Albrechtsburg and Cathedral
|o Mayor||Olaf Raschke|
|o Total||30.90 km2 (11.93 sq mi)|
|Elevation||106 m (348 ft)|
|o Density||920/km2 (2,400/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)|
|Vehicle registration||MEI, GRH, RG, RIE|
Meissen (in German orthography: Meißen, IPA: ['ma?sn?]) is a town of approximately 30,000 about 25 km (16 mi) northwest of Dresden on both banks of the Elbe river in the Free State of Saxony, in eastern Germany. Meissen is the home of Meissen porcelain, the Albrechtsburg castle, the Gothic Meissen Cathedral and the Meissen Frauenkirche. The Große Kreisstadt is the capital of the Meissen district.
Margraviate of Meissen 968-1002
Duchy of Poland 1002
Margraviate of Meissen 1002-1423
Electorate of Saxony 1423-1697
Electorate of Saxony 1706-1709
Electorate of Saxony 1763-1806
Kingdom of Saxony 1806-1871
German Empire 1871-1918
Weimar Republic 1918-1933
Nazi Germany 1933-1945
Allied-occupied Germany 1945-1949
East Germany 1949-1990
Meissen is sometimes known as the "cradle of Saxony". It grew out of the early West Slavic settlement of Misni inhabited by the Glomacze tribe and was founded as a German town by King Henry the Fowler in 929. In 968, the Diocese of Meissen was founded, and Meissen became the episcopal see of a bishop. The Catholic bishopric was suppressed in 1581 after the diocese accepted the Protestant Reformation (1559), but re-created in 1921 with its seat first at Bautzen and now at the Katholische Hofkirche in Dresden.
In 965, the Margraviate of Meissen, a frontier march of the Holy Roman Empire, was founded, with Meissen as its capital. A market town by 1000, Meissen passed to the Duchy of Poland in 1002 under Boleslaw I the Brave, afterwards into hands of Henry II a few months later and to the House of Wettin in 1089. In 1015, Meissen was besieged by the Poles led by future King Mieszko II.
In 1241, the town was attacked in the Mongol raid on Meissen. The small Mongol force under Orda Khan defeated Meissens's defenders and much of the town was destroyed. The Mongols withdrew from Germany after the death of Ögedei Khan, sparing the region from further destruction.
The construction of Meissen Cathedral was begun in 1260 on the same hill as the Albrechtsburg castle. The resulting lack of space led to the cathedral being one of the smallest cathedrals in Europe. The church is also known as being one of the purest examples of Gothic architecture.
In 1759, the Austrians defeated the Prussians at the Battle of Meissen.
Meissen served as an important place of religious dialogue in 1988 when the agreement on mutual recognition between the German Evangelical Church (both East and West German) and the Church of England was signed in the town in 1988.
Meissen is famous for the manufacture of porcelain, based on extensive local deposits of china clay (kaolin) and potter's clay (potter's earth). Meissen porcelain was the first high-quality porcelain to be produced outside of the Orient.
The first European porcelain was manufactured in Meissen in 1710, when by decree of King Augustus II the Strong the Royal-Polish and Electoral-Saxon Porcelain Factory (Königlich-Polnische und Kurfürstlich-Sächsische Porzellan-Manufaktur) was opened in the Albrechtsburg. In 1861, it was moved to the Triebisch river valley of Meissen, where the porcelain factory can still be found today. Along with porcelain, other ceramics are also manufactured in the city. In the old town streets, there have been set up numerous porcelain stores, often selling antique Meissen porcelain and sometimes offering repair of broken porcelain. In Meissen and the sourrounding area, several former painters from the manufacture have set up porcelain painting workshops and galleries with their own pieces of porcelain art.
The Albrechtsburg, the former residence of the House of Wettin, is regarded as being the first castle to be used as a royal residence in the German-speaking world. Built between 1472 and 1525, it is a fine example of late Gothic style. It was redecorated in the 19th century with a range of murals depicting Saxon history. Today the castle is a museum. Nearby is the 13th-century Gothic Meissen Cathedral (Meißner Dom), whose chapel is one of the most famous burial places of the Wettin family. The hill on which the castle and the cathedral are built offers a view over the roofs of the old town.
Meissen's historical district is located mostly around the market at the foot of the castle hill. It contains many buildings of Renaissance architecture. Also imposing is the view from the 57-metre-high tower of the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), situated in the old market-place. This church, not to be confused with the Dresden Frauenkirche, was first mentioned in a 1205 deed issued by Bishop Dietrich II and after a blaze about 1450 rebuilt in the Late Gothic style of a hall church. Its tower hosts the world's first porcelain carillon, manufactured in 1929 on the occasion of the town's 1000-years-jubilee. Another popular tourist sight is the world-famous Meissen porcelain factory.
From spring to autumn, several festivals take place in Meissen, such as the pottery market or the Weinfest, which celebrates the wine harvest. Meissen wine is produced at the vineyards in the river valley (Elbtal) around the town, part of the Saxonian wine region, one of the northernmost in Europe.
Meissen is the home of the Saxon public elite college Sächsisches Landesgymnasium Sankt Afra zu Meißen.
Also the Saxon Civil Servants Academy and the Academy of the Evangelical Church of Saxony are located in the city.