Saarbrucken is the capital of the German state of Saarland. It is the administrative, commercial and cultural center. This is a lovely city with impressive Baroque architecture, castles and interesting museums.
Sitting in the heart of the capital is Saarbrucken Castle a Baroque masterpiece. The castle was built on the left bank of the Saar River. It was built on the ruins of medieval Castellum Sarrabrucca dating back to 999. To make sure that the castle remains standing architect Gottfried Bohm designed a state-of-the-art central block of steel and glass. The castle is now an administrative center and a place for conferences, cultural events and festivities.
Visit the castle wall for lovely panoramic views of the city. At one time the castle wall was moved back by 16 meters when the urban motorway was built. You can see the stone head of the “miserly baker” of St. Johann. His grim image watches passers-by from the wall next to the stairs that lead up to the castle. For some centuries this gargoyle was located at the Old Bridge.
The steeple of the late Gothic Schlosskirche or Castle Church dating from the 15th century was given a Baroque crest by Stengel in 1743. The church was destroyed in WW II and restored in the 1950s. George Meistermann designed the lovely stained-glass windows. In the choir you can find the sarcophagi of the last princes of Saarbrucken. Presently the church is a museum –Foundation for the Cultural Heritage of the Saarland.
The Square of the Invisible Memorial was created by Jochen Gerz and students from the local Art Academy in 1993. It is meant to be an expression of tolerance and a warning against racism. It is found in front of the castle. 2,146 flagstones were dug up and the names of Jewish cemeteries were engraved on the back and then the flagstones were replaced. It commemorates the fate of those who were incarcerated in the Gestapo prison in Saarbrucken Castle and all those who were persecuted and murdered under the National Socialist regime. Since they had to be replaced with the engravings facing downwards the Parliament renamed Castle Square as The Square of the Invisible Memorial.
Dark corridors descend down into the Moller Hall offering visitors the Ferrodrom Science Centre and fire-spewing columns. The blast furnace has a viewing platform. The Volklingen Ironworks is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visitors can see a multimedia exhibition covering the period of time from when the ironworks opened to the present day. Here you can also find regular events and exhibitions. This counts as the European Center for Art and Industrial Heritage.
In the south of Saarbrucken is a lively area surrounding Nauwieser Platz which is also known as the Chinese Quarter by residents. Here you can take a look at diverse lifestyles and find lots of cultural attractions, cafes, bars and unusual stores. At the end of July the Nauwieser Viertel Festival is held here and is the largest and most popular street festival in the whole of Saarland.
If you want to discover Saarland’s distant past visit The Museum of Pre-History and Early History. Exhibits show archaeological discoveries from every era from the Stone Age to the early Middle Ages. There are displays of hand axes and Franconian gold jewelry. Some other highlights include the tomb of the Celtic Princess of Reinheim, Roman artifacts and wall paintings from the villa in Mechern.
The Saarland Museum is a local history museum and contemporary art gallery. The collections are distributed between the museum in the palace church, the Old Collection and the Modern Gallery with artworks from the 19th to the 21st century. You can also find regular exhibitions of classical and contemporary art.
Connecting Alt-Saarbrucken and St. Johann is the Alte Brucke. The Old Bridge originally had 14 arches but today there are only 8. After being destroyed during WWII it was rebuilt and shortened in the early 1960s to make room for the urban expressway. In the summer at the dock next to the bridge Saarbrucken passenger boats offer round trips along the Saar River.
Stengel erected The Basilica St. Johann between 1754 and 1758. Today it is an impressive example of 18th century Baroque. The pope granted the church the title “Basilica Minor”. Very impressive are the bronze portal and the entrance area both designed by Saarbrucken artist Ernst Alt. The church organ consists of three individual parts, the main organ and the two choir organs. These can be played together or individually. The St. Johann Basilica organ is made up of 60 sounding stops and 4, 312 pipes.
The Saarbergwerke or Saar Mining Company administrative office was once the “Royal Prussian Mining Headquarters”. The office was constructed by Martin Gropius and Heino Schmeiden in Florentine Renaissance style in 1880. The historical building can now be found in the Europa Galerie shopping mall. The historical parts remain where they were originally and of interest are the tiled floor, the stairs and the windows.
Froschengasse has former craftsmen’s and workers’ houses that were once built onto the old town wall. In 1978 the street was rebuilt in the Baroque style. There are quaint restaurants with idyllic courtyards.
A impressive example of a “palace royal” architecture is architect Stengel’s masterpiece The Ludwigskirche. It is considered to be one of the most stylistically and aesthetically perfect Protestant Baroque churches in Germany. Completed in 1775 this unusual Baroque ensemble includes Ludwigsplatz Square, the surrounding castle and civil servants’ houses.
The neo-Gothic Town Hall is dominated by its 54 meter tower from which you can hear the sounds of carillon daily at 3:15 PM and 7:19 PM. It was designed by architect Georg J. von Hauberrisser and built between 1897 and 1900. The facade has been preserved and adorned with sandstone statues which represent past trades. There is a miner, a smelter, a farmer, a brewer, a merchant and a tanner. Inside it is worth taking a look at the ballroom which provides the venue for more than 1,000 weddings a year.
The Crane Association first constructed The Saarkran or Saar Crane in 1761. It flanks the Wilhelm-Heinrich-Brucke Bridge bearing witness to Saarbrucken’s flourishing trade history. The crane was first constructed by the Krahnen-Gesellschaft according to plans drawn-up by Stengel. After being destroyed on several occasions the final construction was done in 1991 and financed by donations.
The place to meet people in Saarbrucken is St. Johanner Markt. Here you can find boutiques, bars, bistros and restaurants. There are many picturesque alleyways to stroll through all around the market square. You can get a direct view of the castle from the Baroque fountain designed by Stengel in 1759.