Anyone whose grand idea of a “perfect” vacation involves palm trees, snorkeling, or a beach of any kind might find the Saxon town of Thum on their grand plans. However, if mountains and crisp winter air are your kind of thing, then you should definitely add this former mining town to your “places to visit” list.
Thum is actually great to visit anytime of year, but I really like end of November/early December. You see, that’s when its Christmas Market is going on — where the town’s decked out in twinkling lights, a youth orchestra’s playing, and mulled wine is warming you up quite nicely in the chilly Ore Mountains air.
Plus, Saxon Folk Art is often for sale at the market, making it a great gift for loved ones back home.
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I love it cold as much as the next person, but I’d rather wait until it warms up some to visit nearby Schloss Wolkenstein, a medieval castle whose role it was to protect an old Bohemian trade route. A grisly part of the castle is its torture chamber — life was a tad rough in the Middle Ages.
As the mercury rises, a hike to see the Greifensteine, a natural rock formation, is really fantastic. And if it gets too cold for you, come inside to the Schnitzmuseum, full of Saxon Folk Art exhibitions.
When the call of the Ore Mountains has you hankering to get back outdoors, come to the Tiergarten — a zoo that’s got animals like snowy owls, goats, and all kinds of fuzzy and flying things in between.
Thum is also where you’ll see a cute (is that the right word) narrow gauge railway, and information on the railway’s history through the region.
One other piece of the town’s history involves beer. The Dampfbrauerei made the stuff here for about 600 years, eventually being sold to a company in nearby Chemnitz — so if you get a chance to try Thumer Lager, remember it all started right here.
You can keep your palm trees and sandy beaches, I’ll take the mountains of Thum over that any time. Care to join me?