Schloß Pillnitz Things to Do Tips by Kathrin_E
Schloß Pillnitz Things to Do: 18 reviews and 67 photos
Flood marks - the arrow points to the 2002 mark
The nightmare of the 2002 flood is vivid in the memories all over the region. Pillnitz palaces have been severely affected, too. This was neither the first flood here, nor will it have been the last. It was, however, one of the highest.
To get an idea about the water levels, check out the flood marks on the river side of the water palais next to the stairs.
Photo 2 approximately indicates what the 2002 water level must have been like.
Camelias are usually known as smallish pot plants in our neck of the woods - this one, however, has grown into a large tree. It is one of the oldest camelias in Europe. In 1776 or 1779 - contradictory dates in different sources - four seedlings came to Kew Gardens from Japan. One was given to Schönbrunn in Vienna, one to Herrenhausen in Hannover, one to Pillnitz, and one stayed in Kew. The Pillnitz plant is the only one that survived. It was planted to its present location in 1802 and has grown here ever since. It blooms every spring from February to April. My photos were taken in September so it is just a green bush.
Camelias are sensitive to winter frost. The plant is protected by a mobile glass house that runs on rails. The present construction was established in 1992 and provides computer-regulated climate control. It covers the plant from late autumn to late spring and is removed for the summer.
The most pleasant way to get from Dresden to Pillnitz and back is a cruise on the river. In former times this pleasure was not available for everyone but King and Elector August the Strong obviously enjoyed it a lot. Two pretty gondolas, a green and a red one, were built to transport him and carefully selected companions on the Elbe. On the riverside of the water palace stairs lead down to the water, these served as boat landing.
The red gondola is on display in the hedge garden. The green one, unfortunately, does not exist any more.
The so-called English pavillon is actually a copy of an Italian building - Bramante's Tempietto in Rome. The setting is lovely. It is situated next to a pond in the late 18th century landscape garden.
Photo hint - catch the reflection.
The interior can only be visited with a guided tour.
August the Strong, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony, planned to turn the existing renaissance palace into an oriental paradise to create himself a getaway within day trip distance from the court in Dresden. The palaces and gardens of Pillnitz were entirely meant for leasure, amusement and play. August's son Friedrich August III. then promoted Pillnitz to Saxony's official summer residence.
The buildings were designed in 'Chinese' style. Of course the architects and artists of his time did not know that much about China. They had seen some drawings and prints and used their imagination to invent an oriental paradise. Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann planned the Water Palace (Wasserpalais) right on the river bank and the parallel Mountain Palace (Bergpalais) towards the hills. Together with the older palace they framed a wide garden courtyard.
The old renaissance palace burnt down in 1818. It was substituted by the 19th century New Palace (Neues Palais).
More photos in the travelogue
Have a closer look at the facades of the two Chinese palaces. They are painted all over with scenes from Chinese life - pure imagination of European 18th century artists, of course.
The park was first designed in baroque style with geometrical hedges and parterres, later enlarged by English landscape gardens with small garden architectures like the English and the Chinese pavillon.
The New Palace contains the Palace Museum. Water Palace and Mountain Palace are occupied by the Arts and Crafts Museum of the Dresden State Art Collection. There is not much left of the 18th century interiors but some 19th century rooms are well preserved.
Opening hours of the museums and other information for visitors
The park is open from 5 a.m. till dusk. The visit to the park is free.
Directions: How to get there by public transport:
- Bus 83 from Dresden-Blasewitz and -Loschwitz
- Tram 1 or bus 88 to the final station "Kleinzschachwitz", then cross the Elbe by ferry
- bus P from Pirna
Recommendation: do one way by Elbe cruise boat.
While the 'Chinese' palaces of Pillnitz are an European fantasy, the little Chinese Pavillon, which was only built in 1804, was planned after real Chinese architecture. In the meantime books with copper engravings showing examples and principles of Chinese art and architecture had been published, so architects knew much more about the real China than 80 years earlier.
The interior can only be seen during guided tours.
Plan of palaces and park
The plan shows the three palaces that surround the rectangular garden courtyard and the long alley that runs parallel to the river bank. On both sides of the alley we see small rectangular hedge gardens. Another axis of alleyawys extends to the right. The outer areas show irregular plans, these are the late 18th century English landscape gardens. The streets and houses of the village outside the park are marked in pale grey.
The photo format does not fit in the frame the tip page sets - click the photo to see the whole plan.
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Kathrin_E's Related Pages
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