It starts out like a sick joke: What do a medieval fortress and a women’s prison have in common?
Ah, well, I can answer that — but you’ll have to stick around the Saxon town of Jahnsdorf (Erzgebirge) first.
Don’t complain, Jahnsdorf lies right in the middle of the Ore Mountains, which is exactly where you’ll find the Nature Park Erzgebirge/Vogtland.
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In case that means nothing to you, let me tell ya, it’s some gorgeous countryside. And from this high up (ranging from 342 to 548 meters above sea level), you’ll think you can see forever.
Too bad the poor guys that had to go down into the silver mines didn’t get to enjoy the great outdoors of Jahnsdorf as much as you can today. But, when the mines opened back around 1510, things were quite a bit different.
Mining wasn’t Jahnsdorf’s only industry, either, as weaving was once a big boost to the local economy. I’d gander to say when the Flugplatz Chemnitz-Jahnsdorf opened in 1926, that must’ve helped too. What’s that? That would be a local airfield, that was once used for military aircraft during the Cold War. The airport’s still open, by the way.
Speaking of the Cold War, I can now answer the question of how the Middle Ages meets up with a women’s prison. Jahnsdorf lies right near the Frauengefängnis Hoheneck (over in Stollberg), a women’s prison back when Jahnsdorf was part of East Germany. Before that it was a 16th century Jagdschloss, built right over its medieval fortress beginnings.
See, there you go — it wasn’t a sick joke. ;-)
The old prison isn’t the only thing left over from the Middle Ages. Over in the village of Leukersdorf (one of Jahnsdorf’s four), there’s a pretty village church from 1782 that has medieval origins. And you’re really close to Burg Rabenstein, thought to be the smallest castle in all of Saxony. In this case size really doesn’t matter — who wouldn’t love to see a castle that was built more than 800 years ago?
Want to know what else you’ll love? How about the Hoffest (Farm Festival) every July, or its guided hiking and cycling tours? Heck, even just a stroll in the Ore Mountains would be good enough for some.
Look, if you’re looking to jam pack your day with castle after castle, church after church, or one sport after another — then maybe Jahnsdorf isn’t for you. However, if you’re looking to see the real heart of Germany, then Jahnsdorf is it.