The history of Pillnitz Castle & Park

Historischer Stich von Schloss Pillnitz
Historisches Motiv von Schloss Pillnitz

Augustus the Strong had once made Pillnitz Manor a present to Countess Cosel, his mistress, and celebrated his Baroque festivities there. There were scores of occasions and mottos in abundance: capercaillie and heron hawking, saint's days, birthdays, shooting contests, country weddings, water fowl hunting, grape harvest and vintners’ festivals.

Amusement facilities were set up on the Pillnitz Castle & Park premises, which would be called a kind of »Baroque Disneyland« today. It was just about the entertainment of the court society with fancy dress games in which the nobles could take the roles of peasants or vintners. In addition, there were skittles, swings, sees-aws, merry-go-rounds, slides and the like set up in the park.

Castle history: interesting facts

Mid-14th century (1335)

Pillnitz was first mentioned as the manor of »Ludewicus de Belennewitz«

End of the 17th century

In 1694, Elector John George IV received the Pillnitz property in exchange for Lichtenwalde Castle and Office. Due to John George IV’s death shortly thereafter, Pillnitz was passed on to his brother Frederick Augustus, later known as Augustus the Strong.

18th century

In 1706, Augustus the Strong gave the property to his mistress Anna Constantia von Cosel. She resided there permanently from 1713 to 1715. The hedged walkways (charmilles) were designed in 1712/13. In 1719, Pillnitz was one of the festive venues on occasion of the wedding festivities of Prince Elector Frederick Augustus and Maria Josepha, daughter of 
Emperor Joseph I.

From 1720 to 1724, the Riverside and Hillside Palaces as well as the Venus Temple were built according to the plans of Matthaeus Daniel Poeppelmann. The Castle Church »Church of the Holy Spirit« was erected in the nearby vineyards (by Matthaeus Daniel Poeppelmann, consecrated: November 1725). Also in 1725, the Jousting Building was set up. It had a carousel mechanism on its inside with wooden horses and carts all for the ladies' amusement. The large open staircase leading from the Riverside Palace down to the river was built by Zacharias Longuelune.

In 1738 and 1747, Pillnitz served as the festive venue on occasion of the weddings of Princess Maria Amalia of Saxony to King Charles III of Sicily (1738) as well as of Princess Maria Anna of Saxony to Elector Maximilian III Joseph of Bavaria (1747).

From 1788 to 1791, the side wings were attached to the Riverside and Hillside Palaces by Christian Traugott Weinlig. The Chinese Garden was laid out. In 1804, Christian Friedrich Schuricht built the Chinese Pavilion.

19th century

The Old Palace and the Venus Temple were completely destroyed by fire on 1 May 1818. From 1818 to 1830, the New Palace with the Kitchen as well as the Chapel Wing was built. The construction of the Palm House, Germany’s largest cast-iron greenhouse at the time, was carried out between 1659 and 1661. It was followed by the construction of the Guard Houses at the AHA Ditch (1864), the design of the Lilac Courtyard (1866) and the Conifer Grove (1874) as well as of the extension of the Jousting Building into the Orangery (1879-1880).

20th century

The castle has been used for museum purposes since 1946. (1946-1956: Central Museum in Saxony, incl. inventory of the Dresden Picture Gallery; in 1963: relocation of the Museum of Decorative Arts to Pillnitz)

In the early 1990s, the church in the vineyards were restored. Until 1994, the wings of the Riverside Palace as well as the Kitchen and Chapel Wing of the New Palace were repaired on their outside whereas the Palm House was glazed. The Chinese and English Pavilions, the Hillside Palace including its wing attachments, the »Old Guard House« and the Pheasant House were restored. From 1992 to 1996, the rail-mounted Camellia House was erected between the English Pavilion and the Orangery. 

In 1993, the castle operation of the State Castles and Gardens of Dresden constituted as a part of the Saxon Castle Administration.

21st century

After the restoration of the Riverside Palace in 2002 Pillnitz Castle & Park was finally restored in its old splendor. In August the same year, the Elbe River flood catastrophe caused considerable damage. On the 22 June 2006, the Palace Museum opened in the premises of the New Palace. Now, for the first time ever, Pillnitz had a museum to vividly demonstrate to its visitors the history of the castle estate and its residents’ courtly way of life, the fashion of the chinoise style, the culture of Baroque festivities and amusement, but also aspects of the religious life at court. The Palace Museum also includes the Royal Kitchen, the Catholic Chapel and the Domed Hall, all restored in 2003. The Palm House was reopened in 2009, now presenting flora of South Africa and Australia.

Contact

Pillnitz Palace and Park

August-Böckstiegel-Straße 2 | 01326 Dresden

+49 (0) 351 2613-260
pillnitz@schloesserland-sachsen.de

Admission & opening hours

Admission:

  • Full rate 3,00 EUR
  • Reduced rate 1,50 EUR
Day Ticket Pillnitz Palace and Park (Park, Palm House and both museums)
  • Full rate: EUR 8.00
  • Reduced rate: EUR 6.00
  • Group rate: EUR 7.00 per person
Day Ticket Pillnitz Park (Park and Palm House)*
  • Full rate: EUR 3.00 
  • Reduced rate: EUR 1.50 
  • Group rate: EUR 2.50 
*plus admission to Camellia House while the Pillnitz Camellia is in bloom Free admission:
  • Children aged 16 or younger
  • People visiting the castle on their birthday
  • Holders of the schloesserlandPASS
  • Holders of an annual ticket of the Dresden State Art Collections
  • Holders of the annual ticket "»Garden Friend for a Year« (Park and Palm House)
  • Accompanying adults of severly disabled people (entry »B« iin the disability pass)
  • Tour guides
  • Tour bus drivers accompanying a tour group
  • 1 accompanying adult per 10 pupils
  • Journalists for reporting purposes (valid identification required)

Opening hours

Pillnitz Park
  • open all year round
  • 6:00 am - dusk
April to October
  • admission subject to charge: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Museums May to October
  • Mon: closed
  • Tue - Sun: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Palm House open all year round
  • Apr - Oct: 9:00 am- 6:00 pm
  • Nov - Mar: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Subject to modifications.