Meissen, a German town situated on the Elbe in the Free State of Saxony, just northwest of Dresden, is a de rigueur stop for river cruises plying to and from Prague. The cobbled historic city is most noted for a fairy-tale castle, Gothic Cathedral, and the fine porcelain that bears its name.
What We Love
Albrechtsburg Castle: Perched over the Elbe, the 15th-century Albrechtsburg Castle could be straight out of a storybook. The Meissen porcelain factory was based here for many years, and now the vaulted complex houses a museum.
Churches: The 13th-century Gothic Meissen Cathedral overlooks the red-tiled roofs of Old Town. The Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) dates to the mid-15th century and is home to an unusual carillon — the first to be made of porcelain (from Meissen, of course).
Best Known For
Meissen Porcelain: The famous Meissen porcelain began production in 1710 using a manufacturing formula that originated in China. Each of the refined pieces is stamped with the company's signature trademark: two crossed blue swords. Tours of the facility are available.
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Who It's Best For
Fans of Small Towns: It's hard not to be enchanted by this 1,000-year-old town with its gorgeous Old World architecture and setting on both banks of the Elbe. Soak in the charm and raise a glass of Saxon wine from the nearby vineyards, part of the smallest wine-producing region in Germany.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Few Ships Stop Here: You can expect to share Meissen's charms with hordes of other visitors during the peak months, but few river cruise ships ply the Elbe in comparison to the Rhine, Moselle, Main, and Danube.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.