F (the name means "Free Mountain") may live in the shadow of two larger Saxon cities, Dresden and Leipzig, but its importance to the wealth and development of Saxony--and especially of Dresden--can't be overstated.
Without "the Silver City of Saxony" and the mines of the Erzgebirge or Ore Mountains, the Electors of Saxony wouldn't have been able to indulge their passion for art, architecture, music, and theatre.
Even though much of Freiberg's wealth was sucked away by royals like Augustus the Strong, there were enough riches left over to pay for a rebuilt Freiberg St. Marien Cathedral, an impressive Rathaus or town hall, a Stadtheater, Freudenstein Castle, a technical university of mining, and other additions to the medieval town during the silver industry's heyday from the 1500s to the late 1800s.
Today, Freiberg has a population of about 40,000, and the Technical University Bergakademie--the world's oldest school of mining--continues to attract students from Germany and abroad. The town has an attractive medieval center, several excellent museums, four Silbermann organs, and events such as the Bergstadtfest mining festival (June), the Silbermann Days organ festival (September), and the Freiberg Christmas Market.
Where to get tourist information:
Stadtmarketing Freiberg has a Web site at www.freiberg-service.de.
When you're in Freiberg, you can pick up several different English-language brochures and maps at the Tourist Information Office, which is behind the Rathaus or Town Hall on the Obermarkt. One of the most useful is Zu FuŖ durch Freiberg, which is available in English as "The old part of the town: a guided walk (about one hour)."
The tourist office's multilingual staff can also help you find accommodation (in a hotel, guesthouse, apartment, or private room) if you haven't booked ahead.
Several of Freiberg's medieval buildings have distinctive windows, such as these peaked windows with carved stone frames.
Freiberg's museums include the Stadt- und Bergbaumuseum, or, with exhibits such as objects from mining history, Gothic religious sculptures, folklore and crafts, a miners' devotional stall with a 17th Century harmonium, and a film presentation about mining history.
The museum is located on the Cathedral square, in a late Gothic building known as the Domherrenhof. It's open every day except Monday, and entrance fees are modest.
Photo: Tobias Richter.
The Rathaus Freiberg, or Town Hall, was built in 1640. It incorporates an earlier building from the 13th Century and is on the Obermarkt or Upper Market square.
Twice a day, at 11:15 a.m. and 4:15 p.m., the "Miner's Song" is played from the Rathaus tower.
Schloss Freudenstein, a.k.a. , is on the Schlossplatz at the edge of the medieval town center.
Cross the moat bridge and enter the castle courtyard, where you'll find a cafť and the modern, world-class Terra Mineralia mineral museum.
Freiberg St. Mary's Cathedral (in German, the ) was built in 1501 on the site of an earlier Romanesque church that was destroyed by fire.
The Late Gothic church has a light, airy interior with beautiful painted ceilings and two Silbermann organs. (The church became protestant and gave up its Roman Catholic cathedral status after the Reformation in 1537.)
The (in English, the Bergwerk Freiberg Mine Tour) is a "don't miss" attraction for anyone who isn't claustrophobic or afraid of the dark. A level "Underground Path" tour is suitable for children and the disabled.
Copyright © 1996-2022 Durant and Cheryl Imboden. All rights reserved.