Originally designed as a site for court festivities, the 18th-century Zwinger complex now houses three museums. A hub of history, art, and culture, the elegant complex is one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in Germany, built during the reign of Augustus II, former king of Poland and elector of Saxony.
The Zwinger, also known as the Zwinger Palace, originated in 1709 after Augustus II visited the Versailles Palace. Inspired by its beauty and grandeur, Augustus commissioned architect Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann and sculptor Balthasar Permoser to bring his vision to life, in his hometown of Dresden. Based on the plans of Augustus himself, Pöppelmann designed six large Baroque pavilions connected by ornate galleries to encircle a large courtyard made up of gardens and an orangery.
Originally, Augustus II envisioned Zwinger Palace as a festival venue for royal festivities and tournaments in Saxony. Unfortunately, Augustus never saw his project come to life, and construction was paused after his death. It was only a century later, in 1855, that the architect Gottfried Semper completed the Zwinger Palace and added the Semper Gallery toward the Elbe river, in the Neoclassical style.
From then on, the Zwinger Palace expanded and became an important museum complex, with the Old Masters Picture Gallery, the Dresden Porcelain Collection, and the Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments within its Baroque walls. While the bombing of Dresden during World War II destroyed most of the complex, a renovation team reconstructed the original 18th-century buildings between the 1950s and the 1960s.
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