The Czech borderlands south of Augustusburg are pillowed in soft woodland and rolling fields. These are the Erzgebirge, literally the “Ore Mountains”, whose rich deposits of silver, tin, copper and cobalt earned the fortunes of their handsome small towns. None are worth a trip in their own right, but with a car the region offers lovely backroads touring between Chemnitz and Zwickau. An added incentive is that when reserves were depleted, miners turned to folk crafts, which is why the so-called Sächsische Silberstrasse (Saxon Silverstreet) offers both historical romance and an opportunity to buy beautiful Christmas and Easter wooden toys and lacework. That strong crafts heritage comes to the fore in December when the region feels like a German Christmas card made real.

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