Until 1918, the Dresden castle had been the residence of the electors and kings of Saxony for almost 400 years. It had been built over many years in different phases of construction and was continously extended and altered, so that numerous styles and architectural eras can be found in it.
As early as in the 13th century, a castle complex stood on this spot. The Hausmannsturm was built at the beginning of the 15th century, and soon after that, the building became a closed four-winged construction. In the course of the 16th century, the Georgenbau (Georges building) with its Georgentor (Georges gate) and a Kanzleihaus (chamber's building) as well as the stable coutyard followed. Major international artists of their time contributed to the numerous new constructions and restructurings of Dresden Castle.
After a big castle fire in 1701, the construction of the Taschenbergpalais and the reconstruction of the destroyed parts of the castle including the Baroque design of numerous interiors followed. The 800th anniversary of the House of Wettin resulted in another comprehensive reconstructuring of Dresden Castle between 1889 and 1901. The façade for example was harmonised in Neo-Renaissance style.
Like the other surrounding buildings, Dresden Castle was destroyed in February 1945. Although there already were plans for a reconstruction in the era of the GDR and first construction work began in the late 1980s, the castle mainly remained a ruin until 1990. As late as after the fall of the Berlin wall, the reconstruction work advanced, so that today a major part of the castle is rebuilt. The construction work is scheduled to be completed in 2013.
However, one of the most famous museums of Dresden , the Grüne Gewölbe (Green Vault) can be visited again in the reconstructed west wing of Dresden Castle. The Grüne Gewölbe was once part of the treasury of the Wettin princes and houses Europe's largest collection of jewels: approx. 4000 objects of gold work, gemstone making and a cherry stone on which 113 faces are carved. In the 18th century, Augustus the Strong opened the collection in imposing Baroque-style rooms to the public. The collection was saved from the destruction of 1945, because it had been taken to Königstein Fortress before the event.
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