The original castle was a Romanesque keep, built around 1200. The Hausmannsturm was built at the beginning of the 15th century. From 1468 until 1480, the keep was extended by the master builder,
Arnold von Westfalen, becoming an enclosed four-wing construction. In the middle of the 16th century, an addition was made in the Renaissance style.
After a major fire in 1701, Augustus II the Strong rebuilt much of the castle in the Baroque style. The collection rooms were created at this time in the western wing. The Silver Room, Heraldic Room and the Pretiosensaal were built from 1723–1726 and the Kaminzimmer, Juwelenzimmer (Jewel Room), Ivory Room and Bronze Room were built from 1727–1729.
The 800th anniversary of the House of Wettin, Saxony's ruling family, resulted in more rebuilding between 1889 and 1901.
A Neo-renaissance renovation was undertaken, followed by various modernizations, such as in-floor heating and electric lights in 1914. On the outside of the Stallhof (Stall Courtyard), which links the castle complex with the adjacent Johanneum, the "Procession of Princes" was painted by the artist Wilhelm Walther. The 102-meter-long mural represents the history of the Wettins. Since it quickly faded, it was transferred to about 23,000 Meissen porcelain tiles between 1904 and 1907.
Most of the castle was reduced to a roofless shell during 13 February 1945 bombing of Dresden in World War II. Three rooms of the Green Vault were destroyed. However, the collections survived, having been moved to safety at Königstein Fortress in the early years of the war.
Ruins of the castle, 1980
For the first 15 years after the end of the Second World War, no attempt was made to rebuild the castle, except to install a temporary roof in 1946. Restoration began in the 1960s with the installation of new windows and has occurred rapidly since then. The castle's restoration is ongoing, with part of the State Apartments set to reopen in September 2019.