It was built from 1542–1546 as a hunting lodge for Duke Moritz of Saxony. The chapel was added between 1661 and 1671 after designs by Wolf Caspar von Klengels and is a fine example of the early Baroque style. Between 1723 and 1733, the castle was remodelled as a pleasure seat with formal park for Augustus II the Strong, elector of Saxony and king of Poland by the architects Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann and Longeloune.
The displays of many areas within the castle are dedicated to the courtly art of formal hunting. The collection of red deer antlers is considered to be the largest in the world. In the Monströsensaal ("Monstrosity Room") are 39 morbidly contorted antlers, one of them the famous 66-point antler. The Elector's apartments contain wonderful examples of lacquer and splendid parade furniture, the silver furniture made in Augsburg in emulation of Louis XIV's silver furniture at Versailles, and Chinese, Japanese and Meissen porcelain as well as fine engraved and inlaid hunting weapons. In the Stone Hall one can visit the antlers collection, in the Billiardsaal (billiards hall) a painting of Louis de Silvestre, and in the entrance hall a collection of Galakut. The castle is also famous for its sandstone decorations and stuccos.
The shell-pink Fasanenschlösslein ("little pheasant castle") in the park stands at the end of a cross axis to the main axial entrance route leading to the main castle on its formal island in the lake. It stands high and cubical, five bays wide on each face, under a high roof with an ogee profile that is capped by an open cupola that has a pair of Chinese figures under a parasol for a finial. On its garden side, paired staircases descend to a sunken parterre, now planted with turf. The design was commissioned from Johann Daniel Schade (1730-1798) who had been the architect in charge of the royal building projects, and was completed about 1776. An old pavilion by Knösswel was completely rebuilt on its foundations. Its outbuildings, concealed behind plantings to give the pavilion an isolated air, were bird breeding pens, where pheasants were raised to be shot at. Closed for some time for renovation, the Fasanenschloss was expected to reopen in 2007 as a museum showing court life.