Zwinger Palace - the rise of the German Phoenix!

Commissioned by Augustus the Strong, Zwinger Palace is well known as one of the best examples of baroque architecture. The architect of the Palace, Daniel Poeppelmann, received much applause and fame across the world, and is now known as one of his most elaborate and celebrated works.

Here's a travel guide to Zwinger Palace in Dresden.

zwinger palace dresden saxony Germany Deutschland
The gilded crown at Zwinger
zwinger palace dresden saxony Germany Deutschland
The museum with the green roof

I spent a week at Dresden, which is quite a low as compared to a regular tourist here, and during this time, I visited Zwinger multiple times. My first visit was on very cloudy day when it was raining and I could explore it only in bits and pieces. As rains played hide and seek, I heard many stories about the site. It was really interesting for me to visit this stunning palace and learn so much more about Germany's history, something which was not really a part of my history lessons in school. One person whose name came time and again was Augustus the Strong, the man whose story can both inspire and impress anyone. More on the great man in a later post.

On other free mornings, I just walked up the steps and looked at people enjoying themselves. There are so many access points to Zwinger that you can get a completely new view every time you visit. Each visit was interesting and I always went back with fond memories, and some nice pictures too.

Story of Zwinger

Zwinger was built between 1710 to 1719 with numerous additions made later on. This was the time when King Augustus was in his prime and his love for baroque quickly made Dresden the baroque capital of the world.

Read more: Zwinger Palace - the epitome of baroque beauty!

zwinger palace dresden saxony Germany Deutschland
The imposing architecture
zwinger palace dresden saxony Germany Deutschland
Detailing in stone

Originally an open area surrounded by wooden buildings, the sandstone buildings were added later on. The Crown Gate (first image in the post) is perhaps the most well known part of the complex and depicts Roman Gods.



Interestingly, though famous, Crown gate is not the main entry point. The main entrance is a huge Roman style gate shown below.



Dark days for Zwinger

Baroque art style began in 1600 in Italy and quickly spread across Europe. The style is characterised by elaborate deigns often using exaggerations, and clear details. The style is clearly grand and suited the enormous palaces and churches of the era.

However, with time modern ideas came in and with that began the decline of baroque. Augustus was a huge fan and so he commissioned this project at a time when baroque was already getting less popular in rest of Europe. However, a few years after it was finished talks started about how Zimmer was not keeping with the times and was too elaborate and excessive. There were even talks of breaking it all down and building something more modern in its place. However, better sense prevailed and Zwinger survived.

However, it wasn't so lucky during the controversial bombing of Dresden in the last days of World War II. As the allied forces bombed Dresden, much of its art and history evaporated, and Zwinger didn't survive either. What survived after the war were just rubbles and lots of lost art. Despite the austerity that existed in East Germany during those days, restoration work on Zwinger started soon and it was one of the first restored places which opened to the public. The images below will show the transformation of the place after the fateful bombing.

Zwinger palace before destruction second world war
Zwinger before the bombing in 1945 (Copyrights: Detroit Publishing company)
zwinger palace after the war
Zwinger right after the bombing - the destruction was near complete (Photo credits: Richard Parker)

Zwinger now

Zwinger no longer serves all of its original functions, especially since there is no royalty to preside over public functions. However, it's art collection is still a big draw for Dresden's visitors. Plus the overall phenomenal baroque architecture can take anyone's breath away. It's a treasure trove for anyone who love architecture or photography, and for someone like me who loves them both, this was pure heaven.

I visited Zwinger multiple times during my stay especially because it was really close to my hotel, Swissotel Dresden. Walking to this magnificent place took me through someone of the most buildings in Dresden, so even the walk in sub-zero temperatures was worth the effort :)

While you are at Zwinger, you must check out its ceramics and armoury collection. However the best known masterpiece here is the Sistine Madonna by Raphael. Unfortunately, I missed it as I was simply busy gazing at all the beauty outside, but you must not make the same mistake. Also, you need to buy a ticket to visit the museum, which is about 12 Euros for one person.

zwinger palace dresden saxony Germany Deutschland
On a rainy day at Zwinger
zwinger palace dresden saxony Germany Deutschland
Perfect for a romantic outing...

Food at Zwinger

There are two options for food at Zwinger Palace:

1. Cafe French Pavillon: it serves coffee and quick bites, and leads right into the Bath of Nymphs. Lovely place to take a mini-break as you explore Zwinger Palace.
2. Alte Meister: Fine dining restaurant which is great for dinners (do make sure you dress up nicely for food here). I made my last visit to Zwinger on my last night in the city and had a superb dinner there, like a grand finale to a very memorable trip. It's recommended to make a reservation in advance, more details here.

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Disclaimer: I was in Germany on invitation of the German Tourist Office and Saxony Tourism Board. Needless to mention, all views expressed are unbiased and based on my own personal experiences.

Comments

  1. Oh wow, I been to Deutschland many times but I never heard about the Zwinger Palace before (maybe thats because I never been to the Dresden area). Bookmarked this page so when I do go, I will check it out :)

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  2. Gorgeous palace! Incredible to see the photos before WW2 and after. It's impressive Zwinger Palace was restored so well. It does look like a place worthy of multiple visits. Even just walking those beautiful gardens would be a visit all to itself!

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  3. Germany never really used to be high on my list of places to visit but now I think we have been there more times than any other European country. We love it! Haven't been to Dresden yet but it looks stunning. Love the Baroque architecture of the Zwinger Palace and the cool old sketch / picture of it in 1945. Such an awful crying shame the place got so hammered in WW2!

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  4. I really enjoyed my time in Dresden, and we did visit Zwinger Palace as well - really is such a beautiful example of baroque architecture - so sad that much of Dresden was bombed in the war :( Spending a week sounds wonderful - we passed through briefly on a contiki tour so had less than a day. It would have been amazing to visit multiple times, and notice more intricate details you may have missed the previous day :)

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  5. I had a great time in Dresden when I was doing my epic Central Europe tour. I remember Zwinger Palace very clearly. It was a gorgeous sunny day, but I was tired and unfortunately didn't know much about the palace's history. I loved the Baroque architecture, though. So many intricate details and the gold is so pretty too.

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  6. This is a beautiful palace. I can't even imagine all the detail and time that went into building it. And that crown gate is stunning! I love that old palaces like this were meant to be masterpieces!

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  7. I didnt know Dresden has such a hidden gem. Thank you for sharing. This place looks like Versailles!

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  8. Wow the glided crown at Zwinger is beautiful! Such an instagram spot. Would love to plan something to visit! We hope it won't be rainy... we hate gray walls!

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