Albrechtsburg Castle

Categories: Sightseeing, Cultural and History


[ source: Wikipedia]

Usually when one mentions the city of Meissen (Meissen vacation rentals | Meissen travel guide), images of some of Europe's most expensive porcelain pop into mind. Secondly, those who have been fortunate enough to visit Meissen know that this charming Saxon city sits high on a bluff above the Elbe River, north of Dresden (Dresden vacation rentals | Dresden travel guide). Few, however, may know that Meissen is home to the oldest solely residential palace in Germany.

The history of Albrechtsburg Castle reaches back to 929, when King Henry I conquered the Slavic Glomacze tribe and built a castle in their settlement area. For his fortress, he selected a rock high over the Elbe. This fortress became the stronghold of the ruling Saxon Wettin family. This wooden structure had been replaced by a stone fortification by 1002. This castle was conquered at various times by Bohemian and Polish nobles, and around 1200, the castle was heavily damaged.

The current, late Gothic castle was built between 1471 and 1524 by the Wettin brothers, Elector Erst of Saxony and Albrecht the Bold. The court builder Arnold of Westfalia oversaw the construction of Albrechtsburg Castle, which solely functioned as a residential and administrative structure. It was not meant to be a military fortress. Historians consider Albrechtsburg Castle to be the first residential palace in Germany. The castle was designed as an administrative center, but it also housed two different courts. Arnold of Westfalia's design set the standard for window and staircase design, spatial structure, vaulting, and statics. The money for this new, innovative palace came from the silver mines in the nearby Erzgebirge Mountains. The name Albrechtsburg was not given to the castle until 1676, and was selected to honor one of the two original builders.

Albrechtsburg Castle became increasingly less important once the Wettin line was divided into the Ernestine and Albertine lines. Already by 1710, the castle had long stood empty. In this year, the castle received a new significance when King Augustus II the Strong installed the first hard-paste porcelain manufacture in Europe at Albrechtsburg Castle. Although a fire in 1773 significantly damaged the castle, the manufacture remained here until it was moved to its current location in 1863. In 1881, the Albrechtsburg Castle was dedicated as a memorial to Saxon history.

Today, the castle is operated as a museum. Since May 2011, all floors of the castle have been open to the public. A permanent exhibition explains in detail the history and significance of the castle. Other attractions include guided tours and temporary exhibits.

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About this Article

Rachel Hildebrandt

This travel guide has been written by Rachel Hildebrandt.

Starting with her first trip to Germany at the age of 16, Rachel has traveled, worked, and studied in Germany extensively. Although her first encounter with German culture was in Lower Saxony, since that time the focus of her subsequent work as a freelance historian and translator has shifted eastward. Building on her graduate studies in Dresden, Rachel has worked for a variety of German foundations as a historian and translator, and is currently pursuing research pertaining to the Sorbs in Lusatia (eastern Saxony).

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Location, Map, and Driving Directions

Location: Staatliche Schlösser, Burgen und Gärten Sachsen, 01662 Meissen, Germany

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