Weesenstein castle was erected here sometime around 1200, built with the purpose of defending the border to the Kingdom of Bohemia; it was mentioned in written sources for the first time in 1318. The oldest part of the presently visible castle is its central round tower, erected sometime around 1300. The castle was built for the burgraves of Dohna; the burgraviate was incorporated in the Margraviate of Meissen in 1400 and in 1406 the castle was transferred by the margrave to the von Bünau family in gratitude for their support in the Dohna Feud.
The Bünau family transformed the defensive castle into a residential Schloss in 1526–1575, and successive generations would expand and rebuild the Schloss in stages. It continued to be the main seat of the family for about 350 years. As a consequence of the Seven Years' War of 1756–1763 the family however lost a substantial part of their wealth and had to part with the castle which subsequently passed into the hands of the von Uckermann family. The Uckermann family owned the castle for two generations and continued the process of embellishing the estate, not least the garden.
From 1830, the Schloss was used by the rulers of Saxony, the House of Wettin. Several members of the royal family lived in the castle, including three kings: Anthony of Saxony, John of Saxony and George of Saxony. After World War I, the castle was sold and in 1933 became the seat of an association for the protection of the heritage of Saxony. During World War II, the castle was used for safekeeping most of the art collections of the Dresden State Art Collections. Because of this, the castle and its contents were spared from destruction during the bombing of Dresden in World War II. After the war, the castle was used to house refugees before it was taken over by the state.
Today it belongs to the state-owned company State Palaces, Castles and Gardens of Saxony. It houses a museum and 35 of the rooms of the castle are open to the public.
The presently visible ensemble is the product of centuries of development and rebuilding. The castle is thus a mix of styles, ranging from Gothic architecture to Classical architecture. The main portal, built in 1575, is considered one of the most valuable Renaissance portals in Saxony, The Schloss is built on a rock with storeys descending from the central, medieval round tower (with its 18th-century spire). In total, the castle has eight storeys.
The castle contains around 200 rooms in total. The Baroque chapel, described as the 'architectural and artistic highlight of the entire castle', is thought to have been designed by Johann George Schmidt. A formal garden lies adjacent to the castle. An English landscape garden, one of the earliest to be created in Saxony (c. 1780), has since been overgrown.References:
German crusaders known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword began construction of the Cēsis castle (Wenden) near the hill fort in 1209. When the castle was enlarged and fortified, it served as the residence for the Order's Master from 1237 till 1561, with periodic interruptions. Its ruins are some of the most majestic castle ruins in the Baltic states. Once the most important castle of the Livonian Order, it was the official residence for the masters of the order.
In 1577, during the Livonian War, the garrison destroyed the castle to prevent it from falling into the control of Ivan the Terrible, who was decisively defeated in the Battle of Wenden (1578).
In 1598 it was incorporated into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Wenden Voivodship was created here. In 1620 Wenden was conquered by Sweden. It was rebuilt afterwards, but was destroyed again in 1703 during the Great Northern War by the Russian army and left in a ruined state. Already from the end of the 16th century, the premises of the Order's castle were adjusted to the requirements of the Cēsis Castle estate. When in 1777 the Cēsis Castle estate was obtained by Count Carl Sievers, he had his new residence house built on the site of the eastern block of the castle, joining its end wall with the fortification tower.
Since 1949, the Cēsis History Museum has been located in this New Castle of the Cēsis Castle estate. The front yard of the New Castle is enclosed by a granary and a stable-coach house, which now houses the Exhibition Hall of the Museum. Beside the granary there is the oldest brewery in Latvia, Cēsu alus darītava, which was built in 1878 during the later Count Sievers' time, but its origins date back to the period of the Livonian Order. Further on, the Cēsis Castle park is situated, which was laid out in 1812. The park has the romantic characteristic of that time, with its winding footpaths, exotic plants, and the waters of the pond reflecting the castle's ruins. Nowadays also one of the towers is open for tourists.