Moritzburg is a Baroque palace about 13 kilometres northwest of the Saxon capital, Dresden. The castle has four round towers and lies on a symmetrical artificial island. It is named after Duke Moritz of Saxony, who had a hunting lodge built there between 1542 and 1546. The surrounding woodlands and lakes have been a favourite hunting area of the electors and kings of Saxony.
The Castle Chapel was built in 1661 under the auspices of Elector John George II and consecrated Catholic during the coronation of Augustus the Strong to become the King of Poland. To this day, regular services are held in that chapel.
But Elector Augustus the Strong had yet other plans with Moritzburg Castle. In 1723, major works began to convert it from a Renaissance building into a Baroque hunting and pleasure palace. Here, the Elector wanted to celebrate his excessive feasts and hunts. His dream was to build a 'Temple of Diana', surrounded by exotic animal enclosures with lions, cheetahs and European bisons. Opulent banquets or naval battles staged on the castle pond were also part of this. Architect Matthaeus Daniel Poeppelmann was commissioned with the project. He had further ponds and animal enclosures created – the pheasant-breeding place east of the castle is testimony to this fact. The best Saxon craftsmen and artists collaborated in the providing the interior in the seven halls and more than 200 rooms. The entire piece of art is of great structural clarity and harmony with the landscape. After the death of Augustus the Strong, the conversion remained unfinished.
As late as in 1800 only, the area of the castle was further integrated into the landscape by a great-grandson of the Elector. The Little Pheasant Castle, the harbor and the lighthouse pier were built at the Lower Great Lake Baernsdorf. From 1933 on, Moritzburg Castle was used as a residence by Wettin Prince Ernst Heinrich of Saxony until 1945, when the Wettins were expropriated. Some of their most precious art treasures were buried in the castle park by Prince Ernst Heinrich of Saxony and his sons, but for a few exceptions, these were detected by the Soviet troops and carried off. Only in 1996, several boxes with jewels and gold ornaments on the outside were unearthed by amateur archaeologists and idenmtified as Wettin treasure. Today, Moritzburg is a renowned meeting place for lovers of Saxon Baroque and Meissen porcelain.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.