While staying in Pirna, we made a day trip to Meissen just north of Dresden. Our destination was the Albrechtburg Castle, the first castle to be built in Germany for residential purposes. The original structure was a wooden fortress overlooking the Elbe River built in 929 by Heinrich the Fowler.
The late-Gothic castle complex was built between 1471 and 1524 on behalf of the two brothers, Ernest and Albert of Wettin, who jointly ruled Saxony. The new residence was to become a representative administration center and residential palace at the same time. It did not really serve defense purposes anymore, but was rather meant to be a palace – the first of its kind in German architectural history.
The large main staircase to the south, which provides access to the upper floors used for stately purposes, is a masterpiece of stonemasonry with intricately curved steps winding up around an open eye in the centre. Its windows were originally open and allowed a variety of views between those walking on the stairs and spectators in the courtyard.
Meissen-The Cradle of Saxony
Meissen porcelain was called “white gold” because of it’s high price. Meissen porcelain has been considered the finest by European aristoracy as well as decorative arts conoisseurs for over 250 years.
Meissen was Europe’s first porcelain manufactory and continued producing in the castle for 153 years. In 1863, the manufacturing of porcelain was moved to another site in Meissen. Extensive restoration work was needed after the damage left by the factory. Reparations the French were made to pay to the Germans for the German-French war allowed partially for the funding of the restoration.
Through the use of interactive tablets, visitors get an informative lesson about how the castle was used during the centuries. It included a game for the kids to keep them entertained while learning.
Meissen Cathedral also known as the Church of St. John and St. Donatus, is a Gothic church situated adjacent to the Albrechtsburg Castle in Meissen. The main hall of the church was built between 1260 and 1410, the twin steeples were added in 1909.