Nearly 60 years after it was destroyed, Dresden celebrated the Green Vault's baroque glory on Tuesday. The legendary collection of 18th century treasures includes a cherry pit with 113 faces.
Enamel guards at Delhi's court have returned to their Dresden home
The "New Green Vault" in the largely restored palace of August the Strong (1670-1733) opened Wednesday to the public with over virtually priceless 1,000 artifacts.
"This is an important step on a long path, at the end of which the palace will be one of the most significant museums in Europe," Georg Milbradt, premier of the German state of Saxony, said at a ceremony in Dresden's opulent baroque Semper Opera House.
"Daphne" drinking vessel, silver, gold plate, coral, Abraham Jamnitzer, Nuremberg, late 16th century
All together, the 4,000 artifacts in the Green Vault are a testimony to Saxon Elector and Polish King August the Strong's passion for collecting and to the skills of Saxon and European gold smiths and jewelers.
"It is not the rebirth of the Augustinian treasure chamber museum, but instead the contribution of the 21st century to the history of collecting, a gift from the past to the present and the future," Director Dirk Sydram said.
The vast collection, which the king started in 1723, includes copper etchings and gold-filigreed ornaments, and a cherry pit in which at least 113 faces were carved -- an earlier count, in 1595, put the number at 185. The pit, had been a gift to one of August the Strong's forebears.
Golden coffee service, wood, gold, silber, gold plate, enamel, ivory, precious stones, Johann Melchior Dinglinger and others, Dresden, 1697-1701
For two years, work has been underway to restore palace, which housed the Green Vault in eight rooms of its west wing until World War II. Work on the vault alone has cost around €25 million (around $30 million).
Most of the artifacts had already been moved to safety, when three of the eight rooms of the Green Vault were destroyed by Allied bombers in February 1945. After the war, they were confiscated by the Red Army and sent to the Soviet Union. The collection was finally returned to Dresden in 1958, where it has been on show at the Albertinum Museum for the past three decades.
Nearly 3,000 more valuables from the collection are due to be returned to the restored historic rooms of the Green Vault next to the modern new rooms where the current exhibit opened in late 2006.