About 1,000 castles, fortresses, gardens and mansions rank among the historical treasures of Saxony. Like a string of pearls they wind through the legend-steeped region of Upper Lusatia, the fairytale Castle and Moor Land and the fabled Ore Mountains - some powerful and defiant, others baroque and filigree. Fifty of them are owned by the Saxon Castle Administration and are considered to be "Saxony's most beautiful castles, fortresses and gardens".
The Dresden Zwinger (famous baroque building), Moritzburg Castle, Kriebstein Castle, Königstein Fortress and the baroque garden of Großsedlitz, all these and many more have their own individual charm in terms of landscape and architecture. In addition, they often serve as unique settings for theatrical and musical performances, castle festivals, knights' tournaments, exhibitions and enchanting weddings. Five "castle routes" lead the way there.
What makes the Saxon castles and fortresses special is the wealth of experience they offer. All open their high gates to the public for numerous events. The guiding principle followed by today's castle lords is to allow visitors to enter and find themselves transported back in time to the lifestyles of the former owners centuries ago and for that purpose they invite various artists, such as musicians, theatre actors and actresses, jugglers, puppeteers. This allows the visitor to the famous Dresden Zwinger and the much-visited Pillnitz Castle and Park not only to experience the Baroque era at close quarters but to enjoy unparalleled musical performances of world-renowned orchestras during the Dresden music festivals.
Just a few kilometres from "Florence on the Elbe" as Dresden, the Saxon capital, is often lovingly referred to, the maids-in-waiting in the Baroque Palace of Rammenau politely curtsy to their international visitors. In the evening, the palace and bordering park offer an enchanting ambiance for chamber concerts. Or there's Stolpen Castle, a place steeped in legend, and not only because the numerous original utensils here provide an insight into the long captivity of more than 40 years of Countess Cosel - the favourite mistress of Augustus the Strong.
This mighty fortress is also the venue for impressive classical and rock music open-air-events. Visitors entering the legendary Königstein fortress high above the Elbe in the beautiful Elbe Sandstone Mountains not only experience the operational efficiency of what was once a mighty fortress but can only also partake of a special culinary experience: in the casemates of the fortress, four commanders in original costume invite the visitors to take a culinary journey through four centuries. Every year at Christmas the splendour of the medieval Christmas market shines down on the town of Königstein. The charming baroque garden of Großsedlitz is a paradise for strollers and a meeting place for all who love art and culture. And there's the "crazy" castle of Weesenstein, where Rolf Hoppe of international fame is a frequent guest for readings.
In the delightful region of "Saxon Elbe Land" the pearls of Moritzburg and Albrechtsburg (both fortresses) tower majestically over the world-renowned porcelain town of Meissen. Both are famous for their impressive exhibitions. Certainly the area richest in castles is the Saxon Castle and Moor Land. All along the river valley of the Mulde they look down imperiously from their thrones on the mountains, not as dumb witnesses to times long passed but as living centres of medieval customs and celebrations. When for example the Central Saxon Culture Summer begins in spring each year, the walls come to life and knights' tournaments, banquets, folklore, markets or even Transylvanian nights and concerts take possession of the old chambers and courts and cast a spell on thousands of enthusiastic visitors.
Gnandstein Castle, Mildenstein Castle, Rochlitz Castle or the park at the former Cistercian abbey of Altzella are impressive examples of such highlights. Lovers of architecture will also discover the most varied styles of construction here, while down below in the valley adventurous and romantic rafters and boaters sail past the towering castles.
Another treasure revealed on a trip into the Ore Mountains is Augustus Castle. For decades its walls sheltered the Saxon motorcycle museum and once a year it becomes the meeting place of enthusiastic motorcyclists. Welcome to the Saxon castle and fortress paradise.
Tourism Marketing Association of Saxony,
Bautzner Str. 45-47, D-01099 Dresden,
Tel.: 0049 - 351 - 4917023,