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The Elector of Saxony was delighted. His alchemist had made him porcelain instead of gold. His manufactory would produce the first “white gold” in Europe at Albrechtsburg Castle, high above the city of Meissen. Perhaps August the Strong had tears of joy in his eyes as he looked down from the castle into the valley. But whatever actually happened in Meissen in 1710, one thing is certain: it was the beginning of a success story that has endured to this day. Albrechtsburg Castle still towers impressively over the city where a first fortress stood as early as 929.

The name Meissen still signifies sought-after precious items made of fine porcelain, which nowadays is perfected in the manufactory in Triebischtal. And Meissen’s splendour as a royal city still stands it in good stead. Another treasure is waiting to be discovered only a bike ride away from Albrechtsburg Castle – the baroque Moritzburg Castle. This is where the Dresden Court once celebrated summer, hunting, or simply life itself.

With full glasses, connoisseurs then as now sampled the products from the wine-growing tradition on the steep slopes of the Elbe valley: Gold Riesling, Weißburgunder, Scheurebe or red Regent. Hikers explore the hills round about, enjoy a chat with the wine makers and gaze at the procession of cyclists in the valley who follow the course of the Elbe with whirring spokes. Everyone enjoys the light and relaxed approach to life, which is otherwise found only in the South. And yet it is completely and utterly typical of Saxony.

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Moritzburg Castle in winter