Zwinger Palace

The History Of Zwinger Palace

LocationDresden, State of Saxony, Germany (Google Maps)
Open for VisitorsYes
Owned bySaxony State
Rooms AvailableYes (Filming)

The Zwinger Palace is a landmark building featuring a masterpiece of baroque architecture, interesting museums, lovely gardens, gorgeous pavilions, and beautiful fountains.


The Zwinger Palace is Frederick-Augustus I’s grand and ambitious project. It was started as an orangery which was soon enlarged to serve for court festivities and eventually converted to a museum. The palace’s name is derived from its position in the corner of a bastion, between the inner and outer city walls.

The exciting story behind the making of Zwinger Palace is that Augustus the Strong, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony, returned in 1687–89 from a grand tour through France and Italy. It was just at this moment that Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles. On Augustus’s return to Dresden, having arranged his election as King of Poland in 1697, he wanted something similarly spectacular for himself. The original plans developed before 1711 by his court architect Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann covered the space of the present complex of palace and garden.

The Zwinger Palace was designed by Pöppelmann and constructed in many stages from 1710 to 1728. It was formally inaugurated on the occasion of the electoral prince Frederick August’s marriage to the daughter of the Habsburg emperor, Archduchess Maria Josepha, in 1719. During that time, the outer shells of the buildings with their pavilions and arcaded galleries had already been erected and formed a striking backdrop for the event. It was not until the completion of the palace’s interiors in 1728 that they could serve as exhibition galleries and library halls.

In 1733, after the death of Augustus, the construction was put to a halt as the funds were allocated elsewhere. The palace area was left open toward the river and Semperoper square, known as the Theatre Square. The plans were later changed to a smaller scale. In 1847–1855, the area was closed to construct the gallery wing, which now separates the Zwinger Palace from the Theatre Square. The architect of this building which was later named Semper Gallery, was Gottfried Semper, who also designed the opera house.

The palace was destroyed mainly by the carpet bombing raids of 13–15 February 1945. However, the art collection had been previously evacuated. The reconstruction of the palace began in 1945 and was supported by the Soviet military administration. Some parts of the restored complex were opened to the public in 1951. However, by 1963, the palace was largely restored to its pre-war state.


Zwinger Palace architecture
Zwinger Palace, by Michael, is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Zwinger Palace was built in the Baroque style and designed by court architect Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann. The palace served as the orangery, exhibition gallery, and festival arena of the Dresden Court. It is a large open square (116×107 m with apses 47.5 m deep added to the shorter sides), framed by galleries and pavilions. The architect was Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann, who worked closely with the sculptor Balthasar Permoser.

Most of the rooms inside the palace are now home to museums, including the Dresden Porcelain Collection, one of the biggest in the world. The Armory is another highlight of the palace featuring a magnificent collection of weaponry and garments. The Semper Gallery is well worth visiting for its globally significant collection of paintings dating from the Renaissance to the baroque period, including the Sistine Madonna by Raphael. You can book a Zwinger Palace ticket online, and they are only available as the Print@Home version.

Movie Features

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)– Zwinger Palace is featured in the movie ‘ The Grand Budapest Hotel’ about a writer who encounters the owner of an ageing high-class hotel. He tells him of his early years serving as a lobby boy in the hotel’s glorious years under an exceptional concierge.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Zwinger Palace?

The Zwinger Palace is located in the beautiful city of Dresden, in the state of Saxony, Germany. You can reach the palace via any of the major highways that circle Dresden.

What is the Zwinger Palace known for?

Zwinger Palace is famous for its Baroque style of architecture, built for Augustus the Strong, former King of Poland. It is also home to a large number of museums, including the Alte Meister Picture gallery, the war instruments at the Armory, and the intricacies of fine art at the Porcelain collection. 

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Nitesh Kuchhal, an IIM Calcutta graduate, is more than an educator—he's a mentor. With a passion for leadership and entrepreneurship, and travel. He has explored over 20 countries. Beyond teaching, he dives into psychology and discusses social issues. Though he is not a history expert, he enjoys learning about it through books, adding a historical touch to his many interests.

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