Castle Hill with Albrecht Castle (right) from the east

The Albrecht Castle in Meissen is one of the most famous late Gothic architectural monuments and is considered the first palace in Germany. The hill fort is a protected cultural property under the Hague Convention.


When King Henry I. 929 the Sorbian People castle Gana had destroyed, he was looking for a place for a new castle. This he found between the Elbe, the Triebisch and Meisa. The towering rock on which the later castle called Misni ( Meissen ) was built, was suitable excellent for the control of the country. Because of its location on the Elbe, the Albrecht Castle is also called " Saxon Acropolis ". The castle was equipped with a stone curtain wall with towers at the corners and in the middle of the plateau was the famous Red Tower, which is represented on the coat of arms of Meissen today. The name of the castle Misni refers to the small river Misni ( Meisa, see Meisatal ) that ended just above the castle mountain in the Elbe. While on the river Misni Slavs settled, the castle, the first German settlement in what is now the town of Meissen was south to a small natural harbor created (see Town ( Meissen ) ). From 968 a Margrave of Meissen is attested. The castle hill was the same year seat for the bishop of the new diocese of Meissen. Since 1068 also a viscount is detectable. Over time, a castle county Meissen, which was able to expand the family of My Heringer further developed.

In 1423 Friedrich was IV, the pugnacious, appointed Elector of Saxony. His grandson, Ernst and Albrecht, reigned from 1464 to 1485 together on Saxony and Thuringia and commissioned the architect Arnold of Westphalia in 1471 to build on the site of the old Margrave Castle the first German castle. Although the castle was actually created as a residence for the two princes, it was never used as such. 1485 The government of the two brothers was lifted and divided the country in Saxony and Thuringia. Albrecht ( the Albertine ) received Saxony with the newly built castle. It has therefore been baptized in 1676 after his first master and builder on the name "Albrecht Castle ". But it was his son, George the Bearded, the Albrecht Castle took as a residence to complete. During the Thirty Years' War the castle was badly damaged. Since then, it was empty.

It was not until the early 18th century it was Albrecht Castle, by August the Strong, again more attention than this 1710, the first European porcelain factory was built in the castle. Two years earlier, Johann Friedrich Böttger and Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus invented European porcelain. The first was intended as a manufactory plant in Dresden, Augustus the Strong, but opted for the vacant and because of their location isolated castle. For the secret of porcelain production would have been as safe anywhere else. On June 6, 1710, the porcelain manufactory participated in the former princely residence, which should make the "white gold " known around the world for their operation.

In the mid-19th century, the factory was moved to newly built factory buildings, the castle was empty again. In the years 1864-1870 the old factory internals were removed and the castle prepared architectural again. The lack of furniture has been replaced by elaborate paintings on the late-Gothic walls. End of the 19th century, the castle Albrecht was also made of the population accessible and enjoys to this day many visitors from home and abroad. The case of the " blight on the Albrecht Castle " forced the legislature to abandon its decades of opinion that Saxon antiquities protection required no statutory regulation. So he adopted the 1909 law against defacement of city and country ( disfigurement Act), the case of Albrecht castle was explicitly listed as an example in its design.

In 2010, the Albrecht Castle celebrated its 300th anniversary as a manufacturer and shone again as porcelain palace.

Architectural overall picture

The former electoral palace rises above a hook-shaped floor plan on one towards the Elbe steep rocky plateau north of Meissen Cathedral. All projectiles under the eaves are curved, a great feature in the German palace, which meant a huge financial and designing generic effort. About the high substructures of the main edifice, follow a low ground floor and two with unusually large so-called curtain arched windows open main floors. Another grand -occupied floor is already within the roof zone and is exposed through the windows of the Lukarnenreihe.

The on all sides today so eye-catching, tower-like character of the Meissen castle should be a well-calculated image with political significance. The Albrecht Castle should be not only a particularly comfortable -occupancy residential palace, but also an unmistakable sign of the ever more consolidating and gaining in rich political, administrative and economic importance territorial sovereignty of the Wettin set. To this end was probably expected by Arnold von Westfalen formulating a new architectural language.

Through the floor plans of the in itself like a tower proportioned building of Albrecht castle was once again broken down into individual tower figures; all facade strips tend to be highly rectangular format; in the light and shade effect, the core building looks like a crystal with many folded surface. In addition to the stair towers of the courtyard, however, only a switch located in the central zone of the Elbe side building into a real tower, all other buildings are tied together by the mighty roof again. In the roof area but the skylights, high rectangular, seated on the eaves dormer form a building which encircle ring of tower figures. The dormer window in their typical training as a bay window comes from France; in 1470 it had been used ( eg, in the castles of Baugé and Le Rivau ) in such a systematic and consistent but only in individual cases.

Another momentous French adaptation planning in Meissen was the use of the actor stair tower as 1365 with the - had been formulated Grand spiral staircase in the courtyard of the Louvre as type - later leveled. The large main staircase in the south, via the leads, access to the manorial used upper floors, is a masterpiece of stone carving with elaborately curved steps, which wind their way up to an open eye in the middle. Your windows were originally open and enabled a variety of sight lines between on the stairs striding and spectators in the yard. However, the overall shape of the Meissen stair tower and the adjacent section of the façade upstream balconies has no direct French model. A smaller stair tower is also located on the courtyard façade in the corner between the north and the east wing.

Interior design

Inside the Albrecht Castle the builder had to implement a highly complex space program. Large areas of the first floor will be occupied by two halls. Both are generously fenestrated on multiple pages created two naves and arched like the other rooms of the projectile. The central hall leads to the main stairs of the Grand Staircase Tower, was the occasional to-use great banqueting hall of the castle. He was not heated and filled in daily life, the function of a communication area between the stairs and the surrounding areas, which include a chapel space belongs.

In contrast, the North Hall was heated by a formerly placed at the northeast corner of a large tile Hofstube in which every day of the entire male court should gather twice, including the princes of the main meals. Between the two rooms or halls located on the connecting door a musician's loft that could serve both rooms as needed.

To these two metropolitan areas we have three independent apartments grouped as a residential and office areas that are each formed from a furnace heated exchange as the main room and one or more subordinate chambers for sleeping and storage rooms. Architecturally, the most expensive, the apartment is designed, which adjoins the Hofstube in the Northeast. His office and the overlying, directly achievable by a wall stairs unheated sleeping chamber occupy the out rotated 45 degrees from the main building line building, the tower-like rises with three detached pages on the Elbe valley. About the elaborate and costly substructures of the lower floors, the architect has created spaces that allow a far reaching views to three sides.

The structurally staged overlook view itself was already appreciated in Europe in the palace. However, the mehransichtige "fan view " in Meissen is fundamentally different from the then customary in France or Italy Guided Tours, where the optical reference was almost always formulated for the environment in the figure of a directed unit image. In the period following such training room should be, inter alia, in Wittenberg, Torgau, Neuburg ad Donau or Heidelberg to a characteristic of the complex central European castle building. Probably the large, three-sided befensterte Northeast apartment of the Albrecht Castle was originally intended for high-ranking guests; During the 16th century, the prince retired there but during the main meals at a separate panel back. At the time it was built was the separation of the total meal only for the female members of the court, the so-called women rooms, common. For them, the architect has also designed a room with three windows, but on the second floor, where this group of people was something set apart the Hoftreiben.

On the second floor next to the woman room board room and two smaller other apartments on the south side of the three-roomed apartment of the Elector was set up as a center between Elbe and courtyard facade. In addition to the two-sided windowed room as the main reception room and the subordinate, intimate bed-chamber to the elector should be a small adjoining room are on the side of the valley available. As a typological models for such a withdrawal room come the estudes or cabinets questioned in French castles, but there also is no reason not to derive the novelty of the Meissen since Petrarch (1304-1374) promoted by Italian humanists Studioli. A famous example has been set 1472-1476 in the Ducal Palace at Urbino. The small room of the electoral apartment in Meissen is architecturally designed to a real showpiece and granted in different directions fanned views of the Elbe valley. In its side facing away from the hustle and bustle of the castle courtyard unsettled situation, he is exactly the advice that the influential Renaissance theorist Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472) formulated for such spaces the system.

The floor plan of the second floor is repeated in all material aspects in the floor above the Lukarnenzone. Here you can the apartment of the Electress suspect with an internal staircase to the rooms of her suite one floor higher in the roof.

Artistic meaning

The extremely complex construction task of the Albrecht Castle necessitated the establishment and constant operation of a large building works, that became a center for the development of architecture and training with a national reputation force under Master Arnold and his closest disciples, as was typical only of the large church building huts before. Developed in the Albrecht Castle cells vault and the curtain-like upper financial statements of the main window has been copied in a wide area; partially the forms initially created for the profane area were then introduced even in the sacred building.

There are indications of a reversal of the traditional artistic divide, as it should then always be seen more clearly in the course of the 16th century. Arnold of Westphalia has been additionally equipped in 1471 with the newly created office of a sovereign's top builder, so that he could make as early representative of the modern profession of Hofkünstlers also under the umbrella of the emergent early modern territorial state its influence.

The Albrecht castle is actually never become Wettin dynasty royal household to a center. Even during the Baufortgangs agreed the builders in 1485 a division of its territory, according to Meissen fell to the now emerging Albertine line of the Wettin family. Between 1495 and 1500, the work was stopped during the interior finishing in the top northern parts. Only in 1521 did the now residing in Dresden son of Duke Albrecht, Duke George the Bearded ( 1500-1539 ), complete these fields by Jakob Heilmann. From this time the Schlingrippengewölbe come on the type of Benedikt Ried working in Prague in the second floor of the East building and a fireplace in the space above. At that time, the sculptor Christoph Walther I was entrusted with the production of figurative reliefs on the parapets of the great stair tower, under which show typical early Renaissance forms.

The Albrecht Castle is considered a model for the 1901-1906 incurred, multi-leaf, five-storey building of the district court in Berlin Wedding.

Porcelain Manufactory and current use

The Albrecht castle has been used after their release from the Farm Supply from 1710 to 1863 as a production site of the famous Saxon Porcelain Manufactory.

Only after the extract of the building could be restored to 1870. Between 1873 and 1885 all the rooms of the two main floors were decorated with murals on the history of Saxony and Meissen, a genre that was not anticipated at build a castle with safety. In those days, mobile tapestries the most comfortable and most representative decoration of such spaces dar.

The castle now belongs to the State palaces and gardens in Saxony and houses a public museum.