Posts tagged with "saxony"

SAXONY. STATE OF THE ARTS.

Known as the cultural heartland of Germany, the state of Saxony in eastern Germany, presents its rich collections of art from the Middle Ages to contemporary galleries and installations in its new brochure, The Allure of Art: History, Museums and Workplaces. From the 22 collections in Dresden’s State Art Collection to the hipster galleries in Leipzig and surprising hotspots, such as Chemnitz, Saxony is flooded with no less than 69 places of intriguing art and history supported by four different schools and a myriad of additional private collections in castles and homes.

Amid the extraordinary architecture and castles in Saxony, there are incomparable art collections and museums throughout the entire state and especially in the cultural capitals of Dresden, Leipzig and Chemnitz. From the extraordinary Dresden State Art Collection to the galleries of Leipzig and the lesser known yet important collections in Chemnitz, the quality of the art and the pieces are world class, and are highly historical as the acquisitions and donations reflect the political, social and economic atmosphere of Germany at the time.

Art in Dresden

Art in Dresden is a multifaceted affair going back centuries. The extraordinary collections of the State Art Collection were started in 1560 by the rulers of the Wettin dynasty which ruled for 829 years. Thereafter, the Wettin rulers continually added to the collections with the massive contributor being Augustus the Strong, the “Saxon Sun King.” As a young elector of Saxony and King of Poland, Augustus was one of Europe’s strongest leaders and wanted an art collection that represented his power and interests. Augustus the Strong created Dresden into the baroque city it is today. He built, amongst others, the Zwinger Museum, the Taschenbergpalais, Pillnitz Palace, expanded the Royal Palace, constructed the new bridge and supported the construction of the Church of Our Lady which fitted in nicely with his plan to turn Dresden into the “Venice of the North.” He also was the initiator of Meissen Porcelain in 1710 which became Saxony’s most lucrative export business and set a new cultural standard for Europe. Still today, visitors relish a trip to the Meissen factory where they can see it being made and painted and even choose to dine on the porcelain. The porcelain collection in the Zwinger Palace is considered the finest in the world today.

During his reign, Augustus the Strong went on a buying spree, the results of which are still spread throughout Dresden’s collections. He installed most of his collections in what is today called the Green Vault (Grünes Gewölbe) and this baroque treasury is one of the world’s most extraordinary collections, and includes Dinglinger’s “Royal Household of the Grand Mogul Aureng-Zeb” and the 41-carat Green Diamond.As early as 1724, the rooms of the Grünes Gewölbe were opened to the public. Augustus’ son continued his father’s passion for collection and he focused on paintings and, over time, Dresden became a city of intellectual and artistic elite with a famous art academy.

The Venetian painter, Bernardo Bellotto (otherwise known as Canaletto) and, some years later, the romanticists including Caspar David Friedrich all congregated in Dresden. Today, the Dresden State Art Collection includes 22 separate museums and collections from the galleries of the new and old masters to the Grassi musical instrument museum in Leipzig. The Municipal Art Gallery also offers a rich overview of the development of 20th century art in Dresden.

Outside of Dresden’s city center and in the vicinity are several important house museums and libraries that are home to important art collections. The Kuegelgen House in Dresden-Neustadt has a rich assortment of the Dresden Romanticists; the Saxon State and University Library has famous Maya and French as well as 700 medieval manuscripts. The Robert Sterl House on the banks of the River Elbe is one of the most popular starting points for hikes through Saxon Switzerland and it houses over 100 paintings from different creative periods of the Saxon impressionist. Käthe Kollwitz was the most significant German graphic artist and sculptor of the 20th century and her house in Moritzburg is where she lived the last part of her life and died. The upper floor of the house gives an overview of five decades of her creations.

Art in Leipzig

Many people know Leipzig as the city of music as Bach, Telemann, Schumann, Wagner and Mendelssohn, among many other musical greats who worked and lived in Leipzig. Other people know Leipzig as the city whose citizens brought the Communist regime in East Germany down with peaceful demonstrations. Everyone is right but what is also true is that Leipzig is now one of Europe’s most sophisticated contemporary art markets with galleries and work spaces sprouting and growing, including the Spinnerei, a former cotton spinning mill where many artists from the New Leipzig School work to this day. In the 1990s, the New Leipzig School burst on the international art scene and set a style and a vibe in Leipzig that has attracted a whole new group of expressive and contemporary young artists to the city.

Unlike Dresden’s art collection founded by royalty, Leipzig’s art collection, known originally as the Municipal Art Association, was started in 1837 by wealthy merchants. Over the years, the collection grew to comprise a wide range of important artists and paintings from Caspar David Friedrich, Ludwig Richter to Cranach and Holbein. After the destruction of the museum and relocation after WWII, the collection focused on works of the proletarian revolution art as well as the expressionism of the Leipzig School. Later, in the 1990s, the collection bought many pieces from the New Leipzig School

Other important art destinations in Leipzig include the Gallery of Contemporary Art in the former villa of the newspaper publisher Edgar Herfurth which has about 1,500 objects by 300 artists and focuses on the post reunification period; the German Museum of Books and Writing that is home to the Elizabeth Manuscript and the Nuremberg Chronicle; the art collection at the Tuebke Villa which includes not only works by the Realist painter but also the permanent collection of the Frankfurt patron, Fritz Mayer. And, the G2 Kunsthalle shows the private collection of Steffen Hildebrand where the focus is on contemporary painting in Leipzig as well as renown painters from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

Art in Chemnitz

The Chemnitz Art Collections are truly an extraordinary assemblage of art through the ages. In the city once relegated to history as the Karl Marx Stadt, Chemnitz offers a surprising compilation of world class art. Started by the bourgeoisie in 1909, the collection includes 19th century paintings from Max Liebermann and Ludwig Richter among others to sculptures by Auguste Rodin and Edgar Degas as well as artists from German Modernity, such as Georg Kolbe. As Chemnitz was a textile region, it also has a significant collection of fabric prints and fashion textiles and an unusual inventory of 4,000 stockings going back to 1900. Museum Gunzenhauser was opened in 2007 and includes more than 2,400 works by artists of Classical Modernism and nearly 400 works by Otto Dix and the Russian Expressionist Alexey von Jawlensky. The Schlossberg Museum in a former monastery with its Gothic sculptures and the New Saxon Gallery in Chemnitz round out what is a very worthwhile triangle with Dresden and Leipzig.

Art in Churches

Art in churches is prolific throughout Saxony. As Saxony became wealthy with the discovery of iron ore, gold and silver mining, the people built churches with lavish altars and art. St. Anne’s Church in Annaberg is home to the famous Bergaltar by Hans Hesse, depicting the mining in the Ore Mountains in the 16th century, the Tree of Jesse altar and the beautiful door by Hans Witten whose unique Tulip Pulpit can be found in Freiberg Cathedral; sculptures by Peter Breuer adorn the church in Zwickau. Lucas Cranach the Elder emerged in the time of the Reformation under Frederick the Wise, and through his art and publications, he played a valuable role in spreading Luther’s reputation. His numerous paintings and altarpieces can still be seen throughout Saxony with over 50 of them in Dresden alone. The Cranach studio tended to dominate the church art and decoration of 15thand 16th centuries. In Zittau, the Great Zittau Lenten Veil hangs in the Museum of the Church of the Holy Cross and it shows 90 scenes from the old and new testaments and is one of the few remaining textiles from the 15th century.

In addition to these classic museums and galleries, the art scene in Saxony consists of two art colleges, regional galleries, private collections and temporary exhibitions and new and creative locations for young artists and their works.

Dresden’s Ice World 

 

 

Dresden’s Eiswelt (Ice World) Adds a New and Festive 

Dimension to the Saxon City’s Christmas Appeal

In the eastern German state of Saxony, the Christmas markets are famous for their parades, Stollen, wooden nutcrackers, spinning pyramids and beautiful handcrafted goods. Dresden is one of the oldest markets in Germany known especially for its Stollen. Now this beautiful city has added a new winter attraction: the Dresden Eiswelt, or Ice World, where singular sculptures are worth a visit.

  

Saxony’s state capital of Dresden is admired for its beautiful architecture and extraordinary music and museums. Known as the Florence on the Elbe, every year tourists come to the city to visit the beautiful winding streets and alleyways, the re-creation of its grand buildings, including the Semper Opera, the Church of Our Lady, the royal castle and the Zwinger museums among many others. Ending a year of new things, the Dresden Eiswelt is a sparkling new winter attraction, and yet another reason to visit this beautiful city during the pre-Christmas season.

 

Located in a former factory near the Dresden Military History Museum, the Dresden Eiswelt is open to February 25, 2018. Sculptures adorn a large exhibition hall in a former factory and include 15 extraordinary figures from fairy tales and Christmas stories, such as the woman Holle, Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol, the Grinch, the Blue Wonder (Dresden’s most famous bridge), the Church of Our Lady, a bobsleigh and the Prince and the Mouse King from The Nutcracker among many others. There is food and warm drinks for sale and a visit to the Dresden Military History Museum with the redesigned armory by Daniel Liebeskind is definitely worth an extra bit of time.

 

This year Dresden is celebrating its 583rd Striezelmarkt in the Altmarkt. Over 230 festive booths, the scent of mulled wine and roasting almonds create a beautiful Christmas scene from November 29 to December 24. A German Christmas specialty is the Stollen, and the Dresdner Christstollen, known to locals as ‘Striezel,’ is the most famous. In 1491, Pope Innocent VIII revoked the ban on butter and sent Dresden the ‘Butterbrief,’ or Butter Letter, that allowed the bakers to use richer ingredients, creating the Stollen we know today.  The ‘Striezel’ or Dresden

Christstollen is so beloved in Dresden that they linked it to the Christmas market, where the Striezel was first sold around 1500. In 1730, Augustus the Strong, one of Saxony’s most famous electoral princes and biggest Stollen enthusiasts asked Dresden’s bakers to create a giant Stollen.  It took 100 bakers and their assistants to create a Stollen that weighed 1.8 tons. This year, the Stollen is said to be four tons and a group of people will carry it to the Christmas market where it will be cut in pieces and served to everyone.  

 

Christmas in Dresden is a true delight as there are many holiday activities, including further Christmas markets, and musical performances in addition to shopping and sightseeing. The Dresden Philharmonic will give three concerts on the 24, 25 and 26 of December in the new concert hall at the Kulturpalast; Bach’s Oratorio and many other concerts will be performed by various choirs at the Church of Our Lady (the Frauenkirche), the Church of the Holy Cross (Kreuzkirche), and the Dresden Zwinger. To round out a perfect day, visitors like to ice skate on the seasonal rink in the yard of the Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski Dresden, the city’s premier hotel, located in the former crown prince’s palace. Christmas in Dresden is fit for kings after all!

Via Romantika

 

Saxony Presents its Via Romantika

Threading Places of Beauty and Intrigue

The symbol of the Via Romantika is the four-leaf clover, which is not only a symbol of luck but also represents a piece of paradise according to legend. Saxony Tourism has strung together 34 paradisical, romantic, intriguing and historical places of interest and beauty that entertain and inform and provide a perfect itinerary for Americans seeking to spend a week in a bit of paradise.

Saxony’s Via Romantika leads to historic towns, beautiful landscapes, numerous castles and palaces, the manufacturers of famous high-quality products and the most beautiful photo motifs. The route connects Saxony, the State of the Arts, with the Czech Republic and Poland crossing the “Autobahn” motorway route from Prague to Berlin twice, thus offering immediate access. From the Czech capital, for example, one can reach Pirna in 90 minutes, and 15 minutes later one arrives in Dresden. The overall length of the Via Romantika, which can be travelled in both directions, is 685 km or 425 miles. This translates into a travel time of about 16 hours for the whole distance.

The Via Romantika can be a perfect way to structure an itinerary in Saxony starting from either end or in the middle and taking in parts of the route. Overall there are 34 stops, the so-called “anchor points,” — some might take one or two hours while others can demand one’s attention for the entire day. The first stop is appropriately only a 30 minute drive from Dresden and is one of the famous castle homes of the Wettin Dynasty that ruled Saxony for 829 years. Weesenstein Castle has extraordinary architecture from the Middle Ages matched by a beautiful garden in the adjacent valley with a river running through it.

The next stop is the Ore Mountains which are beautiful all year long but have a special meaning at Christmas time not least due to the folk art that was invented in the region. Probably the most well-known today are the nutcracker and the incense smoker but there are also the precious watches made in the town of Glashütte which are meticulously hand-crafted, and rank among the finest in the world. No less intricate are the charming Christmas creations on sale at the over 100 years old Wendt & Kuhn, a company that practically embodies the picture of Christmas charm with their wooden ornaments and figurines. The Ore Mountains also include the mining town of Freiberg with its extraordinary mineral museum and Annaberg-Buchholz with its beautiful St. Anne’s cathedral.

The former royal family also built the Augustusburg, a large hunting castle in the Ore Mountains, and the Albrechtsburg in Meissen, Germany’s oldest palace. Meissen became the first production site of the oldest European porcelain, known as Meissen porcelain, or Dresden China. Today, visitors can watch the modern day production at the nearby Meissen State Porcelain Manufatory, dine on Meissen porcelain, visit the museum and shop at the store and the outlet. The town of Meissen can easily absorb three quarters of a day with the porcelain tour, the palace and the gothic cathedral, the charming streets and shops and excellent restaurants overseeing the valley.

From the town of Meissen, the River Elbe curves its way through the picturesque riverbanks and meadows on its way to Dresden. Along the river also runs the Saxon Wine Route. Stretching just over 34 miles by car and about 50 miles by foot, the Saxon Wine Route is a charming way to experience the Saxon countryside. Many of the stops, including the beautiful and cultural Saxon towns of Pirna, Meissen and Dresden, renowned for their art, architecture, history and castles, are also part of the Via Romantika. One can visit vineyards, sample wines in traditional taverns and enjoy cycling along the Elbe Cycle Route that parallels sections of the wine road. The Saxon State Winery at the Castle Wackerbarth is a wonderful stop that has outdoor dining, excellent tours and tastings and trails to explore the wine hills on foot.

Bigger, more modern, and more beautiful. Sound familiar? That’s how it was supposed to be in Saxony too. Close to the one-time modest Wackerbarth winery, the hunting lodge of elector Maurice, in German “Moritz”, became a magnificent castle and hunting lodge under the “Saxon Sun King” Augustus the Strong. The castle is famous for its beautiful setting on an artificial island and as home to the Moritzburg Music Festival. The stallion parades in September are especially wonderful, and the historic steam-operated narrow-gauge railway runs from Radebeul to Radeburg every day with a stop in Moritzburg.

In Dresden, every cobble-stoned street is romantic and beautiful. The inner city has been recreated building by building in its original style before the firebombing of 1945. The Royal Palace, with its four extraordinary museums, and the Zwinger Palace, which holds another four museums, comprise the vital organs of the extensive Dresden State Art Collection. Steps away, visitors can take a paddle steamer down the river past a row of villas on the river bank to the Pillnitz Palace, the summer home of Augustus the Strong. Today, it also is home to Dresden State Arts Collection’s arts and crafts museum. Right on the river, the Pillnitz Palace has a four star hotel adjacent to the castle, a perfect place from which to explore the wine route and the Elbe River Valley.

One of the least talked about places in Saxony and that eludes many tourists is Rammenau Castle. It is well worth the trip however as visitors can admire the exotic tapestries in the Chinese Room from the baroque period as well as the so-called “Devil’s Room” with its references to Greek mythology. The perfectly preserved castle hosts concerts in its elegant dining room, meals in the historic dining salons and visitors can even stay overnight in the stylishly furnished castle suites

In the far eastern border of Saxony, the town of Bautzen is the capital of the Sorbs, the descendants of the Slavic peoples that used to live all over Saxony. Only in Bautzen were they able to preserve their culture and language which is why the city and its surroundings are bilingual. The town is also very popular for its mustard that can be tasted in different shops, at the “Mustard Restaurant,” or at the Hammermühle mill in the lower part of town. On the border with Poland, Görlitz’s charms have also been discovered by Hollywood: During the past years, Oscar-winning masterpieces were filmed in “Görliwood”, including “Grand Budapest Hotel” and “The Reader,” as well as “Inglourious Bastards” and the Jackie Chan version of “Around the World in 80 Days.” You can discover all the film locations during bookable tours and feel close to your favorite movie star.  Very recently, Görlitz was voted “European Film Location of the Decade.”

Rounding out the Via Romantika are the Saxon Switzerland National Park; the Königstein Fortress on one of its table mountains; the town of Grossschönau where some of Europe’s finest damask is still made to this day; the St. Marienthal Convent where you can enjoy the sisters’ delicious beer and an overnight; Herrnhut where Count von Zinzendorf founded the Moravian Church and spread this message to the world; the town of Zittau and the glorious ruins of the Oybin Castle and monastery which are a delight for photographers!

More detailed information on the Via Romantika is available at www.viaromantika.com and for general information on Saxony please visit

Saxony, State of the Arts