Herrnhut

Herrnhut is a small town in the Upper Lusatia (Oberlausitz) region of Saxony (Sachsen), in Germany. In the 18th century, Herrnhut gave birth to the Moravian spiritual renewal and missions movement under Count Nicolaus Ludwig Von Zinzendorf (1700-1760).

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Moravian Church Hall

The original building was constructed in 1756. In May 1945, the first church was burnt down by Red Army soldiers in a wave of looting and destruction that destroyed much of the old Herrnhut, but the community was able to rally together and build the current church in the 1950s (the walls survived the war carnage with the rest of the structure needing to be replaced/reconstructed). The building's architecture is typical for Herrnhuter prayer halls all around the world: The ground plan is a transverse rectangle and the building itself is plain - there is no steeple but, instead, a small bell tower in the middle of the roof. The interior is even plainer, all painted in white. There is neither pulpit nor altar, only a seat and a table for the preacher. There is a small museum on the second floor featuring various items connected to Count Zinzendorf (e.g. his prayer book, correspondence with the famous English revivalist John Wesley, etc.), although the text for the displays is in German only. The back entrance to the church is supposed to be open in the daytime. In case it is not and you are there during office hours, ask nicely at the office of the chairman (''Vorsteher''), which is in the yellow house on the other side of the street, and you will be admitted. Outside the church is a small garden featuring a bust of Count Zinzendorf and a wall with a bell atop it. The original church featured three bells which were confiscated by Nazi authorities in the war when metal was scarce. Two of the bells were melted down but the third survived and was returned to the Moravians. As such, it is the only surviving element of the original church building (along with the church walls).


Moravian Forest

Herrnhut sits on higher ground than the surrounding countryside and this comprises two hills, the ''Hengtsberg'' and ''Heinrichsberg'', as well as a forest which is owned by the Moravian church. Walkers will find several things of interest in the forest. The Sculpture Trail (''see below'') runs through part of the forest, as does the 3km long Zinzendorf Nature Trail (''Zinzendorf-Lehrpfad''). Travellers will also find an example of a ''bandengrubens'' on the Hengtsberg, a stone circle that was used by Bible study/discipleship groups of the early Moravian church for their meetings. Several of these bandengrubens were made although only one has been excavated. The ''Gedenkstein'' memorial is also located on the Hengtsberg, near the main road . This is the spot where the first tree was felled back in 1722 to establish the town. A ceremony is held every year to commemorate this (''see below''). And, there is an old well located in the wood on the Heinrichsberg. Finally, there is an old stone viaduct bridge on the western outskirts of the town near the village of Schwan. The viaduct dates to 1848 and initially lasted until 1945, when two sections of it were blown up in a bid to slow down the Red Army's advance. It was repaired by the following year and the two sections that were rebuilt can still be seen.

DO   —  Map


Count Zinzendorf's Grave

In the cemetery, towards the higher end up the slope, there is a row of eight large stone graves located in the middle of the pathway in which Count Zinzendorf and close family members are interred. Count Zinzendorf's grave is the fourth one from the left, going up the slope. The grave of Zinzendorf's wife, Erdmuth Dorothea (1700-1756), is next to his as the fifth from the left. Reflecting Moravian asceticism and strong belief in equality, the graves of the Count and his family are simple plain slab stones-- they were initially ground level like all the other graves and were only lifted on pedestals later on. The graveyard also features the lookout tower (''Altan'') on the hill's summit. The lookout tower is often open but if the door to the stairwell that leads to the lookout area is locked one can gain access by enquiring at the tourist bureau. If you appreciate spectacular views of rolling green hills and country vistas, it is definitely worth heading to the loookout area armed with a camera.

SEE   —  Gottesackerallee

Sculpture Trail

A walking trail running between Herrnhut and nearby Großhennersdorf. It is 5km long and was developed by a group of artists from Löbau in 2000 (the 300th anniversary of Count Zinzendorf's birth). The trail features several sculptures, or ''stations'' as the creators call them, which depict events in biblical and church history, with particular reference to the Moravian Church. Locals recommend only walking half the trail - after 2km, travellers will come to the Petersbach stream. Cross this and then turn right instead of left. Walk to the main road, cross it and enjoy some refreshments at the Eulkretscham Hotel restaurant (''see below''). Afterwards, walk behind the hotel and head down to the forest. Adventurers can use a rope to climb across the river. Continue along this path, which heads back to Herrnhut. On the way, you will come to an Estonian Swing, which can accommodate up to ten people simultaneously and is a lot of fun.

DO   —  Map


Count Zinzendorf's Manor House

Originally a plain framework building, it was rebuilt in the late 18th century in a new architectural style eventually dubbed Moravian Baroque (''Herrnhuter Barocks''), which is characterised by clarity and simplicity. The Nazi government forced the Moravians to sell the property to the state on unfavourable terms just prior to the Second World War but it was returned to the church by the Soviet army soon after the conflict. However, it was again appropriated within a few years, this time by the new communist regime, and left to languish for decades, during which time it fell into a state of disrepair. The property was acquired by a non-profit heritage group after reunification, which launched a reconstruction effort that began to see the property's restoration. The project is ongoing.


Moravian Star Factory Showroom

The Moravian (Advent) Star (''Herrnhuter Adventsstern''), was created at a school in Niesky, Saxony, in the 1830s, probably as a project for a geometry lesson. Eventually, it was adopted by the Moravians as a symbol of Advent. In the late 19th century, Peter Verbeek, an alumnus of the school in Niesky, began selling the stars through his bookstore - his son Harry went on to found the Moravian Star Company in Herrnhut and ultimately it became part of the Moravian-run Abraham Dürninger company. Visit the factory showroom and see how the stars are made. You can purchase stars at the company store (''see below''). The showroom also contains a café so you can quench your thirst or satisfy your appetite after checking out the workers plying their trade.



Water Castle

Large country manor that, like Medieval castles of old, was once surrounded by a moat – hence the manor’s name. The current building was built over the ruins of an earlier one that burnt down in 1687. It was owned by a noble family before being sold to the state in 1930. After the war, it was used by the German Red Cross as a children’s home. In 2005, it was purchased by Youth With a Mission (''Jugend mit Einer Mission''), a missions organisation, and is now their community/training base. Part of the reason the group chose to locate in the area was specifically to continue in the tradition established by the Moravians. Visitors are welcome and tours of the building can be arranged.


Slow Death

For those looking for some impromptu aerobic exercise, walk down Löbauer Straße, in the direction of Zittau and turn right at the entrance that leads to the town kindergarten. Walk past the kindergarten and down the path (which, if followed through the woods at the base of the hill, leads to the neighbouring village of Rupperdorf). Then, turn around and enjoy what Ruppersdorf villagers in past times experienced: a walk up Slow Death, albeit minus the horses laden with agricultural wares destined for sale in the old Herrnhut market. You can also arrive at the base of Slow Death if you take the return path to the town that runs from behind the Eulkretscham Hotel (''see above'').

DO   —  Map


Jesus House

Run by a local evangelical church (''Christliches Zentrum'') in the town's old hospital, most of the present structure dates to 1767, when it was constructed as Abraham Dürninger's (1706-1773) trading company HQ. Offers great facilities for religious pilgrims - many come for spiritual retreats and/or to join in the church community life of prayer and worship. The grounds contain a large garden that is in the process of being restored to its pre-GDR baroque glory. Internet access for guests.


Ruppersdorf Campground

Opened in 1925, this campsite is open year-round and offers various sports facilities including beach volleyball, badminton and table tennis. Use the site as a base to explore the beautiful surrounding countryside either by bicycle or else hiking/walking. Also features campfire barbecues with charcoal steak and sausages cooked fresh, and a beer garden (open Mon-Fri 4PM-late, except Thu Closed / Sat+Sun 10AM-late) so you can wash your food down with local varieties of the amber fluid.

SLEEP   —  +49 35873-40282 —  Volksbadstrasse

Museum of Local History

Located in a large baroque house that once belonged to a local wealthy family. The museum features rooms containing original antique furnishings (e.g. Biedermeier furniture, handmade tapestries, handcrafts) that show the lifestyle of a well-off Saxon family in the 18th/19th centuries. Additionally, other items/displays, such as antique toys and musical instruments, relate further aspects of the town's rich history. There is also a nice baroque garden at the rear of the museum.


Moravian Christmas Market

Every year on the Saturday before Advent (the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day). As with the nearly 1700 other Christmas markets around Germany, visitors can sample various regional foods and drink including beers and the de rigueur ''Glühwein'' (hot wine). Being the home of the Moravian Star (see below), this traditional iconic item is also widely available at stalls along with other handcrafts. At dusk, a ceremony takes place in which the large Advent wreath is lit.

DO   —  Map

Berthelsdorf Church

The church may be of interest to religious pilgrims as it is the location where the Moravians gathered for a communion service in 1727 and experienced an intense spiritual awakening. Out of this episode emerged a religious revival that featured a 24/7 prayer meeting which lasted over 100 years - or 120 years according to some accounts - and was also the impetus for the first Protestant missionary movement, launched with an initial effort to the West Indies in 1732.


Moravian Church Archives

The Herrnhuter Brüdergemeine operates the archives for the worldwide Moravian movement. Housed in the oldest archive house in Saxony, founded in 1764, it features a library of all publications of the Moravian Church and of Moravian authors, including letters, mission reports, memoirs, and congregation diaries. The archive also features a music collection, paintings and family archives of the Zinzendorf family. Archive collections are available for research.


Moravian Sunrise Service

The very first Easter Sunrise Service was held in Herrnhut by the Moravian Single Brethren, the unmarried men of the community, on Easter 1732. The service is now observed in Moravian congregations around the world and has been adopted by many other churches as well. The service in Herrnhut begins before sunrise on Easter Day in the Moravian Church and moves in procession to the Graveyard on the Hutberg as the church's Brass Choir plays antiphonal hymns.

DO   —  Map

Zinzendorf Garden

Take a ''spazieren gehen'' - leisurely stroll - through the beautiful baroque garden behind Zinzendorfhaus, a building which houses the Moravian-run Herrnhuter Diakonie that oversees healthcare to children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Contemplate life, the universe and everything on a bench, interrupted only by the sound of mooing cows in a paddock next to the garden.

DO   —  Map

Museum of Ethnology

Perhaps the most interesting museum, although the one that has the least to do with the actual town’s local history, it features a variety of artifacts brought back to the town by Moravian missionaries over the past 200 years from such diverse locations as Australia, Africa and Canada. The museum is currently closed for extensive renovation but is due to re-open mid-October 2011.


Hutberg Cellar

Restaurant and beer garden featuring local brews and traditional items such as Saxon Pork served with stewed apple slices and the Moravian hut feast, good for vegetarians. Their cherry sauce dessert is 'sehr lecker', as the Germans say, as well. Locals consider this the best place in town for eating out, along with the restaurant at the Eulkretscham Hotel (''see below'').


Forest Swimming Pool

Good for a dip on hot summer days. Nestled between tall shady trees, this is the oldest brick pool in Upper Lusatia, dating to 1907. The Zinzendorf Oak Trees (''Zinzendorfeichen'') are located near the pool bathroom - Count Zinzendorf is said to have planted an oak tree upon the birth of each of his 12 children. Today, only 5 such trees survive.


Jesus House Shop

Charity wares store run by Christliches Zentrum (''see below''). Selling a selection of handcrafts and woollen goods brought back to Germany through the church's Mongolian missions aid/development efforts. Thursday afternoons, visitors can also enjoy complimentary refreshments/coffee as they browse and fellowship with the local church community.


Old Bakery Culture Café

A former bakery converted into an alternative-style pub featuring a mix of retro- and antique decor with surreal ceramic sculptures as well as eclectic music - one moment 60s American soul, the next highly experimental 21st century electronic ambient and noise soundscapes. Part of the Arthouse Cinema culture centre (''see above'').

DRINK   —  +49 35873-30888 —  Am Sportplatz 3

Paul Bakery

Bakery founded in 1735, only 13 years after the town began, and run by the Paul family since 1841, featuring unique local specialities like Moravian Sister Kisses (''Herrnhuter Schmätzchen'') and Zinzendorf Slices (''Zinzendorfschnitte''). Locals usually pop in for a coffee/snack for breakfast on their way to work.


Förster Café

Family-run traditional café specialising in regional gourmet cakes and homemade ice creams that come in 35 flavours. It is a common summer sight to see families seated on the café's front steps, all enjoying ice cream bought at the café's ice cream cart, which is permanently stationed in front of the establishment.


The Post Cellar

Housed in a building that used to be a post office where products manufactured by the Moravian-owned Abraham Dürninger company (''see below'') were stored in the cellar awaiting shipment overseas, this rustic-style restaurant specialises in regional dishes. The venue is also used for small, intimate concerts.


Eulkretscham Hotel

Hotel situated in idyllic country setting. Has a restaurant and a conference hall. The management also organise tours of regional towns (traditional package tours as well as more adventurous ones like motorbike rides), as well as activities such as horse-riding. The daughter of the owners speaks English.

SLEEP   —  +49 35873-440100 —  Am Stausee 4

Moravian Star Shop

Easily recognisable by the large red and white star hanging above the shop entrance (note: Moravian Star pictured is located elsewhere in the town). Herrnhut is renowned for being the place where the Moravian Star was popularised. Here you can buy Herrnhut Stars/Star kits (of various sizes/prices).


Umut Kebab House

For the budget-conscious, sample a doner kebab or durum. Kebabs start from €3.50 while the more expensive items are large pizzas and pasta in the €5.50-€6.50 range. The establishment also features a bar area with pool table and TV tuned to either football (soccer) or else Turkish TV programs.


Historic Tour

Staff at the Tourist Information office, located on Comeniusstraße, can organise tours of the town taking in all the historic landmarks as well as day trips in the region and beyond. Opening hours: Mon 9AM-2:30PM, Tue-Fri 9AM-5PM, Sat/Sun/Holidays 10AM-Noon, 1PM-5PM.

DO   —  +49 35873-2288 —  Map

Gedenkstein Ceremony

On June 17th each year, a procession begins in the garden of the Moravian Church around 5pm and makes its way to the Gedenkstein memorial (''see above''). There follows a ceremony to commemorate the founding of Herrnhut on this day in 1722.

DO   —  Map

Arthouse Cinema

Regional alternative culture centre featuring arthouse cinema as well as concerts by non-mainstream musicians and bands, cabaret, art exhibitions, and public readings. Also has an alternative-style pub (''see below'').


Moravian Church Hotel & Conference Centre

Comprises two large houses - the Meeting House (''Tagungshaus''), with 50 beds, dining room that seats 116 and conference hall that seats 150, and the Family Inn (''Familienferienstätte'') with 37 beds.


Moravian Anniversary Service

On August 13th each year a special anniversary service is held in the Berthelsdorf Church (''see above'') to commemorate the spiritual awakening that gave birth to the Moravian movement proper in 1727.

DO   —  Map

Galerie Geschmack.Sache

Folk art gallery/store run by the local ''Künstlergilde'' (artists' guild) which features the work of artists and craftspeople from the region - painting, ceramics, glassware, textiles, etc.


Old Moravian House

Bed & breakfast in one of the oldest surviving houses in town, built in 1743, major reconstruction in 1991/2. Locals consider this the best place to stay in town.

SLEEP   —  +49 35873-2789 —  Comeniusstraße 4

Friedensthal Inn

Traditional Upper Lusatian inn specialising in regional cuisine/home cooking.


Weekly Market

Town flea market with food, clothes, knick knacks - bargains to be had.

DO   —  Zinzendorfplatz

Restaurant at the Big Tree

Restaurant located, as it says in the name, near an iconic large tree.


Herrnhut Liquor Store

For all your beverage needs.


About Herrnhut

Herrnhut was born as a result of people fleeing religious intolerance: Protestant refugees fled Catholic persecution in Moravia, now part of the Czech Republic, and were given permission by the devoutly Christian German nobleman Count Nicolaus Zinzendorf to settle on his lands. Zinzendorf's estate included what became the town site of Herrnhut. The name 'Herrnhut' translates as 'the Lord's watchful care' and was chosen by the Moravians because they saw themselves as being under God's protection. The count soon took on a direct leadership role with the refugees, helping to mould them into a strong community.

From this tiny village hamlet, a vibrant missionary movement began. Herrnhut sent out 100 missionaries to the far-flung corners of the world in the 25 years after 1727, more than all Protestant efforts at missions in the previous 200 years, since the birth of Protestantism in the wake of the Reformation. (Another 1900 have gone out in the years since and to put that in context, the town's current population is just a shade under 5,000.)

There is an egalitarian spirit that runs through the veins of the town today. While it may be socially conservative, even too much so for some people’s tastes, the genuine community values of the town’s founders and their descendants, which have seen them prize freedom and gentle persuasion over coercion, makes Herrnhut a very welcoming place for everyone, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof.

The local economy has fared well despite being in the 'poor former East Germany', running, as it does, on a mix of church administration, light manufacturing and services, and tourism largely driven by the area's Moravian heritage. In addition to the actual town site, the municipality of Herrnhut oversees local government services for the villages of Euldorf, Friedensthal, Großhennersdorf, Heuscheune, Neundorf auf dem Eigen, Ninive, Ruppersdorf, Schwan, Schönbrunn and Strahwalde.


Source: wikivoyage