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Schloss Weesenstein

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Before I went to Dresden a few weeks ago, I had never heard of a place called Schloss Weesenstein. It was a special exhibition they are having this year that actually drew my attention to it: „Bomb-Proof! A Hideaway for Art - Weesenstein 1945“. Whatever urban castle, church, museum or other historical building you visit in Germany, the topic of the last years oft he Second World War is sure to come up at some point. Schloss Weesenstein lies outside of any city nestled away in the valley of the Müritz valley not to far from Dresden. As such it was destined to be a hideaway for the masterpieces of Dresden’s museums - and lots of wine.  The history of Schloss Weesenstein, however, starts much earlier than that. According to archaeological finds, its history began over 800 years ago. Firstly mentioned in 1318 as Weysinberg, the castle belonged to the burgraves of Dohna. Not long after, the Dohnas got involved in a feud actually bearing their name. The Dohna Feud was started in 1385 at a …

Dresdner Zwinger

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If you had to list Dresden's most famous sights, it would probably the Frauenkirche, the Semper Opera and, of course, the Zwinger, the Baroque masterpiece that owes is existence to Saxony's most famous ruler, August the Strong. It's name, though, is a bit of a curious case. Historically speaking, a Zwinger in German is an open area between two defensive walls that is used for defensive purposes. The name dates back to previous usages of the area. The current Zwinger, however,was never used for strategic reasons, but as a place for lavish gatherings and entertainment. August the Strong, who wasn't only Elector of Saxony but also King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, was a lover of the fine arts that almost searches his equal in German history. He established Dresden as a major cultural centre, attracting artists from across Europe to his court. The Zwinger was just one of his many endeavors. But how did he come up with the idea? On his grand tour through France a…

Schloss Albrechtsburg

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Cold and dark rooms, stone or white walls, sparse furniture - usually, I'm not biggest fan of Gothic castles from Medieval times. You see, I'm more into guys in wigs than knights in shining armour. To every rule there is an exception though: Mine is Schloss Albrechtsburg, Germany's oldest castle (as opposed to a fortress) towering high above the Elbe valley in the town of Meissen near Dresden (though my love might have to do with the Neo-Gothic touches to the castle). Meissen is actually considered "the cradle of Saxony" with the Margravate of Meissen, which together with the former Duchy of Saxe-Wittenberg would later become the Electorate of Saxony, founded in 965 and its first Catholic bishopric three years later. Already in 929, Heinrich the Fowler, elected king of East Francia, had a wooden fortress built on a rock towering above the Elbe. This made Meissen the centre of the march bordering on the territories to the east that were still under Slavic control…

Fasanenschlösschen (Moritzburg)

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There is always the oldest, the newest, the largest and this one is the smallest royal castle, at least in Saxony: The Fasanenschlösschen, also known as Little Pheasant Castle. Measuring just 13.4 square metres on each floor, the little palace got it all: An antechamber, working cabinet, living room, bedroom, toilet room and hall on the ground floor as well as a dining room and an apartment upstairs. The servants rooms are located in the attic - though I was unfortunately unable to see any of it myself as the palace is closed during winter time. The small Fasanenschlösschen is located near to another more famous castle, Schloss Moritzburg, though. The two places are connected by a long vista and the Little Pheasant Castle even boasts its own miniature harbour and Saxony’s only lighthouse.  So who built this dollhouse of a castle? August the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, laid its first foundations in 1728. At the time, it was used as a pheasantry. The pheasant-breeding…