Motherland of the Reformation

Motherland of the Reformation

A work of art

Unlike other rulers, the Saxon Elector Augustus the Strong did now want to hide his wealth. He was the first to open his treasury to the public, although few could afford the admission fee. Today admission to the Historical Green Vault, a Baroque work of art, is limited in a different way: the beautifully-decorated rooms with freestanding artworks allow only a certain number of visitors at one time, so that reservations are recommended. This is not necessary one floor up, in the New Green Vault. There one can have a aclose look at 1,000 selected masterpieces of art treasure in mirror-free display cases. In addition to the unique cabinet pieces of the Dresden court jeweler Dinglinger, there are also fascinating items made from gold, silver, precious stones, ivory and mother of pearl. Martin Luther's signet ring, his sword and goblet are also part of the collections of the Green Vault.

Most-famous angels

They were actually just a detail on the edge of a beautiful painting. But in the early 19th century, they became independent and began an international career that took them first onto every kind of product. The two angels at the bottom of Raphael’s masterpiece “The Sistine Madonna” are known in the whole world, but visitors who want to see the original have to come to the Old Masters Picture Gallery, which is part of the Dresden State Art Collections. The 500-year-old painting, which like Leonardo’s “Mona Lisa” and Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” has entered into the cultural heritage of humanity, came to Dresden in 1753. In 1855 the Sistine Madonna was moved into the newly established art gallery on Theater Square, with which the architect Gottfried Semper had completed the Zwinger. It also became home to vistas of the famous court painter Bernardo Bellotto, called Canaletto, and the world’s largest collection of works from the Cranach workshop, including portraits of Luther and his contemporaries.

War and peace

Thanks to their good taste, their passion for collecting and their desire for prestigious symbols of royal power, the Electors of Saxony gathered legendary treasures. More than 600 objects of the so-called Turkish fashion are exhibited in the Turkish Chamber in Dresden Castle, part of the Armory of the Dresden State Art Collections. The highlights include a walk-in three-masted tent made of gold and silk, eight wooden horses carved in original size with lavish riding clothes, and a group of Ottoman composite bows with their original 16th-century strings. In the neighboring Hall of Giants, the world of knights’ tournaments comes alive. For centuries, they served as practice for war in times of peace. The Armory also owns a large number of ceremonial weapons with Reformation motifs which served as statements of faith.