Zwinger Palace … one of the most important monuments of the Baroque era in Germany

Almost everyone who visits Dresden does not have the first destination to visit Zwinger Palace, an architectural masterpiece in every sense of the word. Probably the most beautiful architectural masterpiece in Dresden, and one of the most beautiful and largest in Germany and Europe.

Zwinger Palace was built by architect Matthaus Daniel Poppelmann (1736-1662) in the Rococo style, which is an extension of the Baroque style but with a pleasing aesthetic.

This palace is located northwest of the ‘old town’ which is part of the historic heart of Dresden. It is close to other famous attractions, such as the Semper Opera House, the Royal Palace or Dresden Castle, the City Theater and its square, among other historical attractions. It is also no further than two hundred yards from the south bank of the Elbe River, which intersects the city from east to west.

The name Zwinger is derived from the medieval German term for fortifications located between the outer and inner defensive walls. Archaeological evidence shows that the first wall of the city was built in the last quarter of the twelfth century AD. A historical document dating to 1216 shows the existence of Dresden Castle at that time.

In 1427, during the Husite Wars, work began to strengthen the defense of the city, for which a second outer wall was built. These improvements began near the gate called “Fieldover Tor”. The old ditch was buried. The area between the two walls was called “Zwinger”, and the area near the castle was used by members of the royal court as gardens. But the location of the garden of the “Zwinger Garten” palace was not known at that time, except that it was located between the fortifications on the west side of the city.

In the eighteenth century, the defensive function was not taken into account when the current palace was worked on, but the name remained the same and moved to the new building. The southwestern parts of Zwinger Dresden’s baroque building, including the Crownent gate, were built into parts of the outer wall that are still visible today, but no trace of the inner wall remains.


Initial city development in the Zwinger region

By the mid-16th century, the current Zwinger district was outside the city fortifications. Near Zwinger, part of the Weisseritz River ran into the Elbe River in the old castle. In 1569 the redevelopment and construction of new buildings in the western fortifications of the castle began, according to the plans drawn up by the Italian architect Rox Quirin, Count of Linari, who had come from Florence. In the spring of 1570, a flood of the Weisseritz River caused severe damage to one of the dams, hindering the construction of the project for a short period. In 1572 the construction of fortifications was temporarily stopped.

In 1689, Prince Frederick Augustus of Saxony, nicknamed “August the Forti”, returned to Dresden from a tour of France and Italy. At that time, King Louis XIV had transferred his throne to the Palace of Versailles. Upon his return to Dresden, after making preparations to be elected King of Poland (1697), Augustus wanted to build for himself a palace similar to Versailles. Architect Matthews Daniel Poppelmann commissioned the design and construction of Zwinger Palace. He built it in stages between 1710 and 1728. Sculptor Balthasar Permoser offered his sculptures. But Zwinger was formally inaugurated in 1719 on the occasion of the marriage of Prince Frederick Augustus to the daughter of Emperor Habsburg, Archbishop Maria Josepha. At that time, the exterior structure of the buildings was erected with pavilions and galleries, which formed a shocking backdrop for this event. The interior was not completed before 1728, however it was suitable in terms of galleries, library halls and a place for exhibitions.

The death of King Augustus in 1733 caused the construction to be banned for financial reasons. And the palace area remained open towards the courtyard of the opera house and the river. Subsequently, the schemes were reduced. Between 1847 and 1855, the remaining area was closed by the construction of the gallery wing separating Zwinger from Opera Square. The architect of this building, which was later renamed the “Semper Gallery”, was Gottfried Semper and was the same person who designed the opera house named after him, Opera Semper.

During the heavy air bombardment and mass destruction of the city of Dresden on 3, 4 and 15 February 1945 by British forces, the building was almost completely destroyed. Fortunately, the art collections were evacuated before the bombing.

Reconstruction of the palace with the support of the Soviet Army administration began in 1945 and parts of the restored complex were opened to the public in 1951. In 1963 Zwinger Palace was restored to its pre-war state.

Zwinger Museums

The palace now houses three museums: Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Porzellansammlung and Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon.

Exhibition of paintings by ancient teachers
: “Exhibition of Ancient Teachers’ Paintings” enjoys an international reputation for including paintings by world-renowned artists such as “Sistine Madonna” by Italian artist Raphael, “Sleeping Venus” by Giorgione, “Holy Night” by Correggio, Altar of St. Catherine “by Lucas Cranach. Other widely known paintings are by artists such as van Eyck, Dürer, Holbein, Rubens, Rembrandt, Poussin, Claude Lorrain, Murillo, Canaletto, Tiepolo, Rayburn and Graf. Ancient is a rare treasure.

In his youth, the great poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe visited this museum, and enjoyed his visit. He expressed this by saying: “My wonder was beyond words!”. The astonishment that struck Goethe still strikes the visitors of the exhibition so far; Year after year, this exhibition attracts art lovers from all over the world.

complete porcelain: Augustus of Forti (1670-1733) had a passion for porcelain. Dresden owes his unique collection to what he called himself the “white bear” with whom he was obsessed and who infected him with what he called the “porcelain disease.” The most beautiful pieces from the 20,000 preserved are now on display in the delightful rooms inside Zwinger, against the baroque backdrop of Palace Square. The spectrum of exhibited ceramic goods ranges from specimens dating from the Ming Dynasty in China and abundant collections from the reign of Emperor Kangxi (1662-1722) to Japanese Imare goods and kakimon from the early 17th and 18th centuries. Development of Meissen pottery by its invention in 1708 by the end of the eighteenth century is also illustrated by exquisite craftsmanship.

In recent years, renowned New York architect Peter Marino has designed interior designs for galleries and halls. For example, there is a luxurious turquoise porcelain wall arrangement against a purple-purple wall. This ensemble was planned in a larger form for the Porcelain Palace – the Japanese Palace. The Animal Hall features leather wall coverings from the early 18th century. In the middle of the hall there are two Chinese-style boilers with a five-meter-high pavilion in a Chinese design, topped by a shrine roof with porcelain bells. The gallery also features ceramic birds created by 18th-century fashion stylist Maesen Kindler.

Salon of physics and mathematics: The Salon of Physics and Mathematics was founded during the reign of Augustus Fort in 1728 and remains to this day one of the most important museums in the world of historical scientific instruments. It is the oldest museum in Zwinger Palace. The showroom has been completely redesigned. It features a set of tools and equipment used over the past centuries to measure the world. Visitors can view and discover smooth mirrors, high-level clocks, mechanical instruments, large telescopes, astronomical models, globes representing the Earth and the heavens, and even those representing the Moon and Mars throughout history. The pleasure of watching these models and masterpieces comes not only from their function but also from their beauty. Almost all created for study and research reasons, this large collection of important art from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century makes the Salon of Mathematics and Physics an unparalleled museum. As a research site, this salon has played a role in cementing Zwinger’s worldwide reputation for nearly three centuries. In the late eighteenth century, an astronomical observatory was set up inside the saloon. For one hundred and fifty years, Dresden’s local time has been established here – bringing the Dresden Zwinger Institute closer to the “Greenwich of Saxony”.

The new introduction to the math and physics salon allows objects to be seen up close. Movies and animations also provide an overview of the functions and functions of the selected parts. Here, for example, visitors can use Germany’s oldest mechanical calculator and participate in historical experimental shows using finely reproduced instruments. In addition to workshops and guided tours, these demonstrations provide exciting insights into the historical context of mathematics, science, and technology, under the motto “The Math and Physics Salon is a place of curiosity for curious people of all ages.”

Thus, the Zwinger Palace in the German city of Dresden is a separate school of architecture and museum creation, in addition to its aesthetic, historical and cultural function.

(Photos of the author)

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