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Meissen, Town Of

MEISSEN, TOWN OF, a town of Germany, in the kingdom of Saxony, on both banks of the Elbe, 15 m. N.W. from Dresden, on the railway to Leipzig via Dobeln. Pop. (1905), 32,336- The old town lies on the left bank of the river, between the streams Meisse and Triebisch, and its irregular hilly site and numerous fine old buildings make it picturesque. Most of its streets are narrow and uneven. The cathedral, one of the finest early Gothic buildings in Germany, stands on the Schlossberg, 160 ft. above the town. It is said to have been founded by the emperor Otto the Great, but the present building was begun in the 13th century and was completed about 1450. Here are tombs of several rulers and princes of Saxony, including those of Albert and Ernest, the founders of the two existing branches of the Saxon house. The cathedral also contains works by Peter Vischer and Lucas Cranach and several other interesting monuments. A restoration, including the rebuilding of the two towers, was carried out in 1903-1908. Adjoining the cathedral is the castle, dating from 1471-1483, but restored and named the Albrechtsburg about 1676. Another restoration was undertaken after 1860, when a series of historical frescoes was painted upon its walls. A stone building of the 13th century connects the Schlossberg with the Afraberg, which owes its name to the old convent of St Afra. The convent was suppressed by Duke Maurice in 1543, and was by him converted into a school (the Fiirsten Schule), one of the most renowned classical schools in Germany, which counts Lessing and Gellert among its former pupils. Other public buildings of interest are the town-hall, built' in 1479 and restored in 1875; the fine town church, called the Frauenkirche or Marienkirche; the Nikolaikirche and the Afrakirche. The Franciscan church is now used as a museum of objects connected with the history of Meissen. Since 1710 Meissen has been the seat of the manufacture of Dresden china. Til] 1860 the royal porcelain factory was in the Albrechtsburg, but in that year it was transferred to a large new building in the Triebischtal, near the town. Meissen also contains iron foundries, factories for making earthenware stoves and pottery, sugar refineries, breweries and tanneries. A considerable trade is carried on in the wine produced in the surrounding vineyards and other industries are spinning and weaving.

Meissen was founded about 920 by Henry the Fowler (see MEISSEN, Margraviate). From 968 to 1581 Meissen was the seat of a line of bishops, who ranked as princes of the empire During the 15th century the town suffered greatly from the Hussites, and it was captured by the imperial troops during ..he war of the league of Schmalkalden, and again in the Thirty Years' War. In 1637 it suffered much from the Swedes, and n 1745 it fell into the hands of the Prussians. The bridge over the Elbe was destroyed by the French in 1813, and again by the Saxons in June 1866 in order to impede the march of the Prussians on Dresden. Colin on the right bank of the Elbe was incorporated with Meissen in 1901.

See Reinhard, Die Stadt Meissen, ihre Merkwurdigkeiten (Meissen, 1829); Loose, Alt-Meissen in Bildern (Meissen, 1889); Jaschke, Meissen und seine Kirchen (Leipzig, 1902) ; and Gersdorf, Urkundenbuch der Stadt Meissen (Leipzig, 1873).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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