Like the mythical Phoenix rising from the ashes so did Dresden from the devastation of World War II. Whether an act of stubbornness, defiance or civic pride Dresden has been rebuilt. One of the last major building to be rebuilt was the Frauenkirche and the church was finally reconsecrated on 30 October 2005. It had remained in ruins for 50 years as a war memorial, following decisions of local East German leaders.
I had always wanted to visit Dresden but when I was living in Germany, Dresden was deep behind the iron curtain and a trip to far for a U.S. soldier. It would have been strange indeed for me to travel the in full uniform even if it were possible. I finally had the opportunity towards the end of our trip through the Czech Republic.
The Green Vault houses one of the largest collections of treasure in Europe, with its spectacular baroque chambers filled with jewels and objets d'art.
In the early 18th century, Augustus the Strong, ruler of Saxony, worked to establish Dresden as a major center for the arts, inviting talented sculptors, goldsmiths and painters to take up residence. He commissioned a series of magnificent rooms to showcase his valuables as a way of advertising the city's cultural prominence in addition to its wealth.
Augustus' most valued possession was a miniature diorama depicting the unlimited riches of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, Augustus' contemporary on the Indian subcontinent. Aurangzeb, who was referred to as the "world-seizer," is seen at his 50th birthday celebrations during the height of the empire.
From his throne, he receives rajahs and princes; dishes filled with gold coins and elephants draped in gems are presented as gifts. In an unusual twist, the walls of the court are decorated with Chinese dragons, so that a dream of orientalism becomes even more fantastic.
This diorama was created over seven years by the great goldsmith and royal jeweler, Johann Melchior Dinglinger, and features rubies, emeralds, pearls, over 4000 diamonds, and a single sapphire. Only 58 centimeters tall, it cost Augustus more than the construction of the opulent Moritzburg Castle.
We arrived in Dresden from the East, taking a counter-clockwise road trip through the Czech Republic. We stayed in a lovely AirBnB close to the Alte Meister. We had originally planned on staying for 4 nights but left after 3 to visit some friends in Nurnburg. We did have time to visit the Meissen Porcelain Factory which had a very informative tour where you visited several stages of the porcelain making process.The highlight of our stay in Dresden was visiting the Dresden Royal Palace and its Green Vault.
And so it goes...Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
Meissen Porcelain Manufactory
Since its founding in 1710, the manufactory has stood for the highest-quality porcelain and the utmost workmanship represented around the world with the insignia of two Crossed Swords in cobalt blue. The quality of Meissen porcelain has its beginnings in the manufactory’s own mine near the city of Meissen, where the purest kaolin is sourced day after day. This white clay is the key to the striking radiance of Meissen porcelain. The precise blending of kaolin with native feldspar and quartz has been refined in Meissen over the past 300 years and is still completed by hand to this day.
Charting new territory in the creation of new porcelain objects is as much a part of the manufactory’s tradition as the observation of its own rich heritage. For this, MEISSEN can draw on the world’s oldest and most comprehensive archive of historic models and plaster molds, making it possible to reproduce practically any form to ever come out of the manufactory. Meanwhile, the manufactory’s paint laboratory while constantly formulating new, vibrant hues closely guards the formulas for approximately 10.000 different porcelain colors, enabling the Meissen painters to revive every nuance of historic patterns true to the originals.
This rich trove of historical inspiration in Meissen’s Triebischtal, not far from the Saxon capital of Dresden, is combined with peerless craftsmanship to create intricate figurines, large-format sculptures, exquisite dining services, and one-of-a-kind works of art that attain the highest standards of exclusivity and individuality.
The Dresden Armoury, one of the most outstanding collections of its type in Europe, includes ceremonial weapons, ornate robes, objets d'art and curiosities from the former 'Kunstkammer' (Art Chamber), as well as portraits dating from the 16th to the 18th century.
The Riesensaal (Hall of Giants) reopened in 2013, resplendent in its original dimensions, yet with completely modern interior architecture. It now serves to present almost 350 objects from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries: suits of armor that covered the bodies of horses and riders, valuable lances, swords, and other parade weaponry. Through the windows, visitors can see the palace square, where men once fought.
Originally practiced in preparation for battle, by the end of the fifteenth century tournaments began to play an important role in courtly ceremony and festivity. Elector August of Saxony proved his courage and skill competing in a total of 55 jousting tournaments between 1544 and 1566.