Medieval castles in Dresden have colourful histories. The castles described below are all within short walking or driving distances. Today, these castles in Dresden have turned into hotels, vineyards, museums, or private homes. The magnificent gardens, the views over the Elbe rivers, the stories of these loving castles in Dresden attract more and more tourists in the recent years.
The castles are top destinations of day trips when traveling to Dresden. Being a cultural, educational and political centre of Germany and Europe, the castles in Dresden tell many stories about the city’s early history, its modern period centuries ago, its situation of the second world war and the post-war, and the post-reunification.
The castles in Dresden are as follow:
- Dresden Residential Castle
- Albrechtsburg Meissen
- Lingner Castle
- Eckberg Castle
- Pillnitz Castle
- Moritzburg Castle
- Albrechtsberg Castle
- Wackerbarth Castle
- Fortress Königstein
- Wachwitz Castle
Dresden Residential Castle (Residenzschloss)
One of the most important castles in Dresden is the Renaissance Residential Castle in the middle of the old city centre. Over more than seven centuries, it was the residence of the Electors and Kings of Saxony from the House of Wettin. The medieval castle is also one of the oldest building in Dresden. Extended in the fifteenth century, it became a castle with four wings. Later, in the sixteenth century, an extension in the Renaissance style was added. One of its well-known features is the different architectural styles, from Baroque to Neo-renaissance.
Most of the castle had only a roofless shell during the February 13, 1945 bombing of Dresden in World War II. Restoration began in the 1960s but was finally completed in 2013. Today, the residential castle is a museum complex. It hosts the Historic and New Green Vault, the Numismatic Cabinet, the Collection of Prints, Drawings and Photographs and the Dresden Armory with the Turkish Chamber. In addition to that, it also houses an art library with approximately 260,000 volumes of special literature on art history.
You can buy the Semperoper and Old Town Tour to see the impressive castle and also discover one of the most beautiful and culturally significant opera houses in the world, the Semperoper, then stroll around the lovely old town of Dresden.
Taschenberg 2, 01067 Dresden
Albrechtburg Castle (Albrechtsburg Meissen)
Albrechtburg Castle was built between 1471 and 1524 on behalf of the two brothers, Ernest and Albert of Wettin, who jointly ruled Saxony. The castle was more an administrative centre and residential palace than a defensive castle.
However, the Albrechtsburg Castle had never carried out its originally intended function. Occasionally, some receptions or hunting parties took place on the premise. Most of the time the castle remained unused. In 1710, Augustus the Strong started to use the Albrechtsburg as Europe’s first porcelain manufactory. For 153 years, the Albrechtsburg was the manufactory of the Meissen porcelain. Later, extensive restoration started to revive the original Gothic appearance and repair the damage resulted from the being used as a manufactory.
The design and the construction of the castle were not so easy. Due to the steep slopes down to the river, the basement had to stretch over two floors, followed by the ground floor and three upper floors. The large spiral staircase is a masterpiece in design. Ornamental decoration in Gothic style was applied. Murals created from 1893 inside the castle present the topics mainly related to historical events taken place in the castle.
Today, All floors of the castle are open to the public. Inside of it, the exhibition includes five sections and shows.
It is easy to take the Elbe river cruise to Meissen from Dresden. You can visit the Albrechtsburg, stroll through the town, and explore the town museum or the porcelain factory before returning to Dresden.
Domplatz 1, 01662 Meißen
Lingner Castle (Lingnerschloss)
Designed by Prussian master builder Adolf Lohse, completed in 1852, the Lingnerschloss was built for the Baron von Stockhausen, the chamberlain of the Prussian prince Albrecht, who lived next door in Albrechtsberg Castle. The Baron von Stockhausen died shortly after the completion of the construction.
The ownership was first changed to the industrialist Bruno Naumann and then in 1906 to the entrepreneur Karl August Lingner, who invented the famous “Odol” Mundwasser. Lingner made some changes to the villa, and in 1908, he built a small cable car which ran from the castle terrace to the vineyard. However, the cable car was demolished in1933.
After Lingner’s death in 1916, the building and the land changed hands over to the city of Dresden. The city used the castle in various ways, for example, as a children’s home and an educational institution in the 1930s. Later, during the Second World War, it turned to be an auxiliary hospital. After the Second World War, the Soviet military administration used the building.
After 1955, the castle was the meeting place of the “Dresdner Club”, an elite club of Dresden intellectuals. In 2002, the Förderverein Lingnerschloss e.V. was founded to restore and preserve the castle. Today, various events take place in the Lingner Castle. The beautiful terrace along the Elbe river provides a magnificent view of the “Blue Wonder”, the iron bridge across the Elbe river.
Take a relaxing boat cruise down the Elbe, the tour is perfect for couples or the whole family. You will see the Albrechtsberg castle, the Eckberg castle, the Lingner Castle and the Blue Bridge.
Bautzner Str. 132, 01099 Dresden
Eckberg Castle (Schloss Eckberg)
One of the other castles in Dresden is the Eckberg Castle. In 1858, the merchant Johann Daniel Souchay from Manchester bought the “Eckberg” vineyard. He requested Prof. Christian Friedrich Arnold to build an English mansion in Neo-Gothic style. A few years later, the castle, the park, and the adjoining buildings were completed, and Souchay enjoyed his fairy-tale estate until his death in 1871.
In 1883 his heirs sold the property and the ownership changed several times. Decades later, in 1925, the new owner and the inventor of the aluminum tube and the toothpaste “Chlorodont”, Ottomar Heinsius von Mayenburg was rich enough to turn the Schloss Eckerberg into his lifelong dream. As a trained botanist and passionate gardener, he devoted himself into the transformation of the park which including a rock garden, rose wall, and flower meadow.
After the expropriation of the Mayenburg family in 1952, Schloss Eckberg was a dormitory, then the trade union school, and later a place for the manufacture of electronic parts. The east Germany re-discovered its historical heritage and did renovations in the 1990s. The castle Eckberg became the Youth Tourist Travel Association.
After the German reunification, the family von Mayenburg became the owner of the Schloss Eckerberg again. However, they sold the property to the Munich-based company group ARGENTA a few years later. Between 1996 and 1997, the castle, the adjoining buildings and the garden were completely renovated and expanded to luxury hotels. You can book a room from Hotel Schloss Eckberg on booking.com.
Bautzner Str. 134, 01099 Dresden
Pillnitz Castle (Schloss Pillnitz)
Among the other castles in Dresden, Pillnitz Castle (Schloss Pillnitz) is a restored Baroque palace at the eastern end of the city of Dresden. It was the summer residence of many electors and kings of Saxony.
In the 14th century, a simple residential fortress existed on today’s castle premise. And, in 1715, the château was converted into an oriental summer palace for riverside festivals.
The Pillnitz Castle complex consists of three main buildings, the Riverside Palace (Wasserpalais) on the riverfront, the Upper Palace (Bergpalais) on the hillside, and the later Neoclassical New Palace (Neues Palais). The buildings enclose a Baroque garden and are surrounded by a large public park. It is worth to mention that the upper staircase built on the Elbe side in 1722 was supplemented in 1725 by water stairs forming a gondola dock.
The Pillnitz Castle stands out among other castles in Dresden with its 28-hectare park surrounding the main buildings mainly contains such as an English pavilion, a Chinese pavilion, and a Palm house. The 500 metre-long chestnut-lined alley runs parallel to the river bank, flanked by small rectangular hedged parterres. The centerpiece of the Baroque flower garden is a large fountain. Besides, it also features botanical attractions from all over the world.
You can take the Elbe river cruise, a vintage paddle wheel steamer to see the castle. The steamer starts at Terrassenufer in the old city centre. It passes the three famous castles in Dresden and the 5 famous Elbe bridges. Then, you can join the 1.5-Hour guided costumed tour roaming through Pillnitz Castle with Countess von Brühl.
August-Böckstiegel-Straße 2, 01326 Dresden
Moritzburg Castle (Schloss Moritzburg)
Moritzburg Castle, or Moritzburg Palace, is a Baroque palace which has four round towers and is in the centre of a symmetrical artificial island. The original castle, named after Duke Moritz of Saxony, used to be a hunting lodge. Over the centuries, the castle was gradually extended by residents.
The interior of the castle baroque decorations and the walls are covered in 17th century gold-gilded leather. This unique attraction inside the castle is its largest collection of red deer antlers shown in the Speisesaal (dining room), including the heaviest red deer antler in the world. The other collections are, for example, porcelains from China, Japan, and Meissen. However, the most eye-opening piece is the four-poster bed for Augustus the Strong’s Japanese palace, which had approximately a million peacock, pheasant, guinea hen, and duck feathers woven into the canvas. Besides, a collection of royal carriages is shown in the entrance hall.
The castle’s u-shaped park has an area of approximately 230 by 150 meters. The gardens are in the French style and, were never completed because of the death of Augustus the Strong. An 8-arm, star-shaped system of alleys cut through the forest on the northern side of the property. It could take hours to take a round walk there. Apart from that, the Little Pheasant Castle near the banks of the castle pond, with its own miniature harbor and Saxony’s only lighthouse, is worth a visit as well.
Discover Moritzburg on an exciting scavenger hunt, and explore the town’s highlights in a unique and playful way. Solve puzzles and see, among other things, the castle, the lighthouse and the game reserve.
Moritzburg Castle, 01468 Moritzburg, Germany
Albrechtsberg Castle (Schloss Albrechtsberg)
In 1853 due to Prince Albert of Prussia’s morganatic marriage, he was forced to leave Prussian court. His chamberlain’s wife acquired the area of “Findlater’s Vineyard” including the manor and gardens from a Scottish noble person James Ogilvy. The castle was renovated to a late Neoclassical style. Marble, the most kingly wood and the white sandstone from Saxony were used for the interior design. And, the landscape of the garden includes curved alleys, bridges, a viaduct, ponds, rocks, and a waterfall. The prince couple moved in 1854 when the castle construction was complete.
After Prince Albrecht and Rosalie had died, their younger son Count Frederick of Hohenau lived in the castle until his death. And then, his elder brother Wilhelm took over the residence. However, in 1925 Wilhelm had to sell the castle and the territory to the city of Dresden because of gambling debts. In 1948, the City of Dresden sold the castle to the Foreign Economic Trade Ministry of the Soviet Union. But the East German repurchased the castle in 1951, thus it became the property of Dresden.
Since 1977, the castle has become a historical monument. The step by step restoration continues to the present day. Today, the Albrechtsberg Castle is used as a private hotel and catering school. Furthermore, the castle has halls, saloons, and a sun patio. It is also a popular venue for weddings.
Albrechtsberg, Eckberg, and Lingner Castle are the famous castles in Dresden’s suburb. They are close to each other within walking distance. Besides, the tour Elbe River Cruise to Pillnitz Castle will enable you to see the three castle.
Bautzner Str. 130, 01099 Dresden
Wackerbarth Castle (Schloss Wackerbarth)
Below a large vineyard area, built from 1727 to 1730, the castle was the home of August Christoph von Wackerbarth after his retirement. After the death of the old Wackerbarths, the ownership changed several times. Until 1808 a great-great-nephew of the builder, the historian, and art collector “Raugraf” August Josef Ludwig von Wackerbarth, acquired the estate but lost it in 1816.
Afterward, the castle functioned in many different ways such as a School, a retirement home, residence, and hospital. The 1952 Volkseigene Gut made the estate to become a winery again.In the years 1974 to 1977, renovation of the castle buildings and parts of the garden took place. In July 1990, the winery was renamed as Weinbau Radebeul GmbH and had become Germany’s Saxony state vineyard. During the same year, the first summer night ball took place there. The Rüdiger Freiherr von Wackerbarth and his wife Adelheid joined the ball as the honor guests.
Nowadays, the castle and its Baroque gardens are the popular places for locals to taste wines, holding events and wedding parties. It has a modern factory for making wines. And, in front of the castle, beneath the vineyard, among the grassland, tables with parasols are arranged line by line to fit the Baroque garden scene.
Wackerbarth Castle, Wackerbarthstraße 1 | 01445 Radebeul
Fortress Königstein (Festung Königstein)
Königstein Fortress is a hilltop fortress near Dresden, above the town of Königstein on the left bank of the River Elbe. It has the size of 13 soccer grounds. Rising 240 metres above the Elbe, it is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The whole complex has over 50 buildings, some have more than 400 years old.
The oldest written record of a castle dated back to the year 1233. The medieval castle belonged to the Kingdom of Bohemia. And the oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569, the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle.
During the Franco-Prussian War and the two world wars, the fortress host war prisoners. Numerous prominent prisoners incarcerated at Königstein. After the Second World War, the Red Army used the fortress as a military hospital.
With a lift and a panoramic elevator, today it is easy to conquer the fortress. Other interesting sites are such as the first Saxon garrison church, the giant wine barrel of Augustus the Strong, various exhibitions, and a breathtaking panoramic view of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, attract visitors from all over the world. It is at the opposite of Bastei Saxon Switzerland National Park.
Related post: Bastei, the Natural Wonder in Saxon Switzerland, Germany
You can reach the Königstein Fortress by taking a cruise to Königstein Fortress. The cruise ship is a paddle steamer, and the journey is along the banks of the Elbe. You can also admire the impressive Bastei rock formation in Rathen.
Koenigstein Fortress, Am Königstein | 01824 Königstein
Wachwitz Castle is above the former royal vineyard of Wachwitz in Dresden. Originally, Crown Prince Friedrich August II acquired three vineyards in Wachwitz in 1824 and built a palace as his summer residence. In 1892, it was demolished and rebuilt as the summer residence for Crown Prince Friedrich August III and his family. The actual castle was built 1936 to 1937 above the royal mansion. It served as the residence of Friedrich Christian of Saxony from the Wettiner family, until 1945, when the Wettin was expropriated.
After 1945, the palace and villa were used by the Soviet military as the administrative seat of the Soviet Military Administration. And, from 1947 to 1949, it was used by the Soviet travel agency as an “Intourist Hotel”. And until 1990, the castle was a branch of the youth college “Wilhelm Pieck”. From 1990 to 1993 it was used as a conference center and guest house of the Medical Academy Dresden.
The castle lies on an approximately 27-acre area at the Wachwitzer Höhenpark. It has been captivating for almost 200 years. The historic buildings, vineyards, and park form a complex that is popular in all seasons, during the flowering period from March to July, in the fall for grape harvest or even in snowy winter. Today the area will mainly be used for apartments. Nevertheless, the rhododendron species and the main hiking trails remain open to the public.
Wachwitzer Weinberg 15, 01326 Dresden
How to get to Dresden
If you want to several castles in Dresden on your own, the best way to reach Dresden is by car. But if you arrive at Frankfurt am Main or Berlin, you can rent a car from rentalcars.com. The distance between Berlin and Dresden is less than 200km. It takes around 2 hours to reach Dresden. By all mean, it is practical to look around Dresden by self-driving, if you don’t want to join a tour.
Dresden has also Airport. Eurowings and Lufthansa have flights to Dresden from some big German cities.