Hohenstein-Ernstthal in the north of the Erzgebirge is a merger of two cities in 1898, though the area has been around for much longer.
Hohenstein-Ernstthal was once a great mining medieval city, with the mining of silver, copper, and gold some 500 years ago. The fact that the medieval town had market rights and even better, brewing rights, made it quite popular back in the day.
There’s no doubt that you’ll just love wandering through this place. Its City Hall is a test of true medieval engineering, having been built in 1564.
Of the five or so local churches in the area, make sure to see the Parish Church Christophori, built in a Baroque style, but the marble baptismal font dates to 1610. Then there’s the St. Trinitatis which was built in 1687.
The oldest of the churches is the Wüstenbrander Kirche built in 1581, while the church’s crucifix dates to 1608. Wüstenbrand, now part of Hohenstein, stood as an independent municipality for some 850 years.
For a more in-depth history of the area, head over to the Local History Museum in Waldenburg, in the Schloss Waldenburg a.k.a. Forest Castle (of course, there’s got to be a castle!).
The castle was originally built in 1165 and destroyed in 1430. It was quickly rebuilt and destroyed again in 1619, and rebuilt and destroyed several more times throughout the centuries. It now serves for festivals, weddings, and concerts in addition to housing exhibits on local history.
Karl May, the famous German writer was born here and his birth house is also a museum. You can find it in Karl-May-Straße 54. (Yup, the street bears his name also.)
Today, Hohenstein-Ernstthal is also home to the Sachsenring (or Saxon Ring), the legendary racing course around since 1927. For the racing enthusiast, enjoy watching cars or motorcycles run the circuit.
Besides the history and racing, there’s also the Stausee Oberwald (Upper Forest Reservoir), an artificial lake where you can rent a wonderful bungalow or a rowboat. Or take advantage of playing table tennis, volleyball, or miniature golf (my favorite!).
With everything Hohenstein-Ernstthal has to offer, it may be more popular today than it ever was way back in the medieval days.