Nestled amongst quaint wine villages and wooded hills, and bisected by the stunning Elbe River, lies Meissen, the city of porcelain. Thanks to the rich china clay and potters earth deposits in the surrounding hills, fine porcelain has been produced in this charming city for more than 300 years. Most visitors come to Meissen to tour the porcelain factory and nearby museum; souvenir hunters and porcelain aficionados can chose from the widest selection of pottery in all of Germany. Other popular Meissen souvenirs include the various wines of the region, including several Rieslings and ‘sekt’, a German sparkling wine popular amongst tourists and locals alike.
On the left back of the Elbe, Albrechtsburg Castle overlooks the Old Town, sharing its hill with a Gothic cathedral. The cobblestone lanes below are lined with brightly coloured Renaissance townhouses. The ancient Rathaus dates back to 1472, making it the oldest Town Hall in all of Saxony.
The port at Meissen is a modest docking area on the Elbe. However, thanks to the allure of the city’s porcelain history, several river cruises stop there, including itineraries by Viking River Cruises. Some of these cruises follow the elegant Elbe River all the way to the Czech Republic. Although many picturesque villages dot the banks of the Elbe, Meissen draws approximately 280,000 tourists each year thanks to its porcelain, known to the locals as ‘white gold’.
Cruise ships dock on the left bank of the Elbe River at Hochuferstraße 01662.
The port itself has no facilities, but the centre of town is a very short walk from the dock.
Facilities near the port in Meissen include:
- Tourist information centres
- Public toilets
- Restaurants and cafés
- Souvenir stores.
How To Get Around
The Old Town is compact and easy to walk. The walk up to the castle and cathedral, however, is very steep; catch the funicular for a quick and fun way to travel up the hill. You pay only for the ride up (the ride down is free). Be aware that much of Meissen is difficult to cycle along due to cobbled streets. You’ll find two train stations in the city, one on each bank of the river. The station called ‘Meißen’ is a five-minute walk from the Old Town. The station called ‘Meißen-Triebischtal’ is close to the porcelain factory.
Travel times from the port in Meissen:
- It is a 19 minute journey to Albrechtsburg
- It is a 19 minute journey the Meissen Dom
- It is a 31 minute journey to Porzellan-Manufaktur.
- It is a 4 minute journey to the Meissen Dom
- It is a 4 minute journey to Albrechtsburg
- It is a 6 minute journey to Porzellan-Manufaktur.
- Currency – The currency in Meissen is the Euro (€). Notes come in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, and €500 denominations. Coins come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent and €1 and €2 denominations.
- Time Zone – Meissen follows Central European Time (CET), which is one hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). This changes to two hours ahead from March to October during daylight savings.
- Weather – Meissen has a cold to moderate continental climate with relatively warm summers and cold winters for Germany. July is the hottest month in Meissen, with an average temperature of 18.1 degrees Celsius. February is the coldest month, with an average high of only -1.7 degrees Celsius.
- Albrechtsburg – This Renaissance castle, constructed in 1471, was the first castle built in Germany as a residence for royalty. The castle is better known as the source of European porcelain known as Meissen ware. A group of scientists took three years to work out how to make porcelain in 1708 (something China had been making for thousands of years). Porcelain production began in the castle itself in 1708 and moved to a factory nearby in 1863.
- Porzellan-Manufaktur (Porcelain Factory) – Tour the Meissen Porcelain Factory to see how Meissen ware is made today using the same traditional methods and designs conceived centuries ago. An excellent audio-guide tour will lead you around the factory and will take around 30 minutes to complete. The onsite museum has four entertaining demonstrations of potting techniques, including figure moulding, vase throwing, plate throwing and various glazing techniques.
- Meissen Dom – Sharing the hill with the castle, you’ll find Meissen’s Gothic Cathedral, affectionately known as ‘the Dom’. The interior is lushly decorated with brightly coloured stained-glass windows depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments, an altar triptych, carved wooden statuary and rare examples of historic Meissen pottery.