The scope of Germany’s offerings extends far beyond the country’s most popular exports. From its sweeping vistas to its unique and regional gastronomy, Germany is comprised of regions just waiting to be discovered, which is why we were honored to delve deeper into German culture and cuisine at a recent event in partnership with the German National Tourist Board.
Home to fascinating landscapes, fairytale-like castles, picturesque hills and mountains, and meaningful traditions, Saxony boasts a thousand years of history and culture that’s sure to captivate your travels. The state is located in Germany’s southeast corner, sharing a border with Poland, the Czech Republic, and the state of Bavaria. As Saxony is home to some of the country’s oldest Christmas markets and music festivals, as well as a host of delicious desserts, it’s no surprise that many are proud to reside there and are eager to help people from around the world discover what the area has to offer.
Once a leading industrial region in Germany that attracted businesses and travelers alike, Saxony later fell behind the Iron Curtain during Soviet rule. When Saxony was reunited with the West, the state faced many adjustments, but today, it’s well-known for a myriad of industries including hand-crafted goods and car manufacturing, and an increasing number of travelers are discovering the attractions and traditions that drew international crowds to Saxony years before.
One of the most popular times to visit Saxony is during the Christmas season, when the state transforms into a true winter wonderland. Both Christmas and outdoor enthusiasts will fall in love with the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge), where they’ll find many seasonal markets and festivals — one of the most famous being Scharfensteiner Adventszauber, a Christmas market at Scharfenstein Castle known for its twinkling lights, incredible food, and trombone bands playing festive music. The Ore Mountain region is also home to the wooden-toy industry. This beloved craft is a tradition that has been preserved and passed down for centuries, and these artisan ornaments, figurines, and knick knacks continue to attract travelers from around the world. Though the region is magical around Christmas time, its hiking opportunities and museums make it an entertaining place to visit during any season.
The oldest Christmas market in all of Germany is Dresden’s Striezelmarkt. But the city is also well-known for another centuries-old tradition: Stollenfest, an event centered on Dresden’s famous Christmas cake (stollen). During the festivities, crowds celebrate the traditions surrounding this baked good with a parade and a giant variation of the dessert.
The region also hosts many different music festivals throughout the year, including Bachfestival Leipzig, a classical music festival in Leipzig honoring Johann Sebastian Bach; the International Dixieland Festival, a popular jazz festival in Dresden; and the Dresden Music Festival, which features both soloists and orchestras. But music has even deeper roots in Saxony’s history and culture. Even if you happen to visit at a time when a music festival isn’t taking place, you’ll still be able to experience the region’s musical heritage through venues like the Semper Opera House and the Gewandhaus Concert Hall.
The charming city of Dresden is the capital of Saxony and is surrounded by age-old castles. In addition, Meissen, a town that’s famous for manufacturing porcelain, is located just a short ride away. Saxon Switzerland National Park is located just southeast of Dresden and offers many opportunities for hiking and climbing, as well as beautiful rock formations and waterfalls. Also located near Saxony’s capital is Königstein Fortress, one of the state’s most popular attractions. The hilltop fortress boasts incredible views of Saxon Switzerland National Park, but for more magnificent, Instagram-worthy views, visit Kromlau Park — an area known for lush gardens and the famous arched Rakotzbrücke bridge that reflects off of the lake to look like a complete circle.
But, of course, it would be impossible to fully experience Saxony without tasting its food. Since its capital city is famous for its Christmas treats, it’s not surprising that cake and coffee are significant traditions throughout the region. Made of dried fruits, spices, and nuts, Dresden’s stollen is one of Saxony’s most popular foods, though you’ll also find an array of other baked goods throughout the state. Another regional specialty dessert is eierschecke — a layered cake comprised of a crust, a middle layer with a vanilla flavored custard, and a top layer of eggs, butter, sugar and pudding — that pairs well with coffee. Since Saxony’s food offerings have been influenced by various regions, the foods tend to be hearty and diverse. Other famed regional dishes include buttermilchgetzen (potato pancakes) and griene gliese (potato dumplings).
At our events in Los Angeles and New York, we sampled some of the above fare, as well as that from various states in Germany. To honor the tradition of Saxon cuisine, we’re sharing the following recipe, which we invite you to try at home.
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This content was produced in partnership with German National Tourism.