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.

The early discovery of mineral materials, such as glass sand, loam, gravel and brown coal, which were collected and raised to near the surface by the weight of a glacier, led to them being mined and processed throughout almost the entire area. Approximately 60 brown coal mines were simultaneously in operation from 1843. This region with its “glass towns” of Döbern and Weißwasser was considered to be the centre of international glass production approximately 100 years ago. The high quality loam was processed into bricks, roofing tiles and industrial and decorative ceramics.

The Muskau Arch is distinguished by a large number of industrial buildings, railway buildings from the gründer epoch, residential and workers’ (miners’) housing estates. The brickworks and the glassworks provide testament to the troubled history of the impressive cultural landscape, in which these mining activities were once performed. The visitors’ and information centres at the UNESCO Geopark provide information about the significance of the geological processes for the development of the region and about the approximately 1000-year history of the crafts and industry that are associated with the locality and the raw materials. Various cycle trails and geological tracks not only enable us to become acquainted with geological topics, but also with the history of the internationally renowned production of glass, the mining of brown coal or the successive return of nature and the revival of entire biotopes.

CONTACT: Geopark Muskauer Faltenbogen –, Tel.: +49 (0)35600 / 3656 01,


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).

During the season, weekend trains travel from the Weißwasser-Teichstraße station to the 4 km distant Kromlau with its rhododendron and azalea park full of flowers. The freshly restored Rakotz Bridge glistens in its all its glory. Other trains are also available to visitors on the 7 km long track from Weißwasser to the spa and park town of Bad Muskau. You can view the fairytale château in the romantic park on foot, by bicycle or in a horse-drawn carriage.

The passenger trains are usually pulled through the unique landscape by diesel locomotives from the 1950s. However, one of the most interesting attractions is without doubt a ride behind two faithfully restored steam engines on selected weekends. The steam railway also opens the “Anlage Mitte” museum railway station at weekends. Visitors can look forward to about 20 exhibited historical locomotives, including wagons and information panels.

Central departures from the Weißwasser station in Teichstraße.

CONTACT: Waldeisenbahn Muskau –, Tel.: +49 (0) 3576/ 207472,


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.

The Glass Museum in Weißwasser presents this unusual historical legacy in the former villa of the Gelsdorf family. Wilhelm Gelsdorf was one of the pioneers in the industrial production of glass. In 1877, he arrived with his family and 26 other glassmaking families from Schlegel in Silesia and took over the Weißwasser glassworks, which had been established as the first glassworks in Weißwasser in 1872.

A visit to the museum will be equally of interest to those who love history and technology and those who love beautiful glass. In addition to rarities such as diatretum or art nouveau glass with the trademark “Arsall”, the designs of the glass designer Wilhelm Wagenfeld (1900–1990) are also worthy of attention. Only a few visitors know that Wagenfeld, a student of the Bauhaus, worked for the Associated Lusatian Glassworks (Vereinigte Lausitzer Glaswerke) in Weißwasser in 1935–1947. Wagenfeld’s collection and a collection of his colleague and successor Friedrich Bundtzen occupy a special place in the exhibition.

CONTACT: Glasmuseum Weißwasser/O.L. –, Tel: +49 (0) 3576/ 204000,


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.

The building, which was established at the same time as Ernst Neufert’s book Architects’ Data (first edition 1936), is also a practical example of his ideas as they pertain to rationality and normalisation. The Neufert Building in Weißwasser is also a prime example of his rational, normalised industrial buildings of the 1930s and the New Pertinence, because it is still in its original form for the most part. The contemporary world can recognise the unconcealed forms, techniques, materials and maxims that are characteristic for the buildings of this age in the Neufert Building.

The Neufert-Bau Weißwasser e. V. Association was established in November 2014, the goal of which is to resolve the building’s ominous condition. The association has been the owner of the building since 2016. Thanks to this, a building revitalisation concept has been able to be created. One important step involves gradually securing the building’s cladding. Events (readings, small concerts etc.) are always held in the Neufert Garden during the warmer months of the year and they are also being held in the building itself with increasing frequency. It is possible to arrange a guided tour of the building with the Association.

CONTACT: Neufert Bau Weißwasser –, Tel: +49 (0) 179/ 2176744,


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.

A total of eight buildings, which are either relocated historical buildings from the region or newly built structures erected in the style of the local wooden buildings, are located within the premises with an area of approximately one hectare.

Given the geological nature of the Muskau Arch, which was formed during the Ice Age, the local crafts and professions were mainly based on the available raw materials, i.e. iron ore, coal and clay. The extensive pine forests on the Muskau Heath provided construction material and fuel for their further processing.

Almost 4000 exhibits from the last 150 years illustrate the transition from craft production to industrial production. Special attention has been devoted to the exhibitions on wood processing and industrial and utility ceramics.

It is also possible to see all the machines in operation on three museum days each year. The steam engine in the machine room manufactured by Richard Hartmann AG Chemnitz in 1897 powers the band saw, wood sander and water pump via a gear array.

The other exhibit areas are dedicated to iron and aluminium mining, hunting and forestry.

CONTACT: Handwerker- und Gewerbemuseum Sagar –, Tel : +49 (0) 35771/ 60896,


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.

The industrially produced prefabricated buildings were made of wood and never involved mass-produced factory products. The factory’s own architectural office designed a wide range of building types and adapted them to the builders’ wishes. Customers throughout the world thus received their dream home after it had been mechanically prefabricated in the company’s production halls. The building modules were delivered within several weeks, usually by railway. The fact that the building quality was first class is still borne out by Niesky today.

There are almost 100 wooden homes there in four residential areas. They served simultaneously as flats for the company’s employees and as sample homes. The best-known wooden home in Niesky, named after its significant architect, now houses the Wooden Building Museum. Konrad Wachsmann became famous around the world as a pioneer of industrial construction. His first solo project was the director’s villa in Goethestraße in 1927. He took inspiration from a functional and expedient concept of the Bauhaus and designed modern wooden buildings.

After viewing the museum, visitors can set off on a tour of the town’s wooden buildings. Walking, cycling or riding an electric scooter along the trail of wooden houses or the GPS rally around the town will transform the industrial history of Niesky into an experience.

CONTACT: Holzbauten der Moderne in Niesky / Konrad-Wachsmann-Haus Niesky, Tel: +49 (0) 3588/ 2239793,


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.

Granite was quarried there from 1844 to 1975. Visitors are acquainted with the hard work in the quarries in the building of the former blacksmith’s workshop. Another part of the exhibition is dedicated to geology and explains the creation and special properties of Königshain granite. The external area acquaints interested parties with the entire stone working process from its quarrying through to the working of the paving stones and does so using modern technology and functioning models. Avail yourself of our digital facilities and get a stone saw, a compressor and a stone splitting machine running or become a quarryman yourself and quarry granite using jackhammers, explosives and cable cranes. If you wish, you can virtually look over the shoulder of quarrymen at work in Germany and Poland or you can listen to eyewitnesses talk about accidents and occupational safety, but also about the social security in the Königshain quarries.

The offer of available activities is supplemented with a wide range of secondary educational museum programs on the themes of geology, nature and industrial culture.

Museum teaching programs are also possible outside opening hours!

CONTACT: Granitabbaumuseum Kö, Tel: +49 (0) 35826/ 60127,


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.


The Kühlhaus was one of 14 standard cold stores which were used to store state reserves in the GDR. It was in operation from 1954 to 1984, after which time reconstruction work began, but was not completed until the political upheaval of 1989/90. In 1994, it was purchased along with the other cold stores by the Dutch company Frigolanda. However, the facility in Görlitz was not able to be used due to its structural-technical condition and it therefore remained closed until 2008.


A group of active young people discovered the cold store in Görlitz in 2006. After a meeting with them in 2008, Hans van Leeuwen from Frigolanda Dresdner Kühlhaus GmbH decided to support their project and since that time has assumed the important construction costs, provided advice concerning permits and financed the hire of machines, building materials and later also the personnel costs.


The team around the Association is growing and increasing numbers of people are becoming bound to the cold store. Since 2013, it has been a venue for many (social and) cultural events such as concerts, workshops, film screenings and seminars. The cold store provides self-employed people in the area of culture and creative activities with a base for their work and creation.

CONTACT: Kühlhaus Görlitz –, Tel: +49 (0) 3581/ 429926,


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.

Görlitz owed its ascent to the level of an economic and commercial metropolis in the Middle Ages to its position on the Via Regia and its production of cloth, which was a popular item throughout all of Europe. The numerous items from the Görlitz guilds, in particular the cloth makers’ guild, have been supplemented at the bastion with a media station that introduces visitors to the demanding process of producing woollen cloth.

After Görlitz became part of Prussia in 1815, industrialisation began to develop around 1860, as it also did in other towns and cities. In addition to products made from a wide variety of textiles, which constituted a continuation of the historical tradition, Görlitz also manufactured rail wagons, steam engines, brickmaking machines, food and cameras. The Görlitz companies are presented as the protagonists in these fields alongside historical illustrations and products. Space has also been dedicated to Jewish businesspeople, including Lesser Efraim and his son Martin, who managed the largest German railway supply company in Germany. The exhibition impressively displays the results of this economic development, which was also associated with the boisterous construction development of the City of Görlitz.

CONTACT: Kulturhistorisches Museum Gö, Tel: +49 (0) 3581/ 671355,


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.

In addition to working in factories, shops and in various trades, the inhabitants of Reichenbach also devoted themselves to a modest form of farming as a means of secondary income. The reconstructed interior fittings of a residential house illustrate the small-town lifestyle. The cramped conditions once again remind us of the simple conditions that the former inhabitants lived in. The courtyard includes a small garden with flowers, vegetables and herbs which has been planted as a typical garden of those burghers who were also involved in agriculture.

The glass-pressing workshop in the courtyard is a point of interest. Glass production was and is a special industrial branch in Reichenbach/ O. L. The glass-pressing workshop produces items for daily use, such as reflectors, buttons, glass eyes for toys, but also plaques. It is possible to admire the kiln, tools, glass rods and models and products in the museum’s fully functioning workshop in Reichenbach. Visitors can meet the glassmaker and listen to his story via the digital audio guide.

CONTACT: Ackerbürgermuseum Reichenbach –, Tel: +49 (0) 35828/ 72093,


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.

The Berzdorf-Oberlausitz Mining Monuments Association has succeeded in preserving the excavator as a technical monument.

This former mining machine with a technological park promises a first-class experience for more than just visitors with an interest in technology. You can look forward to a 33.5 m high giant that weighs almost 2000 tons!

Examine this former piece of mining technology on your own or participate in the tours with guides who were former miners.

You will find us in Hagenwerder, which is accessible by car along the B99 Görlitz–Zittau road. There is a large number of free parking spaces available. If you come by bicycle, you can reach us by following the Nisa cycle trail or the trail around Lake Berzdorf.

It is certainly worth a visit. We are looking forward to seeing you!

CONTACT: Schaufelradbagger 1452 Görlitz/Hagenwerder –, Tel.: +49 (0) 385822/37708,


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.

When the sail arms turn in the wind, the visitors come. Volunteer guides explain to the visitors how the intricate system of wheels, shafts and gears were brought into motion so that the grain could be ground into flour between the heavy millstones.

This technical monument becomes the centre of attention every Pentecost Monday, the German Day of Mills. On this day, the wooden colossus weighing tons turns into the wind like a house on legs with a great deal of groaning and creaking, flails thresh the grain and the miller’s special scales are demonstrated.

It is possible to visit the cosy, rustic display bakery located right next door in the miller’s former house five Sundays a year. Bread and cakes are baked in a stone oven in the traditional manner and then sold.

Whoever wishes to find out more about Kottmarsdorf, can set off on a 45-minute walk along the mill circuit which connects a number of points of interest in the municipality.

CONTACT: Bockwindmühle Kottmarsdorf –, Tel: +49 (0) 35875/ 62395,


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.

The trains take excursionists from the railway station in Zittau to the terminal stations in Kurort Oybin and Kurort Jonsdorf every day. The line’s transport hub is the railway station in Bertsdorf, whose historical facilities offer a special sight four times a day in the main season, namely the departure of two steam trains simultaneously. During the main season, passengers can also get to know the technology of the old steam locomotives from up close during rides in the engineer’s cabin at the Oybin station.

More than just a train ride … Set off on a journey through time

Are you sick of boring, never changing trains? You don’t have to worry about that on that Zittau narrow gauge railway. Guests can immerse themselves in various periods of Saxon rail history with every train that travels through time. No matter whether it is the rustic wooden benches in 4th class or the soft velvet seats in the salon carriages, every carriage has its own individual magic. The historical trains are regularly supplemented with steam trains at the weekends during the main season.

The Historik Mobil weekend event, which takes place on the first weekend in August, is an annual attraction in the Zittau Mountains. In addition to the significant train traffic, the operation of guest locomotives and the large railway station celebrations in Bertsdorf, the region has also become a mecca for those who love historic automobiles.

CONTACT: Zittauer Schmalspurbahn –, Tel.: +49 (0) 3583/ 540540,


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.

It stores an extensive collection of fabrics (damask, jacquard and terry cloth), textile machines, pattern drawings and books, as well as regionally significant works of art (for example, its extensive collection of the work and archives of Johann Eleazar Zeißig,  also known as Schenau).

A number of technical rarities are worthy of attention: the permanent exhibition includes, for example, a hand damask weaving loom dating from 1835 and probably the last functioning terry cloth loom in Germany. The “living display workshop”, which is part of the museum and which has been operated by an association in support of the museum since 1996, enables visitors to view the step-by-step production of hand towels – from the yarn to the finished product – on authentic historical textile machines. If the museum’s employees are not present in the workshop at a given time, the technological process is demonstrated by impressive films (also in English, Czech and with Polish subtitles).

CONTACT: Deutsches Damast und Frottiermuseum Großschönau –, Tel.: +49 (0) 35841/ 35469,


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.

Until that time, the production of fabric and material had been exclusively a matter for the town guilds. The people in the village were able to erect a weaving loom and produce linen in return for an annual “loom fee”.

Jonsdorf became a renowned weaving town. It was known for the weaving of extraordinarily soft linen and as such “this linen began to be used at the court of our most gracious sovereign”.

Hand weaving especially flourished in the second half of the 18th century. At that time, it was the bread and butter of approximately half of the town’s working inhabitants.

The weaver’s room offers visitors the opportunity to become better acquainted with the old weaver’s art. The work of a linen weaver included many activities which nowadays constitute special professions. The illustrative presentation of all the work procedures show visitors how the raw material for weaving linen (flax – Linum usitatissimum) is used to produce a finished linen fabric.

Visitors will hear a variety of interesting points and entertaining stories from the simple and hard-working lives of the weavers in the room, the heart of the Upper Lusatian house. The types of construction used in Upper Lusatian houses with columns that pass through several floors and other columns at the height of only one floor will also be explained. It is important to note in this regard that every Upper Lusatian house has its own unique construction and design elements.

CONTACT: Weberstube Jonsdorf –, Tel.: +49 (0) 35844/ 72040,


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