electoral hunting lodge

Wildeck Castle as a Electoral Hunting Lodge


1545 - 47, Duke Moritz of Saxony had the present castle built in place of the castle. We will come back to the shape of this Renaissance building later. Surely the castle was built mainly as a hunting lodge, and in fact, shortly after its completion, it was the scene of a great hunting pleasure: in 1549 Ferdinand I - then Archduke of Austria and King of Bohemia, later German Emperor - visited the now Elector Moritz. The two were linked by friendship and political interests. Numerous hunts were organized in honour of the high guest. The hunting society was huge: more than 500 horses, along with dogs, wagons, servants and much more were part of the entourage. The court chapel was also present, and one of its musicians, an Italian, has kept a chronicle of these days. He writes that after the hunt near Dresden had ended, the well-known society went to Tharandt in the evening, where a magnificent bear hunt took place the next morning. Then, on August 8, she arrived in Zschopau, "the town by the river of the same name and also with a beautiful castle by a large forest." Here again, a hunt is organized, similar to the first. In this, 23 bears were killed, with a lot of dogs on it and many wounded. In Zschopau, the Elector had also arranged an Italian and German-style tournament. The riders sat on a very large horsewith such thick and heavy armor that they could hardly move. The lances were so long that a man had trouble leading them to some extent; the iron on it weighed 5 pounds alone. In order to be able to hold it at its rear end, there was a big hook on the right side of the armor, into which the lance was inserted. The knights' clash was often so violent that both were thrown out of the saddle. The Zschopau tournament is reported to have collided with Archduke Ferdinand in a duel as violently as it had never happened since human memory." The lance splintered at the archduke's chest, and both fell to the ground, while the horses could hardly hold on to their backhands. - But nothing seems to have happened to the two of them, because the next morning there was another hunt, this time on deer; then the company moved on to Freiberg to visit the silver mines and to hunt for Marienberg.

Schloss Wildeck in the shadow of the Augustusburg


The castle has probably never seen Wildeck again in its walls. After the early death of Elector Moritz and completely after the construction of the castle Augustusburg 1568-72, Wildeck Castle no longer seems to have been the scene of festive Electoral hunts - at least we learn nothing about it. For example, when Elector Christian II traveled through Zschopau in 1603 with his wife Hedwig and brother Johann Georg, he was paid homage to the market square - and continued to seek Annaberg to hunt in the upper Ore Mountains. Even as Elector, Johann Georg I was often in transit in Zschopau in 1625. But he went to hunt with his court state to the larger and more comfortable Augustusburg. The Elector Sibylla of Brandenburg, meanwhile, was in Wiesenbad for the cure, where the Elector visited her more often. In order to be closer to her, he later moved his hunting grounds more to the upper mountain regions. Nevertheless, he did not use the wild lodge Wildeck as a stand quarter.


The Bear Garden


The hunt and the forest connected, Schloss Wildeck remained for centuries. The hunting lodge also included a bear garden, which was set up on the west side of the castle. It wasn't so long ago that parts of a bear skeleton were found there. The executioner and coverr, whose care the animals were entrusted to, lived close to it in today's Johannisstraße. The Electoral hobby was by no means harmless, and one can imagine the fear and terror when it was said: "The bear is gone!" Had he killed three people at once in 1608! The last time a young bear was put in the kennel was in 1754, but when he too got by in 1757 due to the negligence of a riding man, a short trial was made: the bear was shot. With the bear keeping it was now over. In 1765, the land-member grants used for this purpose were cancelled and intended for the preservation of the tube water in the former bear garden and the renewal of its walls. Today, the guests of the castle garden walk between flower discounts, and there is also a small fountain.

Cornelius v. Rüxleben and other high lords


remained the seat of the Oberforst- und Wildmeisterei until 1911. The most famous forest and game master was Cornelius v. Rüxleben. In 1561, when he was still a minion of elector August (the "Father August",), he built the noble house with the beautiful Renaissance portal and the staircase at the Altmarkt. Today it is the second town hall of the city of Zschopau. Even the later successors in office did not always reside in Schloss Wildeck, and often not even in Zschopau. Instead, they had the shops procured by their forest clerks, who were also noble. In 1725, the west wing of the castle was rebuilt for them. It burned there in 1754. During reconstruction, the burnt-out upper floor is removed and replaced by a mansard roof. 


Tsar Peter I in Zschopau


Erlauchten visit by crowned heads Zschopau has had again and again. Mostly, however, the high lords were only in transit. It was bad when they went through with their regiments in times of war. Only occasionally and incidentally, Schloss Wildeck plays a role in this. Tsar Peter I - in the years 1699, 1711 and 1712 on the way to the spa stay in Karlovy Vary - had to have his car repaired during one of these trips in Zschopau. During the waiting time, his entourage fed in The Castle Wildeck, the Tsar himself in the "White Rößgen" - there it was noble. Today, the police reside there ... Afterwards, the ruler of all The Rissen satuas had the technique of stocking action demonstrated.


Lucas Cranach d. Ä. , Hirschjagd, Holzschnitt, um 1506

Jagden und Turniere waren Höhepunkte fürstlichen Lebens, die natürlich auch im Bild festgehalten wurden. So gehörte es auch zu den Pflichten der Hofmaler, daran teilzunehmen. Zahlreiche Zeichnungen, Holzschnitte und Gemälde des berühmten sächsischen Hofmalers Lucas Cranach sind daher den Themen Jagd und Turnier gewidmet. Sie geben uns ein anschauliches Bild, wie es dabei zuging. Immer wieder hatte auch der sächsische Hof Cranach und seine Werkstatt beauftragt, für diese Turniere festliche Dekorationen zu schaffen, die kostbaren bemalten Decken der Pferde, die Umhänge und prächtigen großen Helmbüsche der Ritter, die kunstvollen Drapierungen der Balkone und Altane. Es muss eine wahre Augenweide gewesen sein. Pauken und Trompeten waren auch dabei.

Lucas Cranach d. Ä., Das Turnier mit dem Simson-Teppich, Holzschnitt 1509

Nicht weniger kostbar ging es bei den Jagden her: Die Jagdspieße, Saufedern, Hirschfänger und Armbrüste waren edelstes Kunsthandwerk mit feinen Ziselierungen und Einlegearbeiten.