111op's Trip Report for Germany & Vienna

Old Oct 11th, 2006, 09:43 AM
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111op: you say extra days are 20 euros - did you buy the pass in Germany? I though only 5- and 10-day passes were sold there or do they indeed sell the 4-day pass with chance to add on extra days? Or did you buy it in the U.S. and were converting to euros? Just curious. PalQ. Did you have a first or second class pass? Thanks for you detailed response already.
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 11:19 AM
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Vienna Philharmonic Tickets

Check this page for details:
http://www.wienerphilharmoniker.at/i...cpage=concerts

I clicked on the concert I was interested in and called the number given. I was told to call back one week in advance. Since the concert was on a Sunday I was asked to call on a Monday.

I gave my name and was told that a spot would be reserved from 10-10:30 am (for an 11 am concert). I asked for standing room (4.50 euros).

As I mentioned, I picked up my ticket at 12 Kartner Ring (not Musikverein). You should check to see where you should be picking up your ticket.

Since the concert I went to called for a small orchestra, they also set up seats on the stage (39 euros). I doubt this would be possible if you're hearing the Bruckner 8 (for example).

For the concert I went to, I think that advance reservation was unnecessary. I could have arrived in Vienna and gotten a ticket.

Staatsoper Tickets

I was checking the opera house out for a friend, who wanted me to ask about ticket sales. I got to the opera house and then realized that the ticket office wasn't in the opera house.

It's on Operngasse (I forget the number), in a modern looking facility.

There were still 9 euro box seats.

Standing room goes on sale 80 minutes prior to each performance, I believe -- some on orchestra level (3.50 euros?), some in nosebleed (2 euros). I think I was told there're 500+ tickets for standing room. However they were sold out for a Magic Flute performance the night prior. People started queuing 3 hours in advance for that performance.

I'm not as familiar with the advance sale procedure for Staatsoper because I wasn't planning to go to an opera initially.

I believe the box office at Staatsoper did open prior to curtain. I still saw that 9 euro seats were available. It's "Peter Grimes," after all. I bet standing room wouldn't have been a problem.

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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 11:29 AM
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German Rail Pass

I got it from BETS:

http://www.budgeteuropetravel.com/id9.html

It was sent to me by two-day (three-day?) FedEx for a $10 fee. I had less than three weeks before departure, so this was suggested. Otherwise there's no fee. I believe, but I'm not sure, that if your order is $200 or more, RailEurope doesn't charge shipping -- so I could have ordered from RailEurope.

I got some free maps and time schedules from BETS. But I printed out all the schedules I needed from bahn.de by utilizing this web page:

http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en

You should be careful as to where the train leaves and investigate if there're short cuts. For example, my early train for Dresden left from Berlin-Lichtenberg, not Hbf.

As Ingo suggested, using Dresden-Neustadt (instead of Hbf) saved me time for Zwinger.

Also because my hotel was near Anhalter Bahnhof, the Sudkreuz station was more convenient than Hbf. I could switch to S-bahn without changing again. (Of course this assumes the train you're taking passes through that station.)

Deutsche Bahn on German rail pass:

http://tinyurl.com/pk9jm

I said 20 euros as an approximation even though I bought it from BETS. Indeed the page said that you can only buy 5-day or 10-day passes in Germany (I didn't attempt this).

Given current exchange rates, the euro prices and the BETS/Rail Europe prices are pretty much equivalent.

As I mentioned, I believe that you would save about 40 euros for the cable car at Zugspitze, so it would be worthwhile to get an additional day on the pass for this ride.

I used a 2nd class rail pass.

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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 11:30 AM
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I've not forgotten about the Green Vaults yet. I just need to refresh my memory about what I saw there. I'll write more when I've the time for it.
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 11:32 AM
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By the way, a correction.

The Cranach exhibition was in Alte Meister (Dresden) and not in Munich. As you can probably understand after seeing so much art it all starts to blur.
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 11:37 AM
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Terrific report, as always. I'm putting it in my Vienna 2007 file.

Thanks!

Maureen
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 11:55 AM
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Thanks mvor.

And thanks to everyone who answered my questions re the trip.

Art Links

These art links may be useful for those interested. I just happened upon Rick Steves, and what he writes is actually not bad. I only knew about the Munich one before I went, but I forgot to take it with me to the museum.

Rick Steves

Kunsthistorisches Museum
http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/desti...unstmuseum.htm

Alte Pinakothek/Munich
http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/desti...any/munich.htm

Nick Trend

In a nice series written for Telegraph, Nick Trend offers the top 20 for the world's top museums.

Kunsthistorisches Museum
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/ma...etfkunst22.xml

Gemaldegalerie/Berlin

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/ma...lerygemald.xml

Finally an essentially reference for me is this book by Patrick de Rynck:

http://www.amazon.com/How-Read-Paint.../dp/0810955768

There're about 180 paintings listed in this book. It's heavily biased towards the Flemish and Dutch schools, but I think that I've safely crossed the halfway mark. Some paintings I'll probably never see -- like something in Volterra.

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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 02:57 PM
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I appreciate the art links. Now I can't wait to return to Munich. So much art, so little time!
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 04:50 PM
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Wow, 111op, this is really terrific! I am so happy your early train ride to Dresden resulted in tickets to the Green Vault. The collection, you're right. It's beyond compare.

I need to read about how they actually hid their treasures during the years of the war. Where did they put the paintings, sculptures, etc.? Do you know?

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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 05:36 PM
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Hi kopp, I don't know how they kept their artwork during the war. I don't think they removed everything -- or at least -- perhaps not securely. The Alte Meister collection was in the Soviet Union for about ten years, I think, until it was returned in the 1950s. I think the official stance was that the Soviet Union took the artwork for safekeeping.

When I was at the new Green Vault, I saw some photos of a woman who I think was some sort of curator there. I took a quick look at the blurb and I think it said that she initiated the removal of valuable pieces without prodding from others. For that she was to be commended and remembered. Where they were kept I don't know, but I suspect underground somewhere.

Ingo may know.
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 05:39 PM
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I googled Green Vault yesterday, and there were several links that told the story of where the pieces went during the war and then after, when they were removed to Russia.
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 05:42 PM
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Thanks. So I guess maybe the Green Vault went to Russia too. I know that the Alte Meister collection definitely did, as I saw a sign to that effect when I was there. The return coincided with some anniversary of some sort.

I did want to say one thing about Vienna Philharmonic tickets. The one I went to was a subscription concert. The website I gave lists other concerts that may not be subscription concerts. In those cases the ticketing procedure may be different. I'd call them directly if uncertain.
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 06:15 PM
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Hi kopp, here's an answer to your question:

First works removed in 1939 and nearly all removed five days before invasion of Poland in 1939. "Carefully packed in boxes they were stored in the cellar of the Royal Palace.... By June 1942... it was decided to evacuate the transportable collection in a specially fitted out casemate in the Fortress of Koenigstein. There it remained until 14 May 1945."

Then taken by Soviet Union for 14 years.

Reference:

Dirk Syndram, Jutta Kappel, Ulrike Weinhold

The Baroque Treasury at the Grunes Gewolbe Dresden

(2006) Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden/Deutsche Kunstverlag

See p. 21.

People can probably order this book online. There's another companion book on the Green Vault, which I also bought. As you can see, I was a big fan.
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 06:32 PM
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Thanks for the info, 111op. I vaguely remember reading about this when I was there, but the brain (at least mine ) can only hold so much of this detail. I was also impressed with their collections of books in the shops. As we were only at the beginning of our very long trip, I couldn't really purchase anything heavy at that point. I'm thinking the book you mentioned would be a good one to order for Christmas. I'll check that out.

My mother is Russian and so is my DIL. It's always interesting to sit around the table and talk about the old country. I'll have to ask what they know about artwork/treasure storage.

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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 06:45 PM
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And you just got back YESTERDAY??!! Wow!

Thanks for the very interesting report-your knowledge of the arts impresses me.
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 08:15 PM
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I was in a hurry when I posted earlier. Sorry if I sounded rude!

Here is a nice article from the Economist that describes the Historic Green Vault, the New Green Vault, and some history of the treasures and what happened during and after the war:

http://www.economist.com/displayStor...ory_id=7905259
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Old Oct 12th, 2006, 01:39 AM
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Thanks for that Economist article.
Thanks Happy.

Now I don't think I need to write my report with the Economist article.

I skimmed it quickly and will read it in more detail also. I believe "Throne of Great Mogul" is upstairs too -- in the new Green Vault (unlike what the Economist seems to be implying). However Obeliscus Augustalis is in the historic Green Vault, which is probably the most important piece in that collection. The moor, a picture of which is in the Economist article, is also the one that features on the website on the Green Vault.
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Old Oct 12th, 2006, 04:32 AM
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Thank you, noe, for the article link. The history is very interesting.

I still can't imagine the logistics of moving the collection. It's not like they could just pick it up and shove it all in a truck. That must have been quite a project to cart everything off.

Great stuff. I look forward to my next visit someday soon, I hope!
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Old Oct 12th, 2006, 05:01 AM
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I think so. But actually that Koenigstein location seemed to have been popular throughout history as a safe storage location. I was reading that book and this was used as early as the 1700s during wars.

I guess they've had experience with this sort of thing over the years.
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Old Oct 12th, 2006, 04:44 PM
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Dresden Green Vaults

'In Dresden there is only one thing you should endeavor to do and that is to visit the so-called Grunes Gewolbe or Schatzkammer (Treasury).' This still apposite advice is to be found as early as the second half of the 18th century in Johann Georg Keyssler's much read travel guide.... 'The Florentine Tribuna and what goes with it, perhaps surpasses the treasures listed here in value: however, it cannot be denied that the mounts and well-thought arrangements of the objects and the impression they make, are far more striking than the Florentine collection.'

See p. 5 of Dirk Syndram, Jutta Kappel, Ulrike Weinhold: The Baroque Treasury at the Grunes Gewolbe. Staaliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Deustcher Kunstverlag (2006).

Seeing the two parts of the Green Vault was an amazing experience for me. The young philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer was dazzled and wrote in 1804: "... I find it far surpasses all others in opulence. One feels transported to a fairy palace and is dazzled by the infinite splendour on entering the glittering rooms in which the precious golden vessels and diamond playthings are multiplied in the mirrored walls...." (op. cit., p. 22)

I really didn't know anything about the Green Vault prior to visiting. Some background information can be found in a nice Economist article. Also some information can be found in a press release for the exhibition in Versailles earlier this year. I was in Paris and thought about going to Versailles, but I couldn't make it in the end.

Now there're two parts to the Green Vault, both held in the restored Dresden palace. The historic Green Vault just opened a month ago, whereas the new Green Vault is located a floor above. Entry to the historic Green Vault is by timed tickets only. By the time I decided I wanted to go, it was too late for me to get tickets online. So I took a 5:42 am train for Dresden from Berlin, which left about half an hour late. By the time I arrived at the palace, it was around 8:30. There were probably at least 50 ahead of me, and the line grew considerably longer. I believe 200 tickets go on sale each day for those who don't have reservations. To my surprise, I still managed to get a 10-10:15 slot.

Historic Green Vault

The first room that I entered was the "vorgewolbe." It was an ante room of some sort. Here I picked up an audio guide (included with admission). There was already some interesting stuff to see, such as elaborate dishes, basins and wood carvings.

I spent a few minutes here and then decided that I shouldn't dawdle. I headed towards the main section of the vault. I had to first pass through a set of doors (a "decontamination chamber," if you like). However I was three minutes too late. The clock showed 10:18.

Fortunately the door could be unlocked manually. I stepped into the space, and a few seconds later, I entered the amber room.

It would become clear that the treasures of the historic Green Vault were not as impressive as the ones held in the new Green Vault. However the carefully orchestrated sequence of rooms made this experience special. After the amber room comes the ivory room, then the silver room and then the silver gilt room. Each room exhibits exquisitely crafted, ornate pieces of a certain type. I believe the silver room is the best preserved of all the rooms in the palace: "In spite of the considerable damage to the display walls in the last war it was possible to preserve and re-instate the original surface by painstaking restoration." (op. cit., p. 66) The dominant color is red, "in a mixture of mineral vermilion, red lead and red coloured lacquer."

However some rooms were not as fortunate. The ones that face the courtyard suffered the heaviest damage during the bombings in 1945. In the coat of arms room, fragments of coat of arms are exhibited alongside reconstructed ones. All the rooms were carefully restored (and reconstructed) throughout. The audio guide mentioned that mirrors were reconstructed using special techniques so that they could best resemble baroque mirrors.

After the silver gilt room come the pretiosa room and the corner cabinet. This is the largest room of the suite. Next comes the coat of arms room followed by the highlight of the Vault, the jewel room.

The most important piece of this room and of the Vault is the jeweler Johann Melchior Dinglinger's "Obeliscus Augustalis." Covered with special gemstones, it also needs to be displayed next to a mirror for the illusion to be complete (the piece can be thought of as being sliced in half, so it's completed with its reflection in a mirror). The book I have doesn't say how much this piece cost, but it was probably over 50000 thaler as a few of Dinglinger's pieces sold for over 50000 thaler. (More on this below.)

The last room is the bronze room and then one is back in the vorgewolbe. Once inside the main suite of rooms of the Green Vault I was allowed to linger for as long as I wanted. And there was really no reason for me to linger in the vorgewolbe initially since I could have seen it again afterwards.

New Green Vault

This required a separate admission ticket, but one could visit at one's convenience.

The number of treasures in this part of the Vault is simply mind boggling. Obviously the stars are Dinglinger's creations, summarized well by this Wikipedia article. In a creation called "Grand Mogul" that resembles a modern day toy set, Dinglinger crafted an Indian ruler on his throne along with many other subordinate figures. But of course, this one isn't a toy set at all. Dinglinger used "4909 diamonds, 160 rubies, 164 emeralds, one sapphire, sixteen pearls, and two cameos...." (p. 96 of Renaissance and Baroque Treasury Art: The Green Vault in Dresden written by Dirk Syndram). The price was 58,485 thaler.

The Wikipedia article doesn't mention the Apis Altar, which was Dinglinger's last work, with an Egyptian theme.

Of course, there were plenty of objects to admire apart from those created by Dinglinger. Some had specially constructed mechanisms, such as a clock with a rolling ball.

Then there was the "Dresden Green" diamond that is 41 carats and which probably cost 400,000 thaler. If I remember right, the audio guide said that the construction of Frauenkirche cost 280,000 thaler.

Finally I saw the "Giambologna in Dresden" exhibition in the new Green Vault. Four sculptures were exhibited, but this was the first time in many years that all four were reunited in the same room. The company Bayer lent "Mars" to the show. It obtained the statue as partial payment for the war, I think (I forget the details).
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