Just outside of Saxony’s cultural city of Dresden, Germany’s fourth most popular destination, the
palace of Albrechtsburg in the town of Meissen awes its visitors with its extraordinary murals and
original interiors as well as state of the art video installations about the making of porcelain, or
“white gold.” But now this famous palace has gone a step further by implementing an Augmented
Reality Tour with the Histopad that facilitates an unprecedented depth and breadth of discovery.
Already at the time when it was being built in the 15th century, the Albrechtsburg Castle that
towers over the River Elbe was considered cutting edge architecture. The sophisticated arched
curtain windows and the cellular vaulting throughout the castle as well as the large spiral
staircase were architectural novelties. Today, however, the innovation lies in technology and
beautifully crafted, highly interactive 3D videos that engage visitors on a very sophisticated and
comprehensive level that is fun at the same time as educational.
The so-called “Histopad,” the first in Germany, is an augmented reality tour created by
Schlösserland Sachsen and a French firm, Histovery. The tablet guide brings history alive in 3D,
uncovering delightful facts and tidbits about the palace’s hidden secrets, such as where the
treasure was stored; what they ate for dinner; what they would be talking about in the morning;
what they wore to work or on a weekend; what was served at their banquets; how did the
chemical laboratory for the porcelain really look? It takes history to a whole new level of detail of
day to day life that makes the characters and their palaces come alive as real people and
places. Every detail has been researched and verified by the well-respected experts at the
Stately Palaces and Gardens of Saxony.
The late-Gothic castle complex – the Meissen Albrechtsburg Castle – was built between 1471
and 1524 on behalf of the two brothers, Ernest and Albert of Wettin, who jointly ruled Saxony in
the Middle Ages. The new residence was a representative administration center and residential
palace – the first of its kind in German architectural history. It was meant to showcase the power
of the Wettin Dynasty and how closely this was tied to the Saxon kingdom. The architect, Albert
von Westfalen, was considered a trendsetter in building design and the palace he created was
considered the best in all of Europe. Soon after the palace was built however, the Wettin
brothers split their kingdom and so the palace went unused except for an occasional ceremony.
It was not until a few hundred years later, in 1710, that Augustus the Strong floated 20 miles
down the Elbe to Meissen and mandated the creation of a porcelain manufactory right in the
middle of Albrechtsburg Palace. He imprisoned his top scientific minds of the day in the
fortifications of Dresden to work together to create the white porcelain and after many years,
they succeeded in 1708, and the European hard porcelain was born. All of the European
aristocracy, and Augustus the Strong in particular, were seized by the lust for porcelain, or white
gold. He called it the maladie de porcelaine or porcelain fever. Today, many of the best pieces of
Augustus the Strong’s extraordinary porcelain collection are located in the Dresden State
Art Collection’s Porcelain Collection in the Zwinger Museum. They are a testament to his
17th century pursuits and ultimate success not only in amassing an enormous collection of
porcelain from around the world but also for building and creating Europe’s finest porcelain
The Meissen Manufactory stayed in the Albrechtsburg Palace until 1853 when it was then
moved just a few blocks away to today’s state of the art facility where visitors can visit the
Meissen museum, shop in the showroom, dine on Meissen porcelain and watch the artists at
work and even participate in workshops. Meissen porcelain is a signature product of Saxony and
has been a mainstay of the state’s economy providing jobs, income and hard currency revenue
even during the reign of the GDR. Today it is still an important company in the state of Saxony
and Germany and it has become a cultural center hosting artists each year to participate in its
exhibitions and add to the famous Meissen designs.
In addition to the porcelain exhibition in the Albrechtsburg, the other tours include the palace
architecture, the dynasty of the Wettins and the monumental murals. Unlike other major projects
in their time, Albrechtsburg Castle did not grow over many building stages, but as a holistic
design of the master builder Arnold von Westfalen. From 1471 on, it was he who created a real
trendsetter for late-Gothic architecture. The Wettin Dynasty ruled in the heart of Europe and
were influential in spreading Luther’s ideas.
The dynasty ruled until 1918 at the heart of Europe.
At the end of the 19th century, after the porcelain manufactory had moved out, Wilhelm
Rossmann, Privy Court Councillor, developed his artistic design: “a painted picture book” which
are actually enormous murals that show visitors historical events of Saxony and have become a
central memorial site of Saxon identity that goes back to the original founding dynasty.
Today Meissen and Dresden are an extraordinary destination for people interested in history,
culture, architecture and, especially, decorative and applied arts. But this also applies to all of
Saxony where there is so much art, history, classical music and culture. Saxony is a place of
history but also of the future and technology is appreciated and used to make the arts and
culture come alive in the 21st century.
http://www.saxonytraveldreams.com is the new microsite from Saxony Germany where lovers of
history, castles, classical music, art museums and charming towns can experience Saxony at its
most beautiful. A perfect antidote to the stay at home corona virus regulations, this microsite
takes you there, to Saxony, creating an immersive visual and audio experience.
For further information, please contact Victoria Larson, USA Press Representative, State Tourist Board of Saxony at Victoria@vklarsoncommunications.com
http://www.facebook.com/SaxonyTourismwww.instagram.com/SaxonyTourism #saxonytraveldreams #visitsaxony
All photos are courtesy of Saxony Tourism.
A Taste of Saxony
Upper Lusatian Buttermilk Pancakes, in German Buttermilchplinsen, are easy to prepare and taste like heaven.
Ingredients for 6 people:
2 1/8 cups buttermilk
8.2 ounces flour
1 dash of salt
1 pinch of baking soda
Mix buttermilk with eggs, then add flour, baking soda and salt and mix until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Allow the dough to rest for ten minutes. Melt some butter in a pan, put some dough in it to and fry the pancakes from both sides until they are golden brown. Sprinkle sugar on top and serve with apple puree.