Zwinger in Dresden

Categories: Sightseeing, Cultural and History

Dresden Zwinger
Dresden Zwinger

[ source: Wikipedia]

In a city noted for its exquisite architecture, the Dresden (Dresden vacation rentals | Dresden travel guide) Zwinger stands as one of the major symbols of the city. In its opulent Rococo splendor, the Zwinger today houses a world-class museum complex, composed of the Old Masters Picture Gallery, the Porcelain Collection, the Armory, and the Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments. However, the Zwinger initially functioned as an orangery, exhibition area, and festival setting for the Saxon kings.

The present-day Zwinger was started in the early 18th century. It was commissioned by Augustus the Strong, after he was crowned king of Poland. In celebration of this honor, Augustus wanted to build something spectacular in the Saxon capital of Dresden. To accomplish this, he turned to his court architect, Mathaeus Daniel Poeppelmann, for the design. The Zwinger in Dresden was, then, constructed between 1710 and 1728, with sculptural ornamentation created by Balthasar Permoser. Although the interior spaces were not completed for another nine years, the Zwinger was formally inaugurated in 1719, when Augustus's son married the daughter of the Habsburg emperor. Once the building was finished, the interior rooms were meant to function as library halls and exhibition spaces for the royal collections.

Augustus died in 1733, which put an end to the final stages of the building phase. The area between the Zwinger and the Elbe River was left open until the mid-1800s, when Gottfried Semper was hired to add the fourth side to the structure, which hence was known as the Semper Gallery.

The Zwinger was mostly destroyed in the carpet bombing attacks on Dresden between February 13 and 15, 1945. The art collections had been previously removed, so they were not destroyed. After the war, the people of Dresden voted to restore the Zwinger, as well as other parts of the decimated historic urban center. The Zwinger was reconstructed in the 1950s and the 1960s.

Visitors to the Zwinger in Dresden will be delighted by the lovely formal gardens that can be found inside the Zwinger itself. Once these have been enjoyed, the four museums beckon inside. The Old Master collection attracts over 500,000 visitors annually, and it contains masterpieces by Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Duerer. With its 20,000 artifacts, the porcelain collection is the largest specialist ceramics collection in the world. To further enhance the visitor experience, the Zwinger in Dresden offers individual and guided tours of its collections, as well as special lectures. Spaces in the Zwinger are also available to rent for concerts, receptions, and exhibits.

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About this Article

Rachel Hildebrandt

This travel guide has been written by Rachel Hildebrandt.

Starting with her first trip to Germany at the age of 16, Rachel has traveled, worked, and studied in Germany extensively. Although her first encounter with German culture was in Lower Saxony, since that time the focus of her subsequent work as a freelance historian and translator has shifted eastward. Building on her graduate studies in Dresden, Rachel has worked for a variety of German foundations as a historian and translator, and is currently pursuing research pertaining to the Sorbs in Lusatia (eastern Saxony).

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Location, Map, and Driving Directions

Location: Sophienstraße, 01067 Dresden, Germany

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