Moritzburg

Moritzburg

 

Location: Moritzburg, Saxony Map

Constructed: 1542- 46 by Maurice, Elector of Saxony

Tel. (035207) 8730

Open: Apr- Oct: 10am- 5pm daily

Nov- Mar: 10am- 4pm Tue- Sun

 

Description of Moritzburg Castle

Moritzburg Castle is located in the Moritzburg municipality of the same name near Dresden. The hunting lodge, which dates back to a hunting lodge from the 16th century, was given its current appearance in the 18th century under Augustus the Strong.

The castle, whose main axis runs from south to north, rises on an artificial island in the castle pond. The baroque four-wing building with its four towers directly connected to the main building rests on a pedestal-like base. Eight former guard houses are grouped around the castle on the island.

The harmonious integration of the landscape into the castle is completed by the gardens to the north, the pheasant castle about two kilometers to the east and connected by a direct line of sight with a small port facility and the Venus fountain, the Dardanelles and a lighthouse in the center of the Schneisenstern in the northern Friedewald.

 

History

In the years 1542–1546, Duke Moritz had his hunting lodge furnished with hunting trophies in the Renaissance style. The castle was later named after him, the original name was Dianenburg. The hunting lodge at that time already consisted of four thick round towers, which were connected by a surrounding defensive wall. In 1550 it became the seat of the Moritzburg administration. 1661–1672 the palace chapel was built under the direction of Elector Johann Georg II. The plans for the chapel came from the builder Wolf Caspar von Klengel. Between 1656 and 1672 the hunting lodge was expanded into a castle with the help of Wolf Caspar von Klengel.

In 1697 August the Strong converted to the Catholic faith and became King of Poland, which resulted in the need for a Catholic church. After the decision on Moritzburg had been made, the formerly Protestant castle chapel was consecrated as a Catholic at Christmas 1699 as part of a church service. From 1699 until today, the Catholic service has been held in the chapel of the castle.

In 1703 plans were drawn up to convert the palace into a baroque hunting and pleasure palace. The plans are attributed to August the Strong. In October 1719, the Serenata di Moritzburg by Johann David Heinichen was premiered here to frame a royal hunt. 1723–1733, plans for the renovation were implemented under the direction of Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann. The castle was changed and new ponds and animal enclosures were created. The renovation ended with the death of August. Along with Pillnitz Castle, the palace is one of the main works of the royal commissioned Dresden Baroque.

The Elector Friedrich August III. von Sachsen, a grandson of Augustus the Strong, increasingly included the area around the castle in the design of the landscape. The Fasanenschlösschen, the Marcolinihaus, the Venusbrunnen, the harbor and the Moritzburg lighthouse with the pier at the Bärnsdorf lower pond were built.

Prince Ernst Heinrich of Saxony used Moritzburg as his permanent residence from 1933 to 1945 and set up some rooms for guided tours. The most valuable (outsourced) holdings of the palace library set up and cataloged by Edith Rothe, monastery manuscripts from the Middle Ages, incunabula, illustrated books from the 16th century, a collection of autographs, splendid bindings from the time of the Renaissance and the 18th century and a closed collection of hand drawings by King Friedrich August, were completely destroyed during the air raids on Dresden on the night of February 13-14, 1945. In 1945 the Wettins were expropriated. They were able to bury large parts of their valuable treasures in wooden boxes in the palace gardens. Except for a few pieces, these were found by the Soviet troops and transported away. On October 4, 1996, private hobby archaeologists managed to find several boxes with goldsmith's work set with gemstones. They were assigned to the Wettin treasure. Although all metals and precious stones were affected by the long storage in the earth, the pre-war condition could be restored.

In the years 1946–1949 a museum for baroque was set up in some rooms of the palace. In the period 1985–1989, the palace chapel was extensively restored.

Castle construction
General
The castle was divided into a total of twelve residential quarters with a total of 200 rooms. The electoral-royal family and their guests as well as the servants were accommodated here.

With their cross vaults, the entrance halls on the ground floor are reminiscent of the old hunting lodge, the Renaissance building of Duke Moritz von Sachsen. The four large state rooms (billiards room, dining room, stone hall and monstrous hall) are located on the first floor, each two storeys high.

The four towers of the castle are named after their original function. The northeastern kitchen tower was formerly used to supply the dining room, while the northwestern baking tower contained the bakery. The Amtsturm is to the southeast and the Jägerturm to the southwest.

The vaults in the basement were used as a court kitchen, storage rooms and horse stables. Utility rooms were also housed in the cellars of the towers.

Terraces and sculptures
The castle is provided with a terrace system all around. The statues on the balustrades of the terrace and on the driveway come from the workshops of Balthasar Permoser, Benjamin Thomae, Johann Christian Kirchner and Wolf Ernst Brohn. Two piqueurs with parforce horns and hunting dogs are depicted on sandstone plinths at the driveway. The balustrades of the terrace are decorated with figures of hunters, children and vases.

 

Interior
A collection of gala carriages welcomes the visitor in the entrance hall.

The palace is equipped with baroque interior design from the time of August the Strong. Here are the state rooms with lacquer and show furniture, Augsburg silver furniture and hunting weapons. The treasures include, among other things, gilded leather wallpapers from the 17th century, which are still preserved in eleven rooms. In the billiard room, named after the pool table that was once there, monumental paintings on leather by Louis de Silvestre are exhibited.

The furnishing of many rooms is dedicated to courtly hunting. The collection of red deer antlers is one of the most important in the world. The most impressive part of the trophy collection is located in the dining room, where many of the 71 red deer trophies are between 270 and 400 years old. They mostly come from districts in Electoral Saxony or came to Moritzburg as a purchase or gift. Among them is the almost two meters wide and, at 19.8 kg, heaviest red deer antlers in the world to date. An antler pole with a chalice-shaped crown, which has been used as a “welcome” drinking vessel since 1689, can also be viewed in the dining room.

The stone hall houses a collection of reindeer and elk antlers. The trophy of an extinct giant deer is posted above its western entrance. This gift from the Russian Tsar Peter the Great to Augustus the Strong is over 10,000 years old; the Crimean peninsula is believed to be the site of discovery.

In the monstrous hall there are 39 pathologically altered antlers, including the famous 66-Ender, which was made by Friedrich III in 1696. Margrave of Brandenburg had been shot. While the trophies mounted on carved animal heads stand in the foreground in the dining and stone hall, they complement the predominant leather wallpapers in the monstrous hall with their representations from ancient mythology.

In 1723 August the Strong bought a magnificent bed for the Japanese Palace, the canopy of the canopy and the bed curtains consisted of around a million feathers from peacock, guinea fowl, duck and pheasant. Its creator, the French Le Normand, had used an ingenious technique: the feathers were not glued on or linked, as is usually the case, but worked into the fabric as weft threads on the loom. As soon as it was acquired, the elector had the bed curtains pulled down and turned into wall hangings, which is why the room was later called the Feather Room. In 1830 the feather room came to Moritzburg Castle. After an extensive 19-year restoration, the magnificent bed with the wall curtains has been on view again since 2003.

Chinese, Japanese and Meissen porcelain are only shown in guided tours in the Historical Porcelain Quarter in the Jäger Tower, which has been reopened since 2009. The focus is on Meissen porcelain with hunting motifs and animal figures, i.e. pieces that correspond to Moritzburg's former destination as a hunting lodge.

The castle chapel is furnished with fine stucco and sandstone decorations, ceiling paintings, an altar structure and a royal box. The west-facing altar is adorned with an altar painting by an unknown Venetian master, delivered to Dresden in 1744, depicting the Assumption of the Virgin. The ceiling painting with the Ascension of Christ comes from the court painter Johann Fink.

Castle park and surroundings
In 1728 the palace park was built as an extension of the north-south avenue coming from Dresden and the north-south axis of the palace on the adjacent northern mainland. The U-shaped floor plan is about 230 by 150 meters.

The French-style garden was never completed, also due to the death of Augustus the Strong. Johann Christoph Knöffel and Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann, among others, dealt with the planning. The garden, which leads up to the Friedewald, is based on the usual design of garden areas at other European royal courts of that time. A broad central axis is predominant, with two transverse lines running through it. The three-part ground floor is surrounded by an avenue of lime trees lined with hedges. Cavalier houses are located at the two southern intersections of Querallee.

The garden experienced a further development in the 19th century, by planting rare plants, which slowly turned the complex into a romantic park.

An eight-beam, star-shaped system of aisles for parforce hunting runs through the Friedewald, which adjoins to the north. At the intersection of the aisles on the elevation of a forest clearing (Helle) lies the ruins of the Hellhaus, built in 1787 according to plans by Johann Daniel Schade. It was used by court society during feudal parforce hunts, with the so-called swan keeper from the roof of the building using flags to indicate the direction of the game's escape.

 

An aisle running directly to the east connects the castle visually with the little pheasant castle 2.5 kilometers away. Not far from this is the Venus Fountain, built in 1772, one of the largest Baroque fountain systems in Saxony. Venus is shown here with Cupid and swans on an artificial rock massif that rises in an auricle-shaped basin. The fountain symbolizes the eastern end of a canal that partially runs parallel to the aisle. A miniature harbor with a pier and lighthouse is located on the Niedere Großteich Bärnsdorf pond to the east of the little Fasanenschlösschen.

At the confluence of the canal leading from the Venus Fountain to the Great Pond you will find the Dardanelles, named after the strait of the same name between the Aegean and Marmara Sea. The now dilapidated ensemble of artificial bastion-like curves with loopholes originally extended between this confluence and close to the harbor. The symbolic miniature replicas of the fortifications of the original Dardanelle castles in today's Turkey were used to re-enact naval battles, in particular the naval battle of Çeşme from 1770.

The castle pond surrounding the artificial island was created from originally four ponds during the renovation phase of the castle in 1723–1733. The ponds in the Friedewald were created in the 16th century. Just like the castle pond, they are still used today for carp breeding. The canal system connecting the ponds allows targeted fishing by draining the water.

Miscellaneous
The castle has been the setting for fairy tale films on several occasions; Filming took place there in 1971 for Sixes Come Through the World, in 1972 for Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella and the 1989 film adaptation of Cinderella. In 2004 it served as the backdrop for the romantic comedy A Princess to Fall in Love with.

The Moritzburg Festival has established itself as an annual concert series for chamber music. It was founded in 1993 and has been under the artistic direction of cellist Jan Vogler since 2001.

Since 2001 the castle has been the backdrop for the annual Moritzburg Castle Triathlon.

Since 2002, sculptor symposia have been held roughly every two years on the east side of Moritzburg Castle Pond. Since the finished works remain in place, a sculpture trail that extends into the neighboring forests and is regularly expanded is created here.

In the winter months (mid-November to the end of February) there is a winter exhibition on the fairytale film Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella every year.