On engravings from the 19th century, a pavilion can be seen on the viewpoint of the rocky spur above the small town of Tharandt – similar to the one known as the “Temple of the Sun” on the opposite side of the valley.
When Dr Haupt initiated the construction of the spa and sanatorium (now the town hall of Tharandt), the slope above the spa building up to the Johannishöhe was made accessible to the guests of the sanatorium. Many paths lined with dry stone walls and former terraces still bear witness to this today. The pavilion at the viewing point was already gone at this time, but a bench offered those seeking a view the opportunity to relax after the climb.
The Weiser era
The house still standing on Johannishöhe today was built by the Weiser family. It was built sometime between 1898 and 1914, possibly as an entrance building for an open-air exhibition in Dresden. The building was dismantled and rebuilt on Johannishöhe.
The Weiser family developed the Johannishöhe. With a water pipe system, a vegetable garden, goats and chickens, a self-sufficient farm was created. In summer, artists from Dresden came to the Weiser’s for a summer holiday. There are postcards from this time with the “View from Weiser’s Villa”.
After the war, several resettled families were accommodated on the estate. Up to five families lived in the house and on the grounds.
The Weiser era on Johannishöhe came to an end in the early 1950s. The family was more or less forced to sell the building to the state.
The state-owned Johannishöhe
The People’s Own Trading Organisation Luckau (German: Volkseigene Handelsorganisation, HO Luckau) was the new owner of the house. From then on, families spent their holidays on the hill. Holiday camps for children were also held here. However, the building was not designed for such a long period of use. It was also difficult to maintain due to the general shortage of building materials. At the end of the 1980s, HO Luckau abandoned the building, which was now exposed to decay and destruction.
The rescue of the house
The house was saved by the fall of communism. As early as 1987 and 1988, various (student?) environmental groups were established at the TU Dresden, which came together in the autumn of 1989 to form the TU Environmental Initiative (TUUWI), which still exists today. Among other things, the TUUWI fought to ensure that all students at TU Dresden received a basic education in ecology and environmental protection. In order to bring this theoretical content to life, a group of students looked for a property and came across the building on Johannishöhe. With financial support from the Free State of Saxony and the Deutche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (German Trust for the Environment) as well as the support of personalities and many unpaid construction hours, the building was renovated. In the 1990s, well-known eco-technologies were used during the renovation: solar thermal energy, wood heating, composting toilet, constructed wetland for wastewater, cellulose flake insulation and, from 2001 photovoltaics.
Today, two families live on Johannishöhe and jointly run the environmental education centre and the Johannishöhe farm.
Johannishöhe Environmental Education Centre
Following renovation, the environmental education centre opened its doors in 1996. The events and seminars focus on ecological topics in the narrower and broader sense – energy and climate, agriculture and nutrition, (traditional) crafts, but also the question of how we want to live together in order to master the challenges of our time. Guests always have the opportunity to get to know and experience the special features of the house.
You can find our current programme on our website or right here in paper form.
The Johannishöhe farm has been in existence since 2010. Certified organic by conviction, it also pays attention to the preservation of agro-biodiversity in the production of regional food and seeds, for example through hedge and fruit planting and the propagation of many old varieties in the seed nursery. It also supplies the residents and guests of the house with fresh local food (vegetables, grains, berries, herbs, sometimes milk and cheese). In addition to the directly neighbouring areas on Johannishöhe, fields in Kleinopitz and Grumbach are also cultivated.
The products are available at the nature market “Naturmakt Tharandter Wald “– always on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month in Tharandt, Pienner Straße 1 – as well as in various health food and organic shops in the region (including Frau Müller Tharandt, Nahrungsquell Dresden-Plauen, branches of Verbrauchergemeinschaft Dresden e.G.).