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:
Gisselfeld, a former monastery, is Denmark's fifth-largest estate. The three-storeyed Renaissance-style building has stepped gables, loopholes and a projecting tower over the main gate. The grounds include a moat, a well-kept park, lake, waterfall, gardens, greenhouse, and a fountain. The estate measures 3,850 hectares, including Hesede, Edelesminde, Brødebæk and Gødstrupgård, of which 2,400 hectares is forest.
Gisselfeld is first mentioned at the end of the 14th century when the owner was Bo Falk. At that time, there was a small manor situated some 2 km northwest of the site of today's main building. It stood next to an older fort, possibly the now demolished Valgestrup. Today's estate was founded by Peder Oxe til Nielstrup who built the manor from 1547 to 1575. It originally consisted of four interconnected red-brick wings, three storeys high with thick outer walls, a number of loopholes and large stepped gables. A protruding gate tower stands at the centre of the left wing. The fourth wing, now demolished, housed a chapel.
After Peder Oxe's death, his widow Mette Rosenkrantz til Vallø became the owner of the estate. After her death in 1588, her niece Karen Banner inherited Gisselfeld. She married Henrik Lykke til Overgaard whose family ran the estate until Kai Lykke was executed and relieved of all his rights in 1661. After a short period of ownership by the Crown, in 1670 the property was presented to Count Hans Schack as a reward for the part he played in the Swedish wars. In 1688, his son Otto Diderik sold the estate to Adam Levin Knuth whose family maintained ownership until 1699 when Christian V's illegitimate son took it over. As a result of his will, on his death in 1703 the manor should have become a convent but this did not happen until the death of his widow Dorothea Krag in 1754. Since 1755, under the name of Danneskiold-Samsøe his descendants have run the estate as 'Gisselfeld Adelige Jomfrukloster I Sjælland' (Gisselfeld Convent in Zealand for Virgins of Noble Birth). The 11th in line, Hele Danneskiold-Samsøe, has run Gisselfeld since 2010.
Today Gisselfeld houses a hotel, restaurant and provides event services.