historic sightseeing
Lichtenstein / Sa. - a historical city tour.
The Lichtenstein History Association EV invites you on a tour!
view to the castleLet's start our little trip through the history of Lichtenstein on the old market square. On a first look around you won't notice the city's age of nearly 800 years. Reasons for this are probably the many fires of the recent centuries and the consequences of the Thirty-Years War. First your eye catches our landmark - the castle high above the city. The first document mentions it as "Castrum Lichtenstein" in 1212. Peasants and crafts people settled below the castle hill in the safety of the historic castle. This settlement of straw and shingle covered clay cabins got the name "Lichtenstein". There is proof of the place being mentioned as a city for the first time in 1446. A positive influence on city development was the location of the settlement on the old army and trade road from Nuremberg to Dresden, whose course inside the city was changed several times in the past centuries.

The old market square called "Altmarkt" is the second oldest trading place of the town formerly having included a little pond for fire fighting purposes. The place itself was covered with grass. On the left side of the Ernst-Thälmann-Straße Street there is one of the old city halls situated. This half-timbered building, easily recognizable by its turret, served as a town hall from 1626 - 1771. The first floor contained an office room and the second floor the council hall.

half timbered houses with former city hallVictims of the big fire of 1771 were not only 83 houses, the church, the school and the council fortress but also that particular city hall. Already in 1772 it was newly erected. The expansion of the city demanded the administration to be enlarged. For that reason the city authorities bought the neighbouring houses "Böttgerhaus" and "Klemmhaus" and shifted the office rooms into those in 1833. The old city hall was transformed into a bank and later into the restaurant "Ratskeller". Eye-catching is the pillory stone installed in a window recess of the former wine cellar which once had its place next to the trough on the "Altmarkt" as an alternative of a pillory pillar. The stone is framed by the coats of arms of Lichtenstein on the left side and of Schönburg on the right.

the "Portikus" (=alley with arcades)On the opposite side of the old market square, No 4 Am-Altmarkt , stands the building of the former "Oberer Gasthof" (meaning upper inn) called "Goldene Sonne" (Golden Sun) since the 18th century. Traces of it can be followed back to 1593. The inn was rebuilt after the big fires in 1771 and 1869 and alterations were made in the time of the GDR so that today there is nothing left of the old inn except the tremendous gateway. Turning towards Hugo-Colditz-Straße Street, next to the stationer's, you can see the entrance to a small alley called "Portikus" (portico) that connects upper and lower Lichtenstein. Because of the arcade and the two building bridges some joker called this connection "Portikus" (=alley with arcades).

the Luther churchOur next stop up the road is "Kaisergässchen" (Emperor's Alley) on whose end the 45 "Schulstufen" (school steps) begin. From there you have a remarkable view over the district Callnberg having been an independent town from its establishment in 1708 till 1920. On edict of Prince Otto Wilhelm von Schönburg-Lichtenstein a "new city" was built upon the former "Rennfeld" gaining municipal rights in 1725 and contrasting to the irregular architecture of Lichtenstein by its baroque design. Some significant buildings of Callnberg clearly stand out, like for example from left to right Luther Church, next to it the Gymnasium (a secondary school), Pestalozzi School, the chimney of the former cover cloth and plush mill (then Paul Zierold Factory) and directly in front of it the building of the old school of Callnberg in Paul-Zierold-Straße Street.

the city parkAfter a 7 minutes walk, going down the "Schulstufen" and taking a left turn which leads you along the edge of the forest and the former mill brook, you reach the city park which got a completely new design for the First Saxonian Gardening Show in 1996. It offers relaxation, but also the opportunity of long and interesting walks. Along Rödlitz Brook to Rödlitz or on the tracks of the Croatenberg Hill one can enjoy nature in its purest way. Still, let's go back to the "Schulstufen" and "Kaisergässchen" in order to get to our next check point - the "old school". This building housed a boy school from 1782 till 1899.

the church "St. Lawrence"The church "St. Lawrence" is situated directly opposite of it. The exact date of its erection is not demonstrable, but the presence of a priest as early as 1261 is documented. Until 1552 the church was surrounded by a graveyard. The big fire of 1771 destroyed the church completely. Its reconstruction in the design of today took place from1782 to 1786. Underneath the altar was the family tomb of Schönburg until 1889. Above the door of the church there is a relief showing Saint Lawrence holding up a cross while he is being burnt. The rectory opposite the church has about the same age. Our tour continues through Church Alley to Infirmary Alley. In front of the junction to Infirmary Alley (Hospitalgasse) there is the former infirmary "Zum Heiligen Kreuz" ("Holy Cross") which was founded by Naumburg Bishop Peter in 1440 and equipped with a sacrifice altar for holy masses and giving indulgence. The infirmary was burnt by Swedish troupes during the Thirty-Years War in 1639. In 1651 it was rebuilt to today's appearance. After the big fire in 1771the infirmary was used as a prayer house and , for a short time, as a school.

the Kleist MemorialPassing the infirmary to our left - a city gate was standing here in 1590 - one can see old remains of a wall. Behind it, in the place of the building that is standing there today, there was the so called "Meynertsche Postgut" (Meynert Post Estate). It probably was a place to change horses. Hospitalgasse then leads into Chemnitzer Straße Street. Crossing the road one reaches Teichplatz Square (Pond Square). Straight ahead you can see Chemnitzer Berg Street (Chemnitz Hill Street) which had been the main road until 1826, used by Friedrich II of Prussia, Napoleon Bonaparte as well as the poet Heinrich von Kleist. The latter wrote his impressions of Lichtenstein down in a letter to his wife. An excerpt of this letter is written on a bronze plate on Kleist Memorial. (picture on the right side).

the castle stairsTeichplatz Square originally was the mayor's pond whose water was used to extinguish fires from 1755 to 1893. Because of the new high-pressure water system the pond, useless as it was, was then changed into a square. If you go down Angergasse Alley behind Teichplatz Square you arrive at the "Ratsfronfeste" (council fortress). The house was used as a prison for over 400 years. After its destruction in 1771 it was rebuilt and remained prison until 1869. As the judicial supremacy was in the castle the prisoners had to be taken there on the so-called "Spitzbubenweg" (Scoundrel Path). A few more steps and one can see the Castle Stairs. These 178 steps were constructed at the end of the 18th century.

the "Mohrenapotheke" - a chemist's shopTurning left into Marktgässchen Alley (Market Square Alley), which presumably was the way to the old market square from 1600, one gets back to Ernst-Thälmann-Straße Street. After a few steps down the hill one stands in front of "Mohrenapotheke" (a chemist's shop) which has been situated here since 1858. This building is the oldest house of the town that has been maintained in its original shape. It was erected in 1605; the latest reconstruction was carried out in 1993. Until 1858 the building housed the Saxonian and later the Royal Saxonian Post Office. The chemist's (documented since 1652) was then in the opposite building, No 10 Ernst-Thälmann-Straße Street.
the "Parkschlösschen" - Park VillaWe are standing in front of the entrance to Schlossgasse Alley. Here a free spot used as a parking lot catches the eye. In this place there was the "Lower Inn" better known by the name "White Stallion". The inn was first documentarily mentioned in 1590 and was broken down for street building measures in 1962. The opposite alley is called Bath Alley. As the name reveals, owners of public bath-houses had settled here who, in addition to their job as barbers, also knew how to pull teeth or bleed. At the end of the alley, on its right-hand side, there stood a mill on the brook Rödlitz - the Central Mill. Proceeding in this direction one also reaches the city park on Rödlitzer Straße Street. The significant building of the "Parkschlösschen" (Park Villa - please notice the picture on the left hand side) leads the way. (10 minutes on foot)
the hotel "Golden Helmet" Back to our starting point in Ernst-Thälmann-Straße Street. The way leads down to the crossing of the two main roads. Here the Rödlitz Brook was bridged and was therefore called "Big Bridge" though the name is documented nowhere. Until 1826 the brook was open at this spot and the wagons had to go through the water. For people on foot there was a small footbridge. A look at the building on the left-hand side lets us recognize an allegorical angel sculpture with a trumpet standing on the roof. Behind the crossing on the road to Zwickau stood the hotel "Golden Helmet" which was erected in the place of the old cook-shop in 1802.
the "Brückenstraße"-StreetOpposite the "House of Unity" as the hotel was called from 1950 to its demolition in 1994 there was the former tax collector's house and another city gate. Unlike other medieval towns Lichtenstein never had a stone city wall though the city was guarded by four gates and was surrounded by palisades in the worst times of the plague. Turning right one enters Brückenstraße Street. Striking is a triangular bay on house No 2 with a "toothache demon" that drills a tooth with a chest drill. This is evidence for a dentist having practised in the house. The end of Brückenstraße Street (Bridge Street) is marked by the cinema "Clubkino". This cinema has existed since the 1920s and was called "Edison-Saloon" - later "Capitol". In 1986 it was rebuilt to a modern movie theatre. From the building one can look down Glauchauer Straße Street where another city gate was located.
Our way leads us along the Rödlitz Brook to the office building No2 Bachgasse Alley. This newly reconstructed building used to be a knitting mill until 1990. Here we turn right and reach Topfmarktgasse Alley (Pottery Market Alley) using a newly built passage way. This alley is one of the oldest the "Topfmarkt"-Square (Pottery Market Square) is the oldest marked place of the city. in town just like the one going parallel with it - Am Schlossberg Alley (Castle Hill Alley). Only a few buildings and some cellars on castle hill give evidence of former ages. We have reached Topfmarkt Square (Pottery Market Square). This is the oldest marked place of the city. Here begins Castle Hill. The steep hill had to be climbed by traders with their wagons if they intended to go to Chemnitz. On the right-hand side of the hill there was a prosperous farm that offered relay horses to conquer the hill. The traders made sure that their wagons were in good condition and the loads were safely tied to them because goods fallen to the ground were property of the prince. The same applied to whole loads if a cartwheel had broken and one axis touched the ground .
the castle to the Schönburg-Hartensteiner-familyAlso here, at the entrance to Castle Hill, there was another wooden gate. As we climb the hill our pace gets slower. Half way up a little bench invites us to relax and we may enjoy a fantastic view over the city below. The tall chimney of the former hosiery mill Bahner catches the eye and on the right side of it the building of Diesterweg School. Remarkable is also the red brick building of the old Royal Saxonian District Court which houses the city library nowadays. In the background one can see Ernst-Schneller-Estate with the municipal heating plant. If you look left, Luther Church stands out. After our short break we continue our way up to the castle. It has had an eventful history during its nearly 800 years of existence. As a defence installation probably constructed even before 1212, it was destroyed three times - the last time in 1632. As a ruin it stood there until after the Westphalian Treaty and was reconstructed in renaissance style as a residence in 1648. From 1215 to 1945 the fortress, later the castle belonged to the Schönburg family. Things like the moat, the chamber of torture, the tower of starvation and the underground tunnel system which was dug into the rotliegendes still give evidence of the old construction.
the "Schlossallee" - castle avenue In the course of its reconstruction and expansion from 1837 to 1839 the castle got its present appearance. The tomb situated below the castle reminds of the dynasty of Schönburg. 20 members of the family which were given an imperial principality status in 1790 were buried here from 1800 to 1936. The family lived in the residence until the end of the war in 1945. From 1949 to 2000 the castle belonged to the diocese Meißen which put up the "St. Elisabeth" home for aged people in the castle. Then the Schönburgs got their former property back. From the castle you may go back to Ernst-Thälmann-Straße Street and the old market square down the Castle Stairs or extend your tour and continue it along Castle Avenue (Schlossallee).
the palace - the Daetz-CentrumIf you enter Castle Avenue, you arrive the Palace in just a few steps. It was erected in 1848 and was used by the Department of Justice until 1889. In the palace yard executions took place. The last execution was in 1859. From the yard you can enjoy the view over the palace garden which was newly laid out in baroque style with attractive plants. Since July 2001, the worldwide first “Centre for International Wood Carving Art“ – the Daetz Centre Lichtenstein – has been housed in the Palace building as a multifunctional culture site and meeting place. Behind it your eye catches allotments and the area of the industrial park "Am Auersberg". To the right of the Palace the newly laid out English Garden invites you to have a rest or to take a walk to the Käppler Gorge.
the more than 500 years old "Käppler oak tree"In this gorge you can find the more than 500 years old "Käppler oak tree", one of the oldest trees in Saxony. Opposite the Palace a memorial stone commemorates Princess Lucie von Schönburg-Waldenburg who founded a kindergarten in Lichtenstein in 1895. Let's go straight on along Castle Avenue. On the right-hand side one can see the nurses' hostel of the Caritasheim (the home for aged people in the castle). Castle Avenue ends at the Ernst-Thälmann-Straße arterial road. On the other side of the road the above-mentioned Kleist Memorial Stone comes into view. Behind it the so-called "Black Avenue" takes its beginning where the "Napoleon beech tree" stood until 1940. Under this ancient tree Napoleon is supposed to have rested after the battle of Jena-Auerstädt having climbed Chemnitz Hill with his wagons. Yet, this is not documented. Before you go down the steep Chemnitzer Berg Street to "Teichplatz" you should once more enjoy the view of the town; in some distance you can recognize St Lawrence Cemetery. Leaving Teichplatz behind us we follow Ernst-Thälmann-Straße Street down to the old marked square - our starting point.
next   Suggestions for more tours.