It is nearly impossible to miss the ringing of the glockenspiel as it plays every 15 minutes. The tune was composed in 1994 by a man named Prof. Günter Schwarze. Additionally, it plays music pieces every day at 10.15am, 2.15pm, 6.15pm and 10.15pm – but only in summer.
The outstanding fact about the glockenspiel is that its 40 bells are made of china from the world famous chinaware manufactory in nearby Meißen (Meißener Porzellan).
The pavillion is from 1723 and was damaged and restored several times, the last time after the Second World War. This work took until 1964. The miraculous thing is that the clock with the glockenspiel – added in 1933 – survived World War II undamaged. After the restauration of the pavillion the number of chinaware bells was increased from 24 to 40.
Inside the pavillion you find an extraordinary chinaware collection of 20,000 pieces (admission 6 Euro; note: you can walk around in the Zwinger for free).
Dresden is heaven for lovers of porcelain. Duke Elector and King of Poland August the Strong was crazy about the so called "white gold" and collected it. He even traded Saxon soldiers in for porcelain (And who was the other party in the trade? Prussien's King, of course. Who else?)
Not only did August buy Japanese and Chinese porcelain, he also conveyed the research for manufacturing porcelain in Saxony. To his delight Johann Friedrich Böttger and Walther von Tschirnhaus found out the secret of how to make porcelain in Dresden in 1710. The porcelain manufacture was founded in nearby Meißen and August was the best customer.
Only a fractional amount of the whole collection is on display in the Zwinger halls as this porcelain collection is one of the largest and most valuable in the world. In recent years New York based designer Peter Marino created a new, colourful, almost Baroque design for the display and while I'd say at some points it looks a bit kitschy it is much better than the previous, quite sterile design.
Excellent pieces from Japan and China as well as such from Europe's first porcelain manufacture in Meissen are on display. I love the big animal figures in particular, also the tiny figures of the Commedia dell'Arte.
Entrance is at Glockenspiel (Chimes) Pavillion.
The Zwinger is also home of the magnificent Armoury. It is one of the biggest and most magnificent in the world. Due to limited space only less than 10% of the pieces are on display. It is planned to relocate the Armoury to the Royal Palace after reconstruction is finished. This will allow to display almost all the pieces - cannot wait to see it! So far one part of the Armoury, the "Turkish Chamber" has made the move - and it is absolutely fantastic! See separate tip, please.
What you get to see in the Zwinger halls are mostly suits or armour, guns, pistols, rapiers etc. but also the official robe which Augustus the Strong wore at the coronation procedure - one of the highlights.
This exhibit is pretty fascinating for kids, especially the boys. I spent hours there when I was a little boy, never got tired of watching the pieces and letting my fantasy play.
The gate to the palace is a good introduction to the architectural splendor of the Zwinger palace and grounds. The priveleged aristocracy of Saxony spared no expense in drawing attention to themselves. Look at this enormous golden crown atop the gate glisten in the April sunshine. Beautiful. A real hum zwinger !
Although you expect something extraordinary – as the Zwinger is Dresden’s most famous attraction – you are overwhelmed by the beauty of this masterpiece of royal Baroque architecture.
The original – later bombed by the English like everything, then restored – was built from 1709 to 1732 during the reign of August dem Starken (Friedrich August I = Augustus the Strong).
The word Zwinger suggests anything that encloses something or someone, where animals (bears, dogs kennel, bear-pit) or humans ( ward) are held – normally against their will. It can also be the prison of a knight’s castle. In this Zwinger’s case it refers to the location of the structure within the city’s fortification, between the inner and outer battlement.
However: Dresden’s Zwinger was not built as part of a fortification, and the front part with the Kronentor (Crown Gate) stands directly ON the outer wall. It was planned as the forecourt of a new castle which should – together with a line of other buildings - cover the space down to the Elbe river. But it was never completed entirely.
At the start it was a kind of amphitheatre where events were held for Saxony’s nobility. By the time more and more features were added, the pavillions, the beautiful gardens, the sculptures, the galleries. The architect Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann and the Bavarian sculptor Balthasar Permoser created this spectacular ensemble.
The courtyard with its manicured lawns and bubbling fountains measures 116 x 204 metres. The design is perfectly symmetrical.
The side of the Zwinger which faces the river – the Gemäldegalerie (Art Gallery) - was only built a hundred years later. Gottfried Semper – you have heard the name in connection with the Semperoper – started the work in 1847. After he had fled Dresden, following the unsuccessful so called May Resurgence of republicans in 1849, Karl Moritz Haenel finished the job until 1854. This Art Gallery – official name: Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister – holds an outstanding collection of paintings of Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Raffael, Tizian, etc.
Open Tue – Sun 10am – 6pm, closed on Monday
Admission 7 Euro
(Note: You can get a daypass for most Dresden museums for 12 Euro and a yearpass for 20 Euro but this does not include the museum Historisches Grünes Gewölbe and special exhibitions); guided tours on Friday and Sunday at 4pm cost 2 Euro extra.
The art gallery known as the 'Zwinger' was originally part of the vast planned Dresden fortress. It was never fully completed.
Following it'a near total destruction in Febrary 1945 by the RAF bombing raid, it was one of the building picked for re-construction after the end of WW2.
To walk around the beatifull buildings and grounds, yet alone the exhibits inside, says more about the 'human spirit' than almost anything else I can think of.
The fact that it feels as if the destruction had never happened somehow makes it all the more poiniant.
This outstanding picture gallery is to find in Semper's gallery building as part of the Zwinger courtyard. It is famous for the works of Italian, Dutch and Flemish painters in particular. But it also hosts some magnificent paintings by French, Spanish and German artists.
The most famous of the paintings is Raphael's "Sistine Madonna", purchased in 1753 from a church in Piacenza/Italy. In 2012 the Sistine Madonna is celebrating her 500th anniversary. I am sure there will be a special exhibit on this occasion. The most popular figures of the painting are the two cute angels, to find as motifs in countless more or less tasteful souvenirs.
The picture gallery is also home of the largest collection of Cranach pictures (both Younger and Elder plus workshop). They announced that all of the pictures will be on display from 2011 on.
Rembrandt, Rubens and Vermeer are other highlights of the collection. So are Dürer, Holbein, van Eyck ... my favourites right now are the smaller pictures created by Dutch artists for the households of more or less rich citizens in the Netherlands in the 17th century.
The prettiest spot in the Zwinger complex is hidden and easily overlooked: The Nymphenbad (Nymph's Bath) in the Northwestern corner. It is not visible from the main courtyard.This romantic grotto with its fountains is a cool refreshing place on hot summer days.
This gate of the Zwinger – a kind of small arch - has become a symbol of the city, and surely is the complex’s most famous part. You walk through it on your walk on the outer wall of the Zwinger.
Architecturally it is a mixture of Italian Baroque and antique elements.
Over the pillars of the gate you see the royal sceptre, the crossed swords, and over the arch Saxon’s coat of arms. Greek heroes and gods like Herakles and Athena are also depicted in the sculptures.
The onion-shaped roof is made of gold coated copper.
On the tip of this roof-tower you see four Polish eagles (I do not know how you can see the difference between Polish and German eagles…) carrying a replica of the Polish King’s crown. Why Polish? Because August II was elected as King of Poland in 1697. However, some say the crown could also be the crown of the German Emperor which Augustus the Strong had hoped for.
Zwinger Palace crown gate, side pavillions, and sculptured gardens. The Zwinger Palace and gardens represent the very best of Dresden's unique Version of Baroque building and landscape architecture. The gardens are some of the most beautiful anywhere. Visit the gardens, see the palace exteriors including sculptures, climb the staircases, and walk on the balconies, all free of charge. The interiors and museums can be visited for a price.
Here you see some of the 21 happy figures of Pan (Greek god of the herdsm the forests and nature) that hold the outer walls of the Zwinger galleries.
This pavillon is on the opposite side of the Glockenspiel-Pavillon in the inner courtyard.
Pan is also known for his salaciousness. That is why satyrs and nymphs enjoy his presence.
Pan has horns and ram hooves – and is not funny at all when somebody disturbs his after lunch snooze.
The Glockenspiel Pavilion, so named with the addition of a carillon in 1936, is the ornate and near symmetrical bookend to the Ramparts Pavilion which has a statue of Hercules as its standout feature atop the baroque structure adorned with intricate sculptures of hermae. Next to it is the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon, a museum dedicated to scientific instruments such as globes and clocks.
Have some fun... ;-)
Those satyrs carry the pillars of the so called Wallpavillon, also: French Pavillion.
Satyrs are companions of Dionysos and Pan. They drink a lot and have an uncontrollable sex drive) – as you can clearly see here ;-)
They have pointed ears, a goat or horse tail, and are mostly shown with a giant phallus. In mythology they are demons who scare the humans, symbolising the dire consequences of excessive lifestyle.
On top of the Wallpavillon you find Augustus the Strong as a Hercules carrying a globe.
Nearby is the Nymphenbad – bath of the Nymphs.
Perhaps the least interesting architecturally of the four walls of the Zwinger, the Semper wing makes up for it by housing the Old Master Gallery which contains 700 Old Master works from across Europe that were gathered by August the Strong and his son in Dresden’s heyday and remain Saxony’s finest collection. Look especially for works by Canaletto, Raphael, Rembrandt and Bellotto’s depictions of Dresden.
One-day ticket for all museums
(does not provide access to special exhibitions with separate admission fees and Historic Green Vault)
The one-day-ticket is not transferable.
Standard fee: 12.00 Euros
Reduced fee (proof of eligibility required): 7.00 Euros
Family ticket: 25.00 Euros
The Zwinger was designed by Pöppelmann and constructed in stages from 1710 to 1728. Sculpture was provided by Balthasar Permoser. The Zwinger was formally inaugurated in 1719, on the occasion of the electoral prince Frederick August’s marriage to the daughter of the Hapsburg emperor, the Archduchess Maria Josepha. At the time, the outer shells of the buildings had already been erected and, with their pavilions and arcaded galleries, formed a striking backdrop to the event. It was not until the completion of their interiors in 1728, however, that they could serve their intended functions as exhibition galleries and library halls.
The Zwinger fue diseñado por Pöppelmann y su construcción se llevó a cabo entre 1710 y 1728. Fue inaugurada en 1719 cuando el principe electo Federico Augusto se casó con la hija del emperador de Hasburgo, la archiduquesa Maria Josefa. Es uno de los palacios mas bonitos que he visto e incluso es muy comparado con el palacio de versalles en Francia.