In Saxony and Thuringia, palaces and castles abound. Dive in with this route along some of Germany’s most stunning grand residences and fortifications while enjoying splendid gardens on the way.
Palaces, Castles and Gardens
Eisenach – Gotha – Weimar – Colditz – Meissen – Moritzburg – Pillnitz – Königstein
Start your trip in Eisenach where UNESCO World Heritage site Wartburg Castle is the epitome of a classic German castle. Take a castle tour which includes visiting the castle museum’s art collections with works by Lucas Cranach and Tilman Riemenschneider. (English tours daily at 1.30 pm)
Next and only 30 min driving from Eisenach: Gotha where Friedenstein Palace together with the Ducal Museum forms a “Baroque Universe” in the heart of Germany. Marvel at the magnificent ducal rooms and hear all about the former inhabitants and their relations to many European royal dynasties, including the British royal family. Tip: The baroque Ekhof Theatre dating back to the late 1600s.
Wartburg Castle in Eisenach
This stunning UNESCO World Heritage site towers above Eisenach, where musical genius Johann Sebastian Bach was born. Tip: Wartburg Castle offers some of the best views of the surrounding Thuringian Forest.
Friedenstein Palace in Gotha
This “baroque universe” forms a unique ensemble including a beautiful garden for leisurely strolls. The Ducal Museum housed in the palace is full of amazing exhibits and pieces of art. Don’t miss!
In Weimar (45 min from Gotha) choose from a variety of UNESCO-listed ducal palaces and gardens, including Belvedere, Tiefurt, Wittumspalais and Ilm Park near the town palace. Icing on the cake: the breathtaking Duchess Anna Amalia Library.
“Classical Weimar” is one of two UNESCO World Heritage sites in town, comprising the palaces and gardens of the Weimar dukes as well as the residences of Germany’s poetic giants Goethe and Schiller.
On to Colditz in Saxony, where Castle Colditz gained worldwide notoriety as a prisoner-of war camp during World War II. The castle’s escape museum tells the story of the breakout attempts of Allied officers.
Perching over the small town of Colditz, this Renaissance-style castle was built in the Middle Ages by the German King Henry IV and used to be the home of the electors of the Holy Roman Emperor. During its time as a POW camp during World War II, it gained notoriety and still captures the imagination of many visitors.
In Meissen, the mighty late-Gothic Albrechtsburg was Germany’s first residential castle, home of the first Saxon rulers and also the first production site of the world-famous Meissen porcelain in 1710.
Only 20 minutes along the road, you will be most charmed by Schloss Moritzburg, one of Europe’s most delightful baroque palaces. The former hunting lodge and pleasure palace of Augustus the Strong is situated on an island in the middle of a lake and includes “Little Pheasant Castle”, a charming summer residence in chinoiserie style.
What can we say, just so pretty. The fairy tale palace of Schloss Moritzburg delights with its great setting, beautiful gardens and fascinating history to explore. Tip: Try the on-site restaurant for some Saxon specialties.
In Pillnitz (about 40 min drive from Schloss Moritzburg), two of the three palaces that make up the extraordinary Pillnitz Palace & Park ensemble are built in a mix of baroque and chinoiserie style. Directly located on the banks of the river Elbe just outside Dresden, Pillnitz guarantees a fascinating few hours. About 25 min further south, your next highlight – literally – is Festung Königstein, a stunning fortress on a hilltop in Saxon Switzerland.
Pillnitz Palace & Park
Garden lovers will delight in this wonderful ensemble on the Elbe river. We recommend taking some time to stroll around the park and marvel at the famous camellia, thought to be the oldest Europe, which was brought over from London’s Kew Gardens by a Swedish botanist in 1779.