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 Sachsen 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.

Location of Chemnitz in Saxony


Chemnitz market square

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 the neuen Bundesländer.

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.

Get in

The old and new Town Halls

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 Thuringia.

There is only one direct train from and to Berlin each day (with the so-called "Vogtlandbahn").

By plane

The Chemnitz Opera

The airports in Dresden and Leipzig both have their own train stations and can comfortably be reached with one stop over in either Dresden Main Station (Hbf) or Leipzig Main Station (Hbf).

By car

Chemnitz is situated at the junction of the motorways A4 and A72.

Map of the Chemnitz tramway network

Get around

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

Outside of centre

The bronze statue of Karl Marx, Chemnitz


Schlossteich ("castle pond")



Chemnitz has several cinemas dotted around the city. The majority of films will be in German.


Galeria Kaufhof is one of the newest buildings in Chemnitz

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.


Soviet style building styles from the DDR era survive in 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.


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.


The Kongresshotel is still the tallest building in Chemnitz and one of its landmarks

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.

Go next

Bastei bridge in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains

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!

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, September 12, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.