Castles and Palaces
Every Castle

Zwinger Palace (Schloss Zwinger)

The Zwinger Palace is Frederick-Augustus I’s grand and ambitious project. The palace is located in Dresden, Germany.

It is a large open square (116×107 m with apses 47.5 m deep added to the shorter sides), framed by galleries and pavilions. The architect was Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann in close collaboration with the sculptor Balthasar Permoser. It was started as an orangery, soon enlarged to serve for court festivities, and eventually converted to a museum. Its name is derived from its position in a corner of a bastion, between the inner and outer city walls.

Zwinger Palace History

Its modest beginning was as a new garden laid out in 1709 to a sketch plan by the Elector himself: a series of U-shaped terraces with stairs at the apex to connect the different levels on which orange trees were displayed.

The terraces were built over with arcaded galleries after 1711, and the addition of lateral pavilions gave its plan the form of an omega. The ground floor of the south pavilion was furnished as a grotto, and a nymphaeum was installed behind the north pavilion with a cascade and stairs from the bastion’s upper level. Niches on two sides held over life-size figures of nymphs by Permoser and his workshop.

As part of a plan to enlarge the Schloss Zwinger and give the area to its west a regular scheme, a long gallery of 31 bays was added at right angles to the south pavilion in 1714–1718. The two-storey gateway at the centre, the Kronentor, was loosely derived from triumphal arches and surmounted by a bulbous dome. In 1716–1718 the Wallpavillon was added over the stairs midway along the curved galleries. At the same time frescoes were painted on the ceilings of the upper rooms in the side pavilions by Heinrich Fehling (north) and Louis de Silvestre (south).

In 1718 a matching group of side pavilions and curved galleries was added at the other end of the long gallery. This created the present plan of the Zwinger, with a large space, the Zwingerhof, for receptions and court festivities. Behind the new pavilions, with frescoes by Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini, were built an opera house and assembly rooms. The fourth side was closed with stands for spectators, which were later replaced by a wooden wall painted to resemble galleries.

The galleries are carried around the square as a continuous strip: a pilastered colonnade above a high basement with arcaded windows between the pilasters; the side pavilions have two storeys of the same colonnade. This rather strict architectural system is enlivened by varied and rich architectural sculpture: keystones with masks, garlands, scrolls and shells in the frieze and on pilasters, panels of vermiculation underneath the windows and, in front of them, fauns carrying brackets for the orange trees.

The Kronentor and Wallpavillon were treated even more richly: the former has walls set at an angle, free-standing columns and niches with figures, while the latter has herm pilasters and concave–convex curved walls; both have broken pediments.

The pale local sandstone, the roofs painted blue with gilded ornaments, orange trees in painted ceramic pots and water running down the wall fountains all add to the general air of festivity. This is complemented by allusions to the patron, such as the Polish crown on top of the Kronentor, imperial eagles in the frieze of the north pavilion or the figure of Hercules carrying the globe above the Wallpavillon, which refers both to the garden of the Hesperides and to the Elector’s temporary role as Reichsvikar during the interregnum of 1711.

Zwinger Palace Map&Location

Zwinger Address: Theaterplatz 1, 01067 Dresden, Germany. Get help with directions using the map provided bellow:

View Larger Map

Zwinger Palace Photos

Click on the images to enlarge
Zwinger Palace and courtyard © palestrina55  
Zwinger panorama © Michael
Zwinger © Rol1000
Zwinger detail © Vismar Ravagnani
Zwinger night © Michael
Zwinger Palace © Matthias17
Zwinger Palace night © basterus