Little Pheasant Castle

Saxony, Germany | C.1728

Photo Credit: Maria Skuratovich

The Little Pheasant Castle, known locally as Fasanenschlösschen, is the smallest royal castle in Saxony and a famous landmark of Germany sometimes referred to as “Paradise in a Nutshell.” Located near the banks of the Moritzburg Castle pond, it is regarded as the last castle in Saxony preserved in the original style of the Dresden Rococo.

In 1728, Augustus the Strong began laying the foundation for the future Pheasant Castle. The place was meant to breed pheasants to hunt for the royal table, but it was ruined in the Seven Years-War. In 1769, Augustus’s great-grandson started its reconstruction. Count Marcolini, senior chamberlain and friend of the young Elector, leased the garden and had a little summer palace erected above the old pheasant house; the architect was Johann Daniel Schade.

Far Eastern motives give the exotic appearance to the castle: an intricate turret on the roof is crowned by a gilded figure of Chinese mandarin, and the inside is decorated with rare and exotic rococo finishes, including unique wall tapestries of feathers, wood, pearls, and embroideries.

After 1815 pheasant breeding was outlawed, and only the noble pheasants and other exotic birds were maintained. The castle remained in royal hands until 1945 when it was turned over to the public for use as a museum. Most recently, in 2013, conservation efforts concluded to preserve the castle’s fragile interior design.

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