Moritzburg is a Baroque palace about 13 kilometres northwest of the Saxon capital, Dresden. The castle has four round towers and lies on a symmetrical artificial island. It is named after Duke Moritz of Saxony, who had a hunting lodge built there between 1542 and 1546. The surrounding woodlands and lakes have been a favourite hunting area of the electors and kings of Saxony.
The Castle Chapel was built in 1661 under the auspices of Elector John George II and consecrated Catholic during the coronation of Augustus the Strong to become the King of Poland. To this day, regular services are held in that chapel.
But Elector Augustus the Strong had yet other plans with Moritzburg Castle. In 1723, major works began to convert it from a Renaissance building into a Baroque hunting and pleasure palace. Here, the Elector wanted to celebrate his excessive feasts and hunts. His dream was to build a 'Temple of Diana', surrounded by exotic animal enclosures with lions, cheetahs and European bisons. Opulent banquets or naval battles staged on the castle pond were also part of this. Architect Matthaeus Daniel Poeppelmann was commissioned with the project. He had further ponds and animal enclosures created – the pheasant-breeding place east of the castle is testimony to this fact. The best Saxon craftsmen and artists collaborated in the providing the interior in the seven halls and more than 200 rooms. The entire piece of art is of great structural clarity and harmony with the landscape. After the death of Augustus the Strong, the conversion remained unfinished.
As late as in 1800 only, the area of the castle was further integrated into the landscape by a great-grandson of the Elector. The Little Pheasant Castle, the harbor and the lighthouse pier were built at the Lower Great Lake Baernsdorf. From 1933 on, Moritzburg Castle was used as a residence by Wettin Prince Ernst Heinrich of Saxony until 1945, when the Wettins were expropriated. Some of their most precious art treasures were buried in the castle park by Prince Ernst Heinrich of Saxony and his sons, but for a few exceptions, these were detected by the Soviet troops and carried off. Only in 1996, several boxes with jewels and gold ornaments on the outside were unearthed by amateur archaeologists and idenmtified as Wettin treasure. Today, Moritzburg is a renowned meeting place for lovers of Saxon Baroque and Meissen porcelain.References:
Castel del Monte, located in the municipality of Andria, rises on a rocky hill dominating the surrounding countryside of the Murgia region. A unique piece of medieval architecture, it was completed in 1240. The castle’s location, its perfect octagonal shape, as well as the mathematical and astronomical precision of its layout all reflect the broad education and cultural vision of its founder, Emperor Frederick II.
As a leader of modern humanism, the Germanic Emperor brought scholars together in his court from throughout the Mediterranean, combining Eastern and Western traditions. The castle’s unique design, an octagonal plan with octagonal towers at each angle, represents a search for perfection. Interior features reflect Eastern influences, such as the innovative hydraulic installation used by Frederick II for bathing in accord to the typical Arabic customs.
The site is of outstanding universal value in its formal perfection and its harmonious blending of cultural elements from northern Europe, the Muslim world and classical antiquity. Castel del Monte is a unique masterpiece of medieval architecture, reflecting the humanist ideas of its founder, Frederick II of Hohenstaufen.