The Albrechtsburg is a Late Gothic castle that dominates the town centre of Meissen. It stands on a hill above the river Elbe, adjacent to the Meissen Cathedral.
By 929 King Henry I of Germany had finally subdued the Slavic Glomacze tribe and built a fortress within their settlement area, situated on a rock high above the Elbe river. This castle, called Misnia after a nearby creek, became the nucleus of the town and from 965 the residence of the Margraves of Meissen, who in 1423 acquired the Electorate of Saxony.
From 1464 Elector Ernest of Saxony ruled jointly with his younger brother Albert the Bold and both had the present-day castle erected from 1471 on. The masterpiece of court builder Arnold of Westphalia, it was constructed solely as a residence, not as a military fortress, the first German castle built for such a purpose. When the brothers divided the Wettin lands by the 1485 Treaty of Leipzig, the castle of Meissen fell to Albert. Though Albert's son Duke George the Bearded resided at the Albrechtsburg, it was soon superseded by Dresden Castle as the new seat of the Wettin Albertinian line.
In 1710 King Augustus II the Strong established the Königlich-Polnische und Kurfürstlich-Sächsische Porzellan-Manufaktur, which was the first European hard-paste porcelain manufacture, at the castle under the supervision of Johann Friedrich Böttger. Meissen porcelain was produced at the Albrechtsburg until manufacturing moved to its present location in 1863.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).