The story of Meissen porcelain actually began high above Old Meissen. Towering over the Elbe River, this 15th-century castle is Germany's first truly residential one, a complete break with the earlier style of fortified bastions. In the central Schutzhof, a typical Gothic courtyard protected on three sides by high rough-stone walls, is an exterior spiral staircase, the Wendelstein, a masterpiece of early masonry hewn in 1525 from a single massive stone block. The ceilings of the castle halls are richly decorated, although many date only from a restoration in 1870. Adjacent to the castle is an early Gothic cathedral. It's a bit of a climb up Burgstrasse and Amtsstrasse to the castle, but a bus runs regularly up the hill from the Marktplatz.