Dresden Fortress (A)
Johann Friedrich Boettger played a real trick to attract the world’s attention to him: He pretended to be able to make gold. Since he was a trained apothecary, everybody believed him and it took no wonder that the rulers courted him. Eventually, Augustus the Strong was able to settle the dispute in his favour and had Boettger brought to Dresden. In the search for a suitable place for making gold, the casemates in the Dresden Fortress suggested themselves as appropriate. Perfect conditions were found there to perform scientific experiments in quiet seclusion and in strict secrecy. In January 1708, Johann Friedrich Boettger, jointly with von Tschirnhaus, invented the European hard-paste porcelain. In the Dresden Fortress, which Augustus the Strong also termed »Bastion Venus«, you can still explore the cannon yards, underground bridges and Dresden’s oldest preserved town gate.
Further to Station B – Meissen Albrechtsburg Castle, approx. 27 km
Albrechtsburg Castle (B)
As early as in summer 1710, Augustus the Strong relocated the manufactory to Albrechtsburg Castle in Meissen. There was sufficient space there and, first of all, the recipe of porcelain-making could be kept a well-hidden secret there.
The time of the porcelain manufactory is revived in the new permanent exhibition: Those who keep their ears and eyes wide open may trace the history of porcelain-making in short and thrilling stories and hear the space-filling sound made by the workmen. The digital laboratory is certainly of interest to both the young and the young-at-heart: Have a go at making porcelain yourself and have your own self-made pot fired. At Albrechtsburg Castle you can learn more about the unusual architecture of the first palace built in Germany. Feel as if you were put into a »painted picture book« and learn more about the regional history of rulers and lands.
Further to Station C - Dresden Zwinger, approx. 26 km
Dresden Zwinger (C)
All the splendour of the White Gold can be admired in the Porcelain Collection of the Dresden State Art Collections in the Zwinger. The collection was founded by Augustus the Strong in 1715. Today it comprises about 20,000 pieces of porcelain art. What is on show is not only life-size animals of porcelain, such as monkeys and lions, from the Meissen production, but also finest traditional East-Asian porcelain, mainly dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. It is not just for nothing that the collection ranks among the largest and qualitatively most precious of its kind.
However, porcelain is not just a visual pleasure, it can also be a feast to the ears: in the Zwinger yard, right behind the entrance to the Porcelain Collection, there is the Glockenspiel Pavilion. 40 porcelain bells manufactured in Meissen delight visitors to the Zwinger several times a day playing tunes by Vivaldi or Carl Maria von Weber.
How an apothecary changed the world: It is a story written by people with a great deal of curiosity, inquisitiveness and an affection for beautiful things. For one part, there was the Elector Augustus the Strong who indulged in the pleasures of life, but was little successful in the military respect. And, for the other, there was the scholar from Upper Lusatia, Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus. He was not only well-educated in physics and mathematics, but also knowledgeable in mineralogy and alchemy. Johann Friedrich Boettger, the apothecary and alchemist from Thuringia, did not exactly volunteer in what later turned out to be his great contribution to inventing the white European hard-paste porcelain. What the two of them invented proved to be of great effect for the Elector: The gaping deficit in the state’s treasury could be balanced a little. In the end, it was only to substitute one of the Elector’s addictions for another – the »maladie de porcelaine« or porcelain disease.
There is much to explore in the quest for the stories behind the White Gold. And the historical places of action and a large part of the Saxon Elector’s porcelain collection can still be seen today. Allow yourself to be infected by the »maladie de porcelaine«.