Zelle Monastery (today Altzella) was founded by Margrave Otto of Meissen in 1162 and was provided with 800 virgata cleared land donated by King Frederick I. The construction of the monastery church in 1175 but notably more construction between 1180 and 1230 demonstrates that the monastery area was undergoing a building boom. From 1190 to 1381 the monastery was the burial site of the Wettin family. In the 14th and 15th century, the monastery experienced its heyday.
It purchased Nossen Castle in 1436 and rebuilt it to make it the seat of the abbot. As a result of the reformation in Saxony the monastery was also secularized. The last abbot took a lease on the buildings for farming. From this time on, Altzella Monastery served only agricultural purposes (buildings for livestock and a storehouse). The remaining buildings became dilapidated or were demolished for providing building material. In honour of his ancestors, who were buried here, Elector John George II had a mausoleum constructed. It was built by Wolf Caspar of Klengel on the site of the former monastery's chancel from 1676 to 1680. Around 1800 the mausoleum was reconstructed into an early neo-classical burial chapel.
1798-1809 the garden designer Johann Gottfried Huebler created a romantic landscape garden and integrated the architectural remains of the structure. Throughout the 19th and 20th century, agricultural use of the remaining parts of the building and increased dilapidation continued. The installation of a lapidarium in the former dining hall in 1955 marked the beginning of its use as a museum, which is still being developed now.
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