Significant branches of industry formed Upper Lusatia for centuries and as such left their mark on the countryside and the towns and cities. The most important economic branches were opencast lignite mining, the glass and textile industries and engineering. Imposing witnesses to this industrial culture and unique technical monuments still hint at how many people were able to secure their livelihoods and their daily lives thanks to these branches of industry. Come and discover their secrets with us!
1. The Muskau Arch UNESCO Global Geopark
The Muskau Arch / Łuk Mużakowa is one of 177 areas in the world (as of 2022) that have been awarded the status of a UNESCO Global Geopark. The Muskau Arch represents the Earth’s earlier history, especially the Ice Age, and also the extraordinary history of mineral mining and the development of industry.
2. The Muskau Forest Railway
The Waldeisenbahn Muskau (WEM) (the Muskau Forest Railway) is one of the most popular attractions in Upper Lusatia. This nostalgic narrow gauge railway with a gauge of just 600 mm connects several trip destinations in the area of the Muskau Arch Geopark (UNESCO).
3. The Weißwasser Glass Museum – the Gelsdorf villa
In the middle of the 19th century, Weißwasser was a small village in the midst of the heath in the Muskau Arch. Several years later, the discovery of a rich seam of brown coal, sand and loam and sufficient wood, as well as the decision to route the Berlin-Görlitz railway line through Weißwasser, literally led to the municipality’s exponential growth. Eleven glassworks were built there between 1872 and 1903. Thanks to this, the “industrial village” of Weißwasser became one of the biggest glassmaking towns in the world during the 1920s.
4. The Neufert Building in Weißwasser
The Neufert Building in Weißwasser is a typical industrial building built in the functionalist style. It was planned and built as a central warehouse and logistics centre for the Associated Lusatian Glassworks (Vereinigte Lausitzer Glaswerke). It was used to store glass products and for their reloading onto the railway. The architect of the building, which was realised in 1935-1937, was Ernst Neufert, a student of the Bauhaus.
5. The Sagar Craft and Trade Museum
The Sagar Craft and Trade Museum was established in 1997 on the site of a sawmill that was mentioned as far back as in the 16th century. Nowadays, the sawmill constitutes the heart of the museum after having undergone extensive reconstruction work. In addition to horizontal and vertical band saws, there are also a number of special woodworking machines and displayed exhibits pertaining to the craft of wheelwrights, basket makers, cobblers and millers.
6. Functionalist wooden buildings in Niesky / The Konrad Wachsmann House in Niesky
Would you like to order your house from a catalogue? That was possible in the municipality of Niesky as far back as 100 years ago. The town was home to the company of Christoph & Unmack, at that time the largest factory for assembled houses in Europe. The fact that the building quality was first class is still borne out by Niesky today.
7. The Museum of Granite Mining in Königshain and the quarries in the Königshain Mountains
Find out all about the hard work that went on in the quarry! The museum located in the middle of charming countryside informs visitors about the work and life conditions for quarrymen in the Königshain Mountains.
8. Kühlhaus Görlitz
The Görlitz Cold Store (Kühlhaus) shows the way in which it is possible to make meaningful and alternative use of empty industrial buildings thanks to a citizens’ initiative. It is a meeting place for people of different ages and it allows them to learn, celebrate and work together.
9. The Cultural History Museum
The Cultural History Museum in Görlitz has a number of exhibitions in three different buildings (the Baroque House, the Reichenbach Tower and the Kaisertrutz bastion). The Kaisertrutz (Emperor’s resistance), a medieval artillery bastion, has a total of five exhibition floors. Visitors can look forward to the cultural history of the region from the Ice Age to the present, the modern art of Upper Lusatia and special exhibitions on topics from the areas of art and regional history.
10. The AckerbürgerMuseum Reichenbach/O. L. museum of the common citizens
Become acquainted with the everyday lives of “common people”. Visitors can catch a glimpse of the lives of simple citizens, so-called “ackerbürger”, from around the year 1900 in a small house with a courtyard and garden that has been rebuilt according to the original.
11. The “1452 bucket excavator” technical monument at the Berzdorfer See
The “1452 bucket excavator” technical monument is located directly next to Lake Berzdorf. The bucket excavator is an important witness to the extraction of brown coal in a modern, large capacity surface mine. The excavator was used in the former Berzdorf surface mine until the year 2000.
12. The post mill in Kottmarsdorf
The windmill in Kottmarsdorf provides visitors with a glimpse of the miller’s life in the past. It was built in 1843 and operated for precisely 100 years. It was in danger of falling into disrepair after the death of the last miller, but luckily less than 20 years passed before the municipality and a number of friends of nature and local history breathed new life into this remarkable structure located on the 435 m high Pfarrberg by renovating it and gradually repairing everything until the mill was once again operational.
13. The Zittau narrow gauge railway
Full steam ahead to the Zittau Mountains every day! The trains in the Zittau narrow gauge railway travel “full steam ahead” every day. The small gauge railway with a gauge of 750 mm has passed through the small mountain villages of the Zittau Mountains Nature Park at a gentle pace since 1890.
14. The German Damask and Terry Museum
The German Damask and Terry Museum is preserving a centuries’ long textile tradition in Großschönau: damask fabric began to be woven in the foothills of the Zittau Mountains over 350 years ago, while terry cloth began to be produced more than 60 years ago. The museum is based in the former house of a damask maker and it has a more than 160-year history of collecting.
15. The weaver’s room in Jonsdorf
The weaver’s room offers visitors the opportunity to become better acquainted with the old weaver’s art. The history of hand weaving in Jonsdorf: in 1638, the citizens of Jonsdorf received a new source of income in the form of weaving based on a decree from the Zittau Town Council.
Realised within the project “Cooperation in the presentation and promotion of technical monuments”. This project is supported by the European Union from the European Regional Development Fund from Cooperation programme free state of Czech Republic – Saxony 2014-2020.
The project’s partner: Entwicklungsgesellschaft Niederschlesische Oberlausitz GmbH