Zwinger

Zwinger information

Dresden , Germany
Address
Street Theaterplatz 1
Telephone
+49 351 4914 2000
More information
www.skd.museum
Prices
adult/concession €10/7.50
Opening hours
10am-6pm Tue-Sun
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Lonely Planet review

The sprawling Zwinger is among the most ravishing baroque buildings in all of Germany. A collaboration between the architect Matthäus Pöppelmann and the sculptor Balthasar Permoser, it was primarily a party palace for royals, despite the odd name (which means dungeon). Ornate portals lead into the vast fountain-studded courtyard, which is framed by buildings lavishly festooned with evocative sculpture. Atop the western pavilion stands a tense-looking Atlas. Opposite him is a cutesy carillon of 40 Meissen porcelain bells, which emit a tinkle every 15 minutes.

Inside, the Zwinger’s collections have gone through a bit of a roundabout in recent years, with several comings and goings. The most important permanent collection is the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Gallery), which features a roll call of Old Masters including Botticelli, Titian, Rubens, Vermeer and Dürer. A key work is the 500-year-old Sistine Madonna by Raphael.

Admission gives you access to the Porzellansammlung (Porcelain Collection), a dazzling assortment of Meissen classics and East Asian treasures, and the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon whose ancient scientific instruments, globes and timepieces should again be on view following massive restoration in early 2013. A fourth exhibit, the Rüstkammer (Armoury) will be partly closed for refurbishment around the same time, with part of the collection moving to the Residenzschloss.