The skilled crafts division in Germany can look back on a long tradition and an eventful history. From its beginnings in the Middle Ages and early modern times, through the crafts movement in the 19th century, to crafts self-government in the 20th and 21st centuries, it has proven to be a culture-shaping aspect beyond its economic significance.
Nothing could be further away from soulless mass production than the unique handicrafts that are still very much alive in the cultural hearth of Germany, Saxony, and Thuringia. If you came across these regions during your travels to Europe, there are many outstanding options as souvenirs.
BÜRGEL: SMALL TOWN POTTERY AND CERAMIC
White points on a dark-blue or medium-blue background characterize the ceramic products made in the small Thuringian town of Bürgel. Pottery-making goes back to the 15th century and the “town of potters” is also home to a museum of ceramics. Ceramic souvenirs are famous and of the highest quality within this region.
In 1845, the first master watchmakers settled in Glashütte south of Dresden, and the rest became embedded in history: Regarded as the birthplace of the German watchmaking industry, the small town today is as prolific when it comes to high-quality watches as ever. The local watch museum presents the craft’s past and presents with unique exhibits, taking visitors, quite literally, through the history of time.
KAHLA: PORCELAIN MANUFACTURE
Porcelain manufacture is so dominant in Thuringia that it even explains an entire “Porcelain Route”, linking traditional porcelain producers, towns, and production sites. Highlight on the way is Leuchtenburg Castle near Kahla. The medieval structure houses a porcelain exhibition, not to mention the spectacular “Skywalk of Wishes” high above the Saale valley.
LAUSCHA: GLASS MANUFACTURE
Thuringian “Waldglas” (forest glass) has a unique greenish hue, caused by the high proportion of iron oxides in the sands of the Thuringian Forest. Centered in Lauscha, glass manufacturing in this region goes back to the 16th century and today’s show workshops offer great insights into the art of glassmaking and rare collectibles. Lauscha is also the birthplace of Christmas baubles that were first produced here in the mid-19th century and Christmas decorations can be bought all year round!
MARKNEUKIRCHEN: INSTRUMENT MAKING
The Saxon Vogtland region is Germany’s “musical corner”: The finest wooden and brass instruments used by artists and musicians around the world have been produced in the small towns of Markneukirchen, Klingenthal, and Schöneck for more than 350 years. Don’t miss the museum of musical instruments in Markneukirchen and visit a workshop to see expert craftspeople at work.
MEISSEN: PORCELAIN MANUFACTURE
From tableware to art and decorative items – porcelain from Meissen is not only one of Germany’s most prestigious trademarks, it is simply beautiful. European porcelain making started in the Saxon town in 1710 and today’s visitors can learn in Meissen Porcelain Manufactory’s “House of Meissen” how the precious and collectible items are made and tour a porcelain museum.
SEIFFEN: WOODEN ART AND TOYS
Seiffen is the center of a unique tradition of handmade wooden art and toys in the heart of the Ore Mountains. Christmas decorations such as intricately crafted wooden pyramids or nutcrackers are beloved around the world and to best get the insight story, visit Seiffen’s toy museum or show workshops of local producers for these extraordinary collectibles.
HANDMADE IN HESSE: CHEESE FROM ORGANIC GOAT’S MILK
For more than 30 years, Helmut Schönberger has been applying the highest organic standards on his heritage-protected traditional farm in Rönshausen in Eastern Hesse. He produces excellent goat cheese in the middle of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Rhön.
THE CUCKOO CLOCK FROM THE BLACK FOREST: A CLASSIC AND ICONIC OBJECT
Throughout the world, the cuckoo clock is famously associated with its home in the Black Forest. As early as 1840, there were 1,000 clock makers here and one in every third clock in the world came from the Black Forest. Today it is a truly iconic collectible item made in Germany.
Noteworthy: all of these amazing symbols of the culture and human art within Europe are just a fraction of what you can find around every corner of the green continent, especially in Germany. A chance to visit all these places and get hands-on with any of these souvenirs is surely a privilege to brag about.