Exploring Dresden's Scholssplatz
As we were waiting for our guided walking tour of the city, Dan and I took a break in the Schloßplatz. The Schloßplatz, or Palace Square, is the main square in the old town district of Dresden. It is named the Palace Square since the former royal residence resides right on the edge of the plaza. A balcony down from the residence looks out over the area below so that the Royals could take a peek at the people of their city going about their lives. The Schloßplatz also houses the Catholic Church, the court houses of Saxony, the Georgentor, and Augustus Bridge the over the River Elbe. Like most other parts of the old city, the Palace Square the 15th-century designs of the square was destroyed in the WWII bombings. The building has been laboriously restored to their original historic design.
The Katholische Hofkirche, or Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, was the center of Catholicism in Dresden. The church was commission by Augustus III after his father had previously built a historical Protestant church on the other side of the old town. Augustus III wanted a place for his Catholic subjects to come and practice their chosen religions. This church now houses the crypts of some of the most power people from Saxon history.
The original church was built in 1738 and completed in 1755. Both the inside and the outside of the church has been restored since the bombing, but you can still make out parts of the old church as the colour of the old sandstone is darkened from oxidization. When first designed, the Church was built in the high Baroque style. The shape of the church is a giant oval fronted with an intricate facade complete with bell tower and copper onion domes. Surrounding the church are dozens of balustrades from which seventy-eight statues of historical and biblical figures look out over the city. Each statue is a towering 10 feet tall and therefore can be made out easily from the streets below. Inside the Cathedral are historical pieces of Ecclesiastical art such as the masterpiece organ built by renowned organ builder Gottfried Silbermann as well as the over the top Rococo pulpit made by Balthasar Permoser.
The Saxon Ständehaus is the former parliament building and now the headquarters of the High Regional Court of Dresden and the State Office for Monument Preservation Saxony. After the war, this building was turned into museums, both for State Zoology and Mineralogy but in 1999 after all the construction was finished, the state of Saxony's historical society thought it was time to take back their seat in the heart of Dresden and moved back into the building.
The Georgentor or Georgenbau is my favorite building on the square. It is the first building built in Renaissance and neo-renaissance style in Dresden. The Georgentor was originally constructed to serve at both an entrance and exit for people coming to and from the city.
The facade of the building is covered in religious topics. The figures of life and death guard the entrance and above them the motto "Per invidia Diaboli Mors Intravit In Orbs" (Through the devil's envy death entered into the world) is etched into the stone.
In the center of the square lies the Monument to Friedrich August I, "The Righteous". He sits in a seated position facing the Georgentor, watching people come in and out of the city he helped build.
The Augustus Bridge is right opposite the square and leads people in and out of the "Neue Town" across the Elbe. The bridge is the oldest in the city built between 1907 and 1910. There has always been a bridge erected in this position since the 12th century but time and innovations have caused different bridges to be built and subsequently torn down over time. The bridge us built with sandstone complete with nine arches to provide a wider opening for river traffic.
Across the square, there was horse drawn carriage rides for sale and as much as these things are a cheezy way of getting about town if you have the money to spend, the almost museum-like, historical recreations of Dresden's Old Town are the best complement for a horse-drawn carriage ride. It was one of our favorite spots just to relax and people watch while resting our feet and thinking about where we were off to next.