These things have all something to do with each other – just not in the way one would expect:-)
Firstly – Meissen is older than Dresden – by about 300 years I think – even the small village where I am from that is now a suburb of Dresden is older than the city itself but that is just a side remark. More about the history of Meissen can be found here.
Meissen is a good 15-20 min downstream (River Elbe) from Dresden the state capital of Saxony. These days the town is known for three things – worldwide for its Porcelain or China , regional for the recent flooding of the town – first in 2002 and just now while I was here in June 2013 and locally for its brilliant wine – yes wine!
Saxon wine is made on the hills on the south-facing side of the River Elbe – all along from Dresden to Meissen and there is even a Saxon Wine Route one can drive along. The most prominent grape varieties grown here can be found here for those who are interested.
However – back to the floods. My heart really goes out to all those people and businesses who have suffered through two of these events in such short succession. The remnants of the latest flood can still be seen in many places – most businesses are shut and houses have no plaster on the lower floors, marks on houses or greenery..
The Albrechtsburg – or Albrechts Castle still dominates a prominent spur on the side of the river – and for the first time EVER I have seen it and the Cathedral (German: Dom) next to it without any scaffolding. So I decided to stop and take some photos and have a wander around – it’s been a while since I last visited.
I have to admit – I still like the closeness and almost intimacy that this medieval town has – opposed to Dresden with its 550.000 inhabitants. Meissen still has a village character and old cobble stone streets and small alley ways with shops and restaurants. Despite the recent flood the town is continuing on – as it always has in its changeable history. It was also good to see that there where tourists in town – less than normally at this time of year but still – they are coming back and so they should as it is a great place to visit and spend a few days there and sample the local produce (such as the earlier mentioned wine).
The whole castle area has been lovingly restored and there even is a walk that goes around the base of the castle precinct and has nice information tablets on the history. I have been inside the castle just last year so did not go to the expense to do it again this year but it is worth while if it takes your fancy.
The reason why I was there in the first place is that the town lies on the way to the small village where supposedly my great, great-grandfather was born and baptized in 1867 – and we knew nothing about him at all. So I contacted the local church and they where really nice and managed to find the baptism record for him with all the details they recorded in those days….
As it turns out.. wait for it – he was the 3rd child (3rd son) born to his mother out-of-wedlock!! In the 1860’s! Unbelievable! They managed to find his two brothers as well – but that is as far as we got. And contrary to a popular family rumor his father was not a traveling French man or even soldier – he was a farm hand from a few villages away.. clearly no reason to get married in those days – must have been a scandal in those days…
So now I know more names but without dates they can’t look for anything else either – we don’t even know how old she was when she had the first child.. needless to say – all 3 boys where from different fathers and were adopted out – or given away as it where…How very interesting. I wonder how many other families have dead bodies like that in their cellars..:-)
So that is something I will have to leave for my next visit – the Saxon State Archives ..
Needless to say – I found the experience rather exiting and a good end to a great day in the Meissen region…