BAUTZEN, 60km east of Dresden, is the capital of the Sorbs, Germany’s only indigenous minority; they’re derived from the Slavic Wends who migrated west around fifteen hundred years ago. Apart from the thrill of exotic street-names and the occasional institute and museum, or unless a visit coincides with a Sorb weekend market five weeks before Easter or an Easter Sunday festival, you’d be hard pushed to know, however. Only five percent of the local population are native Sorb – the Czech-influenced dialect is heard more commonly in villages north, linked by a cycle route.
Instead, what defines a settlement that is a thousand years old is its historic Altstadt – a maze-like kernel guarded by seventeen medieval bastions that march above a river valley. The Spree River flows north to second Sorb stronghold, Spreewald.