Exploring the City of Modernity

Chemnitz embraces the spirit of modernity. This once grey, industrial city is now a shining light of innovation and progress. Its architecture is astoundingly diverse. The combination of influences from the Gründerzeit period to art nouveau, Bauhaus and modern building styles give the city its distinctive charm.

City centre

Since the reunification of Germany in 1990, Chemnitz’s city centre has undergone some dramatic changes. Where large empty spaces were once commonplace, today we have a vibrant, lively centre. 

A number of famous architects have worked hard over the years to revitalise the city with a new, modern structure. Now home to a cosmopolitan blend of independent retailers, offices, restaurants, homes, leisure and cultural buildings, Chemnitz’s progress was recognised with the 2006 DIFA award for regeneration of inner city areas.

The Chemnitz of the 21st century is full of world class, and architecturally impressive, shopping areas:

  • Galerie Roter Turm
    The Roter Turm (Red Tower) shopping centre opened in 2000. The general concept for the city mall was developed by the architectural firm Chapman Taylor Brune (Düsseldorf/London), while Hans Kollhoff (Berlin) designed the facades.
  • Peek & Cloppenburg department store (Christoph Ingenhoven)
    The clothing retailer’s wave-like roof structure transformed the north west side of Neumarkt in 2003.

  • Galeria Kaufhof (Helmut Jahn)
    Europe’s most state-of-the-art, transparent steel and glass display case was built just off Neumarkt between 1999 and 2001.


[Translate to Englisch:] Von den Erfolgen der Chemnitzer Wirtschaft zeugen bis heute neben zahlreichen beeindruckenden Industriebauten vor allem Wohngebäude der Gründerzeit, Jugendstilvillen sowie öffentliche und private Gebäude der Bauhausepoche. 

Auch Künstler und Mitbegründer des Bauhauses Henry van de Velde hat mit der von ihm entworfenen Villa Esche seine Spuren in Chemnitz hinterlassen.

[Translate to Englisch:] Der Kaßberg ist eines der größten zusammenhängenden Gründerzeit- und Jugendstilviertel Europas.

Der im neugotischen Stil erbaute Theaterplatz steht symbolisch für eine Rückbesinnung auf klassische Ideale.

Chemnitz highlights

Karl Marx monument

The philosopher Karl Marx gave his name to Chemnitz between 1953 and 1990, when the city was known as Karl-Marx-Stadt. His 13-metre high bust has been part of the cityscape ever since.

The 13-metre high Karl Marx monument was designed by Soviet sculptor Lev Kerbel, and was cast in bronze in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) before being brought to Chemnitz for assembly. The 40 tonne statue was due to be torn down following the reunification in 1990. However, the city fathers and locals intervened, and the residents were allowed to keep their beloved “Nischl”. The second largest portrait bust in the world is still on display to this day, reminding all who visit of our city’s history. 

Theaterplatz, Opera House and Chemnitz Art Collections

With the famous Chemnitz Opera House, the King Albert Museum and St. Peter’s Church, Theaterplatz is home to some of the most beautiful buildings in the city.

The theatre is well-known for its diverse repertoire of shows and performances, and its many awards are testament to how well-respected it is within the theatre industry itself.

For fine art lovers, there is always plenty to see at the Chemnitz Art Collections, including works by Albrecht Dürer, Caspar David Friedrich, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and Jörg Immendorff. It also features ever-changing temporary exhibitions of contemporary art.

Old town hall, new town hall, Roter Turm (Red Tower)

Despite it having been almost completely destroyed during the Second World War, rebuilt and then redeveloped all over again following reunification, there are still plenty of historical buildings to see in the heart of Chemnitz.

The place where the city’s history began is still home to the buildings in which its future will be determined: the old and new town hall on the market square. Due the city’s enormous growth as an industrial centre and trade metropolis in the 19th century, the new town hall was added alongside the old one in 1911. If you choose to visit, make sure you don’t miss the Grüne Salon and the 48 bell carillon.

The oldest building in the city of Chemnitz is the Roter Turm (Red Tower). In the 12th century, it was part of the city’s fortifications, protecting it from outside attack. It was such an important symbol of the city that, centuries later, the East German washing-up liquid “fit” was sold in bottles designed to resemble the building. Today, the striking structure is a key part of the new city centre architecture and experience concept. 


Kaßberg is one of the largest art nouveau and Gründerzeit period neighbourhoods in Europe. Below ground, there is a wide network of vaults and tunnels.

Both the area’s architecture and its historical underground passages were awarded protected status in 1991. Kaßberg’s many cosy pubs and popular restaurants give the area its distinctive flair.

Villa Esche

Villa Esche in the Kappel neighbourhood was designed and constructed by the Belgian artist, architect and Bauhaus founder Henry van de Velde between 1902 and 1903.

His artistic concept is reflected in everything from the garden fence to the cutlery. Today, Villa Esche is recognised as one of the most important architectural monuments of the art nouveau movement. The majority of its original fittings have been retained and restored. Following extensive renovations, the house is now home to a wedding venue, a restaurant and the Henry van de Velde Museum, and is also a popular setting for many different cultural events.