Wurzen: industrial town and birth place of Ringelnatz


Wurzen was first officially recorded in 961 and a stroll through the town will take you on a thousand-year historical experience. From 1248, the bishops of Meissen governed the market town; Wurzen was their royal seat from 1489 to 1581. The cathedral and castle bear witness to this period. Wars and plague led to decline and impoverishment. When the first Mulde bridge was built and the Leipzig-Dresden long-distance railway line opened in 1839, Wurzen developed into an industrial town.

From the mid-19th century onwards, the town with its 6,500 inhabitants offered ideal conditions for the establishment of companies: a river rich in water and energy, a well-developed agricultural environment and a sufficient labour force. The town chronicles record significant business start-ups at short intervals. High-quality products – food, wallpaper, carpets, machines – and Saxony’s largest agricultural co-operative prior to 1945 made Wurzen famous across the region and throughout Europe, even today.

The Leipzig industrial pioneer and entrepreneur Gustav Harkort, co-founder of the Leipzig-Dresden Railway Company in 1834, developed the Mark Schönstädt quarry for railway construction in 1835/36, thereby promoting the industrial extraction of porphyry rock in the region. At the same time, Harkort recognised the value of the tertiary clay rocks that came to light during railway construction at the Macherner Durchstich and founded the Altenbach clay goods factory in 1845. Both companies led to further start-ups in the region – including companies for producing industrial transport equipment and mechanical engineering. To this day, the quartz porphyry mined in the Wurzen region is essential for railway and road construction. Ceramic production sites still bear witness to the wealth of special clays and kaolin in this region of the Geopark Porphyry Land.

Wurzen also owes its current fame as the birthplace of Ringelnatz to this major industrialisation push. The call for skilled labour for the rapidly developing industry also brought Georg Bötticher to Wurzen in 1875. The pattern draughtsman worked successfully in the renowned Parisian studio of Arthur Matin. As a draughtsman for carpets, wallpaper and book covers, he exhibited at the World Exhibition in Vienna in 1873. In 1874, the entrepreneurial Schütz family in Wurzen recruited him to work as a draughtsman for the wallpaper factory founded in 1839, which later became a well-known carpet factory. As head designer, G. Bötticher played a major role in the success of this company for 15 years.

Georg Bötticher’s son, Hans Gustav Bötticher – known as Joachim Ringelnatz since 1919 – was born in Wurzen in 1883 and is commemorated in a permanent exhibition at the Museum of Cultural History. His father’s sketches can also be seen here. Today, the Ringelnatz house of birth presents itself with tours, exhibitions and events as a living link to the multifaceted legacy of the writer, cabaret artist, painter, poet and creator of the artistic character Kuttel Daddeldu. A Ringelnatz art trail leads along important sights through the historic centre of Wurzen.




  1. View from Ringelnatz’s birthplace on Crostigall (front right) to the industrial buildings on the Mulde floodplain (former Wurzen art mills and biscuit factories on the left), St Mary’s Cathedral, consecrated in 1114, and the late Gothic castle (right) from the 15th century
  2. The chimneys on the city panorama from 2017 bear witness to the transformation of Wurzen from a small farming town to an industrial city. On the left is the stone Mulde bridge from 1830, on the right the railway viaduct built in 1838. In the background the quartz porphyry hills of „Hohburger Schweiz“, then as now a popular excursion destination (picture postcard, Kunstverlag Drechsler Leipzig
  3. Today, the Lüptitz quarry is the largest porphyry quarry for the production of gravel and chippings. The city skyline of Wurzen in the background
  4. Joachim Ringelnatz – the sailor, lyricist, writer, cabaret artist, painter and creator of „Seemanns Kuttel Daddeldu“ in a portrait taken around 1930
  5. The Ringelnatz fountain stands on the market square: A Klabautermann with the poet’s facial features rides on a seahorse (Ringelnatz = nautical term for a seahorse).