If you only have one day in Dresden, this is the place to visit. It is the Green Treasury, which is located in Dresden Castle…
Augustus was very fond of diamonds, gold and luxury.
That love went so far, that he brought to the court the alchemist Johann Friedrich Böttger, who declared that he could turn stone into gold.
The plan didn’t work, but something good happened in those attempts. Böttger accidentally made a paste with a colleague, which is considered the forerunner of European porcelain. That secret was hidden in China for many centuries before that. Soon after, a porcelain factory was opened in nearby Meissen. You can see the finest specimens in the museum of the same name in the Zwinger Palace, which i wrote about here. To this day, this remains Augustus’ greatest achievement.
Unable to find a way to make gold, Augustus bought valuables around the world. He invited the most prominent artisans of the time to come and create precious objects. With this, he wanted to surpass other European collections and show his influence and political ambitions.
This is how this impressive collection was created, which is kept in the Green Treasury in the castle. It is the largest collection of European treasures.
It is also the first European museum of crown jewels, which has been open to the public since 1724. because Augustus wanted to share that luxury with the common people, but only if they wore clean clothes. Augustus personally ordered nine exhibition rooms to be furnished in the castle, which were open to the public. That was a big precedent in Europe at the time.
Image of August’s hand drawing taken from wikipedia
The Green Treasury got its name from the malachite pillars, as well as the green velvet, that lined the walls in some parts of the treasury.
During World War II, a part of the collection was irretrievably lost, while the main part was hidden in time in the Königstein fortress. For some time, the collection was in the possession of the USSR, so that, in 1958, was fully returned.
The reconstruction of the treasury began in 1960, and then the collection was divided into two parts. To the Historical Treasury, in which the objects are placed as Augustus did, and the New Green Treasury, in which the individual objects are located. These were generally made by the chief court jeweller, in anti-reflective glass cases. Together, both repositories hold nearly 4,000 items.
The main star of the Green Treasury is the famous and rare Dresden green diamond from India.
The Dresden diamond is one of the largest, with its 41 carats, and it owes its color to its natural radioactivity. The diamond is set into the hat ornament and is surrounded by 411 medium and smaller diamonds.
The Green Treasury suffered another loss, when in 2019 masked robbers stole valuables from the treasury and thereby committed one of the biggest robberies.
The historical loss was much higher. The perpetrators were caught five years later but some parts of the collection are still missing.
The Dresden diamond was on loan in New York at the time of the robbery, so it was safe.
Since then, the security measures are enormous, and one of them is that taking pictures is absolutely prohibited in the old Green Treasury, so you will enjoy pictures from the Internet.
When you enter the treasury, you pass through the double doors. In the space between, the air is sucked out due to dust and only then can you enter. This is because not all specimens are under glass, but on open shelves, exactly as they were once arranged.
Historical green treasury
Objects are grouped by the materials they are made of.
One room stores amber objects.
There are objects such as: bowls, jugs, statues from the 16th century made of amber. One of the main objects is a small secretary that was a gift from the King of Prussia to Augustus.
One room has ivory objects.
The next one stores silver items. There is silverware, which was used by Augustus himself.
One of the most famous specimens from this room is the glass of Ivan the Terrible, which Augustus received as a gift from Peter I the Great.
The Hall of Treasures, the largest room entirely in mirrors, contains vessels made of amber and shells combined with precious stones.
The next room houses the crown jewels of the Saxon/Polish nobility. Behind the glass, there are: necklaces, rings, lockets and jewels. It represents the largest collection of jewelry in Europe and includes the already mentioned Dresden green diamond, as well as a 648-carat sapphire, which was a gift from Peter I the Great. This room was the subject of a robbery in 2019.
The only room with jewelry is in glass cases and in that room is the Moor with the Emeralds. It was made by Balthazar Permoser and court goldsmith Johann Melchior Dinglinger.
The next room contains copper items and swords. It represents a respite from opulence.
The visit ends with the bronze room, which houses bronze figures from the 17th century.
The new treasury upstairs also contains very interesting items, which are displayed individually.
The exhibition contains almost 1000 objects of: gold, silver, precious stones, ivory. They were added to the collection after Augustus’ death.
The collection has an exhibit, which represents the birthday of the Indian Mughal. It is shown with 500 diamonds, 160 rubies, 164 emeralds, one sapphire and 16 pearls, which the king’s jeweler Johann Melchior Dinglinger spent six years making.
This rare specimen cost Augustus a modest 58,485 thalers. Which is equal to the annual salary of 100 servants.
Then, a golden coffee service, composed of 45 parts. It is made of gold, ivory, silver and 5600 diamonds. It was probably the least used for coffee.
Photography is allowed but without flash.
Luxurious items are replaced one after the other.
Also, there are objects made of crystal because in the Middle Ages crystal was highly valued. It was thought to have magical properties, derived from its purity. Because the crystal is so pure, it was thought to symbolize God and the purity of the Virgin Mary. But not everyone agreed with this interpretation. The clergy considered that jewels and crystal, on the contrary, were an insult to God.
This fireplace, with decorations made of porcelain and precious stones, was a gift for the Emperor of Russia Paul I, but since the meeting did not take place, the fireplace was placed in the Green Treasury in 1786. This specimen represents a reconstructed fireplace from the remaining parts of the original, which was destroyed during World War II.
What you need to know
Tickets for the Historic Green Treasury and the New Treasury are separate. Since the Historical Treasury receives only a small number of visitors, I recommend that you buy tickets in advance. If you buy a combined ticket for the Historical Treasury and the Royal Palace, you will be able to visit the New Treasury as well as other settings such as the Turkish Chambers, the Royal Apartments of Augustus the Strong, the Renaissance wing and more.
The audio guide in English is free.
The entire museum is wheelchair accessible.
Like all popular museums, this one is best visited in the morning. Check the opening hours here.
August wanted everyone who visited the Green Treasury to be impressed. It certainly worked for me, because you don’t see a treasury like this every day. August the Strong would be more than satisfied to see the lines of people who want to visit his museum.
Although I came away full of impressions, one question kept running through my head, and that is: who sweeps the dust here?
Have you been to the Green Treasury?
Did I miss something?
Traveled and enjoyed,