The Dornburg Palaces are a unique ensemble of palaces situated high on a plateau above the Saaletaal.
The oldest of the castles dates back to the 16th century, the other two are Renaissance and Rococo. The castles are surrounded by a park based on English and French models. The park is laid out on five terraces, with steeply sloping vineyards, rose trellises and arcades.
The old castle
The old castle was built in 1522 instead of the ministerial castle destroyed in the Saxon fratricidal war. In the same century, further reconstruction works took place, which brought the castle to its present appearance. Until 1717 it was the prince's seat, and later served as the seat of the Dornburg administration. Over the centuries it also served as a cotton spinning mill, school and retirement home. After renovation, the Old Palace now houses a conference and meeting centre for the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena.
The Renaissance Castle
The Renaissance chateau was built in 1539 on the site of a manor house, it was extended to a chateau at the beginning of the 17th century, further reconstruction work took place in 1824. Goethe lived in the castle for several months in 1828, where he wrote his Dornburg poems. The present museum in the castle reports about this time.
The Rococo Castle
The rococo chateau is the youngest of the chateaux and was built around 1774. The architect G.H. Krone built the chateau with pavilions and side buildings, which were later demolished. Here, too, Goethe spent some time on business trips, as the castle was hardly used by the ducal family. In the years 1817 and 1818 the first elected state parliament of the duchy Sachen-Weimar-Eisenach met here. It was the first partially freely elected state parliament of a principality. Today exhibitions, concerts and weddings take place here.
The impressive park around the three castles was completely renovated and restored in the 20th century. The oldest documents of the complex around the rococo castle date back to 1735. The oldest part of the garden is probably the vineyard sloping towards the Saale. The Weinberghaus was rebuilt in 1999 according to historical models. The garden around the Renaissance castle was laid out according to the English model, with winding paths, groups of trees and flowers. The baroque garden around the rococo palace, on the other hand, is characterised by symmetry and geometric forms, with arcades, rose trellises and the garden paternre.