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Residenzschloss (Royal Palace)
Residenzschloss (Royal Palace) Review
Restoration work is still under way behind the Renaissance facade of this former royal palace, much of which was built between 1709 and 1722. Some of the finished rooms in the Georgenbau (Count George Wing) hold historical exhibits, among them an excellent one on the reconstruction of the palace itself. The palace's main gateway, the Georgentor, has an enormous statue of the fully armed Saxon count George. From April through October, the palace's old Hausmannsturm (Hausmann Tower) offers a wonderful view of the city and the Elbe River.
The main attraction in the Royal Palace, though, is the world-famous Grünes Gewölbe (Green Vault). Named after a green room in the palace of Augustus the Strong, the collection is divided into two sections.
The palace also houses the Münzkabinett (Coin Museum) and the Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings), with more than 500,000 pieces of art spanning several centuries. Changing exhibits at the Kupferstichkabinett have presented masterworks by Albrecht Dürer, Peter Paul Rubens, and Jan van Eyck, as well as 20th-century art by Otto Dix, Edvard Munch, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, as well as East European art and some Southeast Asian prints. Also in the palace is the new Türckische Cammer (Turkish Chamber), a huge collection of Ottoman artifacts collected by Saxon dukes over centuries. It's worth going just to see the six carved Arabian horses, bedecked with jeweled armor.
Neues Grünes Gewölbe. The Neues Grünes Gewölbe contains an exquisite collection of unique objets d'art fashioned from gold, silver, ivory, amber, and other precious and semiprecious materials. Among the crown jewels are the world's largest "green" diamond, 41 carats in weight, and a dazzling group of tiny gem-studded figures called Hofstaat zu Delhi am Geburtstag des Grossmoguls Aureng-Zeb (the Court at Delhi during the Birthday of the Great Mogul Aureng-Zeb). The unwieldy name gives a false idea of the size of the work, dating from 1708; some parts of the tableau are so small they can be admired only through a magnifying glass. Somewhat larger and less delicate is the drinking bowl of Ivan the Terrible, perhaps the most sensational artifact in this extraordinary museum. www.skd.museum.
Historisches Grünes Gewölbe. The Historisches Grünes Gewölbe is the section of the castle most reflective of Augustus the Strong's obsession with art as a symbol of power. The intricately restored baroque interior highlights the objects in the collection and is an integral part of the presentation itself. The last section of the museum houses the Jewel Room, displaying the ceremonial crown jewels of Augustus the Strong and his son. Access to the Historic Green Vault is limited to 100 visitors per hour and is by appointment only. Tickets can be reserved by phone or online. 0351/4919-2285 for tours. www.skd.museum. €12. By appointment only.
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