Visiting the Theaterplatz and the Semperopera, Dresden
The Dresden Theaterplatz (Theatre Square) is the main square which occupies the space in from of the Semperopera. This was one of the squares we frequently would be caught walking through and was for sure one of my favourite places. If you're entering the Theaterplatz from the Zwinger gates, you see the statue of King John in the centre, the Semperopera on the left and the Dresden Catholic Church and Royal Residence on the right.
Let's start right in the centre. Standing in the centre, looming high above you is the equestrian statue of Saxon King Johann built in 1889 by Johannes Schilling. King John ruled over Saxony from 1854 - 1873. In 1871 he fought alongside the-the German Empire to take the Prussian empire in a long fought but successful battle. The King loved literature and the arts and as such, his statue being housed beside the Opera house seems fitting.
The largest building and most important here is the Semper Opera house. The Saxon State Opera is home to a large concert hall, the State Orchestra and the Semperoper Ballet. The Semper Opera House, once known as the Hoftheater was first built in 1841, but that is not the building you see here today.
It's the first architect Gottfried Semper, of which the building is now named, created an early Renaissance and styled baroque buildings complete with Corinthian pillars typical of Greek Revivalist Architecture. There are usually three types of Greek pillars. The Corinthian pillars are the most elaborate and most fitting for being combined with any renaissance or baroque architecture. This was one regarded as one of the most beautiful buildings in European history. But in 1869 a devastating fire broke out and all but turned the Opera House into rubble. The Opera house has become a cultural centre for the city, and its people got to rebuilding it right away.
The original architect's son, Manfred Semper, took over building the new Opera house using the plans from his father and some new Neo-Renaissance styles to update it for the new era. This building was completed in 1878, but this building also would not stand for long. In 1945, the bombing of Dresden destroyed most of the Opera house, and it has to be, once again, rebuilt. The building standing here today is almost an replica of the one that Semper's son built in 1878 but with the addition of modern machinery. The Semperoper reopened with the opera that was performed just before the building's destruction in 1945, Carl Maria von Weber's "Der Freischütz". The opera house has been home to some of the biggest names in the business including Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. The interior and outer mosaics are all made up for traditional baroque characteristics. The colours are bright but fall into a pastel palette popular of the Baroque. The use of marble and various decorative motifs throughout adds to the opulence the aristocracy would be enveloped into when they walked in the doors of the opera house.
On the top of the building sits a giant bronze statue a Panther quadriga with Dionysus and Ariadne. Dionysos is the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness, fertility, theatre and religious ecstasy in Greek mythology. No surprise he and his bride made the top of the list bring the masses through their gates. So many Greek myths and tragedies have influenced Operas throughout history so it is even more fitting to have this scene atop the roof of the Semperoper.
Along the portals in between the columns are depictions of famous artists such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, William Shakespeare, Sophocles, Molière and Euripides. They have learned men who influenced many writers and musicians who would have had their music and art displayed within these walls.
Along the edges of the Theaterplatz is a large wing of the Zwinger Palace. This is the Gemälderie Alte Meister, an art gallery; I couldn't recommend more! You can also walk along the beautifully manicured flower beds of the Zwinger and two nineteenth-century fountains that are set out in front of the Zwinger.
After walking around the Theaterplatz for a time, I decided it was time for a snack. We stopped in a Cafe Schinkelwache. The Café Schinkelwache is a classic coffee house known for their tradition in Dresden.
I couldn't resist trying their blueberry cake and a nice warm pot of tea to go along with it. Dan was exhausted and decided to call it a day, so I took the time along to plan out the next day's adventures and reflect on all the things we'd seen.
The Restaurant itself was quiet and other than a few stragglers; it was just me and a few servers walking around. The restaurant's walls were covered in antiques and vintage ephemera. Made you feel like this was the same kinda place people would have visited after the opera hundreds of years ago. It was slightly chilly the day we visited, but they had a huge patio where you could sit and watching tourists come and go from the square as well as catch an outdoor concert if you were lucky!