The Zwinger in Dresden, Germany
The Zwinger Palace (Der Dresdner Zwinger) in Dresden is a major German landmark.
The location was formerly part of the Dresden fortress of which the outer wall is conserved. The name derives from the German wordZwinger (outer ward of a concentric castle); it was for the cannons that were placed between the outer wall and the major wall. The Zwinger was not enclosed until the neoclassical building by Gottfried Semper called the Semper wing was built to host the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister art gallery.
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 Habsburg 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 death of Augustus in 1733 put a halt to the construction because the funds were needed elsewhere. The palace area was left open towards the Semperoper square and the river. Later the plans were changed to a smaller scale, and in 1847–1855 the area was closed by the construction of the gallery wing now separating the Zwinger from the opera place; the architect was Gottfried Semper, who designed the opera.
The building was mostly destroyed by the carpet bombing raids of February 13-15, 1945. The art collection had been evacuated before, though. After the war, in a referendum, the people of Dresden voted to restore the building and generally preferred to rebuild the glories of the city, instead of having the ruins razed to make way for the architecture of socialist realism then prevalent in the German Democratic Republic.
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