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Porcelain perfection at every turn: Meissen

It is the flawless beauty of a porcelain figurine that best captures the essence of Meissen. The town has become famous all over the world for its porcelain, which features the mark of the blue crossed swords. Visitors to Meissen will not only encounter exquisite porcelain, however, but also an elegant town that looks back on more than 1,000 years of history.

No trip is complete without a tour of the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory. From the 13th century onwards, porcelain was imported from China for considerable sums of money. It took until the early 18th century for alchemists in Europe to unravel the mysteries of its production. They were working on behalf of the Elector of Saxony, a great admirer and collector of porcelain.

Meissen Porcelain Manufactory: internationally renowned for over 300 years

Soon after this discovery was made, the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory was established at Albrechtsburg Castle, where it remained for more than 150 years before moving to a new site in Meissen-Triebischtal. Despite this, the late-Gothic castle of Albrechtsburg is still well worth a visit. Perched high above the Elbe river, it was Germany's first castle to be built solely as a residence. Today it houses a number of fine museums and collections, in which porcelain – the town's great passion – plays an unsurprisingly prominent role. The delightful porcelain carillon in the tower of the gothic Church of Our Lady has been enchanting passers-by with its chimes since 1929. And in the Church of St. Nicholas are the largest figures ever made from Meissen porcelain. Perhaps not as famous, but no less important, is the town's pewter casting heritage. The tin foundry, established in 1792, is the oldest still in operation in Saxony and doubles as a museum commemorating this beautiful, near-forgotten craft.

Fabulous festivals and Germany's smallest wine region.

Meissen's Gothic cathedral is a prominent feature of the townscape and a sight to behold not least for the contrasting architecture of its towers: the south-east tower dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries, while the west towers were only completed between 1904 and 1908 . The festival season in Meissen runs almost all year round, attracting visitors from near and far. Highlights in the town's events calendar include the Pianoforte Festival, Meissen MusikMarathon, the pottery market and the enchanting Christmas market. Another firm favourite is the traditional Meissen wine festival in September. Although Saxony is Germany's smallest wine region it produces some distinctive wines that are highly regarded by connoisseurs – and that calls for celebration! One speciality is the goldriesling, a grape variety from the Alsace that now only flourishes in the Meissen area. All along the Saxon Wine Route, but especially in Meissen itself, there are lots of pretty little wine taverns where you can stop for a glass of wine at any time of year. And in summer, if you see a broom outside a house, it means that wine is served inside – and for once there is no porcelain involved!