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Augustusburg

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Just under 15km east of Chemnitz, the tiny town of AUGUSTUSBURG drapes itself picturesquely over a rocky knuckle above lush rolling hills. The colossal white-and-pink wedding-cake decoration at its summit is Schloss Augustusburg, created as a hunting lodge by Saxony Elector Augustus in 1572. Guided tours explore historic apartments of the Lindenhaus; a sweet Schlosskirche, the high-water mark of Renaissance ecclesiastical architecture in Saxony, with an altarpiece by Cranach the Younger, of the Elector and family beneath a Crucifixion set before his castle; and the Brunnenhaus wellhouse, whose wooden machinery is still able to draw water from a 130m shaft, albeit without the two oxen originally required.

Other areas can be visited individually. For historical character there’s former banqueting quarter Hasenhaus, which gets its name from the murals of anthropomorphized hares which gambol over the doorways, more appealing than the so-so hunting and regional nature displays of its Jagdtier- und Vogelkundmuseum. The former kitchen opposite houses the Motorradmuseum, a rev-head’s paradise of shiny motorbikes – from Gottfried Daimler’s 1885 boneshaker, capable of a giddy 12km per hour with stabilisers, to sports and classic roadsters of international marques, including a section on Saxony brand DKW, the world’s largest bike producer in the 1920s and 1930s. The former stables behind contain a gilded Cinderella carriage (1790), which was pulled by six white chargers for the imperial coronation, among displays of coaches in the Kutschenmuseum; while the Schlosskerker dungeon is an orgy of torture instruments and grisly illustrations. There’s also a tower for an elevated view over the quilt of fields and forest that roll back to the Erzgebirge south. By the castle gateway the Sächsischer Adler- und Jagdfalkenhof stages free-flight falconry displays in homage to the castle’s hunting roots.

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