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.
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.
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.
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.
More of that 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 makes for a fascinating few hours.
End your trip on a high about 25 min further south: Festung Königstein, a hilltop fortress in Saxon Switzerland. The mighty structure has never been conquered and today offers some of the best views across the region’s stunning rock formations.