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Freiberg: A Small City with a Big Heart

With its quaint historic downtown, Freiberg is an ideal location for cultural enthusiasts and nature lovers. The former mining region also offers numerous opportunities for weekend excursions, for example, into the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains).

by Janine Funke

Markt © Noack/DAAD
Markt . © Noack/DAAD

Facts & Figures

Inhabitants:
40,000
Students:
4,504
Universities:
1
Monthly rent:
160 € - 370 €
Tip:
Try a Freiberg “Eierschecke”!
Website:
www.freiberg.de

Welcome to Freiberg

In the middle of Saxony between the cities of Dresden and Chemnitz lies the former mining town of Freiberg.

Crafts and trades played an important role in the daily lives of Freiberg’s citizens for over 800 years. The history of the city is not only reflected in the degree programmes at the Technical University, but also in numerous locations downtown. For example, you’ll discover the traditional miners’ greeting “Glück auf!” painted on numerous buildings in town.

Glück Auf – The traditional miners' greeting © Noack/DAAD
Glück Auf – The traditional miners' greeting . © Noack/DAAD

You can gain a first-hand impression of local customs at the annual city fairs. The “Hüttenparade” (Ironworks Parade) is regularly held during the Bergstadtfest and the Christmas Market. It refers back to the time when the miners would parade through the streets of town in clean clothes on holidays. This was a special tradition as they normally spent their live-long day working in the dark mining pits. There are no more miners in Freiberg anymore, but the tradition lives on. Nowadays members of the “Mountain and Mining Association” march through the streets in town to celebrate their heritage.

Freiberg is home to the world’s oldest university devoted to the mining sciences – the Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg (Freiberg Mining Academy and University of Technology). The core areas of instruction and research include mineralogy, the exploration and processing of raw materials, and naturally, the mining sciences. The academic programmes have a strong practical orientation. The university operates a research and training mine where students can apply the knowledge they’ve gained in their lectures and seminars in a real-world setting.

Donat Tower and historic city wall © Noack/DAAD
Donat Tower and historic city wall . © Noack/DAAD

Freiberg’s historic downtown is extremely well preserved. Walking through the Donat Gate, you pass the Donat Tower and the historic city walls and enter the medieval city centre. Here you can marvel at the ancient layout of the town which dates back to the 12th century. When you arrive at the “Untermarkt”, you can enjoy a wonderful panoramic view of St. Peter’s Church and the cathedral. A few steps further, you can peer down the narrow streets leading to the city castle and lined with picturesque buildings.

Living in Freiberg

Freiberg is a peaceful town with a strong sense of community. Thanks to the university, the city offers a wide range of recreational and cultural activities. It’s especially important to Freiberg’s residents to help their guests become well-integrated. You’ll have no problems making contact with the locals. The university also organises language tandems with families in the region. If you participate, you can join a Freiberg family in celebrating Christmas, one of the most important holidays of the year for German families.

My tip

Try a Freiberg “Eierschecke”. It’s a local specialty you can order at one of the many cafés in town that tastes delicious with coffee or tea on a Sunday afternoon.

The Freiberger Theater is very special. Founded in 1790, it’s the only theatre which has been operated in its original form ever since, which makes it the oldest city theatre in the world. Today it presents plays, musicals and philharmonic concerts on a regular basis. As a student you are eligible for concession rates on theatre tickets.

Church of St. Jakobi © Noack/DAAD
Church of St. Jakobi . © Noack/DAAD

The Bergstadtfest takes place at the last weekend in June every year. More than 160,000 people congregate on the marketplace to listen to concerts, stroll through the streets lined with market stands and enjoy the locally-produced beer.

If you plan on taking an excursion outside of town, you should definitely visit the old mining tunnels. There are many small towns and forests in the surrounding region which you can easily visit by bike, such as the Tharandter Forest. If you want to go out for the night, you’ll find lots of students at the "Shine Bar". There are also international evenings, WG (flat-share) parties and evening events at the university.

If you get “cabin fever”, you can always hop a train and take a quick trip to Chemnitz or Dresden. And if you want to visit a major city like Prague or Berlin, bus travel is a cheap and fast alternative.

Interview with Karan Shah from India

Karan is 25 years old, comes from India and studies International Management of Resources and Environment at the TU Freiberg.

Karan Shah © Noack/DAAD
Karan Shah . © Noack/DAAD

Why did you decide to study in Germany?

After graduating from university, I worked in India for three years. Then I had the goal of getting my MBA abroad, and I quickly decided to do it in Germany. I like the culture and I wanted to learn a new language. Because the MBA programme in Freiberg is specially designed for engineers, I immediately knew that the university and the degree programme would be a good fit.

How did you prepare for your studies in Freiberg?

The preparations were easy since the Studentenwerk in Freiberg gave me a lot of help. After I received notification of admission, I inquired about getting a flat. They immediately assigned me an inexpensive room. The university also offers language courses. I hadn’t taken any language courses in India, but now I’m practicing with a German family. They speak to me in German, take me on excursions and so on.

How do you like the university and Freiberg as a student town?

Freiberg is a small, but cosy city. It’s an ideal place to study. It’s got everything you need. The university is very good and I can concentrate on my studies. I ride my bike everywhere, which is super. Everything is close by and the cost of living is very affordable. We’re a big community of international students here – I’m one of about 50 Indians who are currently studying in Freiberg.

Park © Noack/DAAD
Park . © Noack/DAAD

We organise an Indian evening on a regular basis and invite the entire town to attend – last time we had more than 300 people come. You can also meet people very quickly through the university’s Buddy Programme!

Were you able to make contact with other students quickly?

In the beginning, all of us international students always stayed together, but then we soon began doing things with the German students. Now we’ve become a close-knit bunch and do all sorts of things together. We often spend our afternoons in cafés. The university has a sports centre, and you can meet many new people in sport courses.

What do you like best about Germany?

The celebration customs in Germany are especially interesting to me. Even in a small town like Freiberg, there are so many parties. I have friends here who play in a band and regularly perform at parties and festivals in Freiberg. And when the band starts playing, everyone dances and lets their hair down. People here are very friendly. When I arrived at the airport in Berlin, I didn’t have any Internet and I didn’t know where to go. That wasn’t a problem at all because people, young and old, regardless if they spoke English or not, kindly offered to help me. That was a wonderful experience.