Friday, 17 October 2014

Bautzen - a Very Typical Saxony Town

Bautzen and its skyline of mediaeval towers

Whilst overnighting in Dresden last weekend, we took a day-trip out to Bautzen in eastern Saxony. It is a historic hill-top town based around a fortress and complex of churches built high above the Spree on a rocky plateau. The old-town (Altstadt) still retains its mediaeval atmosphere and you half-expect to bump into a horse-and-cart bringing goods to market around each corner of the narrow, winding, cobbled streets.

Bautzen is also the administrative and cultural capital of the Sorbs living in the Lausitz region, which adds a further dimension of otherliness to its attraction. It is very Saxon in feel, with its mediaeval German architecture invigorated with a Slavic influence, and hence more eastern European than western.

The DDR era hardly seems to have touched it, except for instances like a social-realist frieze around the fountain in the market square; but in fact Bautzen was infamous in the times of East Germany for its brutal NKVD (Soviet secret Police) prison, which later became a notorious Stasi prison into which many political dissenters of the regime were disappeared.

I think it is a bit far from Berlin to merit a day-trip just to visit Bautzen, but if you happen to be staying in the area then for a taste of genuine Saxony (and a taste of genuine Bautz'ner Senf - mustard in a multitude of flavour varieties) Bautzen cannot be beat.

Here are some photos from the day. Shame the weather was a bit grey!

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