Castles of Saxony-Anhalt

July 13, 2022

If you are castle lover you have to experience Germany’s cultural treasure chest – Saxony-Anhalt. No other place in Germany has conserved as much evidence of more than 1000 years of German and European history as the area of today’s Sachsen-Anhalt. Visitors can enjoy this whilst experiencing some of the most worthwhile sights in the world. Saxony-Anhalt is well worth a visit – several, in fact! This is where Martin Luther carried out his work, leaving his mark on the state and transforming it into the Cradle of the Reformation. This is where the Bauhaus reached its heyday and developed its distinctive style, which made it the absolute icon of modernity to this day. Saxony-Anhalt has the highest concentration of World Heritage Sites in Germany: the Bauhaus Dessau, Luther’s Wittenberg and Eisleben, Quedlinburg’s Old Town, the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz and the Naumburg Cathedral. And if you are castle lover, Saxony-Anhalt is perfect place for you as you will find some of the best examples of medieval castles in Europe.

Moritzburg Castle’s modern architectural appearance is shaped by its construction and use as an archbishop’s residence and its later conversion into an art museum. Essentially, the historical complex of four wings enclosing a courtyard is an impressive-looking construction dating to the transition from the late Middle Ages to the early Renaissance. The castle’s heyday came at the start of the 16th century under Cardinal Albert of Brandenburg, when it was a magnificently furnished archbishop’s residence. After its destruction in the Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648), time appeared to stand still for the ruins for some 250 years. This was not changed by the castle’s use as a barracks in the 18th century, or by Friedrich Schinkel’s ambitious plans to turn it into a university in the 19th century. It was not until 1900 that the historical ensemble was brought back to life, housing the municipal art museum of Halle an der Saale until 1917. Today, the museum uses all four wings of Moritzburg
Castle, which has boasted a modern extension to the west and north wings since 2008. The different ways in which Moritzburg Castle was put to use over its 500 years have constantly altered its appearance. Today, it is an impressive architectural monument in the centre of Halle an der Saale.

Naumburg Cathedral, located in the south of the State of Saxony-Anhalt, is a unique testimony to medieval art and architecture. Most of the church building dates back to the 13th century. It is composed of a basilical Romanesque nave flanked by two Gothic choirs in the east and in the west. The west choir with the famous portrait statues of the twelve cathedral founders and the west rood screen are the masterpieces of pan-European workshop accordingly named the “Naumburg Master”, who conceptualized all parts of the western choir as a whole, and carried out the western choir from the bottom to the roof within six years only. The polychrome reliefs and sculptures of the choir and the rood screen count among the most significant sculptures
of the Middle Ages. The overall iconographic concept and the harmonious combination of architecture, sculpture and glass paintings reflect in a unique way the profound changes in the religious practice and the visual arts of the 13th century. These changes resulted in a hitherto unknown realism and observation of nature, as well as in the recourse to ancient sources.

Castle Wernigerode was originally a medieval fortress, which was intended as a secure stop along the way of German emperors during their hunting trips to the Harz. The first fortress was built at the beginning of the 12th century over Wernigerode. The fortress experienced various profound changes in the course of its history. At the end of the 15th century, it was significantly enlarged in the late Gothic style; two arched curtain windows in the inner court yard of the castle bear witness to that fact. In the course of the 16th century, it was rebuilt into a Renaissance fortress, which can still be recognized from the Renaissance staircase tower. After the ravages of the Thirty Years’ War, in the late 17th century count Ernst zu Stolberg-Wernigerode began
a reconstruction of the rest of the baroque fortress into a romantic residence castle in the shape of a round fortress.

Giebichenstein is one of the oldest settlement areas in the city of Halle. The castle of the same name was first mentioned in a document by King Otto I in 961. Nothing of this “old castle” has been preserved, as the owners, the Magdeburg archbishops, had a representative new building built on the porphyry rock in the 12th century. According to the well-known legend of Ludwig the Springer, the Thuringian landgrave is said to have been incarcerated in the prison of this castle. While the lower castle built in the 15th century has been largely preserved, the Giebichenstein upper castle has been a ruin since the Thirty Years’ War. At the beginning of the 19th century, the “ruined castle” (Eichendorff) on the rocks by the Saale was a great attraction for numerous Romantic poets, who found inspiration for their poetic works here and in the adjacent gardens.
The upper castle of Giebichenstein came into municipal ownership in 1906. In the 1960s, extensive excavation work revealed the foundations of the former buildings. The size and location of the palace, residential tower and castle church, which were
essential for a princely residence and administrative center, became visible. The site was handed over to the public as an architecture museum in 1966. After renewed reconstruction work in the 1990s, it is again possible to visit the gate tower and vaulted cellar.

Physical and mental pleasures in Freyburg, the pearl of the Unstrut valley. It is not without reason that Freyburg, with a total of two buildings, lies on the Road of Romanesque. A heritage of which Freyburg is very proud. They are at least as proud of Germany’s gymnastics father Friedrich-Ludwig Jahn. He spent the rest of his life in Freyburg from 1825 until his death. His former residence today houses the Friedrich-Ludwig Jahn Museum. But perhaps you will also start your voyage of discovery on the Saale-Unstrut wine route. In Freyburg, wine growing has left its mark deep into the landscape and into the hearts of the inhabitants. In an idyll of gentle hills, forests, meadows and floodplains lies the romantic town of yachting, wine and sparkling wine. In a region that is characterised by the terraces of the vineyards. The Freyburger Schweigenberg, as well as along the Ehrauberge, located south of Freyburg, a number of Straußwirtschaften and Gutsschenken invite you to stay and taste. These sights, too, must not be missed on your discovery tour through the medieval jewel of Freyburg: Ducal vineyard, Zscheiplitz monastery church, Zeddenbach mill, Neuchâtel castle, St. Mary’s town church

Quedlinburg’s Old Town encompasses an area of some 80 hectares, all of which has been listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site. An outstanding example of a European city of medieval origin which has been preserved throughout the
centuries, Quedlinburg is distinguished by its exceptional architectural heritage of Romanesque and half-timbered buildings, many of remarkably high quality. Buildings of all styles and epochs make Quedlinburg the perfect place to study the development of half-timbered building techniques and styles throughout the ages.