Pillnitz Castle & Park
Pillnitz Castle & Park – a beautiful Baroque palace – was built by architect Pöppelmann as a summer residence of the Saxon kings and used for festivities. The site alongside the Elbe consists of the English garden, a Chinese garden, a Chinese pavillion, and the Orangerie. The castle can be reached via one of the Elbe steamboats or via public transport. Today there are lots of concerts and cultural events.
Sächsische Schweiz (Saxon Switzerland) – this mountain area made of sandstone is about 40 km upward the Elbe river from Dresden. Bizarre stone formations and spectacular views are only some characteristics of this region that is ideal for hiking, climbing but also for a relaxed day out. The finest panorama of the deeply cut Elbe valley and the surrounding table mountains is offered by the Bastei Rocks. Below the viewpoint, in the small town of Rathen, one of the most beautiful natural open-air theatres in Europe, the Felsenbühne Rathen awaits visitors in summer. Its repertoire covers opera and theatre, including Karl May’s American Indian stories. Further upstream on the opposite side of the river, Königstein Fortress, the largest fortress complex in Germany, thrones over the little town of the same name.
The Königstein Fortress (Festung Königstein) is one of the largest and best preserved late medieval fortresses in Europe. Its 750 years history has made it an impressive configuration of late Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and 19th century architecture. The fortress is situated about 30 km from Dresden in the Sächsische Schweiz (see above) and can be reached by almost all means of transportation. Guided tours are offered from April till October several times a day. In addition, there are guided tours on special topics.
Radebeul & Saxon Wine Road
To the west of Dresden and directly on the Saxon Wine Road (Sächsische Weinstraße) lies Radebeul. The vine-covered slopes around Wackerbarth Castle and the historic vineyard of Hoflößnitz give it an almost mediterranean flair. By contrast, the Karl May Museum spirits visitors off the Wild West. The annual “Winzerfest” is reviving also – in form of the “Radebeuler Herbst- und Weinfest” in September. Particularly worthwhile here is a visit to the historical village centre of Altkötzschenbroda. With lovingly restored inns and former farmsteads Altkötzschenbroda tempts you to stay a while and enjoy a glass of local Saxon wine.
Meißen is one of the oldest towns in Saxony. It was once home to the local bishop and has a huge medieval cathedral and adjoining castle. It is also the place where the first European porcelain was invented. The china factory is still producing today and you can visit it and get to know more about it. The “crossed blue swords”, the trademark for Meißen porcelain, are known over the world. The Albrechtsburg Castle in Meißen is considered to be the earliest example of a residential castle in Germany, while the adjoining cathedral is an impressive jewel of pure Gothic.
Moritzburg – the town is famous for the old hunting castle of the Saxon kings. This impressive Baroque Hunting lodge is surrounded by stretches of water, enjoys the reputation of being one of the finest palaces of its kind in Europe. It has been beautifully restored from the in- and outside and hosts a collection of historic horse carriages. Near the castle, a great number of stalls were built – now property of “Sächsisches Landesgestüt Moritzburg” (Saxon state stud farm of Moritzburg), the official breeders of magnificent horses. In addition, the stud farm manages the Moritzburg stallion parade with its four-in-hand (or more) drivers, Cossack riders and stage coaches. This event is the highlight in Moritzburg of the month of September.
Southeast from Dresden lies Weesenstein Castle (Schloss Weesenstein), a popular destination for excursions in Dresden’s nearer surroundings due to its romantic location high up on a rock spur above the river Müglitz and its baroque park. The baroque-classicist facilities of the castle kitchen are particularly worth seeing. As private property of King Johann of Saxony (Philaletes), a ruler with great artistic sense, Weesenstein attained fame in 1830. Here he completed major parts of his translation of Dante. In historical ambience a variety of events or culinary enjoyment from the castle’s kitchen and café are organized there. Weesenstein Castle Beer is also available again.
Stolpen Castle (Burg Stolpen) is a also a very popular sight among visitors, since it is here that Countess Cosel, Augustus the Strong’s most famous mistress spent almost 49 years of her life. The castle is a wonderful example of an early medieval castle and most of the rooms are open to visitors.
Großsedlitz Baroque Garden
Set in a landscape of rolling hills about 100 m above the River Elbe lies Großsedlitz Baroque Garden (Barockgarten Großsedlitz). This masterpiece of Baroque landscape architecture extends over several levels. In this spacious garden visitors can still promenade as in the days of Augustus the Strong. The park offers wonderful views into the surrounding landscape and is well worth a short detour. The little town of Pirna is known as the gateway to the Saxon Switzerland.
Bautzen, in the heart of Upper Lusatia, is a precious medieval town, with the cathedral at its highest point and the narrow, picturesque streets with baroque terraces and rococo facades radiating in their restored splendor. With its marvelously preserved town center and an intact medieval cathedral, the Domschatz it is absolutely recommended for a short trip.
Görlitz is the easternmost town in Germany. After world war II the city, which is built on both sides of the River Neiße, was divided into a Polish part, Zgorzelec and a German part. After this, both halves of the city developed independently of each other. Here at the interface of the expansion of the European Union you will experience culture and history at first hand. Görlitz has a beautifully restored old town center with architectural jewels from the Gothic and Renaissance periods. Besides the Holy Grave, a copy of Jerusalem’s Passion sites can be visited.
In recent years, the town became famous as a filming location for international movie productions such as Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, Stephen Daldry’s The Reader, and many others. This resulted in the city’s by-name Görliwood.
Seiffen is located in the south of Dresden, in the Ore Mountain area (in German “Erzgebirge” Mountains), near the border of the Czech Republic. Erzgebirge handicraft traditions, with Christmas and toy themes, have become the most important source of income for the village. During the Christmas period, candles beautifully illuminate the streets of Seiffen, and the traditional wooden handicrafts are sold in the workshops. Seiffen’s Christmas village is the official Christmas village in Germany and just the right place to see during Christmas.
… and even more
The Free State of Saxony looks back at a long and proud history which is tangible in over a thousand palaces, castles and gardens. There are many more spectacular places worth to be seen. For more information have a look at sachsen-tourismus.de.