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Historical Figure

West wing with the Ministry of Culture and Public Education

West wing with the Ministry of Culture and Public Education
(© The ministerial building in Dresden (1907) / Saxon State Chancellery)

The general style of the building can be classed as neo-baroque, with individual art nouveau features. In a book published in 1907 by construction supervision on the development and use of the building, Dr. Eng. Mackowsky wrote that the owners wanted an architecture that »tells of times gone by in the more developed shapes of the native baroque, and therefore brings the new building closer to the hearts of the people«. In order to create a relationship with the magnificent baroque architecture in the old part of the city and the Finance Ministry directly across the street, the builders decided on Posta sandstone for the facade.

The integration into the cityscape is based on three factors of the plot: its position along the Elbe river, near the Carola Bridge, and its projected utilisation by three ministries. The front of the building stretches along 154 meters of river front. The main entrance is located here, which in 1905 was the access to the Ministry of the Interior, the most important of the three in the building. On the two long buildings, connected by a raised diagonal construction, two wings of different sizes are connected. This is where the entrances to the other ministries used to be: On Carolaplatz square was entrance to the Ministry for Culture and Public Education, and on the side of the now Archivstrasse, the one to the Ministry of Justice. At the rear, the building opens up towards the city with a kind of garden atrium. It was however never used as a garden, and constitutes instead an addition to the street space.

Seen from the Carola Bridge as its mid-axis, the ministerial complex was to counterbalance the collossus of the Ministry for Finance. That is why the architects decided to forego individually shaped design pieces, and instead constructed a heavy-set basement and ground floor. The floors above are differentiated only by solid pilaster strips. The only ornaments are located in selected spots at the centre patterns of the four fronts. the entrances are each flanked by two lion's heads, with the shield of arms of Saxony at the centre of the door arches. The only other figurative ornaments relate to the areas of jurisdiction of the three old ministries. In order to detract the eye from the length of the complex, the corner buildings were emphasised and drawn upwards. Also the skylight of the centre building, lighting the central reception hall, was drawn out vertically. The apex of the hall was decorated with the then state symbol: the royal Saxon crown.

Architects also relied on relatively simple and objective shapes for the interior, without undermining the intended stately effect. In the large arches of the central reception hall with a ceiling height of 25m, the endstones depict the coats of arms of the old main district cities: Dresden, Leipzig, Chemnitz, Zwickau, and Bautzen. These are complemented with animal symbols of cockerel, eagle, owl, and raven, symbolising vigilance, strength, wisdom, and intelligence. Each of the upper shield arches contains a pelican feeding his young as a symbol for state providence. The baroque curved gable above the entrance to the great assembly hall is adorned with a beehive symbolising diligence.

The great assembly hall in the mid-axis of the north wing on the first floor, was at the same time the most lavishly appointed interior room of the complax. Its oval floor area is covered by a vaulted ceiling with eight lunettes. The hall with a total ceiling height of ten meters is panelled to three meters height with dark red stained oak wood. Alcoves and recesses were stained in blue, and the vaulted ceiling in green. The curved floral elements of the paintwork points to art nouveau influences.



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