A magnificent sight on a rocky crag high above the Müglitz River, Schloss Weesenstein is an amazing alchemy of styles, blending medieval roots with Renaissance and baroque embellishments. This has resulted in an architectural curiosity where the banquet halls ended up beneath the roof, the horse stables on the 5th floor, and the residential quarters in the cellar.
The palace owes its distinctive looks to the noble Bünau family who dabbled with it for 12 generations from 1406 until 1772. In the 19th century, it became the private retreat of King Johann of Saxony, who distinguished himself not only as a ruler but also as a philosopher and translator of Dante into German. Lavishly furnished and decorated period rooms on the ground floor contain an exhibit about the man and life at court. In keeping with the topsy-turvy architecture, the permanent exhibit takes you on a reverse journey through Saxon history, ending with the Middle Ages.
There are several restaurants, including a cafe in the former palace prison, a traditional brewpub and the upmarket Königliche Schlossküche. After filling your belly, you can take a digestive saunter in the lovely baroque park.
Schloss Weesenstein is about 16km southeast of Dresden. From Dresden Hauptbahnhof, take the S1 and change to the SB72 in Heidenau (€6, 25 minutes). Weesenstein train station is about 500m south of the castle – follow the road up the hill. By car, take the A17 to Pirna, then head towards Glashütte and follow the signs to the Schloss.