Bad Muskau History

Categories: Sightseeing, Cultural and History

Schloss Muskau
Schloss Muskau

[ source: Wikipedia]

In an out of the way corner of northern Saxony seldom frequented by American travelers, one can find a little town by the name of Bad Muskau (Bad Muskau vacation rentals | Bad Muskau travel guide). This spa town, situated on the Neisse River, lies on the German-Polish border, and it is primarily known for the landscape park that lies within its borders, the Muskau Park. The history of Bad Muskau is linked not only to the park, but to the Sorbs, a Slavic minority group that founded this town and many others in this region as well.

The name Muskau is derived from the Upper Sorbian word "Muzak," which means either "man" or "wild man." The etymology of the name is reflected in town's coat of arms, which shows a wild man holding a sword. The history of Bad Muskau dates back to the 13th century, and the first written reference to the town of "Muscove" comes from 1253. Of interesting note, the Standesherrschaft Muskau (county estate) was the biggest in the Holy Roman Empire. As part of Upper Lusatia, the early years of Bad Muskau's history are linked to the kingdom of Bohemia. Between 1329 and 1635, Upper Lusatia was ruled from Prague, but that changed once the area was taken over by the electorate, later kingdom, of Saxony. In 1452, the city received the right to permit the operation of hand workers, schools, markets, and a brewery. From 1635 to 1815, Bad Muskau belonged to Saxony, after which its administration shifted to the kingdom of Prussia.

Bad Muskau's history and significance as a spa area began in 1823, when the Hermannsbad was opened and used by 150 guests. Count Hermann von Pueckler-Muskau owned the spa, and the guests were accommodated on his estate. In 1896, a forest railway system was constructed for the transport of lignite coal and alum, which were major industries in the Bad Muskau area. The town received some international acclaim in 1902, when the first wooden fire tower was built in the Begpark. It was awarded a gold medal at the 1902 World's Fair in St. Louis. As time passed, the spa's significance began to wane. In 1930, the spa was closed, but it was reopened in 1950 under the auspices of the East German government. The spa continued to function during the early years of reunification, and in 2005, it was officially endorsed by the Free State of Saxony.

As was the case with many German towns, Bad Muskau was severely damaged during World War II. Over 80% of the town was destroyed in 1945, but today few signs of the war still exist. With a current population of about 3,800, this quiet little riverside town is worth a visit, especially to while away an afternoon in one of Europe's finest landscape parks.

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About this Article

Rachel Hildebrandt

This travel guide has been written by Rachel Hildebrandt.

Starting with her first trip to Germany at the age of 16, Rachel has traveled, worked, and studied in Germany extensively. Although her first encounter with German culture was in Lower Saxony, since that time the focus of her subsequent work as a freelance historian and translator has shifted eastward. Building on her graduate studies in Dresden, Rachel has worked for a variety of German foundations as a historian and translator, and is currently pursuing research pertaining to the Sorbs in Lusatia (eastern Saxony).

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Location, Map, and Driving Directions

Location: Schloßstraße 8, 02953 Bad Muskau, Germany

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