Augustus the Strong conceived Schloss Pillnitz as a love nest in which to dally with his mistress, the Countess of Cosel, an easy 10km southeast of court. But when their affair soured, Anna Constantia got the boot and in the early 1720s Augustus turned to his favourite architect, the Zwinger’s Pöppelmann, to create a Versailles-inspired retreat spiced with a pinch of Oriental mystery; this was, remember, a ruler who admired the autocratic rule (and porcelain) of Chinese emperors. The complex’s first two palaces – the Wasserburg, erected on the river bank in an allusion to Venice, and Bergpalais – either side of a courtyard garden appear unexpectedly exotic in such a Middle European landscape; Baroque rooflines swoop to pagoda points and beneath the lintels are fanciful (and none too accurate) Oriental scenes.

 

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