.
- 12 Klaffenbach Moated Castle. (Wasserschloss Klaffenbach) Located in a small suburb in the South of the city, this is a sight seeing highlight you must visit, especially during the summer season.
- 13 Burg Rabenstein (Rabenstein Castle). This is a beautiful small castle known as the smallest castle in Saxony.
- 14 Schloßbergmuseum, Schloßberg 12, 09113 Schloßchemnitz.
- 15 Schönherr.fabrik, Schönherrstraße 8, 09113 Schloßchemnitz.
- 1 Sächsisches Industriemuseum, Zwickauer Straße 119, 09112. The museum of industry can be found a little way out from the city centre (Maps of the city centre can be got from the tourist information shop, in the front of the town hall). Much of Chemnitz's industrial heritage is detailed here with several working pieces of machinery and an old fireless steam engine. There is also a souvenir shop.
- 2 Volkswagen Motorenwerk Chemnitz, Kauffahrtei 47, 09120 Chemnitz (visitors should arrive at Gate A (Tor A) on the Kauffahrttei), ☎ . Tours are possible from Tuesday to Thursday between 9:30AM and 12:00 noon. The Volkswagen engine factory in Chemnitz which builds the TSI units has a visitor's centre which organizes guided tours through the factory for groups of between 10 and 25 people. The tours were temporarily suspended in the first half of 2013.
- Chemnitzer FC. Is a soccer club in the highest amateur league in Germany (3rd Division) and former GDR national champion.
Chemnitz has several cinemas dotted around the city. The majority of films will be in German.
- CineStar (Luxor Filmpalast), Hartmannstraße 9 - 11, ☎ .
- CineStar (Der Filmpalast am Roten Turm), Neumarkt 2, ☎ , (program guide).
- CineStar (Der Filmpalast im Vita Center), Wladimir-Sagorski-Straße 20, ☎ .
- Metropol Filmtheater, Zwickauer Straße 11, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Clubkino Siegmar, Zwickauer Straße 425, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com.
The city centre has several larger chain stores, as well as many smaller independent stores.
Chemnitz comprises a large number of shopping malls, both located in the city centre and in the suburbs (e.g. Sachsenallee, Chemnitz/Centre, Vita-Centre, Neefepark, Galerie Roter Turm, etc.
- GDR Souvenirs. The usual nostalgic souvenirs can be bought from various stores e.g. model Trabis and Ampelmänner postcards. There are also several second-hand stalls (especially in the train station) selling items from the former GDR.
- 1 Galerie Roter Turm.
- 2 Galeria Kaufhof, Am Rathaus 1, 09111 Chemnitz,.
- 3 Peek & Cloppenburg, Neumarkt 1, 09111 Chemnitz.
There are several good, reasonably priced restaurants dotted around the main square (in front of the town hall). Several have tables and chairs extending out into the square, 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.
- 1 Turmbrauhaus, Neumarkt 2., ☎ . open every day from 10AM.. The mixture of a traditional wooden interior with copper brewing vessels and home brewed beer make this a great place to sit down, relax and enjoy an evening. The food served here comes from Saxony/Bavaria, is very good and also reasonably priced. Get there relatively early if you want to be able to pick your table. A night club can also be found in the basement
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.
- Alex, Neumarkt 2. M-Th 9AM-1PM, F,Sa 9AM-3PM, Sun & Bank Holidays 9AM-2:30PM.. Alex bar's and restaurants are found in many German towns and cities. The bar-restaurant-cafe is found on the main square in the city centre and has a large summer terrace.
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.
- 1 Mercure Kongresshotel Chemnitz, Brueckenstraße 19, ☎ . This hotel is the large landmark "radiator" building found in the centre of Chemnitz. At 386 rooms its one of the largest hotels in the area. The rooms are equipped with modern amenities and the hotel also offers seminar and conference facilities for up to 300 people. Parking can be found nearby and the main railway station is within five minutes walk. Facilities include a restaurant, bar, WiFi Internet access and currency exchange. Staff at reception also speak English (in addition to German!). Pets are accepted and there are some smoking rooms. £30-50 per night.
- 2 Hotel an der Oper (former Moskau Hotel), Straße der Nationen 56, ☎ .
- pentahotel Chemnitz (formerly Renaissance Chemnitz).
- Seaside Residenz Chemnitz. Despite the name of the hotel, Chemnitz is not by the sea.
- AMBER HOTEL Chemnitz Park.
- Schlosshotel Klaffenbach.
- Hotel Sächsischer Hof.
- ACHAT Comfort Hotel Messe-Chemnitz.
- Grünaer Hof.
- City Hotel.
- Sport Hotel am Stadtpark.
- Günnewig Hotel Chemnitzer Hof.
- Business-Hotel Artes.
- alexxanders Hotel & Boardinghouse.
- Hotel Folklorehof.
- Hotel Rabensteiner Hof.
- Avenue Hotel.
- Hotel & Restaurant Kleinolbersdorf.
Chemnitz is a convenient place to stay if you would like to discover Saxony, Thuringia, Franconia and Bohemia with all of their amazing cultural and archeological highlights as well as the stunning and scenic landscape of Saxony and the Ore Mountains!
- Berlin - Only one direct train a day (in the morning which takes approx. 2.5 hours and same train returns daily in the evening) but hourly connections with 1 stop-over in Leipzig or Dresden
- Dresden - 45 minutes by car using the motorway A4 or 1 hour by train
- Leipzig - 1.5 hours by car or just 52 minutes by train
- Ore Mountains - discover this beautiful area by car (between 30 minutes and 1.5 hours)
- Oberwiesenthal - highest town in Germany, located in the Ore Mountains just at the border to the Czech Rep., during winter large and famous ski resort, discover by taking the train to Cranzahl and then the old steam train to Oberwiesenthal
- Elbe Sandstone Mountains - accessible via Dresden (motor ways A4 and A17) or by train (also via Dresden)
- Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary or Karlsbad) in the Czech Republic - 1.5 hours by car